After hitting rock bottom, Blessing met the Rock of Ages

Blessing met the Rock of Ages | Overseas CouncilBorn and raised in Zimbabwe, Blessing Chishanu says his teenage years were filled with self-indulgence. “I felt an undeniable and almost physically tangible void in my life. I sought solace and fulfillment in drugs, nightclubs, relationships and parties. My desires had the wrong role models driving them. Hollywood and the global music powerhouses like MTV were fueling my ambitions and perspective on life. I was also trying to escape the harsh realities and pressures of life at home.”

The economic situation in Zimbabwe led Blessing’s family into real financial struggles. His father grew sick, physically deteriorating in front of his eyes until he passed away. Blessing’s mother passed away shortly after, leaving Blessing in heartbreaking pain and with intense pressure to provide for his family. “Then came my breaking point, but my usual methods of escape were not giving me the boost they used to. I desperately needed something more. Life was only a mere existence for me. Deep down, I had a longing for more meaning and purpose. I knew something had to change.”

Through a series of events, Blessing found himself attending a church conference. “I had never been to such a gathering and had never heard preaching about God. I had never seen so many young people with a real sparkle in their eyes and genuinely happy. They were radically in love with Jesus.” Blessing says as he listened to the speakers talk about their relationship with God, all he knew was that he wanted what they had. “I wanted to know this Jesus as intimately as they did. It was then I realized I wanted to commit my life fully to God, and I confessed Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior….After hitting rock bottom, that’s when I met the Rock of Ages.”

Blessing says from that moment on, he felt his heavy burdens lifted. His associations and passions changed. “My desires and affections were turned toward God. My outlook on life was no longer self-indulgent but Christ-centered.” He attended a weekly Bible study where he was discipled in his Christian walk. He began serving in different roles in his church, and over time, he felt called by the Lord to enter ministry. “That’s when the Lord led me to the Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS).”

Blessing completed his first year at NETS in November 2012 and looks forward to digging even deeper into God’s Word as he joins the Diploma of Theology program in 2013. “I am deeply grateful for the sponsorships that are helping students like me to have this opportunity to learn more about God’s Word. I have learned so many things about Jesus’ saving grace during my time at NETS. I have come to know God more intimately and understand His Word more fully. I endeavor to be well-equipped and give the best of my abilities to Christ’s cause as I embark in my studies. I believe through God’s Word, we can change the focus of our internal compass which directs our worldview and outlook on life.”

Blessing leads the missions department at his church in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. The department focuses on community outreach programs and targets the less privileged within the area. He is part of the prayer and praise/worship teams and has also led the youth ministry.

“God has given me a real passion to empower young people with the hope and life found in the Word of God. I want to offer Christ-centered solutions to the pressures, frustrations and challenges young people are facing in this generation. Suicide rates are higher than they have ever been in recent history. Abortion figures are staggering. Sexually transmitted diseases, unemployment rates and many other social pressures are choking the dear life out of the leaders of tomorrow.”

“I hold to the core my deepest conviction that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life that needs to be infused into our frame of thinking as young people growing up today. I believe God has given me a special calling and has placed me in my community to bring hope to this hopeless generation. God has given me this incredible light to illuminate the path of others as we walk together, bound for our heavenly home.”

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

Ayshe ministers to sexually abused women, helping them heal from their painful pasts like she did

Ayshe ministers to sexually abused women | Overseas CouncilAyshe Hurlyova has been through many difficult times in her young life of 22 years. Her father, she says, “was a thief with no intention to care for us.” Her parents divorced when she was young, leaving her mother struggling to provide for Ayshe and her brother. Though not a believer, their mother took them to an evangelical church where they attended Sunday school.
When her mother lost her job, they went to live with Ayshe’s grandfather and uncle in a village. Ayshe traveled to town to study, and later as a teenager, she started visiting a Baptist church there. “It was a safe place for me because home was not safe at all. I became a victim of abuse from my uncle, and my mother did not believe me when I told her. I lived in fear for several years. I dreamed of running away from home, but I was afraid for my little brother, so I stayed. I used every possibility to escape from home and visit the church. There I heard many times about Jesus’ love and forgiveness, but I felt too sinful because of the things that were happening to me.”

