​Meet Yuri

May 3 2019

Meet Yuri, a Student at MECS in Russia

Yuri first heard the Gospel at age 20 when someone gave him a Gideon’s pocket-size New Testament. Not long after that, he was drafted into the Army but soon got into trouble for being absent without leave and was thrown in the brig. It was in these hard days that Yuri recalled the Gospel message and repented! Yuri shares, “Imagine, they released me the very next morning ‘due to amnesty’ they said, but I still wonder whether this was a pure coincidence or a true answer to my prayer!”

Yuri then left the military, returned home, and joined a church. He asked his pastor so many questions that the pastor sent Yuri off to Bible college. It was there that he met his future wife (they are now married and have four beautiful children together). After Bible college, he returned home with his bride. Their pastor encouraged them to put their new education to use and plant a church.

So, they planted a church!

The church grew quickly as they strongly emphasized evangelism. He soon had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with his Mom, Dad, and many friends, who all accepted Christ and Yuri baptized each one himself (see the photo of Yuri baptizing his mom).

When his church association elected Yuri as bishop, he decided to enroll at Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary (MECS) for his master of divinity degree. Today, he loves learning and being challenged to grow in his faith.

Tags: russia, seminary, transformation,

Miracles in Colombia

February 28 2019

In 1944, OMS had recently entered Colombia to begin ministry in the midst of WWII and a lot of countrywide violence. OMS leaders Bud Kilbourne and Harry Woods decided a Bible institute was needed to set a firm foundation for the growing ministry. But where would they find a property for a seminary? And where would they find the funds to purchase it?

Well, in only ways that God can work, within hours, they had found a property at a reasonable (albeit seemingly unattainable) price. The seller demanded $20,000 in cash. Unbeknownst to Kilbourne and Woods in Colombia, 10 days earlier the Lord had spoken to then OMS President, Lettie Cowman, instructing her to empty the coffers of her Streams in the Desert account and have the money sent to Colombia. (The OMS bookkeeper thought she had misunderstood Mrs. Cowman as it was such a strange request.)

The next day, Kilbourne and Woods received four checks of $5,000 each or $20,000 total … the exact amount needed to purchase the seminary … and this in 1944 in the midst of war! Only God …

After 75 years of ministry at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia, God still continues to graciously provide in miraculous ways. He uses people like you to change one life at a time. Would you consider giving a gift today to train tomorrow’s leaders for Colombia and beyond? Click below to give to the Biblical Seminary of Colombia.

Tags: colombia seminary, biblical seminary of colombia, medellin, miracles, provision,

​Theological Education in Colombia: Rooted and Engaged

February 21 2019

In fulfilling our formative mission of persons to serve God, the church, and society, the Biblical Seminary of Colombia is committed to impart theological education that is firmly rooted in the Scriptures and deeply engaged with our context. As such, we are challenged to develop academic initiatives that explore biblical answers to the socio-political realities of Colombia.

Some of the realities of the socio-political scene in Colombia are:

  • •a peace agreement signed in 2017 between the Colombian government and the oldest and largest guerrilla group, after more than six decades of civil war.
  • •the polarization between different approaches to the implementation of this peace agreement and peace conversations with other groups.
  • •corruption as a rampant phenomenon that permeates all spheres of society, including religious organizations.
  • •implementation of legislation to guarantee religious freedom in the country, alongside the pluralistic character of our society.

As an expression of our rootedness and engagement, our strategic plan has three core themes: peacemaking, integrity vs corruption, and faith in a pluralistic context. With this in mind, new initiatives have been put in action:

1. Integral missiology and the human flourishing of internally displaced persons in Colombia (research project).

The civil war and the violence related to drug traffic has resulted in more than six million people forcibly displaced in Colombia in the last two decades. This project focuses on the humanitarian crisis of internal displacement in Colombia. The big question that orients the project is: how might a renewed theology of integral missiology, enriched by empirical social-scientific analysis, mobilize local Protestant churches to foment the holistic (spiritual, social, psychological, and economic) human flourishing of Colombian displaced persons?

2. Living our vocation as peacemakers (diploma course)

This modular course responds to requests of pastors and denominations to help them understand and carry out the church’s call to peacemaking in the historical moment of Colombia. Designed in cooperation with three other institutions, as a witness of joint service, this course has been offered to churches in areas deeply affected by violence.

3. Seminars, academic discussions

To address the scourge of corruption, a seminar entitled Voices Against Corruption has been offered in different cities of the country. Challenges that the peace agreement poses for the church have been addressed in class and in open discussions for the seminary community.

