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.
I was 19 years old when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. From that point, I submitted my life to the Lord and within me grew a burning desire to serve the Lord. I entered into full-time ministry 10 years later through my church. I was in charge of some ‘unreached’ villages and responsible for all spiritual aspects of the families of believers living there, as well as going house to house to share the Gospel. During this time, I began to be burdened to concentrate on serving neglected women.
About three years ago, the leadership of my church encouraged me to enter into seminary training at Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS) in Sri Lanka. As I engaged in my studies, that compulsion for neglected women grew stronger. I was going through an intense internal conflict. Although I had been involved in full-time ministry for over 10 years, I had a nagging feeling that I had not really embarked on the specific ministry to which the Lord had called me – ministering to neglected women.
However, through my studies at CTS, I came to the important realization that the Lord uses us for different purposes at different times and that my responsibility was to be faithful in whatever I was doing at any given season. This helped to strengthen my faith, released me from the inner struggle I was undergoing and helped me to continue to faithfully serve in the ministry I was engaged in until the Lord opened a new opportunity for me.
I got married about a year and a half ago, and that’s when a door opened up for this ministry desire on my heart. My husband ministers in a drug rehabilitation center. The center is run by Christians and is open to anyone. At the point when I entered this ministry, there was no initiative in place to minister to the spouses of addicts.
I started ministering to the wives of recovered addicts who serve in the center. By conducting a regular Bible study for them, I have been helping them to grow spiritually. More recently, I have joined the ministry as a full-time worker and minister to the male residents as well. Currently there are 49 male residents in the center with whom I work on a daily basis. In addition, I conduct a weekly Bible study for seven women who are spouses of reformed addicts.
My learning at CTS is of tremendous value as I minister to these men and women through the Word of God, helping them to overcome their challenges by developing their spirituality. The majority of those who come to the center don’t have any knowledge about God. I spend time introducing the concept of God to them and sharing the Gospel. This is an important aspect of helping them overcome their addiction.
By spiritually strengthening the wives of reformed addicts, I am helping to build up a support group for these men who are in danger of falling into their old lifestyle at the slightest temptation. To help these people grow in spiritual strength, I have been teaching them the power of prayer, especially as an important means through which to overcome temptation.
I have recently set up a prayer team. I believe that as they grow stronger in their prayer life, they will grow stronger in overcoming their addictions and in staying away from temptations. However, as many are very recent believers, they are still taking baby steps in this regard.
My hope is to one day set up a fully-fledged rehabilitation center that will focus on ministering to neglected women in society.
After 10 years of going door-to-door sharing the Gospel, I now have the opportunity to daily meet with non-believers who desperately need to hear the Gospel, and many of them, after hearing the Good News, accept Jesus as their Savior.
Since both my husband and I are serving in a faith-based ministry, it would not have been possible for me to continue my education if not for the Overseas Council scholarship. Thank you so much! I will graduate in 2017.
One of the hardest challenges of this ministry is that the addicts backslide over and over again. Please pray for these 49 men that they will have the strength to overcome their temptations.
For the prayer group to successfully negotiate the challenges of the initial stage and grow in strength and dynamism.
Please pray for my physical health. I intermittently experience physical ailments that, at times, keep me from engaging in the ministry work.
The conflict in Eastern Ukraine has severely affected our partner seminary in the contested city of Donetsk. Please pray for Donetsk Christian University (DCU) whose campus was taken over by armed separatists for use as a military base. At present, the seminary is no longer in operation.
Here is a recent message from Oleksii Melnychuk, the DCU president, for your prayers, and then please keep reading for how you can help:
“Since Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and other cities north of Donetsk have been freed from pro-Russian separatists, Donetsk has become the stronghold of the separatist bands of armed soldiers in the region. A group of approximately 2,000 armed soldiers entered the city of Donetsk and have occupied the dormitories of universities, schools and hotels.
On July 9, a group of armed individuals from the separatists pro-Russian group, named ‘Oplot,’ came to DCU and demanded that we vacate the university’s student dormitory for their use. By the end of the day, they brought a written directive from their leader stating that they are taking possession of DCU buildings for temporary use to be given back to DCU when the war ends.
We have been advised that disagreement with their demands will be severely punished. Although DCU leadership explained that the university is a religious organization and that its property should not be used for war purposes, the argument did not help. Staff members and all students have evacuated.”
Our Regional Director for Euro-Asia, Taras Dyatlik, says, “The separatists promised to turn Donetsk into the second Stalingrad, which they have been successfully doing so far unfortunately. Thousands of people are leaving Donetsk every day because of the war. All workers and faculty members had to flee from the campus, leaving most of their belongings at DCU which has one of the best Protestant theological libraries in the former Soviet Union.