Ayshe’s breakthrough came when she attended a summer camp at 16 years old. “There for the first time in my life, I realized the great power of God. He can forgive me everything if I allow Him to live in my heart.”

After finding God in her darkest hour, Ayshe is now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Theology at the Trivelius Institute (TI) in Bulgaria. She has been helped through an Overseas Council scholarship.

Soon Ayshe will be equipped with the necessary skills to minister to other young women who are searching for a safe haven to help them heal from their painful pasts, just as Ayshe has. “In the last five years, I have been working with psychologists to discover and prevent the domestic and sexual abuse of children and teenagers.”

Ayshe volunteers for a nonprofit organization that works with high school students to prevent early sexual activity and HIV. She also serves as a youth leader for teenagers in her church and volunteers with Young Life, working with non-believing teenagers on social projects and witnessing to them through relationships. She looks forward to where the Lord leads her next.

Josphat ministers to hundreds of slum children where he grew up

Joshpat Ministers to Hundreds | Overseas CouncilJosphat Kinyingi was born and raised in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya, one of the largest in the world. Conditions in the slum are extremely poor with immense pollution, waste, illness and disease. Most residents lack access to basic services like electricity and running water. Josphat’s parents were unable to take him to school due to their high poverty level. He says he almost became a street child due to his lack of hope in life and the daily conflicts of his dysfunctional family. “My dad would come home drunk late in the evening and beat every one of us,” he says. “I could spend several days without food, so I thought surviving on the street could possibly help.”

Josphat accepted Christ after attending a youth conference organized by a local church within Kibera. “The preacher spoke to my heart and told me how much God loved me and the wonderful plans He had for my life. I almost wept because I knew the kind of challenges I was going through, but I decided to believe what he said.”

Josphat attended children’s Sunday school at a church in the slum. Visitors from the West came to visit one Sunday morning. During the lesson, he emerged as the winner for memorizing verses of Scripture. “I was rewarded with biscuits and sweets. With all these gifts in my hands, that day was my turning point.” When the visitors learned that he was not in school, they asked if he would like to go. He was enrolled the next day.

By the time Josphat started high school, he was an adult; his parents had moved north because they were aging. While in high school, he was taken in by a children’s home and stayed there throughout his school life. After school, the children’s home asked him to accompany visiting missionaries from the West to help with translation. He spent much of his time translating for them in churches, home visitations and school fellowships. One of the missionaries realized that Josphat had ministry potential that needed to be polished and encouraged him to join a Bible school. Josphat chose the Nairobi International School of Theology (NIST).

Under the missionary’s support, Josphat pursued a Diploma in Counseling and graduated. He is now in his third year pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Education, Counseling and Psychology.

“It has taken the hand of God to be where I am today,” he says. “Throughout my education, I have been studying under the support of different scholarships. I am amazed because I never thought it could happen, but God is faithful because He always brings the right people into my life to help.” Josphat says every semester, he has a different story of how God provides.

While still in school, Josphat serves with Children Refuge Centers International (Kenya Hope) in the Kibera slums and other parts of the country. The organization runs a feeding program through its nine Hope Centers throughout the country, feeding hundreds of children. They help put children in school, and medical care is provided through a clinic run by a Christian doctor who treats the children for a small fee. Saturday Clubs allow the children to learn about Jesus, and the Special Ministries staff does home visitations. “I am working with children in the Kibera center because this is the place where I grew up.”

Josphat says the slums are plagued by social issues: rape, dysfunctional families, extreme poverty, drug abuse, premarital sex and early teenage marriages. “These are things I normally find myself addressing while dealing with the children. I have set up a Bible club for spiritual growth for these children every Saturday afternoon, trusting that God will protect them from the daily evil happening in this slum region.”

