A Family Tragedy Redirected Sofanit’s Path to Ministry

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

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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.

Ministering to the Hearts of Palestinian Women


I had a dream about making a magazine or a TV show for Palestinian women, but I never imagined it would actually come true. In 2012, I came to Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) in the West Bank, and the training changed my whole life. I learned more about Jesus Christ, following Him and giving Him my life.

I am blessed to have the college president’s wife, Madleine, as my spiritual mentor, so when she started the women’s ministry at the college, I attended the events she arranged each month.

Amira Farhoud, Bachelor of Theology student at Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank
Amira Farhoud, Bachelor of Theology student at Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank

I felt then that God was calling me to be part of this ministry, but it was confirmed when Madleine told me she wanted me to be part of the women’s ministry too.

I shared my dream about ministering to Palestinian women with her, and amazingly she said she had the same dream! Now we have a magazine for women and have published two issues. We are giving the magazine to 600-1,000 Palestinian women, Christian and non-Christian, every quarter, and they are reading the articles we write. We believe that God will work inside their hearts through it. We also have a monthly event for women that 50 women attend.

It’s been a blessing to be a part of the women’s ministry at BBC and publish this magazine with my mentor, Madleine. Please pray for both of our ministries, so we can influence more women from different backgrounds and show them the truth about Jesus.

I’m also thankful for my time studying at BBC and the Overseas Council scholarship that has helped me work toward my Bachelor’s degree, so thank you for your support!



I Will Follow | Overseas Council



Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! At this special time of year and always, we celebrate the birth of our Savior as the one true gift of blessing.

Please enjoy this Christmas newsletter from Bethlehem Bible College, an Overseas Council partner school that sits at the very manger of our faith.

Thank you so much for your partnership in training Christian leaders who multiply God’s Kingdom around the world.

With warmest Christmas wishes,

The Overseas Council Team


“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'”

                                          – Luke 2:10-11



Lessons from Cuba – The Value of a Different Perspective


Rick Grover, Senior Pastor of East 91st Street Christian Church, recently returned from a compelling visit to Cuba with Overseas Council. We were blessed by the thought-provoking lessons he learned and wanted to share them with you. May you be richly blessed today!

These two women were thrilled to receive their own Bibles
These two women were thrilled to receive their own Bibles

I just returned from Cuba late last night where I spent a week with some U.S. businessmen and church leaders visiting Cuban house churches and seminaries. We met with a number of pastors and their wives, students, seminary leaders and their staff. An anonymous donor made it possible for me to make the trek through one of our ministry partners, Overseas Council. Through Overseas Council, the church I serve supports one of the Cuba seminaries and leadership training centers.

Part of our visit came to me as no surprise, but other parts opened my eyes and heart to pray for our Cuban brothers and sisters in Christ. I expected to find a country oppressed by communism and the Castro regime. I expected to see poverty and a lack of infrastructure for economic growth and community development.

What I didn’t expect, however, was the mindset of so many Christians that in spite of their suffering, they will walk with joy in the leading of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the uncertainty of the future of their nation, they will walk with humble confidence that God is sovereign. In spite of a lack of resources such as the Internet and printed resources, they will find a way to overcome, believing they truly are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

This past Sunday morning we worshiped in a house church that had about thirty people crammed onto a concrete porch sitting in plastic chairs that most suburban Americans would have thrown away long ago. This porch was attached to one of the innumerable houses draped in the grey drab of communism but filled with radiant colors of faith in Jesus Christ.

These resilient Christians sang with no instruments, but the songs were carried by the passionate melody of their voices. They shared testimonies with each other and welcomed a new woman who was not a believer but came through the invitation of a friend. The preacher spoke about how this small band of Christ followers is part of a movement of the Spirit of Jesus to penetrate all of Havana with His eternal love, joy and peace.

Worshiping on the porch of a house-church
Worshipping on the porch of a house church

So what does this have to do with us? It gives us perspective. If I told that Cuban house church pastor of the woes I’ve faced in ministry or of recent financial challenges affecting our 250,000 square foot facility, programming and personnel, I imagine he would look at me with a blank stare. I could hear him say, “So, people have more than enough food to eat, more bedrooms in their homes than people who sleep in them, and a building in which to worship God, and your complaint is what exactly?”

Our Christian brothers and sisters in Cuba are actually praying that Christians in America would not bow to the gods of materialism and consumerism. The Cuban Church is growing and vibrant with little to no financial resources, church buildings, parking lots, or paid staff. With all of our resources, buildings, programs, and staff, many American churches are in decline. What are we missing? I believe the answer is reliance. When we rely on our resources, budgets and buildings rather than on the power of the Lord God Almighty, He turns us over to reap what we have sown. But when we completely rely on the God of the universe who has sent us His Son, Jesus Christ, and empowers us through His Spirit, we are unleashed in the world as the mightiest force known to mankind.

This heavenly force overthrows earthly governments, principalities and powers not through the use of physical weapons that destroy but by spiritual weapons that defeat the darkness and bring God’s marvelous light (cp. Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 2:9). The Cuban Church is bringing light to the darkness, and it is changing the nation. We have the same opportunity if we cry out to God Almighty, place our reliance upon Him, and utilize His power to overcome our struggles and change our nation. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).



God Called. Biblically Trained. Kingdom Multiplied. | Overseas Council