Stories of Degree Students
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Hi, my name is Rich Esparza and I live in southern California with my wife of nearly 30 years. I am currently pursuing Life Coach training at CLC. My son recently got engaged to his fiancé and is planning to be married next year. To my surprise, the two of them came to me and asked if I would officiate at their wedding. My first reaction inside was, “I’m not qualified to officiate any wedding, let alone my own son and future daughter in law”. Besides, I pictured myself sitting in the front row with my wife taking it all in and just enjoying the whole day. But it became clear to me that they want me to do it because they see something in me that originally piqued their desire.
After I got over the slight fear and anxiety of picturing myself officiating at my son’s wedding I began to search for what is required to take on such an important role. You see, as I’ve gotten older and nearing retirement I’ve started to seriously consider what roles I would take on to serve God in ministry. I have decided that I now need to give back all of my skills, abilities, gifts, talents, and experiences to any and all people who can benefit from them. I have a strong desire to mentor the next generation and equip young people for life in any way I can, but specifically in relationships and marriage, parenting, finances, and career. I know through experience and observation that these are key areas in life that a lot of people have their greatest difficulties. After a very short search on the internet, it was clear that a simple transaction would allow anyone to be “eligible” to officiate a wedding. I was so disappointed. Knowing and trusting that God created, planned, and defined what marriage is in the Bible, and to think that the world makes it that easy to be “qualified” is troubling. And then I found Christian Leadership Institute.
Once I began to check out CLC, I was confident that this Christ centered organization would prepare me to officiate my son’s wedding and any other couple who’s desire it is to put Jesus at the center of their marriage. In fact, I’ve decided to pursue the path of becoming a licensed Life Coach Minister through CLC. This will further prepare me and stretch my faith to serve in other areas as well.
I’ve since completed the Connections class, an introductory class that is the prerequisite for additional classes and training at CLC. In updating my story now, it’s clear that God continues to pull me closer and lead me in this journey. He seems to reveal to me with each lesson His will and desire for me to continue with Him on this path. What started as my desire to become a wedding officiant, is now blossoming into more of a pursuit of something bigger. In reviewing the requirements for Life Coach and the specific skills, talents, and experiences I’ve been blessed with, my goals have grown and I see this God given opportunity to stretch, learn, and minister all for His glory.
My name is Mark Lawrenson and I’m from a small rural town in Eastern Ontario, Canada. I am a current student at CLC taking free theology classes and this is my story.
Background and Childhood
I was born into a wonderful Christian family. I the eldest of three, along with my siblings were raised up in the ways of God. Both my father and grandfather had full-time careers as ordained ministers, working as Pastor’s of churches they had planted. My father felt a calling to the mission field and with the help of his biggest supporter (my mom) packed up our family and moved to Jamaica. This was in 1965.
At the time, as a young child, I had no idea how this move to a foreign country (which at times seemed hostile towards us) would have such a profound affect on my life as a whole. I accepted the reasons my parents gave me for the move, and although I never told them, I did have a bit of resentment for awhile in having to leave our home, friends, cousins and other family behind. I, however, quickly adapted and became a part of what they were trying to do in furthering the gospel to this nation.
My parents had enrolled me at a young age (prior to going to Jamaica) into music lessons, first piano and then I moved into guitar. I practiced diligently and a year or two after we arrived in Jamaica my dad felt I was proficient enough and asked me to start participating in the church services with my musical talents. I enjoyed this so much that the sting of resentment quickly faded. I gained new friends, became an integral part of my father’s ministry which in turn gave me the realization of God’s grace and the gift of his salvation through His son Jesus Christ. I was 13 years old at the time, and was baptized in the river that ran beside the church along with some other converts in early 1967.
I stayed in Jamaica with my parents until 1969 at which time they felt it necessary to send me back to Canada for schooling. I would live with an Aunt and Uncle in Montreal and attend school along with their 6 children. It was another dramatic change in my life, and while at the time I found it exciting, there were a lot more distractions and I started to experience “spiritual warfare” in my life.
Also, being a teenager, such an impressionable time in one’s life, I was introduced to a whole host of “other” things that I had been shielded from at home with my parents in Jamaica. I never really got into any trouble, although I did run away once, trying to get to my grandparent’s place in Toronto. When I finished the school year everybody thought it best if I return to my parents in Jamaica. I was 16 years of age at this time.
