This February 24th-27th, the second and final year of the Diploma in Theology Program started. When we talked with the pastors we could hear and see the growth that they have experienced through this education. Their passion for learning about God’s Word and sharing their new knowledge with the congregation is tangible. They also don’t want this to end with them. They have a desire that other pastors and church leaders would learn as they are. On their own initiative, they have arranged with Chosen People International to have the same education in theology offered to other pastors and church leaders from their churches. They have truly been “set on fire” for God!
We want to share with you an update on this first session. The pastors had to do a bit of adjusting as a “new to them” instructor from Chosen People is teaching this year. The first day they were a little quiet and shy in asking questions. By the second day they were comfortable. After many hours together, mutual understanding and trust was quickly re-established. Questions and lively discussions flowed as normal. The overall theme was “Pastoral Ministry”. Chosen People describe it in the following way: “This course practically teaches the necessity of God’s call and the Biblical function and responsibility of being a minister of the Gospel.” Within this, there was much conversation about the sacrament of communion and about the differences between God and man’s law. The Pastors have taken their calling seriously and work to serve God to the best of their abilities.
To close this update, we have testimonies from 2 pastors that fit in well with the topic of Pastoral Ministry. We asked them to tell us their stories of becoming Christians, their call to become a pastor, how they have grown through the education, and what goals they have for the future. These are incredible true stories that are a testament to God’s power in bringing people to Himself and working through them for His purposes. Please keep all the pastors in your prayers as they do God’s work and continue learning in August.
I became a Christian at the age of 14. Before I was a Christian, I didn’t go to church or attend the prayer meetings that people held in their homes. I liked to play football with my friends, and this occupied my time. Also, when we were younger, my father would take us to farms to pick coffee. At the age of 14, I was working at a coffee farm. After starting to work there, I started having ear and stomach pain. The pain was unbearable. No one could find a cure for my illness and it lasted a month. The only thing I could do was put this in God’s hands and depend on the prayers of the pastors and church members. This is when I started to seek out God, find a church to attend, and give my time to God. I was eventually given leadership responsibilities within the church.
When I was 24, I had a dream that a man told me to go the top of a hill and play the trumpet. Later, I was in a pastors’ meeting. In front of many pastors, the man who oversaw church affairs spoke with me and told me that he was going to put me in charge of Christian Education in the church, as a pastor. I never could have imagined that I would be called to be a pastor! I had to decide if I was going to accept this role or not. I came to the decision that if God was commanding me to do this, then I must do this because it is His work. So, I took on this responsibility and put my trust in God to assist me in doing His work.
Years later, I started to doubt. I struggled with thoughts of abandoning God’s work, wondering if I was capable of continuing it. Then I remembered something my mother had told me. When she was pregnant with me, she had dreams about Moses. This reminded me that I should follow the example of Moses who guided his people, and I realized that God’s plan for me is to guide my people and continue in ministry.
This year, I feel very blessed, because I will finish my 2 years of study. The objectives that I want to achieve are:
– Finish the education that I am receiving with Chosen People International and ASOSAP, and receive my diploma
– Grow in Bible knowledge so that I can preach God’s Word well to my congregation
– Support my leaders in attending education like I am currently receiving. The reason I thought of them is because studying God’s Word enriches one’s mind. It also helps us to grow in our spiritual lives and in our faith. What is most important is learning more about God’s Word. I also want them to receive this education because one of the teachings they shared with us was about how the Apostle Paul taught Timothy. This touched my heart. For me, this is an example that we should follow. In August 2019, the idea came to me, to create and organize a group of pastors and leaders from various churches to participate in formally studying the Bible. Also, what came to mind was that when I was studying, the instructors answered our questions and brought us clarity and understanding. This encouraged me that the pastors and leaders that I work with also need this education.
Through God-given wisdom, I was able to meet with 25 pastors and leaders from various churches. It took me 4 months to get them all together. They started to receive the education (from Chosen People) this year. They will attend one session/month for 18 months. Some leave their homes at 1 am; others walk for 3 hours to receive the education. I spoke with them about how important and necessary this education is in our lives. I encouraged them to learn about the Bible as I have.
Before I was a believer, I never sought out God. Being a believer was not something I wanted. When I was 31, I was working on a farm. One day, I had a dream that someone was telling me “Get up, you need to pray”. I didn’t understand what this was. In the second dream, I dreamed the same thing and heard “What are you waiting for?”. Then I had a third dream. I was told again to get up and pray. I thought about this, about how I could respond to what I was being told and about who was speaking to me, but I didn’t understand who was speaking to me.
Later, I told my wife about the dreams and said that we should find some Christians who could come to our house to pray. Shortly after this, through a man I met, the pastor and others from the church came to our house. This happened just as a I was thinking about going to seek them out. When they were in my house praying, the pastor told me that I needed to accept God into my life and trust Him. The pastor continued visiting me often, until I accepted God.
After having recently accepted God, I prayed constantly with my family. The pastor had advised me that I needed to pray. From then on, I saw that I needed to seek out God and that I had to do His work. The pastor guided me in this and told me that I was going to start working in ministry. This scared me. He told me that I had to preach here. When we had prayer time with the congregation, at church or in their homes, they called me “Pastor”. Just hearing them call me that name, scared me. I didn’t understand what it meant to be a pastor. I didn’t have very much knowledge about God’s Word.
Now with the education that we are receiving from Chosen People International and ASOSAP, I am learning how to understand God’s Word with more clarity. At my church, the members are telling me that I am preaching the Word well and that the education I am receiving is reflecting in my sermons. They say that there is a big difference in my sermons.
I also had the opportunity to send three of my leaders to the new training center (through Chosen People), like we are receiving here in San Cristobal Verapaz. This opportunity is within their reach as the training center is in the same municipality where they live. My objective in sending these leaders is to equip them in God’s Word, so that they can help me in the church with the congregation.