Stories of Degree Students
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I was saved on May 2nd 2014, but this is a story for another time. Today I will share how I came to be a student at CLI, what I have learned along the way, the challenges I have encountered, my favorite classes, and finally how CLI has affected my ministry. I cannot assure you that what you discover here will make sense or provide a clear understanding of the journey that has carried me to this point, or why I have been blessed this way, or even what purpose God has chosen me for. That sure would be nice, neat, and clean for the both of us. Although my understanding of what I am experiencing grows as my trust and faith does. I am far from articulating any of it in a coherent, understandable manner. What has become clear to me these last few years while attending CLI is that God is using me for something bigger than me. For something that serves his good purposes in this world. And I am so very happy and grateful for that!
Shortly after my salvation I was filled with a deep desire to know the Lord. I was drawn to my newly acquired bible by a powerful calling to read it. It was supernatural. It’s all I thought about during the day. It filled me with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning as I thought about what I would discover next while reading it. The gifts it blessed me with did not disappoint. My compulsion to immerse myself and soak in His word overwhelmed me. I could not read it fast enough even though most of it didn’t make sense to me. I just couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t get it into me fast enough. It was like a dream most of which I couldn’t recall but knew in my heart was good. In time I began to understand more and more of what I was reading but knew I needed help. That is when God blessed me with Christian Leaders Institute that has taught me about Jesus and Christianity’s Impact on the people and civilizations in the world. The more I learned about Jesus the more I began to learn how to love people, do kind things, and play a good part in helping the world find truth.
Along the way the Lord stretched and challenged me to grow by commanding me to make Him first in this life. I began to recognize his voice as my relationship with Him grew stronger, more intimate, and personal. In order to do this I had to surrender control of my destiny to Him, let go of my expectations in this life, and try to always remain humble. All these things appeared to be simple enough and probably would be if I weren’t in the world. In my quest for a more loving, intimate, personal relationship with my Father in heaven I found myself continually confronted with worldly challenges, needs, and desires. So, my biggest challenges have been learning to trust Him, make Him first in all that I do, and to surrender my own will to His. And to accept that He will never abandon me, always provide what is best for me, and love me unconditionally for all eternity.
Dr. Ted Hildebrandt’s course on Biblical Literature, History, and Theology is my favorite course so far. I attribute this to his passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the course material. A close second is Reverend Dr. Adam Navis’s course on basic writing. As with Dr. Hildebrant Dr. Navis’s passion and enthusiasm for the course material combined with his sincere encouragement was inspirational to me. Right behind that was Dr. Sally Vaughn’s course on World History. Her comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter accompanied by her patience, and compassionate teaching style motivated me to absorb as much of her expertise as I was capable of. But honestly, I enjoyed almost all the courses and professors who gave so much of themselves so that I may come to the place where I am now, filled with an insatiable hunger to continue learning, writing, and growing. They have all been an encouragement to me and have inspired me on my walk with God.
The ministry journey I am on is becoming clearer as I continue walking the path God has willed for me in this world. Christian Leaders Institute has awakened me to how the example of my life will help those near to me turn towards God. How I can witness the truth as God reveals it to me to those who are right now where I was in this world yesterday, lost, feeling alone, and desperate. Christian Leaders Institute is helping me to understand why God chose me and the miraculous transformation he has and continues to make in me and my life in this world. I am now much better equipped to share my testimony through the gifts of writing, teaching, and speaking that He is blessing me with today. God willing one day soon I will help those brothers and sisters who are seeking a relationship with our Father to begin on their journey of faith right where they are, no matter what their current situation or circumstances may be through writing about the miracles I have experienced and see happening around me every day in this world.
So, as 2018 comes to an end I can look back over the last three years with joy and gratitude for the miraculous transformation God has and continues to make in my life in this world. Today I am blessed in every area of this life and filled with enthusiasm for how God will use me as this life unfolds ahead of me. Somehow, someway I would like everyone to experience what I am experiencing. Even though I can’t properly explain what that looks like right now it is becoming clearer as God allows me to hear him, see him, and follow him more closely every day. I would like everyone to come to know the Lord just like I am. God willing I will continue my walk towards completing the journey he wills for me in this world. And Christian Leaders Institute will be at the center of that for me. I am so very happy and grateful for all of you who are making this possible for all of us. God bless you! And a merry Christmas to all!!!
Bachelor of Divinity Degree
I am Marthinus Pretorius, born in 1958 staying in Pretoria, South Africa. I am married and minister with my wife.
I give glory and praise to God for bringing me to a point and place in my life where I can reflect on my studies through CLI, and for what He has done with and through me the last four years as part of CLI student family.