Returning to Jamaica was like going back home…but it was short lived, the following year my parents felt a calling to minister in Mexico. We would move to McAllen, Texas where we would live as a family, go to school and church, allowing for my parents to cross the border into Mexico to minister frequently. I graduated from high school there in 1972, and that summer we returned to Canada to visit family who we hadn’t seen for some time. While there, I had an uncle who had a construction company who I started working for. This was my introduction to what my career would eventually become, and at the same time I met a girl at the local church I was attending, who I would marry 2 years later.
My immediate family, parents and siblings, all assumed that like my father and grandfather, I would continue their work in the ministry. I had always felt that way too, but it was not to be. I did return to Texas for a year, where once again I got a job in construction. I returned to Canada in late 1973 and started my apprenticeship for carpentry. I got married in 1974 and had my 1st daughter in 1976. It was around this time that my “walk with God” started a slow downhill decline.
My wife, who also came from a good Christian family and was grounded in God’s word, felt that “we as a couple” would be called into the ministry also. She had attended Bible College in Saskatchewan for a year prior to us getting married, and agreed to go on a mission trip with me (which was also going to be our honeymoon) delivering Bible’s to Cuba. I look back on this experience now and “WOW”, probably not the wisest thing to do on your honeymoon. But we accomplished what we set out to do, with the Lord’s help, and had some very “hair raising stories” to talk about when we returned to Canada.
Over a period of time, after the return from Cuba, our lives began to go through a tumultuous time. We got caught up in life, working, starting and raising a family, so busy all the time. We started skipping church attendance. The walk and relationship we had with God, and each other started to fail…and the spiritual dream we had always thought would be a part of our future went by the wayside too. Our marriage failed ultimately and we divorced in 1981, after 7 years of marriage.
Calling to Ministry
The next 37 years of my life are a bit of a blur. Another failed relationship after 20 years of marriage with 2 more children. In 2008, I married for the 3rd time…to a wonderful Christian lady named Mary, who I lost to metastasized breast cancer in September of 2018. In my grief I determined to raise money for cancer, started a website (www.remembermary.com) and rode my bicycle around all the Great Lakes in Ontario and then to Florida. A total of 5,800 kms (3,600 miles).
While on my cycling journey I had a lot of time to think about my life. I came to the realization that life is about choices. If we truly seek God and establish a walk with him he will give us guidance and he will show us the choice we must make. If we choose not to walk with God (as I did), I consider that a poor choice. I never stopped believing what I was taught from a young age, and I am eternally grateful to God for giving me the parents I have, who instilled in me the basic values which I was able to pass on to my children.
I have been very blessed in life even with all the hardships I had to endure because of my poor choices. I am even more grateful to God for sending his only son, Jesus Christ into this world, to live as a man and to die on a cross to save us from our sins. I am so grateful for the grace he has bestowed on mankind, that even though we may turn away from him, he will always take us back.
While on that cycling journey, I re-established that walk and relationship with God. My spiritual dream is to continue this walk him and seek his guidance for my ministry. He is developing a plan, which at sometime in the future I will share, and I hope will take fruition in a few years.
In the meantime, I want to thank Christian Leaders Institute for what they are doing. I am learning so much and I plan on getting my degree in Theology. Because they are offering these free theology classes to me, I will endeavor to support them as a Vision Partner so that they can continue to provide this for those who can’t afford it. I believe God’s Word should be available to everyone at no cost.
Interested in a low-cost degree? Check out the Christian Leaders College.
My name is Lucky Aghom and I am from Nigeria in West Africa. I am a graduate of Philosophy, a Christian and I am married with children. I want to pursue life coaching through Christian Leaders College. I live in Lagos, Nigeria with my family.
I grew up in Lagos with my parents and younger siblings. Growing up was kind of challenging. My dad was a military man and my mom a pretty petty seller. Due to my dad being a military officer, we attended the protestant church in the barrack. We were just a regular family that attended church only on Sundays. Although I was a member of the choir then, I never had any encounter with Jesus.
Growing up in the barracks was tough. I made lots of wrong choices that pushed me away from Jesus Christ. When I left the barrack in my teen years and started staying on my own outside the barrack, I started attending Pentecostal church. During a miracle service in the year 2001, I gave my life to God, but yet I was never truly committed to Jesus, for I still continued in my worldly lifestyle.
When I got married in 2012, I fully became born again, I started attending Christian worker’s training, in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). From there the zeal to know Jesus grew. I became a house fellowship leader.
