Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) is creating a new program aimed at providing Persian church leaders with theological education in their own language. Through its Global Theological Initiatives, SEBTS plans to offer accredited theological training for Persian students at many levels.
Leading the program as the Coordinator for Persian Leadership Development is Kambiz Saghaey, a Persian church leader and master’s student at SEBTS. Originally from the Middle East, Saghaey and his wife served in several churches and faced persecution for their faith. Now in the United States, the couple desires to continue to help the Persian church grow stronger and deeper.
Saghaey began taking SEBTS classes online while in the Middle East and continued later in Central Asia after fleeing persecution in his country. He dreamed of a program that would help more Persian church leaders receive sound theological training that would be readily accessible.
“For many years when I was pastoring I was praying for God to please bring someone to SEBTS to make a program in Farsi. The English was very difficult for me,” he explained. “Many pastors came to my mind, but I didn’t know that God was going to answer my prayer with me.”
Saghaey’s role is to develop the initiative to train Farsi speakers who can then use the theological knowledge they gain to enrich Persian churches. With his first hand experience and knowledge of the Persian culture, Saghaey can provide Persian believers with programs that answer their needs.
“It has been very exciting to work alongside Kambiz,” said John Ewart, associate vice president for Global Theological Initiatives at SEBTS. “His experience and his relationships with those engaged in equipping Farsi-speaking church leaders will enable us to impact this significant language group.”
According to Saghaey and Ewart, this type of program aimed at Farsi speakers is very unique. “It is my understanding from very reliable sources that we will be the only seminary to develop accredited degree-level training for Farsi speakers,” said Ewart. “We are networking with others involved in training and contextually developing fully accredited academic work in this historical initiative.”
Saghaey is excited about the possibilities that the program will bring for Persian churches. “I want to see Persians receive their degrees and teach others,” he said. “I believe Farsi-speakers can have a direct, very useful influence in many cultures around them. Education is a priority for this.”