I Never Dreamed God Would Lead Me Here

Valentina from TI
Valentina Ivanova, Bachelor’s and Master’s Graduate from Trivelius Institute in Bulgaria

One important lesson I have learned throughout life is to not make my own plans but to put my future in God’s hands. The Lord opened the door for me to attend university much later in life. It is amazing that when you give your all to God, you never know where He may lead!

I am thankful to God that He led me to attend the Trivelius Institute (TI) in Bulgaria. I had a desire to know God’s character more fully and study His Word more deeply. My professors at TI helped me do both. I studied hard not only for my own sake but also to be an encouragement to my younger colleagues. I earned both my Bachelor of Theology degree as well as my Master’s in Political History and Religion.

My love to help young adults grow spiritually has opened the door to my current job as professor of Church Dynamics. It is exciting to watch each of my students grow in the knowledge of the Lord! I am also privileged to be president of the spiritual council at the Baptist church in my hometown. I have been preaching and working in leadership there for six years. The wonderful people I work with and serve are a rich blessing to me!

My motto has been ‘Here I am, Lord, use me for your glory, whenever, however and wherever you choose.’ That trust in the Lord has opened more doors for ministry and service than I would have ever imagined. To God be the glory!

 

“May we each serve the Lord to the fullest, never
holding back to answer His call.”

                                               - Valentina Ivanova

 

 

 

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With Your Support, 75 Students Graduate in India

A spirit of celebration fills the air
A spirit of celebration fills the air

Congratulations to the 75 graduates of the Indian partner school we support through your generosity! The graduates’ ministries are vast and much needed, including:

  • Children’s and youth ministry;
  • Evangelism among tribal Muslims in refugee camps;
  • Community development and literacy;
  • Working in orphanages;
  • Serving as pastors and church planters;
  • Missions work;
  • Teaching and establishing schools and Bible colleges;
  • Training pastors;
  • Ministering to pastors’ wives and marginalized women in need; and
  • Spreading the Gospel through multimedia, Bible translation and writing.

We celebrate with South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) on this great news! Just as Jesus sent His disciples into the world to serve Him, SAIACS has been training and sending people in the world for the same purpose for more than 30 years.

Ivor Poobalan, Principal of a Overseas Council partner school in Sri Lanka, delivered a sermon entitled “Shaping Our Mission in the Mission of Jesus.” He challenged the graduates, saying, “Until we appreciate how the Father sent His Son, we don’t understand how the Son sends us.” He said Jesus’ decision to leave His position and come to this earth for His vocation should shape our perspective of ourselves.

Bishop C.V. Mathew challenged the graduates to follow Christ faithfully. He also warned them of the temptations that they may face in the ministry. His words “come and serve” encouraged the graduates to serve God with skillful hands and with integrity of heart.

One of the graduates described his school journey on Facebook, saying, “The apprehensions, the worries, the fears, the aims, the ambitions, the tentativeness…we’ve come a long way since!!! All because of His amazing grace!!!” Another graduating student described his experience in only two words, “AMAZING GRACE.” Even now, relying on God’s grace, they are stepping into their ministries, hoping that God will bring to completion what He has started.

SAIACS has trained them well and equipped them with the tools necessary to serve the Lord in a better way. Wherever they go, they will be carrying the aroma of Christ to those sitting in the pews as well as to those sitting in the darkness. The prayer of SAIACS is that they may know Him and make known who gave up His life on the cross for our sins.

Go and serve Him well, graduates!

You can support students at SAIACS and other Overseas Council partner schools through scholarships. Open doors for the world’s next generation of church leaders through a scholarship today! 

 

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

                                               John 20:21b

 

 

A Family Tragedy Redirected Sofanit’s Path to Ministry

Sofanit-resized-01
Sofanit Tamene, Master’s in Biblical and Theological Studies Student at Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology

While overseas studying for my postgraduate degrees in natural science, I began to sense a calling to biblical and theological studies. To explore this, I started to read theological books, teach myself New Testament Greek and attend evening classes at my local church in the UK. During vacation times back in Ethiopia, I took courses at both the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST) and another theological college.

Then tragically in 2010, my brother committed suicide. Out of this event, I was forced to stop and reevaluate my philosophy for life. I realized for the very first time how short and uncertain life is. I sensed a deep desire to find purpose in life and to live it to the fullest.

After much prayer and reflection, I took a two-year break from my studies in the UK. That is when God directed my path to study full-time at EGST. Once I complete my Master’s degree, I plan to further my education by enrolling in a PhD program. My ultimate goal is to teach theology in Ethiopia.