In 2018, my current pastor prayed and spoke to me about ministering in Church. At first I didn’t want to accept it because I was scared. So I avoided my pastor for some months until he called me again saying that God said he should choose me for ministering in church. I remembered what the Bible said that God has not giving me the spirit of fear but of sound mind, so I accepted and I started working in the vineyard of God. My pastor allowed me to preach on some days and I handled the church workers, every Sundays I exhort and handle the workers meeting.
Due to financial constraint I have not been able to register for a bible college to understand the gospel well and also to earn a certificate. So I went searching for free Christian teaching and the Lord directed me to the Christian Leaders College. I am grateful for these free online courses for it will give me an edge and also make me to accomplish my dream of obtaining a degree/certification, and above all to know God more and better.
I want to be trained as a certified life coach to be able to preach and motivate the younger ones. I want them to know that when they seek first the kingdom of God all their hopelessness will turn to hope.
I need all your support and prayers at CLC for me to be able to achieve my dreams in Christian ministration. God bless CLC.
Receiving Ministry training through a scholarship at CLC in order to bring people to Christ. – My name is Laurynn Vaughn and I was born in Connecticut.
The Makings Of Laurynn
I was raised in a home of two parents that were saved. However, our home lacked the love of Christ. My childhood was void affection and the reassurance that I was loved unconditionally. It was also an abusive environment. I was raised in the church all my life, however I never witnessed the character of a disciple of Christ in the adults around me growing up. I came from discord and chaos, even in the church. When I was 15 I befriended a homosexual female that my parents forbade me to be friends with. I began to sneak and rebel because I thought they just were being judgmental and didn’t love me. My rebellion led to increased abuse and eventually me being removed by child protective services. I lived in a shelter, from family to friends, to being homeless.
My late teenage years and twenties were unstable. I was diagnosed with PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks and depression. I used drugs, I partied, I drank and I lived a sexually immoral lifestyle. I spent these years trying to find someone to love me all the while not being able to recognize and receive love. I attempted suicide on three separate occasions and experience an innumerable amount of suicidal ideations during these times. My last suicide attempt was summer of 2006 after abuse by the person I was in a relationship with. After waking up in the hospital with them by my side, it was a wake up call that there was no way out. I had to go through it. I spent the next few months embarrassed, filled with shame and in a worst emotional state than I had been in prior to the suicide attempt. In January of 2007 I was asked to keep a baby for a mother who was incarcerated. I agreed and in June that baby was born. When I laid eyes on him for the first time, I cried. I couldn’t believe his own family didn’t want to take him for his mom and I couldn’t believe a mess like me was being trusted with this perfect creation. This was the moment I realized I needed Christ in my life. I couldn’t do a thing for myself except fail. But in this moment, I realized if I failed, I wouldn’t be just failing myself, but this child that I was now responsible for. I spent July and August of 2007 trying to ‘be good’ on my own. By September God had found me and caught me completely off guard. I went to my grandmother’s church to drop off pictures. I deliberately reached there when service was expected to be over, only to discover when I arrived, it was still going on. When I popped my head in and she saw me, she immediately waved for me to come in. Next thing I knew I was being told to come up to the alter for prayer and I ended up receiving Christ. The whole world seemed so new to me and it felt like for the first time I was completely aware of my sin and the sin around me. I remember praying and asking God to help me because I didn’t know how to change the environment on my own. God answered that prayer within days and blessed me with a home for the baby and I to start a new chapter in my life.
Growing into Maturity
I continued in my walk of faith over the years following becoming an instant mom. I did however start doing it the way I saw it growing up. I professed Jesus on Sundays, yet Monday to Saturday I still hadn’t surrendered my shame, my past, my issues with abandonment and lack of esteem. I went from one draining relationship to the next; all while still trying to earn my parents love. I came up with this idea that if I were to get married and give them a grandchild, then they would love me. So the next man I dated, within two months of being in a relationship, we got married. I married him knowing he was abusive and knowing that God told me “no” the same day I laid eyes on him. At that time I didn’t realize it was God’s voice. I brushed it off thinking it was me being nervous about him. I spent two years in a toxic and loveless marriage. God used it to still me. He also used it to mature me in my understanding of myself and show me my lack of understanding of love. God also blessed me and showed His love for me by giving me two beautiful daughters from that marriage to be steward over. My husband left us when I was 6 months pregnant with our second child. I believe God allowed that pain and betrayal to take place because He knew it was the precise thing I needed, to break what was left of me, so He could do the work of deliverance and restoration. My divorce was finalized in December 2016 and the initial feelings of failure, abandonment and betrayal that the enemy meant for my emotional harm, God turned around for my good. I became consistent with counseling, consistent with church and I started volunteering. He gave me life so abundant with love and peace that there’s days I think about how far He’s brought me and I get overwhelmed with gratefulness. Where would I be if it had not been for Christ? Better yet, who would I be? All of this lead me to pursue a scholarship for Ministry Training at CLC.
