Zwemer Summer Institute

Posted on July 16, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

My role as director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies at Columbia International University is essentially a virtual role of program-planning, marketing and networking. At the heart of the efforts to train and equip missionaries and churches to understand and relate to Muslims is the academic programs in inter-cultural studies at CIU. The University is the only evangelical institution to offer a Master of Arts in Muslim Studies.

We have an outstanding faculty with extensive missionary experience training Christian students for this strategic task.

Zwemer-CIUsignA key component of the Zwemer Center is the Summer Institute when a large number of credit and non-credit students attend two week-long intensive courses by notable adjunct faculty. Between courses 40 participants, including students, missionaries and mission agency leadership, attended a “Frontliner” Conference to share strategies, reports of how God is at work and dialogue on the challenges of Muslim evangelism. Bobbye and I were able to sit in on the classes and enjoy accommodations at the beautiful Pineview Apartments (pictured), a recent addition to this growing South Carolina campus.

Zwemer-ApartmentsGod is moving in unprecedented ways throughout the Muslim world as noted by upheavals of the “Arab Spring” and current events in Egypt which were followed day-by-day. Researchers have documented the incredible growth of Islam from the seventh century and noted there were only two movements of Muslim to Christianity prior to the 20th century. Throughout the 20th century there were five more movements among predominantly Muslim people groups, but in the last 20 years there have been more than 70 movements, each of which represent at least 100 churches and more than a thousand Muslim background believers baptized!

It is evident God is using the turmoil, violence, political upheaval, social disruption and radicalism to turn the hearts of Muslim people to a search for truth and something that will give them hope and security. It is obvious that Jesus is the answer; the challenge is in finding ways to communicate that truth in restrictive cultures and resistant worldviews.

Zwemer-NabeelJabbourOne of our classes of the summer institute was taught by Nabeel Jabbour (pictured with Jerry). Nabeel, who is on the staff of Navigators, was born in Syria, raised in Lebanon and served in Egypt. He taught a stimulating course on “The Radicalization of Islam in the 21st Century.” Another course, taught by a former Muslim, was on “Approaches to Muslim Concerns” which dealt with identifying and understanding Muslim perspectives and how to relate the gospel to them.

Zwemer-FamiliesOur two weeks were filled with stimulating social engagements, including delightful fellowship with the families of two of our faculty, Ed Smither and Trevor Castor (pictured with Bobbye). The Summer Institute also coincided with the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Although it is ritualistic, there are many genuinely seeking God. Join me and Christians around the world in praying each day from July 9 to August 7 that God would be revealed to many of the 1.2 billion Muslims around the world.

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