My journey to Word of Life Seminary (WOL) in Brazil was an unexpected one. Prior to applying to WOL, I graduated from college with an Architecture and Urbanism degree I had plans for my life, and a degree in theology wasn’t on my horizon or so I thought!
Shortly after graduating from college, the Holy Spirit began working on my heart. I began to sense a strong call from God to study theology. It seemed impossible, so I knew God was going to have to make it happen. I started to fervently pray, and God acted in a mighty way!
He helped me overcome what had seemed like insurmountable obstacles. As God answered my prayers one by one, it confirmed to me that God was leading me to WOL. It made me even more confident I was doing the Lord’s will for my life.
I am now in my second year of studies at WOL, working toward my Master of Theology degree. My desire to work full-time as a Christian educator and leader is within reach!
Your financial investment has been a significant part of God answering my prayers. Thanks to you, I have a scholarship that has made it possible to fulfill God’s calling for my life.
“May God bless you all and continue to use you to bless other students. Thank you very much!”
I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian family. My father was a pastor, but to be honest, I didn’t think it was cool to be a pastor. My personal and primary goal was to make lots and lots of money. I knew I definitely could not do that being a pastor. But when I went to college, something changed. The Holy Spirit prompted me to repent, and on top of that, I sensed a call to enter the ministry.
Wow! What a transformation happened in my heart when I gave my life to Christ. Money was no longer my all-consuming focus. God directed my path to Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS) in Ukraine where I studied Theology. I did not want to stop there, so I am now working towards my Master’s degree.
I entered the seminary at a crucial point in my life. My time here has significantly impacted my life and my character. By God’s grace, I am not the same person now that I was a few years ago!
Recently, I entered the missionary program at OTS, and it has even further enriched my life. For several months, I lived in Tajikistan and worked among the non-Christian community. I ministered primarily to children and teenagers during those months. While sharing the love of God with these young people, they in turn shared with me some of the horrific challenges they face.
Many have suffered domestic violence and sexual abuse. They are literally starving for love. In the midst of utter poverty and human neglect, I have the awesome privilege of showing these children Jesus’ love. I have had numerous opportunities to share with them the Good News about Jesus who will always love them and take care of them, no matter what.
My time in Tajikistan has brought back to mind the many years I dreamed of making lots of money. Now all I dream about is being a long-term missionary in Tajikistan. It is truly amazing to see the transformation God has brought about in my heart!
“Please pray for me, my ministry and the people of Tajikistan.
Thank you for remembering us.”
Recently our Regional Director for Euro-Asia, Taras Dyatlik, shared this devotional with the team at our Indianapolis headquarters. While the context from which he shared is the ongoing conflict in his home of Eastern Ukraine, we pray this message encourages your heart no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.
Philippians 4:6-13 (NIV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
As I reflect on the essence of theological education, how and why we prepare church leaders in Eastern Ukraine in the midst of conflict between two nations and the hidden conflict between Ukrainian and Russian churches…
It is impossible to assess the real taste of bread, not knowing the state of hunger.
It is impossible to appreciate the taste of cold spring water, not knowing the state of thirst.
It is impossible to appreciate the joy of dawn, not knowing what a nightmare and a sleepless night are.
It is impossible to assess the bliss of rest, without knowing what deadly exhausting labor is.
It is impossible to appreciate the joy of meeting without knowing the sadness of farewell.
It is impossible to know the power of forgiveness, not realizing the depth of the fall.
It is impossible to appreciate the joy of the peace, not realizing the horrors of war.
It is impossible to assess the yearn for life, without looking in the eyes of death.
It is impossible to know the power of unity, not knowing the tragedy of separation.
It is impossible to know the imputed righteousness of Christ without realizing our inability to live righteously without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
It is impossible to live a godly life in Christ without renouncing ourselves and without allowing Christ to live in us and through us.
It is impossible to know the power of the Cross of Christ and the blood of Christ without taking and carrying our cross, without fighting against sin unto blood.
It is impossible to know the power of prayer without realizing our absolute dependence on Christ.
It is impossible to be the salt of Christ on Earth without realizing the depth of moral decay without Christ.
It is impossible to be the light of Christ in the world without knowing the doom and despair in a sinful darkness without Christ.
When my soul leaves its mortal body, I would like to say with Christ and many saints who have moved to the shores of the Heavens: I will know the joy of the resurrection, through knowing the fear and tremble in the gates of death.