My Spiritual Dream
My spiritual dreams is to continue to be like Christ and grow in my understanding of God and His Word. I strive for this everyday by learning to be led so that I can lead. I am a single mother of two daughters and I have to lead by example. I also lead a small group in my church and I founded a non profit with the purpose of assisting others in living a Christ-centered life. I’ve learned that I’m most successful when I let God take the drivers seat in my life and submit to Him every plan and desire I have. The training I’m receiving with Christian Leaders College is so necessary for my continued growth as a Christian Leader. Having a scholarship for Ministry Training at CLC made this possible and is so important because I want and need to be equipped at every level to handle the call of God to discipleship. My vision for my life is to become a Minister and preach the Word of God. It is my prayer that God will use my testimony to save people and bring others back to Him.
Online Bible College Journey – Chaplain David Green
First, I would like to mention what a wonderful opportunity it has been over the past four years, starting as a Christian Leaders Institute student and graduating with a degree from the Christian Leaders College. My online Bible College journey has been blessed!
The Call: Beginnings
When I began my studies, I was not too sure about where or what may lay ahead. Was this the right path for me? How many classes should I take? Should I just get my Commissioned Minister License? Should I pursue an associate degree? Or should I really go all in, grit my teeth, and pursue a bachelor’s degree and get ready for years of studies.
What I did know was that it was the Lord’s will for me to get some sort of education in ministry. Conversations with the Lord were: “Are you sure you want me to pursue a 4-year degree? Because that will take a lot of commitment, and I have so many other things going on.” I felt as if God said, “You know what I want you to do. Now stop complaining because I am preparing you for something you do not even know yet.” Even in the beginning, I did know what the Lord wanted of me. I was not sure I wanted to listen.
To start, I took courses and got awards in the adult education program at Christian Leaders Institute. Many, many hours have gone by studying in airports, early mornings, late nights, even on vacations when I traveled with my family. I am not sure I would even want to know the number of hours I have spent studying.
Ministry Journey into Chaplaincy
Back in 2012 was when I felt that being in the Ministry as a vocation was where I needed to go. It was not necessarily wanted, but needed. It honestly feels like a lifetime ago, and it almost seems surreal that this part of my journey is about to end. Now one of the biggest commitments I have ever made is about to begin. After two and a half years of studies and the Lord working in my life by putting certain individuals in my path, I decided to not only get ordained through CLI but to continue a higher degree and pursue a Bachelor’s of Chaplaincy degree at the Christian Leaders College.
I volunteered as a first responder Chaplain in September of 2019. A traumatic event occurred in my life a few years ago. In working through and getting past this event, it helped me realize even more exactly where God was calling me. Being a first responder chaplain has been difficult and has had many challenges. The classes I have taken help with those challenges.
Full-time Chaplain Opportunity
In April of this year, the Executive Chaplain made known his plan to retire in August. A few people told me that I should think about applying. I was not sure I should consider this position as I am or was not the most qualified at the time the idea was presented to me. However, I sent in my application in June. Then I hunkered down for many months studying any chance I could get to finish my degree. I knew the degree would help with being offered the position. I was interviewed for the job this September and was asked soon after if I would accept the position.
On October 1, 2020, I will be beginning the new full-time Assistant Chaplain position. It is hard to grasp that it is actually happening. I am also finishing my degree at the same time. I know my degree work helped significantly in my application. With help from CLI and CLC, this dream has become a reality.
It is hard to put into words how I felt when offered the position, and how I still feel today. I have prayed for many years for this day to come. That the Lord would allow being in Ministry to be my life’s work. Now it is happening. Many hard days are to come, I know. But with the Lord’s strength and never forgetting why I do what I am doing, I know I can succeed. With this new position, I will be serving all the first responders of Central Oregon (fire, law enforcement, dispatch, etc.). The Lord has truly given me a heart that loves and respects our first responders. To be able to care for them is an honor!
