Consortium on Global Education speakers discuss complexities, opportunities for Christian educators in Middle East

September 21, 2017

Leaders in Christian education from all over the world gathered at Anderson University for the 30th meeting of the Consortium on Global Education. 

The consortium, comprised of universities with a commitment to Christian values who endeavor to provide educational opportunities to their students, met to discuss issues facing study abroad, such as safety, and helping international students who are refugees.

Last week, during the group’s annual banquet, speaker Dr. Nabil Costa, CEO and Executive Director for the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development, told the group that in these days of change and uncertainty, they must follow God’s plan and embrace change. 

“These are the times of change,” Dr. Costa said. “If we are wise, we will follow His plan, knowing that there is a plan. We are his children; we need to trust him and follow him willingly... The key is compassion. The key is not ‘I love you; stay away.’ Either you love your enemy, or you love your enemy. The choice is yours.” 

Dr. Costa spoke also about his experience being a Christian in Lebanon, the Syria refugee crisis and the secularization of Europe. 

“The dynamics of the Middle East is complicated,” he said. “You have mountains of Sunnis over here and mountains of Shi’ites over here and a mountain of Jews over there. Where are we Christians in this landscape? We are sometimes lost between the cracks. In Europe, only two percent of the population goes to church. This country (America) is a light house for Jesus Christ.” 

The group also awarded its 2017 Global Leader award to Dr. Marlene Wall, the president of LCC University in Klaipeda, Lithuania. Dr. Wall said she was humbled to receive the award. 

“I am honored, but mostly humbled when I am in a room with so many leaders who are globally minded,” she said. 

She agreed with Dr. Costa that European culture is becoming less religious, but said she felt that programs like CGE could help provide hope for students, especially those in refugee situations. 

“Europe in general feels more and more secular,” she said. “In Lithuania, after the fall of the Soviet Union, was very spiritual in its context. Now, it seems it had adapted well to Western secularity. It is our hope that our students can be lights for Christianity.”

Her school, she said, has been identifying and recruiting refugee students from the Middle East, in the hope that they can teach the students academic English, and then move them into programs in the United States to help them further their education and their devotion to God. Exchanges like this, she said, can change to world. 

“It makes a difference when the news is your roommate,” she said of refugee students being incorporated into the program.

Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, was scheduled to speak at the event, but was unable to make it due to travel delays. The consortium met from Sept. 13 through Friday, Sept. 15 at the university’s G. Ross Anderson Jr. Student Center. The theme for this year’s event was Global Education: Unity, Significance, Success.