Overseas Council is privileged to have a significant voice in a major conference in Brazil this week. Sixty-five key decision makers from all over the world are participating in the Lausanne Consultation on Global Theological Education in São Paulo. Five of our staff, including our President Dr. David Baer and four Regional Directors, are playing key roles in these discussions.
The Lausanne Movement started with evangelist Dr. Billy Graham. Celebrating their 40th anniversary alongside Overseas Council, Lausanne’s mission is Calling the Whole Church to take the Whole Gospel to the Whole World. Consultations like the one this week pull together key church and missions leaders to look at specific concerns for the mission of the Church. Together they come to a deeper understanding of the issue and develop action steps to change the future of that issue, in this case theological education, around the world.
The key issues addressed this week are
1. Successful Missional Biblical Partnerships – how can seminaries in different parts of the world with their unique challenges and resources assist one another in the global task of theological education
2. Contextualization in Theological Education – how does a seminary address the unique needs of the Church and community in its context?
3. Global and Missional Sustainability in Theological Education – how does a seminary fulfill its mission and provide for an effective educational program in a way that is sustainable now and in the future?
4. Formal and Non-formal Training – how can the formal and non-formal approaches to Christian leadership development work together to both equip the Church with thought leadership and equip multitudes of pastors who are needed?
Overseas Council is represented this week by President Dr. David Baer and four Regional Directors: Dr. John Jusu, Dr. Ashish Chrispal, Dr. Marvin Oxenham and Dr. Abraham Najjar*. David co-led the planning of the program, while John, Ashish and Abraham are presenting sessions.
*Name has been changed for security purposes.
Meet Oliver Cruz, a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies student at Asian Theological Seminary (ATS) in the Philippines.
I am thankful to God for the privilege of studying at ATS. After finals, I will officially be in my last year of graduate studies! I am blessed because I am continually learning and growing as a student at ATS. The culmination of academics, fellowship and outreach has made me a better person. The things I have learned are readily translated into my ministry context, and I am excited to apply this knowledge in whatever capacity the Lord asks me to serve.
Over the years, I have enjoyed church planting, premarital counseling, discipleship, teaching and other ministries. Last year, I organized an evangelistic mission trip to help in church planting and discipleship where many people were led to Christ. I was in Field Education when I was promoted as the Dean of Students of a Bible college where I taught Small Group Dynamics. I also taught Values Formation at a secular college where I evangelized and discipled students.
Today I am still leading couple’s cell groups and am active in premarital counseling. I am glad to see fruits of this ministry, particularly in the transformation happening with each family as they devote themselves to God. I am not sure what plans the Lord has for my ministry next year after graduation, but I know God will lead in my future just as He has faithfully led in the past.
Aside from church ministry, my family is also fruitful. My love relationship with my wife is continually deepening. My eldest daughter excels in school and is one of the top in her class, and my youngest daughter always brings a smile to people’s faces because of her happy disposition.
Balancing ministry, graduate studies and family responsibilities is a very hard task. But God is gracious, sustaining me and using people to encourage and sustain me. It is also through your generosity in providing my needs that lessens my concerns and has enabled me to remain focused. I really thank God for your goodness and faithfulness. I pray that He may continue to bless you. May He return all the favor to you! Thank you for continuing to invest in advancing the Kingdom of God by helping me and others at ATS with our studies.
It is because of your faithful support that we can share the Good News with so many! I hope and pray that He may find us faithful, and all our offerings and sacrifices are a sweet aroma to His throne. His Name will be praised forever and ever! Amen.
Previously the Evangelical School of Theology (EST), our partner school in Wroclaw, Poland, has recently rebranded themselves as the EWST Educational Center.
Chancellor Marek Kucharski said this change is “an important moment” for the school in which they could openly state for the first time that they are no longer just a school of higher education, offering mainly Bachelor’s degrees in Theology.
Instead they will now be called the EWST Educational Center, offering various degrees, academies, projects, workshops and conferences.
The school held a rebranding ceremony in April to celebrate the announcement. Marek said, “I can honestly say that it was one of the best events that I remember in the 24-year history of the school. The chapel was absolutely full with our faculty members, students and many guests including leaders of churches, universities and city officials.” Even the former vice-minister of Education in Poland came to celebrate.
With God’s blessing, they are prepared to march on as the team of the EWST Educational Center.
While serving as the children’s pastor at Nairobi Pentecostal Church in Kenya, Pastor Hannah Nginya felt a calling to help the women who came to the church in desperate need for food and other basic needs. In response to the growing number of women in need, she started a nonprofit organization called the Badili Center (Badili means ‘change’ in Swahili) in 2010.
She serves as the Director of the center that empowers vulnerable women including single mothers and widows by teaching them entrepreneurial skills and spiritual formation in addition to offering counseling and mentorship programs.
Training includes business planning, marketing, bookkeeping and self-discovery, plus practical skills such as soap making, beadwork, baking, tapestry, knitting, sewing and health and nutrition. In just a few years, they have trained over 700 women from Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya.
The center trains women with little donor support as most of the funds come from Hannah and her close friends, proving that God can use a little in a person’s hand to do a lot.
Hannah has offered training in various churches in Nairobi, and she has partnered with Church Missionary Society in Africa to facilitate the training of trainers. She is a consultant on business development and management.