Growth on My Online Bible College Journey
I have experienced growth in a myriad of ways throughout this journey. One of the most basic of ways has been discipline. Being a husband, father of two, and working a full-time job, it has taken strong discipline to get to this point. There have been days or weeks that I genuinely wanted to quit and thought the task was too great. But my desire and love for God kept me on track. I have not only met but exceeded my goals.
One of the most valuable things I have learned throughout this whole process has been on how to be a leader. Classes such as “Leadership”, “Life Coaching”, and “Introduction to Chaplaincy” have taught me what it means to be a leader. They have also taught me what it is to be like our Savior in becoming a servant leader. As Jesus stated, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” There is no better person to model after then Jesus when he lived among us. He lived a life of servanthood and became a leader by not only saying but living a life that was honorable. Every aspect of his life can be learned from.
Being a leader does not mean you become a person that is full of pride and arrogance. As Proverbs 29:23 puts it, “Pride brings a man low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor”. Paul writes to the Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” In becoming a full-time Chaplain this is how I must live: To serve as Jesus served while on earth and to love as He loves.
Knowledge Gained on My Online Bible College Journey
The knowledge that I have gained from all the classes is invaluable. Many of my favorite classes were ones where Dr. David Feddes was the instructor. I truly enjoyed his teaching, his style, and his “Back to God Hour.” I wish I knew about his program back when it was on the radio. I would like to get the opportunity to thank him someday.
Another class that I absolutely enjoyed was Philosophy. I dreaded the idea of taking this class for years, so I kept putting it off. But this class was much different then what you would get at the university. Many universities can be biased and one-sided. So as a Christian, this class fit and did not feel overly one-sided.
I have learned about and listened to many different theologians, philosophers, and pastors throughout the course of my studies. One of my favorites was Francis Schaeffer. His series called “How Should We Then Live” was wonderful. I plan to watch this series of videos many times over. I enjoyed the way he approached Christian history and philosophy in a way that anyone can grasp. There was a lot of information to benefit any minister, evangelist, and apologist.
A Favorite Class on My Online Bible College Journey
Another of my favorite classes was “Prayer”. Too often prayer is overlooked and becomes the last resort when it comes to having a relationship with our Lord. Prayer needs to be an everyday occurrence. Pray when we get up, before we eat, while driving to work, and before we lay our heads down to sleep. An aspect the I really enjoyed learning and have kept is how to pray. Dr. Feddes described a good rule of thumb in using the acronym ACTS, which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. This acronym has really helped my private and public prayer life.
Challenges Faced on My Online Bible College Journey
One of the most challenging aspects over the past four years has been to stay committed, positive, and dedicated. Many of the classes have been quite challenging and to stay motived each day and press on was not always easy. What I kept reminding myself was that I was not doing it for me, but I was doing it to better myself and grow. Then I will be better equipped to help others and fulfill God’s calling on my life. Knowing this truth made the times when I did not feel like studying more manageable.
A New Journey Begins
As you can already tell from above, completing this degree is the beginning of a journey that has been in the works for quite some time. So, it has had and will have a dramatic impact on my family.
My prayer is that with this new journey of being a full-time Chaplain I can make my kids and my wife proud. I pray that as my kids grow older, they will understand why Daddy made this significant change in their lives (I am actually crying while writing this). It was a change that made things more difficult, but one that reflects what it means to follow and believe in Christ no matter what and allow His Will to rule over my own. I am putting my faith in God more than I ever have with this change – financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. However, with the knowledge I have gained with this degree, I have grown into a more godly man. I know that I am ready, and my family supports me and my walk with the Lord.
Thank you all! Know that each and every one of you is loved and appreciated. May God bless and keep you!
Our very own staff member, Abigail Reyenga-Dominiak, recently finished her Associate of Divinity degree with Christian Leaders College! Her story speaks to how her studies the last several years have been one of the best journeys of her life.
One of the Best Journeys
In reflection of my Associate studies at Christian Leaders College, it becomes clear that this training was one of the best journeys of my life. In the first place, this is because it has further prepared me for my ministry work. I thank God for the opportunity to take free online college courses where I have the honor of working. In addition to this, each course has enriched my life emotionally and spiritually. Not only that, but they have also equipped me with more knowledge in ministry. As I continue working as the Vision Partner Advocate and Christian Leaders Institute Director, I see how these courses have trained me to better assist and encourage fellow students and graduates.
