Planting Seeds

O.C. partner school Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) has utilized a unique program to reach their most vulnerable students: Theological Education for Arab Christians at Home (T.E.A.C.H.). According to Elie Haddad, President of ABTS, “OC has been very influential in the maturity of ABTS. Their willingness to come alongside us and develop programs like T.E.A.C.H., where we were able to collaboratively build a whole curriculum in Arabic online has increased accessibility to critical information and teaching for our vulnerable students in a much- needed region.”

And You Will Be My Witnesses

The Holy Spirit is on the move around the globe!  In Moldova, University Divitia Gratiae student Terzi Vitalii has already planted seeds within his community while planning to have an even greater global impact.

“Our team organized a camp for refugee children in Lebanon. We reached out to people in the community to help get the site prepared and the response was amazing. We even had children in the community drop what they were doing to help out,” said Vitalii. With more than one million refugees that have entered the country of Lebanon in the last year, local leaders there have been overwhelmed with obstacles during this crisis.

“One of the most amazing things that happened during that project was seeing responses from local people who wanted to know why we were doing this,” continued Vitalii. Assembling a great number of volunteers in an area known to show little tolerance for Christianity was the first challenge overcome by this young Christian leader, but his greatest accomplishment was just ahead.

“When they asked why we were involved in all of this work for people we did not know, we simply told them that we are sharing the love of Christ,” said Vitalii. “Upon hearing this the volunteers simply smiled, embraced us,  and continued to work side by side with us.” Growing up the son of missionaries had a major influence on Vitalii’s life. He not only wants to live up to the example set by his parents, but he also wants to respond to the commandment given in Acts 1:8 by expanding ministry work beyond his own community.

Vitalii continued, “My prayer request would be for the Lord to continue to bless our youth ministry so that I might utilize tools like this Bible to expand to countries like Japan. Here in Moldova, over 90% of the citizens are Christian. However, in countries like Japan where only 1% of the population practice Christianity, we have amazing opportunities to expand His Kingdom.”

Your support of Overseas Council provides opportunities to Christian leaders like Terzi Vitalii who are planting seeds of hope in their community, and around the world.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

The Movement of Christ in Africa: The Call of the Holy Spirit Inspires Community Impact from Ugandan Leader

Fred Kyobe 4“I am Fred Kyobe, a Ugandan student currently undertaking Bachelors of Theology coursework at Kampala Evangelical School of Theology (KEST). I came to know the Lord while I lived in the home of my grandparents, the late Simeon and Eva Nsibambi.

Though I knew of the Lord, I did not understand Him. I could not understand how this all knowing being that I could not see or hear could truly effect my life. My doubt in Him allowed me to stray from Him in my youth. I learned that no matter how many times you turn from Him, God always makes himself known.

My life changed while working as a journalist at the New Vision newspaper where I reported on pop culture, scandal, and world events. What I saw with my own eyes and the stories I heard as a journalist shocked me and shook me to my core. It was then that I felt the Holy Spirit calling to me. Seeing so many frightening things about the world made me wonder, “How can I make any difference in all of this chaos?” It was then that I felt led to serve God by trying to have an impact on one person at a time.

My realization of how God wanted me to live led me to enroll at KEST. I am working in youth ministry with primary and high schools, along with hostel ministry work. Much of this work involves holding Bible studies with students and equipping them with life skills. Through my classwork at KEST, I am receiving the necessary skills and knowledge to do God’s work and I have discovered that if young people in our society are won for Christ and equipped with the necessary skills to reach out to their peers, the future of the church will be secure.”

Thank you for helping KEST train Christian leaders for Kingdom Work!

A Trip to the United States Provides Perspective

Visiting Scholars Project Allows Christian Leaders from Africa and India to Dig Deep at Asbury Theological Seminary 

The opportunity to study abroad affords a scholar the opportunity to broaden their perspective through experiencing different cultures and points of view in a distant land. This year two scholars had such an opportunity Jessy and Nupunga 3because of an amazing partnership between Overseas Council and Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

This partnership gave birth to the Visiting Scholar project which brought Dr. Jessy Jaison and Dr. Nupanga Weanazana Wa Weanazana to the United States to spend time for advanced research residencies at the Asbury Theological Seminary campus.

Dr. Jaison, of the New India Bible Seminary in Kerala, India is the director of research and quality enhancement as well as professor of practical theology. She made the trip to the US with her husband, Dr. Jaison Thomas who is the principal of the seminary. Dr. Jaison’s research interests are in practical theology and pastoral formation and is working on a book for evangelical seminary leadership in Asia on the Integration of Theological Education, addressing 10 vital dimensions.

Dr. Nupanga Weanazana Wa Weanazana, originally from Democratic Republic of Congo but serving now in Central African Republic, is leading the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology. While at Asbury, Dr. Nupanga has written an article on King Saul in the book of Chronicles which has been sent for peer review. He is now working on Nehemiah 9 and his final project is to write a textbook on the Introduction to the Old Testament.

