Imad Shehadeh labored for five years to open a seminary in his adopted homeland of Jordan. As he earned his degree in 1990 from Dallas Theological Seminary, the soft-spoken Shehadeh dreamed of opening a graduate school in Amman, the Jordanian capital, to serve as a base for Christians in a region that is more than 90 percent Muslim.

When he returned to Jordan, few endorsed his vision. Authorities in the Muslim country twice shut down Shehadeh for training without government approval. And many Christian leaders found his original doctrinal statement too restrictive.

But things began to change as Jordan's government worked through democratic reforms that liberalized the country.

Realizing he needed to have the government's support, Shehadeh applied again for permission to open a school. The government's Ministry of Culture not only granted approval for the school to open, but also wrote into the school's constitution an article allowing interfaith dialogue with Muslims.

STRATEGIC LOCATION: Today, Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary (JETS) is in its third year of legal operation. The evangelical school has unprecedented freedoms in a Muslim country. In some Arabic-speaking countries, Muslims who convert to Christianity are in danger of losing their jobs, families, or lives.

By embracing a broad doctrinal statement, the 43-year-old Shehadeh, a refugee, has gained the support of numerous churches. Jordanian leaders from the country's five main denominations are on the seminary board.

Already the school has 28 resident and visiting faculty—half of them from Jordan. Nearly 150 students from nine Arabic-speaking countries—Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan—have been accepted to ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: