By God’s amazing grace and providence, Christian and Fiderana will be the second and third men from Madagascar to be trained at The Master’s Seminary. We can’t be more excited and grateful!
Left to Right: Christian, Soa-Miaina, Haddon & Mikala
Back to Front: Fiderana, Vina, Nampoina, Kasa & Kajy
They will leave our island with their family next week so to get ready to start their first semester in January 2023.
Both men are granted this astounding opportunity through the generosity of donors of The Master’s Academy International and The Master’s Seminary, as well as so many others who are willing to invest through them in raising the next generation of church leaders in Madagascar.
Lord willing, upon completion of their studies, they will return to be part of the faculty of Madagascar 3M Preaching Institute, which will open officially in August 2023 and is currently in the candidacy process to be part of the TMAI network of schools.
Some may ask, “why are you sending them to seminary in the US?” Why uproot them from their current setting and ministry to make them travel thousands of miles to another culture? Can’t they just study in Madagascar? They can, and they have. And it is because they have demonstrated their faithfulness (2 Tim 2:2) in ministry in the local church and personal growth that they were considered as applicants.
Here are 5 reasons why seminary education is necessary and beneficial. Here is why we are grateful that these 2 men could go to The Master’s Seminary.
Christian and Fiderana are going to seminary because their time there will:
Test their Character
1 Timothy 3:10 says that “…these men must also first be tested.” The genuineness of character of those to be appointed as deacons or elders must be confirmed through trial. Granted, their personality has been examined while they served here in country, but their personality and convictions will be exposed and established further through the rigors of academic education while living in a foreign country.
Being out of their comfort zone will draw them to rely fully on God for strength and wisdom. Not having their family around to support will draw husband, wife, and children even closer to each other.
They will have teachers, peers and other believers all observing their life and teaching.
Train them in Righteousness
2 Timothy 3:16-17 speaks of the nature of Scripture and its impact on one’s life as it is profitable “…for training in righteousness” and equip “for every good work.”
For the next 3 to 4 years, they will be spending a lot of time in the Biblical text, learning the original languages, searching for the author’s intended meaning and being diligent to faithfully identify and communicate the universal truths from the text.
My prayer is that they will always do so with a devotion to serving and glorifying God and not just as a scholastic task. I pray that they will be the first impacted and molded by what they learn. I pray that they will take to heart to apply what they are learning (Ezra 7:10).
Tutor them in Time Management
1 Peter 4:7a “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound thinking…”
The assignments deadlines and the level of excellence required by theological education all contribute to eliminate the clutter from one’s life and pushes the student to make the most of his time. Seminary is, in that sense as well, the best preparation for ministry as time constraint is part of the reality of the pastor. Sunday always comes at the same time, and the unexpected is to be expected during the week (a birth, a death, a counseling need, administrative or logistical needs…) affecting sermon preparation.
Christian and Fiderana will learn to balance their time between study, serving in the local church, fellowshipping with others, and protecting their time with their family. They will still have to do so once in ministry. It is not going to be easy. Here is an area for which we can truly be praying for them.
Teach them Humility
Romans 12:3 “…I say to each one among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…”
One thing I discovered from seminary is how ignorant and stupid I am. I remember struggling to score a “resounding” 37% on a Bible proficiency test. At the end of the seminary journey, I felt like there was still so much more I needed to learn, as my time in California opened my eyes to see the blessed despair of trying to fully comprehend God. He is truly unsearchable (Psalm 145:3; Rom 11:33), and yet there is no better endeavor than to keep seeking! The greater view of God we have, the humbler we become.
Spiritual pride is a danger for every minister of the Word. Seminary will crush that. The erudition of your peers and professors will expose your lack thereof. The feedback you receive after preaching what you thought to be your best sermon ever will help you gain a healthy perspective on your own (un)worthiness. Stacking chairs or cleaning toilets as a part-time job will chasten one’s arrogance.
Tie them to a Band of Brothers
Proverbs 18:24 “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
There is that person that sees you struggling in class who sees you battle to understand the accent of the professor and decides to sit next to you to translate from English to…English. Or the group of people carpooling with you helping you to memorize your Greek vocabulary or how to parse Hebrew verbs. Or the person who, seeing that your computer crashed just before the exams, takes from his own savings to buy you a new computer. Or the professor that takes you under his wing, availing himself to answer all your immature questions. Or the ones that will invite your family to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with them so that you wouldn’t feel lonely. Or the alumnus who shares their notes with you and calls weekly to pray with you as he’s been there before. Seminary truly places you into a band of brothers, for life.
The privilege of studying alongside godly men, going through thick and thin together, is immeasurable. No online class or self-study will provide that. Nothing will ever replace doing life together while getting an education. There is such a thing as the “invisible curriculum” including the lessons you learn through your own life’s trials and those you glean from observing others.
Dr William Barrick was asked by a student one day what his best advice would be for one who embarks on a seminary journey. Dr Barrick replied: “Finish”.
To all my brothers preparing to attend seminary, may the Lord be with you and may you remain faithful until you finish.
Christian, Fiderana, finish and come back soon.