These experiences have molded me as I refine how to seek the Lord’s will in each decision I make. Upon the completion of this academic achievement, it is my hope and prayer that my family and friends can see the transformation these studies have had on my life. My husband, Mitchell, has been one source of encouragement on the spiritual growth I have experienced with CLI. As I have progressed through this degree, he has observed the positive effects it has had on my personal walk with God. I pray the Holy Spirit will continue to lead me to use what I have learned in my studies to advance His Kingdom as I continue to serve at Christian Leaders Ministries.
Classes That Resonate
As I reflect on studies, many of the classes have personally resonated with and impacted me. Those required for the Associate of Divinity degree include People Smart for Ministry, Old Testament and New Testament Survey, College Algebra, and Management by the Book. People Smart for Ministry will always stand out to me. Apart from the Biblical Greek and beginner courses, it was one of the first classes I took that made me realize how much I value taking classes with CLI. One example where I practically applied this course’s content was in high school.
At the time, I remember trying to put into practice the people smart skills I was learning to those around me. One thing I will always remember from that class is the importance of listening and smiling. A heartfelt smile can go a long way in brightening someone’s day and coming across as someone full of the joy of the Lord. Also, there were a lot of vital tips on how to make a good first impression. This is important as I meet many fellow brothers and sisters at CLI.
I loved the Old Testament and New Testament Survey, because it practically walked me through the whole Bible. Not to mention, the courses provided a lot of insight into the authors of various books of the Bible. In addition to this, the background and illuminated many of the messages that were shared in various Bible stories. Growing up as a Pastor’s daughter, I read and knew a lot of the Bible stories. However, taking this course highlighted and shed new light on many of the truths and stories of the Bible.
Appreciation and Challenges
My love for College Algebra stems from my previous appreciation for mathematics. My passion for math fueled my rate at which I completed the class. As a matter of fact, it was the fastest I ever completed a course. I enjoyed being reminded, as well as learning new principles of Algebra. Overall, I did appreciate many of the other core required courses too. I enjoyed Management by the Book as Pastor Steve Elzinga reflected and demonstrated management principles from Philemon 1. Prior to enrollment, I wouldn’t have thought I could learn so much from one chapter of the Bible. I love how the word of God has so many different truths we can obtain from just one chapter. I am praying that God continues to guide me in management at CLI.
Some of the most challenging classes I took were Advanced English Comprehension, Philosophy 101, and Biblical Greek. For me personally, Advanced English Comprehension and Philosophy 101 contained the most challenging and thought-provoking content in all my training at CLI. I found the material difficult at various times. Both courses provided me with an educational growth opportunity. I had to work hard to pass with a grade that was reflective of the dedication I put into my studies. The Biblical Greek courses were tricky as well. Learning a new language is very time-consuming, but definitely worth it. From this class, It was revealed to me how reading the New Testament in its original written language is such a rewarding experience. I definitely need to touch-up on my biblical Greek as that was the first couple of courses I did at CLI in 2011.
A Blessing to Many
The past nine years of studying at CLI have brought times of testing, and even more times of growth in my relationship with my heavenly Father. My studies have opened the eyes of my heart in many areas of my life. I have learned ministry skills about the history of the church as well as how to communicate. I have learned about church planting, pastoral care, and ultimately, I have furthered my biblical knowledge. God has been so faithful to me throughout all my studies. My family, friends, and CLI family has been so encouraging to me. They have spurred me onto receiving this degree. God has blessed me with such a beautiful support system. I cannot thank God enough for all he has given me!
Christian Leaders Ministries is a blessing to so many Christians worldwide. It is providing debt-free, high-quality college degrees. I am so thankful to be finishing my Associate of Divinity degree and very close to finishing my Bachelor of Divinity too! What I have learned has been life-changing. It has molded me into more of a Christian leader – reaching the world for Christ. I have much more to learn, and I am excited to embark on finishing my Bachelor’s degree.
Thank you Christian Leaders College for all you have taught me over the past nine years. They have greatly blessed me! Studying at CLC is truly a gift from God. May I always glorify, honor, and trust God in all I do in Jesus’ name. Because this was one of the best journeys, I am very excited to continue onto the next part of my journey at CLC!
In reflection on his time at Christian Leaders College, Mark Peverett says that the Bachelor of Ministry degree program fully equipped him with the tools he needed to lead.
An Inspiring Journey
This has been a truly inspiring journey. Fulfilling, rewarding and comprehensive are some of the descriptive words that come to mind. One can hardly believe that a quality, college-level degree of such a high standard is available for free anywhere.