I want to thank CLI and all the staff for bringing not only free ministry training to students like me, but also for bringing hope in a lost world. Hope that can still bring about change to people’s lives through the obedience of leaders like Pastor Henry who has started CLI, and for every leader that has joined. I want to include every one, because it will be an injustice to name just a few.
My sincere appreciation and thanks also to CLI for granting me a scholarship to complete the Associate of Divinity as well as the Bachelor of Divinity Degrees. Without your help it was not possible for me to complete the degrees
In 2000, I had a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit that changed my life and took me out of my comfort zone. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit quickened my calling and passion for ministry. The encounter began a process of purifying and confirmation, both in Retha and me. I began ministering to others on an informal way and was soon joined by Retha, who accepted her calling after a period of responding, ” No,… ministry is not for me…!”
I had to learn the hard way, that by accepting your calling and walking with Jesus, it is almost guaranteed that you will experience some form of rejection, false accusations, jealousy, hate and things not always associated with a “godly” person.
Fortunately, in our walk with God, we experienced the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit, the supernatural provision of God and the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. He gave me the passion to minister HIS Word and to be part of healing so many people who seek their salvation in ways other than through the Lord.
I enrolled with CLI in August 2014. I completed the Getting started class but for a few months I struggled with some issues and eventually when I started again, I could not stop. It was as if I had a new outlook on my studies. I was motivated and started a journey allowing the Lord to break down false perspectives about Him, and to discover the reality of the truth of God’s love for me. It was a journey of gaining knowledge, and of experiencing the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in me. It was a journey full of tears and at the same time joy!
I have done classes that have shaped and changed my thoughts on what fulltime ministry really is about, and what my role should be in the proper and practical implementation of guidelines set by the Lord in His Word so that He will get the glory.
If I think back, the Theology classes gave me new insight into the person of the God we serve, the God who created and sustains everything. Through my studies I have met the real Jesus who restored my relationship with God the Father. Through the Biblical Interpretation classes I have discovered the incredible love that God has for us. I have discovered who I am in the Lord.
I also enjoyed the Church Planting class and it helped me in planting a House Church and to assist some CLI students with the planting of their churches and ministries. We have now trained students who are part of the church to also minister on Sundays. That gives us the opportunity to once again go out to minister on invitation in the whole of South Africa and elsewhere.
If I have to highlight classes that was challenging for me, Biblical Greek 1 stands out. I had no prior knowledge about Biblical languages, but through studying this class I became aware of the importance of understanding the reasoning and message the original writers wanted to convey to us, the readers.
It is a joy studying through CLI. The lectures are all of a high standard, and it is uplifting and inspiration to see and hear the CLI lecturers in action.
I am in full time ministry with my wife. I am the senior Pastor at Christian Leaders Community Church in Pretoria. Our vision is to equip individuals for works of service.I share the Christian Leaders Institute dream of free ministry training. We have been assisting Church leaders in the past with problems in their churches and that enables us to help CLI students with similar problems.
In a video, as part of the Philosophy class, Dr Ravi Zacharias spoke on choices and mentioned that we have to recognise our accountability before God. I thought about that and realized that the only way I can do that, is to know Jesus. I wrote the following, and it will be part of my ministry for the future: “Your knowledge of the reality of the cross will determine the way you recognise your accountability before God”.
CLI enabled me to live out God’s dream for me and to minister in a total new way.
I started ministering to other CLI students by hosting regular meetings for mentoring purposes as well as assisting them in ministry needs such as formally registering their ministries and facilitating practical ministry training sessions. We also assist new students enrolling at CLI and facilitate Ordination services for CLI students.
We hosted a number of CLI student meetings throughout the year where we could share ministry problems and as a group gave advice on how to deal with specific problems. It was also my priviledge to mentor seven students on individual basis during the last year and to see how they grew nto their callings.
The launch of the Minister Mentor program brough about some challenges in South Africa, and we will be part of assiting new mentors setting up mentor centers. From our meetings with students, we have identified the need for assiting new mentors with a program to get them started. As from January 2019, we will be hosting teaching sessions for new mentors, helping them to identify students in their areas that can be part of the centers, and assisting with arranging and conducting meetings.
I have written a course on Practical ministry and have also opened participation to students attending our local meetings. The content of the course has been changed to assist those who want to formalize their churches by registering it with the government institutions, assisting with marriage officer registration as well as ministry protocol and ministry team protocol and training. These sessions were attended by a number o Pastors, and subsequent to them attending the course, they have enrolled with CLI.
