Baylor Professor 'Honorary Graduate' At Nazareth SchoolAug. 8, 2007
by Ashley Lintelman, student newswriter, (254) 710-4515
Bill Baker, senior lecturer in Arabic and Middle East studies at Baylor University, received an Honorary Certificate of Graduation from the Nazareth Baptist School (NBS), the only evangelical K-12 school in Israel, on June 2. Baker attended NBS elementary school in Nazareth during the 1950s, when his parents were Baptist missionaries for 10 years. He was not able to graduate from the school because of a mission field transfer that placed the family in Haifa, a distant Israeli city.
Fuad Haddad, chairman of the board of directors of NBS, said Baker received the honorary diploma in "recognition and appreciation of his ongoing support and friendship to the school."
Baker said that being more closely connected to the NBS, even with an honorary diploma, was a tremendous source of pride and honor. "The school and its graduates have accomplished so much and are such an example to the world that it elevates me to a higher standard of behavior and associates me with a class of humanity, which is a cut above when it comes to decent, noble and honorable people," Baker said.
NBS is one of the top-rated and strongest academic schools in the country. All students, regardless of religion, receive Biblical teaching and attend chapel. By the time they graduate, students are fluent in three different languages and earn advanced degrees in Israeli universities.
"The school is a beacon of hope and a tremendous Christian witness in Jesus' hometown in the otherwise volatile Middle East," Baker said. "I would not nor could not be who I am today had it not been for the impact and influence of all that is the NBS and its extended family--the people of Nazareth."
In 2004 Baker formed a non-profit organization called the Nazareth Education Ministries Association to help support NBS. The purpose of NEMA is to promote Christian education in the Middle East with a focus on Nazareth as the hometown of Jesus.
Two years later, NEMA joined with the non-profit organization Friends of Nazareth to help raise sufficient funds for school expansion and updated equipment and facilities. Friends of Nazareth also works to provide NBS with a campus that will train, educate and equip another generation of Christ's followers "who can be God's continuing hope and presence in the Middle East."
Bill Baker grew up the son of missionaries in Middle East and is a native Arabic and Hebrew speaker. A Baylor graduate and retired Air Force political-military affairs officer, Baker served as a senior Middle East intelligence analyst at the Pentagon, adjunct lecturer in international affairs at the Air Force Special Operations School and assistant professor of Arabic at the U.S. Air Force Academy. His book, Arabs, Islam, and the Middle East, was published in 2003 by Brown Books.