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.
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.
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!
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.