We’re so thankful for your generosity to the ministry of Overseas Council and to the leaders we support, like Dr. Nupunga and Dr. Jaison, who are both playing pivotal roles within their regions of the world. Your support is helping seminary and church leaders become more effective at sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Thank you for being a blessing to so many lives!

Ethiopian Graduate Engineers Inroads for Christ in Africa

Sara Abdella Final BorderAmid mass protests and violence in Ethiopia, the word of God and the Holy Spirit continue to guide and inspire Christian leaders to multiply His Kingdom.

“Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology has blessed my life in so many ways, and in turn has allowed me to extend Gods blessings to all in my community,” said Sara Abdella, who is seeking to graduate with a Masters degree in Theology in 2018.

Years prior, Abdella graduated university with a degree in electrical and computer engineering. Abdella set aside a secure & promising business career because she felt an overwhelming call to ministry from the Holy Spirit.

“After completing my degree, I was compelled to serve. I went to work for Evangelical Students’ and Graduates’ Union of Ethiopia and served there for four years in various capacities,” said Abdella.

“Seeking a change of pace and even more opportunities to serve His Kingdom,” continued Abdella, “God placed it upon my heart to go back to school for theological training so that I can teach and train others, and to help mold the minds of the next generation of Christian leaders.”

Since that day, Abdella has completed a post graduate degree in Biblical and Theological Studies (PGD) and she is now studying for her Master’s degree.

“During the course of one year studying at EGST, I have learned new and more impactful ways of thinking and talking about God, which has enabled me to confidently share my faith with all God places in my path,” said Abdella.

“It’s incredible where God will lead you if you let Him! Thank you for giving to EGST to help students like me fulfill their calling.”    

~Sara Abdella

Digging Deeper Roots for Christ in Northern India

Sundeep 3Consistent attacks from Hindu extremists have placed Christians in a hostile environment in Northern India. Persecution has also come through local politics as some Indian states have implemented laws, such as the “Religious Freedom Bill,” against the conversion to Christianity. However, the Church continues to grow stronger despite opposition.

The new laws and pushback have not deterred students like Sandeep who attend New Theological College. “I grew up in a region of northern India where there were no Christians. Hindu was, and still is, the prominent religion. I heard about the gospel from an evangelist who visited our rural, poor village.

When I heard the Good News, the Holy Spirit gave me a burning desire to follow Jesus. After accepting Christ, I wanted to learn more about the Bible and how to share it with others.”

This past year has been even more challenging for students like Sandeep as villages were devastated by landslides and flooding. Many lost their lives, while others lost their homes. “I am grateful my family made it out of town without being hurt,” said Sandeep. “However, we lost everything. Our home was washed away, and it has been difficult to rebuild. We are grateful to still have life and each other!”

Your support of students like Sandeep, who continue to push through adversity in order to see that Christ continues to move in India, is so critical. Please continue to pray for this ministry, empower Christian leaders though a gift to the Multiply Fund, and share how OC is helping to train pastors around the world!

“I am eternally grateful to be a scholarship recipient. Without your support, I wouldn’t have the training to teach my people about Jesus!”  

Odessa Graduate’s Faith Provides Hope in Uganda

Galina Matzak FrameMy friend Anna and I felt called to minister to the people of Africa. We teamed up together after graduation and moved to Uganda, one of the poorest countries in Africa. It has been an incredible, life-changing journey!

Although we share a mud hut with rats and have no running water or electricity, we are happy and content because we’re working for the Lord.

With donations to the Multiply Fund, many students like Galina now have the ability to turn their calling into kingdom multiplying opportunities. Through theological training and skilled application, pastors and Christian leaders around the world are now taking advantage of these opportunities to change the world.

On a daily basis, we are feeding, clothing, caring for and loving these little ones. Another malady that plagues our kids is malaria. During rainy season, we have contracted it, but the children who get it suffer even more.

Please pray for these children and for Anna and I to have strength to continue ministering to them and showing them Jesus’ love.

“After studying at Odessa Theological Seminary, I became a missionary in Africa. Since then, God has continually showed me that this is absolutely the best option for my life.”

Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS)  is a Baptist theological institution of higher learning that trains Christians to be effective missionaries. OTS is a strong believer in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. They strive to equip each student with the skills and knowledge necessary for evangelizing and winning souls for the Kingdom.

A group of the Ugandan children ministered to by Galina.
A group of Ugandan children ministered to by Galina.

OTS students, faculty, and staff are actively involved in serving their community. OTS’ 325 students participate in short-term mission trips, local church ministries and other outreach programs. Through a holistic theological approach, OTS is training pastors, evangelists, and Christian leaders for the awesome work of multiplying God’s Kingdom. 

OTS is in the process of creating a Center for Pastoral Research to enhance its master’s programs. The center will be equipped with the resources to help students write superb theses, publish high-quality scholarly articles and adequately prepare them for doctoral research. In an effort to continue expanding its educational offerings, OTS is working on a new Master’s in Christian Education program as well.

