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BAPTISTS OF LEBANON: FOCUSED ON MISSION
BY NABIL COSTA

The Baptist movement in Lebanon started in 1893 with one person – Sa’eed Jureidini,
a photographer – who on a trip to the USA visited the Third Baptist Church in St. Louis,
Missouri, where he came to know Christ as His personal Savior, and was baptized. Upon his
return to Lebanon, and while resuming his work in downtown Beirut, he immediately set out
to share with others the Lord’s transformational work in his life. In 1895, a delegation from
Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, visited Lebanon and ordained Sa’eed, the first Baptist pastor
in Lebanon. That same day, Sa’eed baptized eight new born-again believers and so founded
the first Baptist congregation on Lebanese soil, in Beirut.
In 1920, and following the drastic consequences of World War I, Baptist delegates from the
USA, Canada and Europe specifically delegated to the Southern Baptist Convention Foreign
Mission Board (FMB) the responsibility of supporting the growing Baptist movements in
the region, including Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. The FMB sent several couples to work
in the Near East. This boosted the Baptist ministry in Lebanon, and a number of key people
became believers. Their names are written in history as well as on the palm of the Creator’s
hand. They were led by the Spirit of God to be Baptist pioneers and they spread the Gospel
all over the country.
With God’s grace, the freedom of worship that Lebanon continues to enjoy today, as well
as its strategic geographic location as a gateway to the Arab World, enabled our country to
take the lead on Baptist ministry in the Middle East.
In 1948, Finlay Graham and his wife, Julia, came to Lebanon from Palestine. In 1960,
and in response to identified needs, the Grahams founded the Beirut Baptist School and the
Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), followed by the Baptist Publications – known
today as Dar Manhal Al Hayat (Source of Life) publishing house.
In 1998, the Southern Baptists handed over all three ministries to what is known today
as the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), or the Lebanese
Baptist Society, a locally founded body that with God’s grace and guidance took each of these
ministries to yet another level of service with the purpose of “empowering the church in the
Arab World through social and educational development.”
As the LSESD, we feel that God has placed us in a position of leadership in the Middle
East/North Africa region, and we are responsible to Him to influence upcoming generations
to commit their futures to Kingdom work. And indeed we set out to do so in partnership with
the global Baptist and evangelical body of Christ.
As a result, today the ABTS has become a missional educational movement, seeking
to expand and impact local and regional communities. Our students come from Morocco,
Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and others.
(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

Photos: Students at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon, which draws students from throughout the
Middle East and Northern Africa;
Children studying at Beirut Baptist School;
Students attend a class at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary;
Children participate in activities sponsored by the Baptist Children and Youth Ministry of the Lebanese Society for
Educational and Social Development.
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