Sometimes Josphat says he handles cases of attempted suicide from the children. “I thank God for the counseling skills I learned through my diploma courses. I have been counseling both boys and girls on different issues….I have also been talking to the children’s parents on how to respond to some of their psychological needs and empowering them with information based on my relationship with their children.” Josphat says it is amazing that “God is preparing me for a very special task that I never thought of in my life….Thank God I never got lost in the slums, involved with drugs and other evils. God preserved me for a special assignment….I thank God for who I am today. I have so much more hope than before, bearing in mind that I am a child of the Most High.”

After graduation next year, Josphat hopes to continue to the Master’s program if financial support is available. As far as ministry plans, “I would love to work with Kibera people, especially the youth….The organization I’m currently serving is slowly growing [as it] meets the needs of many needy children and their families. I may have my own ministry in the future. Who knows? The God who spoke to our early fathers is still the same God on the throne today, so it’s possible.”

Junette’s training has transformed her to reach the lost

Junette Reaches the Lost | Overseas CouncilJunette Galagala-Nacion was raised in the Church, “not devout but God-fearing. I had my unorthodox concepts of God when I was younger, although I did not question His existence. Coming from a dysfunctional family, I had emptiness in my heart, a desire to belong and a yearning to be loved.”

During her freshman year in college, Junette prayed to receive Christ after attending an evangelistic concert. Through a dorm fellowship group, Bible study and a campus church, she was nurtured in her faith. “I began to develop a love for the Word and found warmth, friendship, and most of all, the nearness of God….Through the years, I came to understand the gravity of my sin and grew in my understanding of God’s grace.” She took a leadership role in the dorm fellowship group and also served as coordinator of a music team.

“My own Christian walk has been marked with seasons of personal struggle, but I am thankful that God remains sovereign and merciful.” After going on mission trips in college, Junette says, “God continued to give me a heart for the lost.” She took the Kairos course, looking at the world from God’s perspective, and says her outlook on life changed permanently. “The desire to serve in career ministry developed in my heart.”

After a long journey of prayer and seeking His will, Junette joined an organization that reaches indigenous communities through contextualized church planting and transformational development. Her husband, Herbert, also served in the same organization as a missionary sent by his church. Junette decided to pursue theological training in order to be better equipped for ministry.

She enrolled at the Asian Theological Seminary in the Philippines. She is in the third year of her Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies program. She says her studies have helped her understand God’s Word better, including each author’s angle in communicating who Jesus is and how to minister to different people. “Studying at ATS has not only resolved my curiosity to know more about God and the Bible, but it has taken me on a journey of personal transformation. I have also been changed through the proper knowledge and handling of Scriptures. At ATS, I have had the privilege of undergoing holistic training, which touches both the cognitive through biblical studies and the practical through service and participation in the community. This has helped me become a better minister of the Word and a more faithful steward of Christ’s love to my family and community….Kindly pray for wisdom, physical strength and tenacity as I undertake courses that are shaping my life and also pointing me toward the direction the Lord wants me to go.”

She says her training has greatly influenced all other aspects of her life, including her writing and media-related work. “I have become more discerning and conscious as I engage in Bible-related work. Although I still have a very long way to go in terms of becoming more like Christ, I believe that the teaching and counseling skills I have learned have also helped transform others into Christlikeness. It is such a privilege to be transformed and then become a channel for biblical transformation in the lives of others.”

Junette received an Overseas Council scholarship to complete her studies. “We are thankful to the Lord for allowing us to have Junette as one of the best scholars at ATS,” says Professor Noli Mendoza, Dean of Student Affairs.

Junette’s multiplication is widespread. Through her church, she facilitates two Bible studies, one for couples and one for young women; serves as a discussion leader for a series of evangelical Bible studies; and speaks in church teaching sessions, camps and fellowships. “There is unspeakable joy whenever I share what the Lord has taught me and listen to the life stories of my students.”