I am planning a ministry trip to Botswana, our neighboring Country with a view to discuss CLI training with a group of people. We will also advice our hosts on the possible starting of House Churches. We are very excited about the doors that the Holy Spirit is opening.
In 2012 I wrote a book in Afrikaans (my home language) about our walk with the Holy Spirit. During my studies with CLI I edited the content of the book and I translated it into English. This will be available in electronic format shortly. We are planning to use this as a ministry tool to help people get into their calling for ministry.
i believe that when we unconditionally make Jesus King of our life, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us and work through us – then we will be able to walk into His calling for us.
I believe that spiritual leaders are being prepared in South Africa (and other parts of the world) to be part of God’s plan to restore and heal our land and it’s people.
Nowadays in certain Seminaries in South africa, the character of God is being attacked and it is said that the Bible is based on Greek mythology and other myths, etc. – even that Jesus is not the Son of God! For this reason I will not stop promoting CLI wherever I can.
In taking the PeaceSmart Relationships class I realized how important reconciliation and forgiveness is.
In a political volatile South Africa there is a need for Christian Leaders of all races and genders to stand and fill the gap that separates peoples. CLI Christian Leaders in SA are and will play a pivotal role in reconciliation and the spreading of the true message of the Gospel of Christ
There is a general teaching that reconciliation should follow forgiveness. Reconciliation focuses on the healing of relationships between people. Forgiveness can be done by one person, but reconciliation needs two parties. This means that you can forgive even if the other party does not want to do so.
I am grateful to the Lord for allowing me to walk with my spouse on this special road, as part of God’s work in His Kingdom.
We will apply what we have learned through our studies at CLI to make a difference where we can.
Again, all glory to God for the work done by CLI and everybody involved in it
With Regards in the Name of our Lord Jesus
3 January 2019
As a called Servant of God, Christian Leaders Institute training has been generally a great resource development for my ministry calling; my knowledge has increased in all aspects of life, my sermon presentation has improved. More doors for serving God have been opened for me as I preach the word of God. In some places, after my preaching immediately people would come to me and request me to go and preach in their churches. I have receiving invitations to go and preach in conferences and over the radio, etc. This has all been by the grace of God working in me.
The training gave me knowledge and better understand of the Old Testament laws and other parts of the Bible that were difficult for me. Courses like Economics, Astronomy, world History, Sociology and Philosophy have given me general knowledge in life. Some the of courses were very controversial but, that is how the world is, and as Christian leaders, we have to get this general knowledge in order to guide the church on the right way of life.
One more thing is that my spiritual life has been strengthened especially in the area of my prayer life. Our Family devotion has been strengthened with Bible readings every day, and we issue Bible to all our kids at family devotions every day, even to the one who cannot read so that they learn from us as we read. I have seen God working in my family. One of my children who is 3 years old loves gospel music so much and when he is playing music he doesn’t want to stop, but when it is time for family prayer, he stops the music and prays with us.
Family restoration. This is another ministry which God is doing through us and this has made us a blessing to many families through counseling. A case in point is that there was a Pastor whose family was breaking off, his wife complained that her husband was too “holy”. All the time he is for prayer and fasting and does not have time for his family, not even doing his duty as a man. She started packing her things to quit the marriage. This became a real concern for us. This man of God church was living ten kilometer away from where his family was staying, and most of the time he would sleep even there. On that day when his wife was packing to quit the marriage he was doing ministry in church. As a brother in the Lord I called him to come back, but he told me that he didn’t have the transport. So I told him that I would go and pick you, which I did after he had accepted. When we came back with him we sat him down and counseled them with my wife and they reconciled and were restored. They are now living a happy life and God has blessed them with another child and they have planted a new church and their ministry is moving on well.
Again God gave me the grace to talk to a professor who didn’t take advice from most people just because of his status; that he is intelligent, yet his family was tearing apart. His wife was about to quit that marriage because he does not provide for his family. He spent his money on drinking. One day his wife called me to go and help them but the man refuse to sit and listen to us because he was busy. I thank God because at last he gave us audience and things changed for the better in their marriage.
One other impact of CLI training in my ministry calling is that I wrote a paper entitled “Starting a Family” which has helped me in doing pre- marital counseling. The content is good and it will continue to be great resource for my ministry.
A bigger ministry opportunity that lies ahead of me and my wife is planting a church. We are still praying for it so that God may guide us on how to go about this. We want to share this with our pastor but we are still waiting upon God for his guidance. At the moment we are the only family which travels the longest distance to reach church, but we are still very thankful to God for his provisions that he has given us land and home. We are now relieved of the burden of renting. We have started children ministries at our home which is being run by my wife. We have seen God doing his work. Parents who not believers are sending their kids and the number has grown up to 15 children ranging from age group 4 to 12 years. We are planning to begin reaching their parents one by one with the gospel through their children and continue to see where the lord will lead us.