She’s also written a book, Financial Freedom for Vulnerable Women Across Africa. The book is used by women as a personal guide toward financial freedom, and it is also used by facilitators at the center to guide women from different educational and socio-economic backgrounds. Some of the book’s key objectives include helping women to discover themselves as being made in the image of God, developing good financial management practices, learning techniques for starting a business, managing their personal development and career growth and contributing to meaningful community transformation.
Hannah earned her Master of Divinity degree in Pastoral Studies from Africa International University in Kenya in 2008. Of her experience there, Hannah says it was very enriching, and her faith in God grew immensely. She says she learned a lot about counseling and building relationships with people from different cultures. One of the biggest lessons she learned is that when God places a calling on a person’s life, He will sustain that person to fulfill his or her purpose in their life.
Growing up in Colombia, Andres Aleman came to Christ when he was 15 years old. He and his mother attended a small village church, and he says his love for the church and Christ grew as he began to serve there.
“It was a joy for me to pass time with other Christians and learn more about the Word of God,” he says. “My faith grew, thanks to the community [of believers]. Although they were from humble backgrounds, there was a great spirit of love and fellowship there.”
Andres got involved in various church activities including sharing his faith with others during home visitations. “We traveled to neighboring areas and shared the Gospel with farming communities. Soon I was teaching in the church’s youth meetings and the men’s society. I was also asked to lead a family’s home group. I loved to study the Scriptures.”
It was Andres’ desire to study Scripture and feel better equipped that led him to attend the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (BSC), so he could share with others the truths he was learning. “The experience here has shown me that the Lord wanted me to come closer to Him. Each new experience, the academic challenges, my economic situation and other things have all made me more dependent on the Lord. This time has been special to fortify my relationship with God and also to share everything He has taught me.”
Andres is in his final months of study at the seminary as he will graduate at the end of the year. He wants to minister as a pastor and continue teaching Scripture, as well as continue his studies in Bible and theology.
His teaching ministry includes classes on the Gospels and Acts that he leads at Bellavista Prison, once considered one of the most violent and dangerous prisons in the world but is being transformed through ministries taking place inside. BSC has an active prison ministry there, offering biblical training to inmates whose lives are changed and will serve the Lord upon their release. Andres is also teaching at the seminary, offering training on the early prophets for leaders and lay people.
Andres shared two passages that have been fundamental for his life and growth in Christ. “These verses have assured me of God’s love and care. I trust in Him to lead me every day. I have learned His Word at the seminary, and I want to share it with others.”
Please share a prayer of encouragement for our friends in Ukraine in the Comments section below. They would sincerely appreciate your support. Thank you!
Meet one of those leaders, Constantine Prokhorov.
I was raised in a non-Christian home in Kazakhstan. While studying history in college, I came to Christ and felt called to pursue theology.
I trained at Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS) in Ukraine. Growing up under Communism gives you a genuine appreciation for the freedom to study theology. I remember how diligently my classmates and I studied those four years. I credit my alma mater and its professors for my success in ministry and teaching. Since graduating with my Bachelor of Theology degree in 1997, God led me and my family on an incredible journey back to Kazakhstan. There theological professors are in great demand. I taught at five different seminaries and earned my PhD.
Today I live in Russia with my wife and three children where I dedicate most of my time to teaching, preaching and writing. I have authored several books and articles and was awarded second prize for the “Golden Pen of Russia,” a Russian national literature award, in 2008. Through my ministry, the Kingdom is being multiplied. I give all the glory and praise to God for this talent He has given me. I am filled with deep appreciation and thankfulness for the staff, faculty and sponsors of OTS who have helped shape me into the minister and teacher I am today. Thank you and God bless!
We are checking in with our partner schools in Ukraine and getting updates from them regularly. Please join us in unceasing prayer for these schools and the Church. We also pray for our brother Taras Dyatlik, Overseas Council’s Regional Director for Euro-Asia, and his family. We pray they sense the Lord’s presence, and may He continue using them mightily to reach out to people during this difficult and complicated time in their region.
Your prayers are needed. Please leave a prayer for our friends in Ukraine in the Comments section below. Our partner schools will greatly appreciate the encouragement and prayers from around the world!
Abibatu Bangura was born three years before civil war erupted in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She was the last child in a Christian family of 15 in the Limba tribe, a major ethnic group in the country. In her early years of school, her retired father was unable to provide for her education and general welfare, so her mother was passionate about doing so. But when her mother passed away, Abibatu had to relocate to stay with her aunt who supported her for a while until her business collapsed.
Despite her great financial need, Abibatu took a leap of faith and enrolled at The Evangelical College of Theology (TECT) in Sierra Leone. Her pastor encouraged her to study Community Development with the purpose of ministering to her country’s wounds from the 11-year civil war. Today she’s a first year student in the program, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Abibatu is very thankful for the scholarship she received from Overseas Council. With all her financial ups and downs, she says it has taken away her stress about paying her school fees. “To God be the glory.”
As a result of the civil war from 1991-2002, more than 50,000 people were killed, much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed and over two million people were displaced as refugees in neighboring countries. The country has made progress towards reconciliation since, but effects of the war continue to be felt including poverty and unemployment.
Lasting impacts of the war were the atrocities committed by the rebels, from murder and rape to mutilation and recruiting children as soldiers. Their trademark unbelievably was to hack off the hands or feet of their victims. In the face of this devastation, Abibatu says her passion is to become a Christian social worker that will transform communities from the ashes of war to grace using Jesus’ approach.