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

The Word shared by Jacob Kimathi is bringing Families Together in Nairobi

Jacob Kimathi 3I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. I spent most of my high school years heavily involved in ministry and loved every minute. One day at my mentor’s house, I heard a clear and distinct voice asking me to serve the Lord in the ministry. I was 17 years old, but it wasn’t until I was 31 that I quit my job and went to Bible school. After my schooling, I became a full-time pastor in my local church.

Three years ago, I felt called to continue my studies. I applied to AIU’s PhD program and was accepted. I have appreciated my professors and the applicable knowledge I am acquiring.

NirobiAfrica International University (AIU) is a private Christian institution.The university is located on 53 acres of land in Karen, a suburb on the outskirts of Nairobi. AIU was founded in 1983 and was formerly known as Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST).

In addition to teaching part-time at AIU, I work to develop discipleship materials and programs for churches in my area. I also do a lot of pastoral counseling.

Recently, I counseled a young couple who had been married for 6 years. Many bad decisions were working to destroy their marriage. I worked with them for a long time, and praise be to God, they have reconciled! In fact, they are referring other couples who are struggling in their marriages. My work is not always easy, but it has been greatly rewarding!

“My scholarship has been extremely critical. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for your financial support. Thank you!”

- Jacob Kimathi

Rizzo Turns Inspiration into Elevation in Uruguay

There are times in life when God plants a mission upon our hearts that seems greater than anything we ever thought we could accomplish. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Four years ago, a young man from the country of Uruguay by the name of Santiago Ezequiel Fernández Rizzo had one such mission planted upon his heart. A mission to take on a project much bigger than himself that could change the community he lived in for generations to come.Santiago Rizzo 2

Rizzo’s passion for spreading the Word of God inspired him to take on the challenge of reopening a church that had been closed for seven years. “There have been discouraging circumstances with members of the community and economic hardships, but each situation has created an opportunity to grow as a church and community,” added Rizzo.

Growing up in Uruguay, Rizzo felt the calling to serve God at a very early age. “I can remember when I was only nine years old and I was told about the history of American missionary Jim Elliot,” said Rizzo. In the 1950’s, Jim Elliot devoted his life to an effort to reach the indigenous tribes of Latin America who had not come to know Jesus. Eventually giving his life in an effort to spread the Word of God, Elliot would go to great lengths to learn the language, customs, and move many times throughout Latin America in order to break down barriers for Christianity. “It inspired me and I felt the calling of the Holy Spirit to serve as a pastor,” continued Rizzo.

As Elliot’s story stirred his heart to take action in his own community he saw an opportunity to serve his community that was stifled by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and poverty. But most importantly, Rizzo began to see hope in the promise of Jesus Christ. His thirst to serve the Lord continued to grow, as did his desire to have a greater impact on his community.

It was at the age of 19 that Rizzo, a budding young soccer star, set aside the cleats that could have led to a way out of poverty and personally invested in his community. Rizzo understood that in order to have the type of impact that he had dreamed of having on his downtrodden community he would need to be trained. He enrolled at Seminario Teológico Hebrón in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia and would see the impact of his training almost immediately.

“I have been trained in various areas and provided tools that have proven to be very useful,” said Rizzo. His concentration has been in the areas of leadership, biblical counseling, and planning, but where he has experienced the greatest spiritual growth and development has been in his ability to effectively deliver the God’s message to the people in his community. Rizzo continued, “When teaching and preaching, others have remarked on how differently my message comes out and has made an impression on them.”

Since beginning his journey as a member of the pastoral staff of his church, Rizzo has led services, worked as the youth and sports minister, served as soccer coach, and operated as the lead pastor for discipleship. This is increasingly important as his service provides hope through the promise of Jesus Christ to a community troubled by suffering, dysfunctional families, alcoholism, rampant violence, and children living in the streets.

Rizzo asks for your prayers and support as he leads his church into a new endeavor. They have opened their doors as a safe haven and shelter for women and children who have experienced abuse.

Because of your donations to the ministry of Overseas Council, leaders like Santiago Ezequiel Fernández Rizzo are able to rise up in the face of overwhelming odds to serve God’s people in powerful ways.