She serves as a devotional writer for Scripture Union and is part of a translation team that will translate the Bible into urban Filipino (or “Pinoy”) through the Philippine Bible Society. She is involved in editing a children’s Bible in Cebuano, another language in the Philippines, as well as translating a prisoners’ devotional.

“These ministry involvements continue to train and encourage me in pursuing [theological education]….Should the Lord will it, I intend to pursue further studies so I can eventually teach in a Bible institution….I continue to experience the daily goodness of God, His provision, His presence and His wisdom. I look forward to knowing Jesus more as I integrate my formal seminary education into my varied ministries, church life, family and personal journey of faith.”

Formerly a Buddhist, Va says Cambodia is spiritually hungry like he used to be


Va says Cambodia is spiritually hungry like he used to be | Overseas Council

Va says Cambodia is spiritually hungry like he used to be | Overseas Council

Va Vachna was born and raised in a large Cambodian family, one of five children. “I heard the Good News even before a church was established in my town, but I was not interested in a new religion. I was a committed Buddhist and vowed to die one.” More than 95% of the country’s population adheres to Buddhism; Islam dominates certain minorities and about one percent identifies as Christian.

When Va was in junior high school, he heard the Gospel again. Missionaries from the capital, Phnom Penh, came to share in the city where he lived. He was invited by a Christian friend to join a small group at his house where worship service was held. While there, he found out that the missionary team had started a music class and soccer team. “I was interested in those programs very much, so I kept attending the service. Being young, I was merely interested with the activities, but my heart was not yet stirred by talks of faith.” Va kept hearing the Good News every time the music class and soccer team met. “I did not understand the Scripture clearly, but somehow one time, I heard the Gospel very clearly. The message pierced my heart, and I started meditating and wanting to know more about Jesus. It was a momentous conversion.” Va attended church every weekend where he learned the foundation of the Christian faith. When he was 17 years old, he prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior and was baptized.

“My belief in Christ started from a deep spiritual need, one I didn’t know existed. I was hungry spiritually and so is my country and its people. Thank God that He has given me a vision to become a pastor.” Va started teaching children in Sunday school. “I thought that if I desire to see changes in the spiritual climate of my country, a great fertile starting ground would be young Cambodian children.”

Initially Va wasn’t sure if God called him to be a shepherd to His people, so he started praying. “I believed if anyone from my family came to know Christ, then it would be a great sign that God is indeed calling me. God answered my prayers. Graciously and faithfully, my brothers, one by one, came to know Christ. The greatest moment of confirmation came when my parents finally accepted Christ. From many tears and prayers, the Lord made it certain to me that He is calling me indeed to take up my cross and follow Him.”

Va decided to pursue a biblical education at the Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) in the Philippines. “I had no idea what a Bible school was, but I came to the Philippines to see ATS. After arriving on campus, I was so sure this would be my school and my unique place of learning. I felt very comfortable with the people and felt at peace and in harmony with the environment.” Va is pursuing his Master of Divinity degree to be a pastor. “At ATS, I am continuously learning, not just purely academic information but substantial life lessons that affect my character development.”

Before arriving at ATS, Va committed to work full-time as a pastor in his Cambodian church. When he returns home, he will be teaching at a local seminary as well. “There is a great need for the contextualization of biblical values, principles and issues in my country. With the help of ministry friends and local ministries, I plan to start a training center in my church, just like what ATS is doing in its Center for Continuing Studies program. The purpose is to equip laymen and pastors to acquire biblical interpretation skills and more effectively reach the hearts of the Cambodian people.”

“It is a great honor and privilege to work on the frontlines for God. He has chosen me to be His disciple. He has opened the way for me, and I believe He will sustain me to be a faithful servant of His. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn, teach and preach the Good News. To God be the glory.”