Meet Sergey Konyshev, Sergey Litvinko and their families. Both are pastors and graduates from Minsk Theological Seminar in Belarus, and both are involved in Overseas Council Compassionate Care projects that reach out to orphans in need. Here are their stories:
Sergey Konyshev’s Ministry
My wife, Nadezhda, and I have seven of our own children. Our family has been ministering to orphans since 2002 when we started to visit the Children’s Social Shelter. In the beginning, we supported the children spiritually as well as materially with clothing, shoes, medicines and personal hygiene items.
In 2003 after much prayer and consideration, we accepted two orphans into our family, Maxim and Sergey. Then one year later, a girl named Katia joined our family. Our family began to grow by taking in these children, and we loved participating directly in the lives of orphans. During the time we lived in Belarus, we helped eight children to grow and find their places in life.
Today we have two orphan boys living with our family, Arseny and Evgeny. We also still help Maxim, one of the boys who grew up in our family. Now he is married to Marina, and they have a son named Artem. Marina is also an orphan; her parents passed away when she was 10 years old. Maxim’s father passed away, but his mother doesn’t lead a good life which is why her sons were taken to the children’s shelter. Right now, Maxim has changed jobs, and it is quite a difficult time for his family, so the Overseas Council Compassionate Care funds really helped us support this young family to survive a difficult period in their life.
Your funds are a great blessing from the Lord for our family. Each year, we hold a children’s camp and invite other children from orphanages to take part in it. Your funds made it possible this year.
We continue to support orphans and accept them into our family to help them find their place in life. We do everything we can so that they have opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and have eternal life. Thank you!
Sergey Litvinko’s Ministry
My wife, Tania, and I have four of our own children, and we also have five orphan brothers living with us. Their father died, and their mother could not care for them because of her way of life. The children are grateful to have the possibility to live within a family.
Our project is called “Warm House.” Orphans come to our house on weekends and school vacations. We spend time with them, help them with their studies, help with their psychological and social adaptation problems, teach them necessary skills for everyday life and attend church together. Once a year, we organize a children’s camp at our house for orphans and other troubled children. Every year, we have about 35 children, and we try to pass on Christian family values to them.
With the support of Overseas Council Compassionate Care funds, we can hold the children’s camp this year. Through our project, many people in our town have learned about our church and received a better understanding of evangelical Christians. We would like to continue this ministry as long as God will give us strength and possibilities.
I treasure being able to have a ministry among Syrian children in refugee camps here in Zahle, Lebanon, as part of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary’s (ABTS) compassionate care ministry. I always heard about the devastating conditions in which the refugees lived but never experienced what it was like. I am very encouraged to see all the children so responsive to our message. My husband and I have also been carrying out home visits and Bible studies with families. Our passion to work with the underprivileged was kindled several years ago.
In 2010, my husband and I left our home country to serve at a discipleship school that prepares individuals for ministry among their people. I was able to serve with my degree as a physiotherapist at a center next to the school. In the afternoons, my husband and I would go out for street evangelism among Muslims.
Throughout our ministry, we felt the need for more knowledge of the Word of God. People around us encouraged us to study theology, and then God led us to ABTS in Lebanon. Coming to Lebanon took a lot of courage and faith, but God has provided for us. Our Overseas Council scholarship has made it possible for both my husband and me to be full-time students. I am in the Master of Divinity program, and my husband is pursuing his Bachelor of Theology degree.
I love to study the Word of God, and the more I get involved in ministry, the more I realize how I need to grow in knowledge of the Word. Studying theology has equipped me with practical tools such as how to prepare a Bible study. I consider these tools very important, since part of my current ministry involves carrying out Bible studies with young women.
In my home country, it is forbidden to share the Gospel with Muslims. God is teaching me everyday to be a living example of His love and faithfulness. I know His light will shine through me to reach others!
Please pray for my husband and me as we seek for God’s continued leading in our ministries. Please also pray for the Syrian refugees, the Muslims and others we are ministering to. Thank you!
*Name and identifiable details have been changed for security purposes.
Please take a minute to leave a word of encouragement for our friends in Lebanon and those humbly serving their communities all around the world.
More than 865 students like Josphat have been blessed with the opportunity to attend an Overseas Council partner school in 2013 because of the prayers and financial support of individuals like you. Thank you! Because of you, they are sharing the Good News more effectively in their own communities.