I completed the Bachelor of Divinity degree in May of this year. The major reason I took that course was to broaden and reinforce my understanding of the Christian faith. Having been a Christian for most of my life, I still felt that I was on shaky ground. In particular, I felt this way when it came to apologetics and theology. The courses changed my entire outlook and really convicted me. The more I learned, the more I realized how much there was still to learn. The more I learned, the deeper my conviction became. I started the degree course in Ministry in order to equip myself to put what I had learned into practice. In addition to this, I want to be able to give back. I want to be as fully equipped as possible to minister and fulfill the Great Commission to the best of my ability.
Developing House Churches
The course on developing house churches was both insightful and enlightening. I hope to develop a house church when and if the opportunity arises. Some of the challenges I face at the moment are language and culture. I am a South African living in Ghana. Under these circumstances, I think it would be quite a challenge to start a house church here. Not impossible I guess – but challenging. It is far easier to do with one’s wife and family involved. I am a “part time” bachelor with a full-time job. My wife and daughters live in South Africa and I travel back and forth every 2 months or so. It is certainly something I would like to do when I am finally reunited with my wife full time.
Philosophy and Psychology
The course on Christian Philosophy was intriguing. It is not a subject that would normally grab my attention. However, this was an eye-opener and I am thrilled that this was part of the curriculum. In addition to this, I have held management positions for most of my adult life. I assumed that I was well versed in enterprise. I thought that the Enterprise course would be a course that I could teach. It was a humbling experience to realize how little I knew. It is not too late to pass on what I have learned in my courses. The content is helpful to me when advising and ministering to my children, as well as the many younger people I interact with.
The introduction to Psychology was challenging yet fascinating. I think everyone accepts that the brain is incredibly complex. The millions and millions of lightning-fast interactions are like millions of miracles happening within us all the time that we are unaware of. I cannot fathom how anybody can doubt that God exists when everything within us is so beautifully and perfectly ordered. God, in His infinite wisdom, has created each one of us to be unique and perfectly part of His own grand design. There are so many character types and personality traits that all complement each other. As the apostle Paul has taught: we are all unique, but nevertheless, part of one body. Our individual differences strengthen the whole.
Our family has a history of anxiety disorders as well as mental illness. This course gave me a much clearer understanding of the multitude of possible mental and emotional conditions. Many of these are a result of genetics, while others could be caused by a traumatic experience. Without a clearer understanding, it is all too easy to be dismissive and to assume the affected person will – or should just get over it. It must be traumatic living with a debilitating condition that few people fully grasp.
A Thriving Marriage
My wife and I have been married for 36 years this August. I am the lucky one – I have an awesome wife. I’m at least as in love with her now as I was when we first met. That is not to say that we have always had an idyllic relationship or that we have not had more than our fair share of challenges. We have definitely had rocky patches and I thank the Lord that my wife has had the fortitude or downright stubbornness to stick with me through thick and thin. A lesser woman would have headed for the hills long ago.
How I wish that I had taken the course on thriving marriages many years ago. Even after 36 years, this has been helpful for me. I have a better understanding of my own flaws as well as the vast differences in thinking and approaches to various situations between men and women. Physically, the difference between the genders is obvious. The stark but invisible difference is in the way that our thought processes and emotions function. If I had known all of this when I was younger it would have saved me much agonizing and soul-searching, not to mention unnecessary anger and frustration.
A Traumatic Time
The Introduction to Chaplaincy course has been particularly helpful given the traumatic time that most of the world is going through now, with the Coronavirus wreaking havoc indiscriminately. I have found myself counseling and comforting many people, none less than within my own family. It has been tough dealing with loss my own loss while trying to comfort others.
I lost my youngest brother to this dreadful disease ten days ago. My daughter and 8-month-old grandson have been hospitalized. My grandson was born two months premature, so his little lungs are struggling. Needless to say, all of our close family are feeling emotionally bruised. Whilst no amount of study or knowledge can dull the pain, it has given me a clearer understanding of the stages of grief. It has helped me to have a heightened awareness of my own utterances and the need to lend a listening and empathetic ear rather than to give unsolicited advice. I have a bad habit of being to quick to voice my opinion – often completing someone else’s sentences. I fear I would not have the awareness of my own behavior if I had not taken this course.