Sasha-Kay mentors abused and neglected children, inspiring them to heal

Sasha-Kay mentors abused and neglected children, inspiring them to heal | Overseas CouncilAfter being baptized at 13 years old, Sasha-Kay Campbell says she wandered from her faith. “For most of my teenage years, I was depressed, overwhelmed with emptiness and frequently fantasizing about suicide….I enjoyed partying and drinking, hardly recognizing that I was trying to fill my void with alcohol.”

One day in 2008, she was at home when she says she felt the sudden urge to pick up her Bible. She couldn’t stop reading. “I was so excited. It was like I was reading the Bible for the first time. Things I could not understand before was making sense to me now.” Her mother invited her to church several times, but she refused. She was afraid she would get saved and was not ready for that yet. The day came when she finally accepted the invitation and went with her mother to church. The pastor invited a visitor to preach the sermon message that day.

“As I listened to this woman, I felt as though pieces of me were being chipped away, and a new person was emerging. I could feel my heart melting as God spoke through His servant. My fear had come true, but I was not afraid anymore; I accepted it. I began examining my life, and I realized that I was not walking in the will of God for my life. I was on a path to self-destruction, and only God could save me. I surrendered to God in my heart that day, and He has turned my life around. He shifted my focus from material success and status to a life where He is at the center.”

In January 2009, she became a member of the Power of Hope Deliverance Ministry. During her time there, she served in many roles, including assistant secretary, Sunday school teacher, choir member, dance ministry coordinator and youth choir director. “Before my conviction, my goal was to become a clinical psychologist, but God has called me to teach His people.” She enrolled in theological training to be more effective.

Sasha-Kay received an Overseas Council scholarship to study at the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology (CGST) in Jamaica. “This scholarship has meant a lot to me because upon receiving it, I was able to clear up my account balance and successfully register for two more courses. It has also reassured me that God is indeed ordering my steps and that He has brought me to this institution for this particular season to learn more about Him and to be adequately equipped for His ministry.”

Sasha-Kay hopes to graduate with her Master of Divinity degree by 2014. “God has been teaching me a lot about who He really is and who He wants me to be through my training and interactions with His people.” She says her knowledge of Scripture has grown tremendously through her dedication to discover its meaning, including biblical languages and history. She’s also learned that “being like Christ means being a practical Christian, as we are commanded to love not only in words but also in action.”

Sasha-Kay is a Life Skills Mentorship Assistant for the Child Resiliency Program at the Hope United Counseling and Wellness Center in Jamaica. “It is a great program that reaches out to children with behavioral problems as a result of abuse and neglect. Through counseling, sports, arts and academics, the children are motivated and inspired to heal, move beyond their dispositions and strive for success.”

After graduation, Sasha-Kay plans to continue into full-time ministry, including counseling and working with the youth of her church. She also hopes to teach theology and biblical studies at churches and Christian institutions around the world.

Dr. Wojtek Szczerba’s Story – Called. Trained. Multiplied.

Dr. Wojtek Szczerba - Overseas CouncilCalled. Trained. Multiplied.
These terms capture the essence and uniqueness of Overseas Council’s world-changing ministry. We target leaders who are called by God to make a difference in the Majority World. Overseas Council is called to provide the culturally relevant and biblically sound training they need to be most effective. The natural result of well-trained leaders armed with God’s Word is the Kingdom multiplied person by person, small group by small group, community by community. Click here to read more.
Dr. Szczerba, teachingCalled.
Raised in a very religious, Roman Catholic family, Wojtek Szczerba was involved in many religious events since his early childhood. He was an altar boy for many years and even thought about becoming a priest. However, he realized in high school that “my faith was very superficial and my Christianity nominal.” He says God served mostly as an idea organizing his worldview, not as a Savior with whom he had a relationship. He started looking for something that would give meaning to his life. “Fortunately I met a group of Christians who truly lived their faith and whose lives with God were something I wanted to have. They wanted to talk to me about those fundamental issues. I spent several months with them, arguing, questioning and observing. Finally I started to read the Bible with them, and I realized this was the Word of God. This is when I became a Christian.” Wojtek began teaching at the Evangelical School of Theology (EST) in Poland in 1996.

