NEST Newsletter – June 2022

NEST Newsletter – June 2022

From the President of the Near East School of Theology (NEST), Dr. George Sabra

“A Garden at NEST”

A few months ago, an NGO called “Goods of our City” approached us and proposed to
support a project of urban gardening on the premises of the Seminary. “Goods of Our City”,
we were told, is an intervention that addresses the lack of open and green spaces, as well as
the issue of food security, through urban agriculture. NEST accepted the proposal and we
decided to go ahead with it. NEST is the second place in Beirut (or Lebanon for that matter)
to house this initiative. Supplied with wooden planters, soil, and seedlings of various vegetables
and fruits that our cafeteria kitchen normally uses, the whole of the NEST community,
students, faculty, staff and residents participated in painting the planters and also in the
process of planting itself.

The project will be materially beneficial to NEST, as it will supply our kitchen with some
vegetables and fruits; it will be ecologically beneficial too for it increases the amount of
green space in the city, but, to us, it is above all a symbolic action with a deep spiritual meaning.

I have always been fascinated and inspired by the story of Jeremiah in chapter 32. We find
the prophet there languishing in prison. He had opposed the policies of his rulers and was
thrown in jail. The country is besieged by the enemy, the situation is desperate, everyone is
panicking, the people are in despair, foreign pressure and internal collapse, and people want
to emigrate and escape for they see no future for their children in the land of their birth. In
the midst of all this, Jeremiah, from jail, conducts a real estate operation, where he buys his
cousin’s land. He sows seeds of hope for the future in the very land where the situation
seems hopeless.

In this country, Lebanon, there is today every reason and cause for despair, frustration and
emigration. The economic and financial collapse of the State with all its political and social
ramifications envelops the whole country in a black cloud of confusion, hopelessness, and
depression. Nothing seems to be moving forward in a positive and promising sense. In the
midst of all this, we at NEST decided to plant a garden, and to tend it, hoping to eat of its
fruits and hand it over to our successors, for we trust in God’s promise of restoration and his
faithfulness to his people.

Click here to read the full June newsletter of the Near East School of Theology.