Thank you for helping OTS train Christian leaders for Kingdom work!

From Brazil to Romania: How One Christian Leader Wants to Stretch His Arms Around the World

Carlos Schulz FrameThis fall, I start my final year of studies for my master’s degree. I have learned many things from my time at WOL both in the classroom and in the mission field. I have enjoyed ministering to the underprivileged in northeastern Brazil and find great fulfillment in assisting my pastor in biblical exposition, counseling and education.

In July, my family and I will temporarily relocate to Romania to help establish a church there. The city we’re moving to is the largest Muslim community in the country. Please pray for Heavenly wisdom as we share the gospel with Romania.

After graduation, we will permanently move to Romania to further help the church in Constanta and to facilitate leadership training as well. I believe it’s critical to train others in the church to be more effective soul winners!

Please remember my classmates, my family and me in your prayers, that we each will faithfully serve the Lord wherever He leads.

Word of Life Seminary (WOL), is located in southeastern Brazil, 40 miles north of São Paulo. Within a radius of 200 miles from the school lives 40% of the population of the country. Opportunities for ministry in the region are plentiful.

WOL was founded as the educational arm of Word of Life Fellowship in Brazil. From a humble beginning with a student body of 11, the school has grown to become the largest independent Bible school in Brazil. The alumni serve in every state of the federation in addition to 21 different countries around the world.Currently, WOL has a total of 150 students enrolled in the Master of Theology and Master of Ministry programs. Its projected enrollment for this coming school year is 690 students. WOL is grateful to God for His faithfulness in continuing to expand its reach throughout Brazil and around the world.

Thank you for investing in this institution and for helping train Christian leaders!

Seeds of Hope are Growing Rapidly in the Desert

Eman Confidential Final 2I came to know the Lord when I was 15 years old. A few years later, I felt God calling me to do something with my new faith. The Holy Spirit inspired me to start working with children in my community. I joined the “Association for the Salvation of Souls” and have been ministering to children 5-15 years old.

As time passed, I realized I must have additional training in theology in order to better teach children and to continue growing spiritually. Through a series of miraculous events, the Lord opened the door for me to attend Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS).

I have excellent professors who have taught me many new things. I have changed these past two years. My communication skills have improved, I better understand myself, and I see God refining my character. Furthermore, I have learned a better approach to teaching children. I know these tools will help me fulfill my passion of training this generation of children to be compassionate missionary workers for Jesus.

When I am not studying, I enjoy being a part of two of ABTS’ outreach programs. I love that both focus on ministering to children! These past couple years, I have specifically been serving 200-250 Syrian refugee children. During our regularly scheduled time together, we read and talk about Jesus, sing songs and do crafts. I take the opportunity to love them and to show them that I care. I know God is working on their tiny hearts. My prayer is that they see Jesus in me and will make the decision to follow Him.

After I graduate, I plan to return to my home country and to continue serving in children’s ministries. I also hope to start a support group for divorced and separated women. There is a tremendous need in my country to support and encourage women in these situations. Please pray for me as I continue fulfilling the Lord’s calling in my life.

“My communication skills have improved, I better understand myself, and I see God refining my character.”

Tragedy Inspires Growth in Asia

 

Jcil Bagtasos 3In 1996, my uncle was shot and killed because of his faith. I was six years old and was terrified when I heard the news. I wondered if I would get shot, too. My wise mother took the opportunity to use my uncle’s death to point me to Jesus. It was then that I accepted Christ into my life. Coincidentally, my uncle lost his life, but through the tragedy I found mine!

Perhaps because of the traumatic death of my uncle when I was a child, I desired to become a counselor to help others through tragedy. I prayed for months that God would provide me with the means to study counseling. I was eager to learn the appropriate theories but from a biblical perspective. God answered my prayers with a “yes” in 2013 when I applied and was accepted to Asian Theological Seminary. The campus was a long distance from home, and I couldn’t afford the tuition. I asked God to grant me the faith that I needed to believe that He would provide for my needs. To this day, He has never failed.

ATS has exceeded my expectations! I expected answers; my teachers have taught me to ask the right questions. I wanted easy fixes to problems; they instilled in me the value of process. I entered with the eagerness to finish in no time, yet they helped me realize that the journey is something to be savored as much as the joy of finishing. I came to ATS hoping to make a change in the world, but I realized I had to change first.

Jcil teaching the youth in Zamboanga ATS
Jcil teaching the youth in Zamboanga ATS

I have two passions – children and the Muslim community. Through my studies, God has taught me lifelong lessons I will be able to use in my future ministries. Currently, I am doing mission work among Muslims in the Philippines and am busy working as a counselor (intern) for two non-governmental organizations. After graduating next year, I plan to return to my home town to start a counseling ministry in my community.

“As one of my professors put it, ‘If first and foremost we cannot change society, then first and foremost, we must change ourselves.”

– Jcil Bagtasos