Reaching Jewish and Arabic students with the Gospel, training underground church leaders, passing on lessons from the Early Church to pastors. That is NET Foundation’s work in the Middle East!
NET Foundation was founded in 2006 with the mission: to equip pastors worldwide. Our goal is that they receive biblical and theological knowledge, learn practical skills and, from an inner conviction, are able to do their work with ‘heart, head and hands’. In the Middle East, NET provides online theological education in three countries: in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt.
NET Foundation partners in Israel with the Israel College of the Bible in Netanya. Since 2014, ICB has offered online education from a Biblical context, reaching many Jewish and non-Jewish students with the Gospel. There are currently over 300 active users. NET Foundation facilitates the online learning platform used for these courses. Through its professional approach and wide range of offerings, ICB reaches many students worldwide. But what is special is the significance it has for Jews and Arabs: from the context of the land of the Bible, the Christian faith is explained and propagated.
In the Palestinian territories, NET Foundation works with Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem. With the growth of the Church in the Middle East, there is a great need for Arabic-language theological education. In many places there is no room to freely pursue this Christian education. Online courses is the only option for them to learn more about God, the Bible and the Christian faith. Bethlehem Bible College is Bible-centered and offers Christ-centered classes. They focus heavily on Arab Christians living in closed countries under difficult circumstances. The number of online students has grown in recent years. In 2022, 237 students used the online platform. NET Foundation facilitates the online learning platform, providing guidance and support.
‘If we are not full of God, we will not be able to share the Gospel with others’ – students BBC, Palestine
In Egypt, NET Foundation works with the Coptic Church. This church represents the largest Christian community in the Middle East, and suffers from persecution, discrimination and violence. Coptic Christians are regularly in the news as victims of attack. In cooperation with the Coptic Church, an online bachelor’s degree in ‘Early Church’, an official theological education, has been developed. Until recently, pastors were initiated in liturgy and Bible reading, but otherwise their church training was limited. The new online bachelor’s degree aims to fill that gap and provide more substance to the education of Coptic pastors. Nearly 40 courses are available online. In 2022, this bachelor’s degree was taken by about 40 students.
For 2023 – 2025, NET Foundation is facilitating online theological education in three Middle Eastern countries according to the above description. The total investment for the three-year period is € 90,600 for organizational and licensing costs, coaching and travel, and for consultancy and exploration of new partners in these areas. The average cost per year is: € 30,200. Currently, 450 students in the Middle East are already following the programs through NET Foundation. The cost per student is relatively low. With an investment of less than € 68 per year, you are already helping a student in the Middle East become theologically well-equipped to serve the (underground) church locally!
NET Foundation’s work is very strategic for the church in the Middle East. Hundreds of pastors are being equipped through Bible-based online education. In Israel, Jewish, Arabic and international students are being introduced to the Messiah of Israel. In Egypt, this Early Church education is helping Coptic church leaders understand God’s Word and the questions and challenges facing them today.
From Palestine, the underground church is encouraged by contact with other Christians and equipped for work among church members. In this way, the church in the Middle East can grow and God’s Kingdom expands, until “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the bottom of the sea” (Isaiah 11 : 9).