I have a passion for discipleship and teaching others about Jesus. Leading people to realize the deep love, joy, hope and salvation found in Jesus is what I want to center my life around.

 

“Thank you to my sponsors and EGST for
helping prepare me for God’s Kingdom building work.”

                                              – Sofanit Tamene

José is Eager to Share the Gospel in His Home Country

CATS_ Jose
José García, Master of Theology Student at Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala)

My parents became Christians when I was three years old and dedicated their lives to planting churches in Mexico. I grew up in a very healthy environment and enjoyed a happy childhood. I accepted the Lord when I was 11 years old because of the impact of one of my father’s sermons. I was always surrounded by pastors and missionaries and went on many mission trips with them.

I am convinced, more than ever, that the Lord wants my family and me to return to Mexico where there is a great need for the Gospel. We want to work with university students and also to start a small Bible institute to train leaders who are working in the mountain areas of Oaxaca, Mexico.

During my time studying at the Central American Theological Seminary (CATS) in Guatemala, I am also working at a local church on the outskirts of Guatemala City. My responsibilities include teaching in the church’s leadership school, preaching and teaching Bible studies. God is truly helping me put into practice what I am learning at CATS.

 

“I am thrilled to see where the Lord leads us to serve Him next!”

– José García

 

Lizi Ministers to the Unconverted of North India

I was blessed to be born into a Christian family. I was raised to love and serve others. My parents moved to North India in 1997 to do mission work. North India is a region with very few converted Christians. I really enjoyed doing the Lord’s work with my parents, and I was very young when God revealed to me that mission work was my calling too.

Lizi Raju, Bachelor of Divinity Student at New Theological College in India
Lizi Raju, Bachelor of Divinity Student at New Theological College in India

After completing the 12th grade, I stepped out in faith and applied to New Theological College (NTC). My parents couldn’t financially support my education, but the Lord provided for my needs. Thank God I received Overseas Council scholarship funds which made it possible for me to study at NTC.

I am graduating soon with my Bachelor of Divinity and plan to go back to my village to help my parents’ ministry. God is multiplying their efforts. At present, there are churches in more than 10 nearby villages, and the Gospel is rapidly spreading in the region.

Please uphold us in your prayers as we diligently work to win souls for His Kingdom.

 

“I am filled with gratitude for all the financial supporters who gave towards my education. Thank you!”

                       - Lizi Raju

Jhen Yang – Called to Love the Unloved

 

When I was a newborn baby, my parents adopted me. Because I had identity issues, I couldn’t feel completely at ease in accepting support and care from my adoptive parents. My upbringing experience made it hard for me to open my heart to others.

It was not until my college years when this identity issue was resolved with the help of a pastor. Due to his help and guidance, I acquired a new understanding of Christian beliefs and restored my relationship with my parents. This pastor was my mentor to the faith. He also helped me to get to know and accept myself, and most importantly, I met God and began to experience true faith.

Jhen Jyun Yang, Student at China Evangelical Seminary in Taiwan, and his pastor
Jhen Jyun Yang, student at China Evangelical Seminary in Taiwan, and his pastor

When I studied in university, I felt God’s calling to full-time ministry. While praying during my quiet time one day, the Lord told me, “This is what I want you to do: love people who can’t love, the ones who don’t feel loved.” I accepted this calling and started to serve, loving the people whom the Lord asked me to love. It was my hope that I could help more people through the lonely experiences I myself have experienced. I also wanted to witness to others that Christ is the way, the truth and the life. He is with us, and He is the only salvation.

During the one-year practicum I had in my church as a student pastor, I realized I needed more Scripture-based training. After talking with the pastors, I decided to come to China Evangelical Seminary (CES) in Taiwan for seminary training. The training I’ve had so far has expanded my vision of the Kingdom of God, the unlimited possibilities of the Lord’s work and what He wants us to do in this world. Plus the Scripture-based learning helps me understand and preach the Word of God well.

I am devoted to youth ministry at my church which is located near some high schools and universities. The establishment of our student ministry is to win these souls for God. It is our hope that someday they also will win souls for God. We have about 60 people in our youth ministry, and currently eight of them are trained to be leaders of cell (small) groups. We also have seven counselors to work with our youth ministry. I mainly serve students and devote most of my time to my student leaders.

I believe God wants to use my life experiences to affect them. When I walk with them, I realize that they have experienced trials similar to what I have experienced. When I am willing to let go and allow Him to use me to help young people, He pours blessings on them more than I could have imagined. God always accomplishes new things that surprise me.

Please pray for the future of our campus ministry, including my plans to design three-year discipleship ministry courses for our junior high, senior high and university believers as well as training more student leaders to have a heavenly influence on their peers.