These people of DCU who are very dear to my heart really need your prayerful and, if possible, financial support until they find a new place to live and work. It may take a couple months.” DCU is very special to Taras as he spent 11 years there: three years as a student and eight years in various capacities as chief librarian, professor and academic dean.
DCU Needs Your Help
The school is seeking to raise at least $30,000 to help during this displacement time as their income has been seized. Donations can be made via:
Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Yolanda) brought widespread devastation and immense human suffering to thousands of people in the Philippines last November 2013. It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded and devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, with strong winds, heavy rains, flooding and landslides. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing over 6,300 people there alone. 4.1 million people were displaced and 1.1 million houses were damaged or destroyed in the Philippines.
Our Filipino partner school, the Asian Theological Seminary (ATS), immediately responded by mobilizing trained volunteers to minister using a special kind of counseling (psycho-spiritual support) modeled after Jesus who was fully present, caring and compassionate. This kind of psychological first aid is most important in the immediate aftermath of disaster. Survivors usually experience emotional distress such as anxiety, depression, grief, trauma and other stress-related problems. They needed assistance to cope with the loss of loved ones, property, and most importantly, with the experience of trauma and despair.
Between November 2013 and January 2014, ATS deployed 10 teams consisting of 66 volunteer counselors from the faculty, staff and students. The teams of trained counselors gave primary importance to listening attentively and providing space for people to share their feelings. As a result, over 4,000 people were counseled and ministered to by the team. Here are some of the stories of the people they helped:
Stories of Pain
In between sobs, Rosa* whispered, “Thank you for coming over to listen to me. No one wants to listen here. All are hurting. I can’t believe someone will care to listen to me.”
Rosa, a young 22-year-old mother, was able to save her two children but witnessed how the treacherous sea waters swallowed up her grandparents. They thought they were safe on the roof of her grandparents’ two-story house, but the powerful waves, a rolling cargo van and a ship smashed their abode like a house of cards. She only had two hands to grasp her children and so was not able to protect the two other important people who took care of her in the absence of her parents. The words of her grandparents would forever ring in her head, “Take care of your children!” as she helplessly watched the waters engulf them.
After the typhoon, Neneng* finally found the courage to go back home but found her mother dead. “When will the grieving stop?” she wept. She blamed her aged father for not being able to save her mother. With anguish in heart, she resented that only her father remained alive. She then uttered, “We were too busy looking out for our children, we didn’t know who to save first,” pointing to her kids playing.
Stories of Hope
Someone said, “Here! They’re alive!” Gemma*, with heart pounding, immediately ran and found her family. Somehow they found their way atop a floating refrigerator through the ceiling vent, crawling on roof beams towards other houses on higher ground until Yolanda subsided.
Twelve-year-old Mina* held on amidst the storm surge while witnessing her father being hit by a metal roof sheet. Afraid for her own survival, she was more terrified not to see her father again.
When the storm subsided and seeing her father alive and the rest of the family survive the horrific experience, Mina managed to hope and look at the brighter side of life. “There’s no need to blame anyone. We just have to learn from it,” she said.
These stories of pain, hope and survival are among countless others in the devastated areas of Typhoon Haiyan. ATS’ unique counseling played a crucial role in working through people’s psychological, emotional and spiritual distress, instilling faith and hope in an otherwise dismal situation. In the midst of wrecked houses, wounded hearts and broken spirits, the volunteer counselors provided this ministry to the marginalized survivors of the typhoon, resulting in strengthened inner beings, hopeful outlooks and enriched lives.
Congratulations to our Sri Lankan partner school on their 20th anniversary of ministry! Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS) held its first class May 30, 1994, with the commitment to train theologically-grounded leaders in Sri Lanka and South Asia.
Some highlights from their history:
Over the past 20 years, over 250 leaders for the Church have graduated and been commissioned for ministry.
In 2013, the seminary had over 1,000 students enrolled in classes all over Sri Lanka. Students represent over 150 church congregations.
The seminary has published over 70 books.
“Our students have continued to serve God effectively in mission,” says Principal Ivor Poobalan. “Some have led churches; others work with children, youth, widows and the poor. Some write materials for Christian education or for evangelism. Some have pioneered missions in Uganda, East Timor, India and Pakistan. One leads the unique work of global impact that trains Sri Lankans as missionaries to unreached people groups in the world.”
Ivor says while it’s great to think about the past 20 years and the success they’ve had, “it’s far more important to think of the next 20 years or even the next 200 years and ask what we must do today so that the Kingdom of God is established in the hearts of people in a way that transforms society for God.”
As CTS looks ahead to the next year, he says, “Let us want nothing but the glory of God.