Wojtek-and-Magda-SzczerbaWojtek earned his PhD in 2000 and served as Academic Dean of EST from 2002-2006 prior to serving as Rector. After his PhD, he began working on his habilitation (second doctorate). In 2009, he successfully defended his dissertation and received his habilitation with honors. He was told it was one of the best defenses in recent history for the Philosophy department. “It was an immense accomplishment for Dr. Szczerba and a tremendous honor for EST and for evangelicalism in Poland,” the school says. “Very few evangelical theologians in Poland have their habilitation, and this honor glorifies the Lord and reflects well on Dr. Szczerba, EST and evangelicals in Poland….Dr. Szczerba was a very faithful, hard-working student, diligent with his studies. He has always had a passion to embrace the truth, making sure he understands what he believes and can explain the meaning.”

Wojtek SzczerbaMultiplied.
In addition to his role as Rector and professor, Dr. Szczerba is a representative of EST throughout Poland to other schools, churches, government officials and conferences. He steered EST through the process of becoming the first accredited evangelical theological school in Poland. The school has become an evangelical education center, gathering many people who serve the Lord through different programs, activities, events and outreaches.
Dr. Szczerba is an authority figure in Christian circles and is invited to teach at different conferences, as well as give lectures in other institutions. He is recognized in churches as a theologian and preacher, and he is a mentor for church leaders in his city, meeting with them to help them grow in their ministry and cooperate with other churches to have a great impact on society.

This is the power of Called. Trained. Multiplied.

The legacy of the JETSN Gospel Ministry: Seminary offers real life experience for students

The city of Jos, Nigeria, is home to around 900,000 people (75% Christian, 25% Muslim). In addition to infrastructure, a major problem is the ongoing ethnic violence and terrorism that have caused many deaths and the destruction of property. “People are on edge, and the military and police are usually out in full force,” says Rev. Dr. George Janvier, Gospel Ministries Director from Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETSN). The seminary ministers to victims of the crisis through their counseling center, The Center for Professional Excellence.
The seminary also has three dynamic Gospel preaching teams, led by Rev. Dr. Janvier:

  • The Gospel Team provides film evangelism and ministries in prisons, hospitals and high schools.
  • The Gospel Theater Team ministers through dramas, children’s puppets and films.
  • The Gospel Music Team offers worship music and film ministries.
    • All three include preaching, counseling and meeting needs as they are financially able.

The purpose of the teams is twofold: to give students real ministry opportunities while they are studying and to minister to a large non-Christian community. The ministries are student-led to encourage and develop students’ leadership skills. Around 25-35 percent of the school’s student body are involved in this volunteer ministry.
Zack was a student in the Gospel Team during his studies at JETSN. After graduating, he became an assistant pastor in a church in a largely Muslim village. The senior pastor was amazed at Zack’s abilities and asked him how he knew so much about ministry. Zack responded, “It’s because I was a member of the JETSN Gospel Team.”
The legacy of the JETSN Gospel Ministry is hundreds of people saved, hundreds more rededicated to their faith, many who have developed ministry skills for post-seminary life and leaders discipled by the Gospel Ministry Director.

Social justice with a Christian perspective: “God had an assignment for me: protecting the rights of people”


“Theology is on the side of justice,” says James Njonjo Mue, a human rights lawyer who has been trained to see justice through the eyes of God. Early on in his successful legal career, Njonjo felt a strong urge to receive theological training in order for his life to be “a more effective testimony.” In 2002, he enrolled in the Master’s program for Christian Ministry and Leadership at the Nairobi International School of Theology (NIST), Kenya. “NIST training allowed God to transform me, to sharpen my character.” A bout of illness slowed down his progress at one point, but Njonjo says his conviction was greater. He persevered and graduated in 2005. “I am glad that I did not succumb to the devil’s antics to discourage me from continuing my studies at NIST because my time there transformed me from the inside out.” It also deepened his conviction that “God had an assignment for me: protecting the rights of people.”