What I have learned has been particularly helpful in conversation with my elderly mother. As with any parent, the loss of her child has been a serious blow. Emotionally, she is very fragile. I hope that I have been able to give at least a small measure of comfort.
Equipped with the Tools to Lead
The quality and diversity of the courses that Christian Leaders College offers is incredible. For most of my life I have felt like a passenger in church. Now I have been equipped with the tools to take a more active leadership role. Previously, I felt that I would be an imposter. Despite my strong conviction, I felt inadequate without any formal training. There is hardly a meaningful subject that has not been covered in the courses I have taken. I plan to continue to take courses beyond what was required for this degree, because my studies with CLC have left me yearning for more.
The Lord led Kyle Parcher on a new journey that he did not expect: one that was filled with pain and confusion, but also beauty and true freedom in Christ. Read his story to hear more about his journey and the ways in which God continues to lead him.
Getting My Attention
The past four years here at Christian Leaders Institute and College have been amazing. I started this journey in 2017 while lying on my back in bed due to an injury. The Lord was attempting to get my attention. I had spent my life wrapped around money and how much I could personally create. There were times that I would let God in, but in most cases I spent a fair amount of time marveling at what I had accomplished. The Lord had other plans for me. The day I fell off of my roof was day one of a new journey.
Change of Plans and a New Journey
When I was eighteen, I attended college at Philadelphia College of Bible. My dad called and asked me to come home, just as I was starting my sophomore year. He was battling stage four cancer. So I packed my things and started home, not knowing what to expect. I told God then that if he really wanted me to go to college, then He would have to make it free. My life has been amazing. I met my now wife of 26 years, settled down, and started my own business. Once we had our four boys, life sped up to 120 miles an hour. I dove into money: finding it under rocks and hanging in trees. I found it extremely easy to make. This gave me a sense of accomplishment, and the older I got it became more of game really than anything.
In November of 2016, we were redoing our roof. Before we had time to get the shingles on, snow and rain started to fall. I watched the rain that was now forming in my uber expensive home. Drywall started to cave, and it was time to fix the problem. As I stepped out onto the roof, I swear I heard God tell me not to, but bold Kyle went out anyways. That was day one of a new journey.
Around 2018, I could not understand why I was studying at CLI/ CLC. My then current church was pushing hard against the schooling. The pastor refused mentorship, and this led to frustration. He does not have a degree and feels that it is unnecessary. He said that, “The Spirit will lead you to all knowledge”. My wife and I started praying to see if the Lord was leading us to serve elsewhere. Sure enough, one year after I started praying, he led me to the little Christian Reformed Church (CRC) across the street. In July of 2019, I was installed as their paid youth pastor. Not only was the pastor ecstatic with my schooling, he has also become my best friend.
God knew exactly where he needed me to serve, and the classes at CLI and CLC were a crash course. Everything I needed to know was right here. My pastor is a Calvin Seminary graduate, and he knows almost everyone who teaches here as well. However, I did not grow up CRC. I went to a Christian Reformed high school, but everything they did was foreign to me. My church when I was a child until now has been non-denominational. My studies here opened my eyes to a whole new line of thinking. I was not converted on every topic. I still believe in dunk baptisms and the sinner’s prayer, but I am not opposed to sprinkling baptisms or professions of faith.
Removing the Veil
My favorite class here was Hermeneutics and Exegesis with professors Dr. Jeff Weima and Dr. David Feddes. This class helped me to better understand how to read God’s word for all it’s worth. I was listening to one of the lectures while driving one day and it was like a veil fell from my eyes. In fact, I was so amazed by what I learned that I emailed professor Weima right away.
Here is part of the letter I wrote to him: “Today, I was listening to your video on “The Necessity of Hermeneutics” and started weeping at the end. The Lord removed a veil of darkness from my spiritual eyes. A veil that I have carried most of my life and one that Satan has poked at for years. The fear of inadequacy to preach and teach was removed. I am confident to move forward in growing and learning coupled with teaching, and I am not afraid anymore. I sent up a thanks of praise to God for you today.”
I am not sure what the Lord has next for me, but I am going to push hard to finish my studies here at CLI and CLC. With only eight classes standing between me and my Bachelor of Divinity degree, I hope to have that completed by January. I do want to move on. I am looking forward to a master’s program, but I am not sure whom I can take that with yet. The field of study is counseling and it needs to be a program that helps me obtain my state license. I am praying that CLC earns their accreditation, as this will open many doors for students to go into the master’s programs of our choice.