My favorite classes were Old Testament survey and Management by Books. In Old Testaments survey, I learned that most of the Scriptures were a shadow pointing to Jesus. Many prophecies were speaking about Jesus. In management by book, I found best conflict management that work very well in homes setting and other organizations that have the same goals to achieve.
In any journey to success, challenges are there. So for me, courses that were challenging include the following: Economics, World History and Church History.
One other challenge was internet connection which is not available in other places, poor in other places and expensive. So most of the time for download of course materials and video l had to do by nights with cheaper night Internet bundle.
The Divinity degree I am perusing is my highest achievement in my academics level at the moment, So far I had diploma in Architecture, but this is another higher level by God grace. I give thank to the founder of CLI and the entire team of CLI for this great work of God. He has given you the vision to train Christian Leaders.
Our country Uganda is coming up with law that all pastors should have certificate from Bible schools. So this training is of great help for my ministry calling. So I will not be limited because I don’t have certificate. We are praying because this may affect many churches since many pastors are not Bible scholars, and many churches may be closed because their Pastors are not trained from Bible schools.
In addition to that, other ministry work that I do is that I am an Associate Pastor. In our church my senior Pastor has given me the responsibility to lead the marrieds’ fellowship. We have done the planning for this year. In this we have included fellowship schedule, prayer for the family and retreat for the marrieds at the end of the year.
Prepared By: Nyeko Richard
A Reflection On My Training Ministry Journey
by Donny Dominique
In the beginning of 2017, I had made a resolution to do some courses in Theology. That being said I started searching for online programs. After much research, I landed on the Christian Leaders Institute and began preliminary courses. It led to completion of my diploma in Ministry. The quality of the courses and the study habits I started to cultivate led me to want to continue studying and registered to do the Associates in Divinity and now the Bachelors in Divinity.
Professor Ted Hildebandt during the Biblical Greek 1, made a comment that he was an Instructor’s Assistant who would come along side to help as he recognizes with this method of online learning I was the student and the Instructor at the same time. This was so true for me in that I was able to go at my own rate day or night once I had internet access using my laptop or smart phone to work. Daily when I woke up, prayed or had my devotion, I would literally be itching to start my study either reading materials, listening to audio or video. Thus I mastered the art of multitasking. I thought I was good at it before but I think I got my “PHD in Multitasking” during this journey.
In the morning while making the family breakfast, I would be studying course materials. When walking the dog (Buster) I would listen, and rehearse materials. At work once I had a break or over lunch, I would go online do continue working. When I got home in the evening, once I spent time with the boys, had dinner, and freshened up I would get to work again. During this journey I took a much needed break from my favorite TV shows to devote much time to course work. My wife will tell you, so to speak, that is a sacrifice for me, as this has been one of my favorite past time. At some point I felt a little guilty of not spending quality time with the wife, since on most evenings I would go sleep past midnight doing as much work as I could. It was good however to be able to share with her as I learn and to have points of discussion on the various subject matter covered throughout the journey. I am grateful to her for assisting me with editing most of my papers which were submitted, as she is trained and gifted.
My motivation and passion has been due to setting goals for myself for each class and the course as a whole to accomplish this journey. I asked my brethren to pray for me so I could continue despite discouragement, which could and will surface from time to time. I must say God has been good. He has seen me through the tough times of the journey and given me the fortitude to stay on course.
In the continuation of my journey from the Associates degree to the Bachelors there were several new classes that had to be done both general and Biblical to meet the course requirements, and as such I wanted to share a few highlights.
In the general classes I really enjoyed the English Comprehension with professor Denise Eide. The way she broke down the fundamentals of reading and spelling, expanded my vocabulary of words and my understanding of the best practices for different learning styles and understanding the disabilities. I for one was a product of the public school system, and I struggled at elementary school with reading, and I am thankful because of my church family I overcame, but for other it has been a problem that went on into their adult life. She really simplified a lot of the rules of English and gave me a better understanding and appreciation for the language. Another general class which I covered as an elective was Communication with Steve Elzinga, who did a great job as an experience communicator, gave a proper understanding of communication, gave proper practices of tactful and compelling communication. I am really thankful for the practices he shared with sermon delivery to local church and other audiences. The tips he shared for example using more jokes and stories has been added to my delivery style.