4. The Biblical Seminary of Colombia, at the invitation of the national government, participated in conversations between the government and the religious sector leading to the formulation of a national policy of religious freedom, approved in March of 2019. As part of the implementation of this policy, BSC is the only theological school member of this national religious sector think tank.

5. Our commitment to sound biblical teaching and preaching is expressed in our participation in a national project of formation of Bible expositors and in our diploma course on Christian Education. Thus, we help nurture the faith of the church in our pluralistic context.

In 2019, we celebrate 75 years of God’s faithfulness expressed in sustaining and using BSC. Join us in gratitude, and pray that we continue to be rooted and engaged.

By Elizabeth Sendek, President, Biblical Seminary of Colombia

Tags: theological education, colombia, seminary, biblical seminary of colombia,

​Scared But Happy: A letter from a new seminary student at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia

February 5 2019

Beloved pastor and friend,

I wanted to write to tell you about the beginning of the adventure at Colombia Biblical Seminary.

It is hard to believe that God can use me. I have felt that I am not capable or worthy, but the devotionals we heard during orientation reminded me of some things:

  • God called me and he is not going to change his mind now.
  • I am a disciple who will not stop learning from the Master; my main call is to have an intimate relationship with the Lord.
  • The fact of being called does not guarantee that it ends well, so I must be more careful of what I do.
  • The key word of both devotionals was called, and that has encouraged and motivated me to continue believing that God brought us here to fulfill his purpose in our lives and in that of the church.

They have a student welfare program that is very focused on giving us holistic formation. There are sports, health, recreation, and cultural activities. It’s good to know that we will have a life apart from academics. I was surprised to learn that the seminary not only trains in theological aspects, but it also forms in us the social, physical, mental, and relational aspect.

They want us to be good at what we do AND who we are! We must learn to read in English (another surprise), volunteer a certain number of hours of service per semester, participate in research projects with professors, make the library "our second home," devote about five hours per day to study outside the classroom, do ministerial practice in a church, and take extreme care not to commit plagiarism or cheat on exams or assignments, which is great, but I fear messing up accidentally. Bottom line, the level of excellence that they expect is greater than I anticipated.

I must confess that I like it but am afraid. I am not afraid of the challenges, after all, we wanted to be trained as well as possible, to get out of our “comfort zone” and into the “growth zone,” but a few things have me worried. For example, I do not read well in English, I don’t know how to type, and I am not great with time management. So much goes through the mind; I really hope to live up to what God wants and what the church expects from us. I feel like a first-time father, scared but happy!

I am grateful to God, to the church, and to you. To God, it is a joy to know that I am called by him and to know he will sustain and keep us. To the church, it is a privilege and a great responsibility to be the first missionaries sent and supported by her. To you, my pastor, thank you for believing in us, supporting us amid our own doubts, and expressing love and care as no other pastor has done for me before. You are a friend and example to follow. Without your support and vision, we could not be here today. Thank you so much. I cannot adequately express my deep gratitude and love for you, your family, and the church.

Tags: colombia biblical seminary, seminary training, theological education, colombia, anniversary,

Russian Orphans Enjoy Fun Day

October 16 2018

Thanks to Sergey and Zhenya Zaozersky, both graduates of the OMS-founded Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary (MECS), orphans in Vladimir, Russia, feel valued and loved. The Zaozerskys regularly visit six state orphanages in the Vladimir region where many of the kids would be forgotten if not for the ministry of the orphanages and people like the Zaozerskys ministering to them.

Sergey and Zhenya, with six kids of their own, four of whom are adopted, live what they learned at MECS. They recently treated the orphans to a trip to Vladimir for Orphan Fest, a fun carnival-like event. What a wonderful experience for these kids to enjoy being kids by eating pizza, getting their faces painted, making crafts, watching clown tricks, playing soccer, getting dance lessons, and receiving lots of prizes. Each child also receives a Bible at the end of the day.

In September, two of the sponsored orphans started school for the first time, thanks to generous OMS donors. It’s hard to imagine what would have happened to these orphans had the Lord not intervened through Sergey and Zhenya’s ministry after graduating from MECS.

This ministry shows your donations at work. The return on your investment is literally saving the lives of orphans in Russia! Thank you.

If you would like to donate to MECS today, click here.