Njonjo says his calling gives him the zeal to go the extra mile in protecting the rights of others, especially the underprivileged. In 2008, his passion for protecting the rights of prisoners led him to expose a great injustice at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi. Inmates were stripped naked and ruthlessly beaten, drawing international attention and condemnation. Njonjo was personally instrumental in releasing a video recording of the incident that made international news headlines and led to the beginning of drastic prison reforms.


Kenya’s 2010 constitutional referendum was another test of his Christian conviction. He supported the “Yes” campaign, differing from the larger Christian community, because he saw the new constitution as a major breakthrough for justice and human rights. He says the referendum was the culmination of a battle that began much earlier, the 2007 post-presidential election violence that left a permanent dark spot on the history of Kenya. It reshaped his professional career and continues to affect it to this day, thrusting him into the arena of transitional justice (addressing past human rights violations).

Based in New York, the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) began its work in Kenya in 2008 in direct response to the post-election violence. Njonjo was appointed the first head of the ICTJ Kenya Program and continues to run its operations. Their work in Kenya focuses on three key areas: truth-seeking, prosecutions and institutional reform, working with local human rights partners. Njonjo’s work as an Advocacy officer with the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) includes participating in investigations of the post-election violence. “This was an opportunity for me to be part of an important process which seeks to bring justice in my country.”

Njonjo’s varied professional career began as a magistrate. After his NIST training, he joined World Vision International before he moved on to work with KNCHR and now the ICTJ. A Rhodes Scholar, he earned a Master’s degree in Law from the University of Oxford, Master’s in Christian Ministry and Leadership from NIST and a Bachelor’s in Law from Nairobi University. His wife, Katindi, is a Policy Analyst with the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Former drug dealer accepts Christ, now a church planter – Scholarships for the Shepherds

Former drug dealer accepts Christ, now a church planter | overseas CouncilMojtaba was a drug dealer in Iran, England and Japan for years. His wife, Fatimeh, was one signature away from divorcing him. Now he is a trained pastor, winning others to Christ and seeing broken lives restored…just like his own. In 1999, he left Fatimeh and their infant son, Saeed, in Iran with a promise to send support home. As the years went by, she grew tired of the separation and spoke of divorce. In 2002, a Christian friend shared the Gospel with Mojtaba. Feeling like there was a better plan for his life, he asked Christ into his heart and was completely changed. When he became a Christian, it was the final straw – Fatimeh’s family demanded she divorce him.

Much was changing in Mojtaba’s life. After serving as a volunteer for Elam College in the United Kingdom, he was accepted into their training program where he grew deeper in faith and devotion to the Lord. He kept earnestly praying for his wife and son. His testimony was the first to be featured in Elam’s Persian evangelistic TV program, Healing the Broken Hearted. It was viewed all over Iran and impacted many lives.

Divorce was imminent, but when Fatimeh went to her lawyer’s office, she just couldn’t sign the papers. Mojtaba praised God and invited Fatimeh to meet him. When they met for the first time in 12 years, she was shocked at his complete transformation – he was a godly gentleman who loved her and his son deeply. Their dormant romance was reignited and their family reunited. “Just as God brought down the walls of Jericho, He brought down the walls between us,” he said. “The work that God has done is not just a miracle – it’s more!”

Both Fatimeh and Saeed became Christians. For Christmas, the reconciled couple opened their home to other Iranians in town; 43 came. Some were believers, and Mojtaba led seven more to faith in Jesus. Now 25 believers meet every week for worship. A new church has been born, pastored by a man who used to be a drug dealer, and serving at his side is his wife who nearly divorced him. God truly heals the brokenhearted and answers prayer. Leadership training and development are vital if the burgeoning Church in Iran is to continue to grow and mature.1 Elam says they are “deeply grateful for the scholarship gift from Overseas Council that helped provide education for those, like Mojtaba, whose lives have been transformed by God and now want to lead others to the same healing and joy they have experienced.”