Courageously putting her own safety in jeopardy, Ladan has dedicated her life to sharing Christ with fellow Iranians. It was an honor to meet her in our Indianapolis headquarters last week. She is a graduate of Elam, our partner school training Christian leaders for the Church in Iran.
In Iran, it is illegal to pass out Bibles or share your faith. Less than 1 percent of the 77 million people of Iran have heard the story of Jesus and even fewer have ever seen a Bible. But Ladan longs to see the Word of God available to every Iranian. “It is very painful to think that most of the people of your country do not have the opportunity to know about Jesus.”
Watch her powerful story to see a glimpse of the courageous Iranian Church and the hunger of the Iranian people for the Word of God.
“When I think about them, I think about how thirsty and how hungry they are for this book, the Bible. If each of them had this book, I think they could change the whole world, not just Iran. The people of Iran are waiting for the truth, thirsting for the truth, and through His Word, their thirst can be quenched.”
God granted me the privilege of studying theology at the Tyrannus Bible Seminary (TBS) in Indonesia. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 2004. Since then, I have been abundantly blessed in my work for Him.
Throughout the past 10 years, I have served as a seminary teacher, state civil employee, an ordained pastor and an evangelist. I will never forget the first church I pastored. It was located in a very bad town. The environment was oppressive and evil. Our little congregation was literally a light in that very dark region where paganism, prostitution and gambling were prevalent. It was hard to evangelize there.
Looking back, those were very difficult years, but God taught me important lessons I needed to learn. He challenged me to walk by faith and not by sight.
Today I am a pastor of a small local church. The culmination of the past 10 years of my experiences in ministry has proven to make me an even more effective leader and worker for Jesus. I am grateful for all I have learned in the classroom at TBS and outside of the classroom serving as Jesus’ hands and feet.
“Thank you for taking part in the special work here in Asia!”
My journey through life has been unordinary. Thankfully, Jesus was there for me at my lowest points and truly turned this murderer into a faithful servant of God. Here’s my story:
I was born and raised in Namibia with my sister and four brothers. Like many Namibians, we did not have a lot of money, and so my younger brother resorted to stealing. One day I confronted him and was pleading with him to stop stealing from others when we began to fight. Our arguing escalated very quickly. My brother was very angry, so with a big stick in his hand, he began to attack me.
In an attempt to get him to stop fighting, I pried the stick from his hand and hit him. One blow to the head. That’s all it took. Shocked, I looked down at his lifeless body and realized the horrific thing I had just done. I had killed my brother.
In 2004, I was convicted of murder and sentenced to 17 years in prison. My girlfriend and I had two babies at the time. I was facing the realization that I would not see them grow up. Up until then, I had professed to be a Christian but did not even know Jesus. I thought it was cool to be a Christian, so that is why I labeled myself as one. Surprisingly, it took living in prison for me to find Jesus. It was there that I wholeheartedly accepted Christ into my life.
Shortly after becoming a true believer, I learned about the distance education program at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS). I enthusiastically enrolled and was thrilled when not only I was accepted but was given a scholarship that made my education possible. I was eager to learn God’s Word and get to know Jesus, the One who had saved my life. I longed to be a true disciple of Christ’s. I began sharing the Good News with fellow inmates. I taught them how to read, write and study the Bible. Many of them enrolled in the NETS’ distance education program too!
Although God was using me for His glory, He had plans for me beyond prison’s doors. Since my brother’s death was ruled accidental, I was given the chance to appeal the conviction. I was not allowed an attorney or anyone for that matter to help represent me. Looking back, I believe God wanted it this way, so He alone would be glorified for my release. On March 16, 2012, I became a free man. Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow! That same year, I married Martha, the love of my life and the mother of my children. We recently welcomed a little boy into our home who we named Forgive. He is a constant reminder of how miraculous God’s love and forgiveness is.
In my current ministry, I am helping former prisoners reintegrate back into society and their families. Being able to relate firsthand to these prisoners tremendously helps me to reach them for Christ. I often provide counseling for the prisoners and their families to encourage reconciliation. It is a work filled with many challenges, but I am happy to be serving the Lord.
Now I am in my third year of Theology at NETS. We live on campus as a family, and we continue to be blessed by scholarship support. In the future, I hope to establish a Community Rehabilitation Ministry that will be located in a rural area. The purpose will be to help rehabilitate people from crime and addictions such as domestic violence and alcohol abuse. I am excited to see where the Lord leads me next!
My life is a perfect example of how God is able to use even the worst situation and the most sinful of persons to multiply His Kingdom. God is good!
“Thank you so much for your support in making this life-changing education possible for me and so many others!”