Tags: russia, orphans, mecs, moscow seminary, graduates,

Student Minister Plants Churches in Russia

October 10 2018

Slava Pleskach (pictured far right), a scholarship recipient at the Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary, accepted Jesus in 1990. By 1995 he had become a missionary church planter to Siberia. In 2004, Slava planted Victory of Christ Church in Yaroslavl, Russia, and most recently, he planted a church in a neighboring country, predominantly with a Muslim population.

But Slava felt he lacked training. So, in 2016, he entered the master of divinity program at the Moscow Seminary. Slava believes family is the nucleus of and vehicle for church growth. He is married to Maria, and together, they have four children. Therefore, his classes on pre-marital counseling, marriage & family, and conflict resolution have been extremely useful for him.

“Sometimes, hard things happen in ministry.” says Slava, “One year, I took a group of churched and unchurched families to a summer camp. The police came, scattered us all around, and shut the camp down. I later took a class at the seminary on church and state. I learned a lot and we have been able to have the camp every year since, with no problems whatsoever! Studying at the seminary truly helps ministry,” concludes Slava.

Slava praises the Lord and thanks you for making studies at the seminary possible for him. He, along with the other 364 students at the seminary, only pays 10 percent of the actual cost, all they can afford. The rest of the tuition is covered by generous donations.

Would you like to help student-ministers like Slava study for ministry effectiveness? You can donate here.

Tags: russia, moscow seminary, student ministers, theological education,

Russian Seminary Students Bring Big Return on Investment

October 2 2018

Meet Andrey Zhelezoglo, a scholarship recipient at the Moscow Seminary.

Andrey was born in Moldova, USSR, to a family of an underground church pastor. Andrey’s first mission was to hide the shoes under his bed of those who worshiped in the basement in case the KGB would come to inspect the house.

Andrey then became a missionary himself. As a husband, father of 5, and student at the Moscow Seminary, Andrey has planted two churches.

He believes the church must take care of the unprivileged, particularly the abandoned, addicted, and abused. Russia wins the gold in the Olympics for drinking. Vodka costs less than soda and is readily available to minors. There are over 600,000 orphans in 2,000 government-run orphanages and an estimated 1 to 5 million homeless youth. To face the challenge, Andrey has built three houses by his church: a foster family home for 16 orphans, an alcohol rehabilitation center for 12 men, and a safe house for 12 women.

It costs the seminary $1,200 a year to train student-ministers like Pastor Andrey. Your donation to students like Andrey gets you a large return on investment. Statistically, 9 out of 10 students sent to the United States to study will not return to Russia. Because you give, pastors like Andrey have a chance to study at the Moscow Seminary on a scholarship. Will you help a student like Andrey today?

I praise God and thank you for participating in proclaiming the Gospel and advancing the kingdom in Russia.

By Sasha Tsutserov, Director of Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary

Tags: mecs, moscow seminary, russian students,

Students and Professors Lead the Way

August 29 2017

While we were at Tokyo Biblical Seminary (TBS), we sat across the table from a young man who beamed with the fullness of the Spirit. We, of course, were eager to learn his story. His name is Yoshikazu Kasahara, but we call him Yoshi san. Here is his story:

Yoshi san lived in an area of Japan devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. As he sat on the ruins of his house, a few Christians from one of the Japanese Holiness Churches (JHC) served him water, food, and encouragement. He was so surprised and impressed by their love and kindness that he inquired more about why they were doing these acts of service. This led to Yoshi san hearing the story of Jesus and God’s love for him for the first time. Out of the wreckage of his material world and emotional upheaval, he opened his heart and mind to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, and he experienced true peace and joy in the midst of his losses. Soon, he was overwhelmed by the desire to learn more about God and how to live for him, so he enrolled in Tokyo Biblical Seminary (OMS’ oldest partner school). During his years there, God called him into ministry.

One of Yoshi san’s professors and advisors at TBS, Homare Miyazaki sensei, reports that Yoshi san is now married and serves as a pastor of one of a JHC church in Saitama-prefecture.

Bikash is from a Hindu Brahmin family in South Asia. When Bikash became a believer in Jesus, his parents forced him to leave their home and disowned him. Despite this, Bikash continues steadfastly in his faith and prays regularly for his unbelieving family. God has blessed him with a wife and children. As a district superintendent for an OMS partner church, he sharpens his knowledge and skills as he attends South Asia Bible College.

Our schools would not function without dedicated faculty. Let me introduce you to a few of them. Please pray for the faculty at our OMS partner schools.

