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Vila and students attend seminar on Islam

David Vila, professor of religion and philosophy at John Brown University, accompanied over 20 JBU students to Joplin, Mo., on Saturday for an Islam seminar from Crescent Project’s President Fouad Masri. The College Heights Christian Church hosted the Bridges Seminar, which travels to various churches around the country. The Crescent Project’s mission statement states: “Hope worth sharing; to inspire, equip and serve the Church to reach Muslims with the Gospel of Christ for the Glory of God through prayer, training, local outreach, and short-term trips.”

Masri provided a background of the Islamic faith and a continuation of the studies in Vila’s introduction to Islam course. He also expanded upon the differences between Christians and Muslims in today’s world and how believers might better reach them with the gospel.

“It was really insightful and encouraging to me…it opened my eyes to the great need, even here in the U.S. to reach out to them,” says Lauren Arant, a student of Vila’s who hopes to someday be part of a ministry to Muslims in Eastern Europe. After the session, a Middle Eastern luncheon was provided for those in attendance, which included cabbage salads, hummus, flatbreads and baklava.

Later this semester in April, Vila will also take students to the mosque in Fayetteville for a visit day.

Vila is currently in his 14th year here at the University. His interest in Middle Eastern studies started in 1990 during his first excavation trip to Jordan while attending Covenant Seminary and since then he has taken 10 more excavations.

In June, Vila will embark with over 20 students on the six week Jordan studies trip, which may include but not be limited to a variety of traveling around Jordan, excavating in Abila, floating along the Dead Sea, riding Roman chariots in Jerash, camping in the desert of Wadi Rum and concluding a final week of traveling through Israel to places of interest for both Biblical and modern history. The trip fulfills a Global Studies requirement and earns up to nine academic credit hours.

Lyn Chong, a former student of Vila’s Islamic Art Gateway course, anticipates the upcoming studies trip.

“I’m especially excited about the excavation we’ll be doing in Jordan, and all the traveling, meeting of people and just immersing ourselves in the culture there,” Chong said.