The study of Historical classes was quite insightful. I was not born in United States and as such it was helpful to study U.S. History with professor Tyrone Tiller, who was very articulate and interesting to the ear. He took me through a journey of important persons and events in American History from the Civil War to present; he identified the political, social, economic and cultural development during these periods. This allow me to form my own conclusion on the American life and culture in our time shaped by the past. The World History class instructed by Richard Hamstra was refreshing to understand the world that we live in and how it was shaped by dynasties and their cultures long before my time from the early Mesopotamians, Chinese and Europeans. And in Early Church History class it was useful to be reminded of the important events, persons, and trends in the first century church as seen in the New Testament and substantiated by contemporary historians like Justin Martyrs. It’s good to have extra biblical evidence which solidifies the theme of the book of Revelation. It is amazing the persecutions and atrocities the early Christians endured for Christ, and today, at least in the west, we have religious freedoms that we should not take for granted for a moment.
The Biblical classes were extremely helpful in both deepening and broadening my knowledge. The two studies with Ray Vander Laan on Biblical Interpretation was not short of amazing. The journey to Palestine and Asia Minor cities to discover archeological finds, provide the biblical history and to make application for our modern day Christian has been a tremendous blessing. Many of my Old Testament and New Testament questions have been answered through this exposition. It was interesting that he shared passionately on his personal walk with God and made himself vulnerable.
The Evangelism and Grace taught by Ren Broekhuizen and Dr. Ed Roels was a call to remind us of the great commission, and more so living the great commission through everyday living at home, the job, at play; being a living witness and epistles as Paul says, which are seen and read. A very telling statistic that was shared, that is 90 percent of Christians in churches were converted through a friend, or family members; less than 10 percent of the church members are evangelistic; and gospel meetings account for less than 5 percent of conversions in churches hence the need for our personal witness.
The Missions and Revivals class taught by Dr. Bruce Ballast, Dr. David Feddes and President Henry Reyenga was historical review of the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Awakening and the Revivals in America and the world by extension. Dr. Ballast shared from his book “Ordinary People Extraordinary Things.” The Awakening had its start in Europe with the coming of the Pilgrims, and through many men of humble beginnings like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Dwight Moody, through late Billy Graham in our time just to name a few.
There was an entire class on Prayer instructed by Dr. Feddes and Dr. Edwin Roels which was very encouraging for people in ministry like myself. It was important to be reminded of the value of prayer in ministry and the life of the child of God. I was reminded of the types of prayers, namely: Praise, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplications and Intercessions. There were many lessons shared by Dr. Feddes on prayers that I really appreciated like “Praying and Doing.”
In the course I took the following electives, namely: Biblical Wisdom, Biblical Greek and Thriving Marriages. Biblical Wisdom led by Wayne Brouwer, David Feddes and John Piper was an in depth study into the Wisdom Literature to include Job, Psalm, Proverbs, Songs of Songs and Lamentations. After over 30 years being a Christian and reading in particular the Psalm and Proverbs, I got a refreshing perspectives on these books. I really appreciate it and have used some of the material in Bible study at my home congregation.
Thriving Marriage was a class I was really looking forward to getting into after being married for 15 years. Kristine Koetje-Balder did and amazing job sharing from her experience as a Christian Clinical Therapist, from her personal relationship, family and anonymous clients. She dealt with import marital issues like Forgiveness, Conflict Resolutions, Good Listening Skills, Prayer, Anger Management, Gender Difference, Sexual Intimacy and Finance. I have found these topics to be helpful. I decided to start a small group of married for people at church to be get together to be blessed by some of these materials.
The study of Biblical Greek has been such a blessing as I have always wanted to learn Greek since the New Testament is written in that language. This class provide that opportunity, and I was being assisted by one of my favorite instructors, Ted Hilderbrandt. As I started the class it was certainly a challenge to get to learn the Greek Alphabet, then the accents which English does not have. I persevered and found the interaction component of the class quite useful. As I went through the class it was interesting to see the similarity with the French language in term of the accents, verb endings and noun endings etc. This class will continue to help me to do better exegesis of the scripture.
In conclusion, this has been and enriching and fulfilling journey. It’s an experience that will help sharpen the rest of my walk with the Lord. I am able to have greater profound philosophical and theological discussions in scripture having gone through this journey. My hope is to continue to teach, preach and live the Christian life that the learnings will be made manifest in such a meaningful way. I looking to starting a new chapter in graduate study in the not too distant future. I have started doing research on graduate institutions, in addition to the ones suggested in this course.
I really want to thank the President and staff of CLI in helping make this ministry journey a reality. My prayers and support will continue with you all.