Frans and Sony serve at N* Bible Seminary in the South Pacific, a highly Muslim populated nation. Frans and Sony have been instrumental in fulfilling the mandate to train pastors and church planters to be God’s servants and Christian leaders. For more than 40 years, this seminary’s graduates have established 420 churches in partnership with N* Evangelical Churches and many more churches through partnership with other denominations and Christian organizations. With full accreditation as a Bible college from the government, NBS still holds firmly to its original vision and purpose.

These faithful faculty members serve at Faith Bible College in the Philippines: Rev. Anna Penny Datu, academic dean; Rev. Oliver Bhem, director of student life and chaplain; and Rev. Ermalee Hidalgo, president. All the administrators also teach. Despit being a small school, it provides important instruction for both day and evening students who will serve as pastors, church planters, Christian education directors, and youth leaders.

Please keep the faulty of all our partner schools in prayer as they frequently serve with modest remuneration and in simple settings, yet are preparing men and women to serve God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind.

By Bill Vermillion, Theological Education team, Asia

* Abbreviated for security reasons.

Tags: theological education, training, seminary, bible school, students, student leaders, asia,

Former Hindu Emerges as Leader

August 22 2017

Arjun* was born into a Hindu family in the Indian state of Karnataka. During his childhood, Arjun's sister and parents came to faith in Jesus. The family began to attend the local church of the Evangelical Church of India, but Arjun could not understand his need for salvation in Christ. Then one night, while attending a revival service at the ECI church, the Holy Spirit spoke to him from Jeremiah 1:5, and Arjun realized that God had been calling him from his mother's womb into a personal relationship as a disciple of Jesus Christ. He confessed his sins and asked Jesus to take control of his life.

In 2010, Arjun enrolled as a student at the Karnataka Bible Seminary, one of the ten regional Bible schools of the Evangelical Church of India that focus on raising up grassroots level church planters to launch and develop new churches that multiply. During his studies at KBS, the course in personal evangelism equipped him to share the Gospel effectively among his Hindu neighbors and family members. Upon graduation from the graduate of theology program of KBS, Arjun was appointed as a pastor to a small village church. He is now continuing his studies, pursuing the bachelor of theology degree at KBS.

I met Arjun in November of 2016 when I visited the school in Karnataka to facilitate training in Train & Multiply. T&M equips believers to find persons of peace, share the Good News, teach believers to follow the commands of Jesus, and multiply healthy, growing churches to the second and third generations and beyond. In a joint effort with OMS’ Every Community for Christ team and the Theological Education team, we are working with the Allahabad Bible Seminary and the regional Bible schools of ECI to incorporate T&M into their courses of study.

Arjun eagerly participated during the November training, and he reports that he was especially influenced by the 12 Principles of Church Multiplication. Today, he continues to learn the principles and practices of T&M at KBS, even as he applies that learning in his ministry as a pastor in a local village.

Arjun is only one example of the strategic role of the seminaries and Bible schools of ECI. Their impact goes far beyond the classroom into the cities, towns, and villages of India, often in partnership with the India Missionary Movement ministry of the Evangelical Church of India. These dedicated faculty and students are training thousands of pastors and laypersons while also engaging in creative and effective community outreach and evangelism. They do so with meager resources and most often in the face of fierce opposition and increasing persecution. Across India today, young leaders like Arjun are bringing transformation to individuals, families, and communities.

To learn more about the seminaries and Bible schools of the Evangelical Church of India and how you can support them, contact OMS Theological Education or International Support Ministries or give here.

By Dick Freed, Director of OMS Learning & Development

*Name withheld for security.

Tags: india, former hindu, evangelical church of india, theological education, seminary, training, t&m,

Seminary Graduate Plants Churches in Russia

August 16 2017

Ivan Beshlyaga graduated from MECS (Moscow Evangelical Christina Seminary) with a bachelor of divinity degree in 2005. He then moved to Nizhny Novgorod to plant a church. A year later, he baptized Natasha, his first convert. Natasha grew quickly in the Lord and was soon leading the worship at the new church plant. A year later, Ivan sent Sasha, the rector of MECS, a wedding invitation. He was marrying Natasha! Since then, Ivan and Natasha have had three kids and planted three churches in the area. This past year, both Ivan and Natasha graduated from the seminary: Ivan with a master of theology degree and Natasha with a bachelor of counselling degree. Ivan and Natasha have now returned to church planting in Nizhny Novgorod.

Thank God with us for the ministry of MECS, and how he is using it to prepare students to reach the people of Russia.

Tags: seminary, moscow seminary, mecs, russia, church planting,