Meet the New Rockland Professors at the Alliance Theological Seminary

ATS faculty

ATS facultyBy Eric Hoke~

Fall 2014 is a monumental and exciting year in the history of Alliance Theological Seminary. We welcomed five new professors onto our Nyack Campus. We are so excited to welcome their expertise and thank God for their investment into our ATS Community. We wanted to allow you the opportunity to get to know them better.

Christopher Dost is the Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Director of Online Programming.

Dr. Dost holds a B.A. in Music from Western Connecticut State University. He came to Nyack College in 1999 to take a few Bible courses. After a brief hiatus, he returned to Nyack to pursue the M.A. Old Testament degree at Alliance Theological Seminary, which he completed in 2003. Since that time, he has worked at ATS and Nyack College in varying capacities: first as a T.A., then as an adjunct, afterward as a partnering faculty member, and now as the Director of Online Programming. In that time, he has also completed M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees (2007, 2011, 2014) in Hebrew Bible at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Dr. Dost resides in Nyack with his wife (Michelle) and four daughters (Abigail, 13; Anna, 11; Mia, 10; and Gabrielle, 6).

Dr. Dost is a Red Sox fan.

Ron Chen is the Chinese Studies Program Coordinator at Alliance Theological Seminary.

Ron lives in Plainview, NY and is currently the Associate Pastor at Queens Herald Church while getting ready to become a church planter and plant a church in Long Island. He and his wife Candice are expecting their first child in late fall.

Ron holds a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Youth Ministry and Religion) from Nyack College and an M. Div from ATS. He is currently in the D. Min program. When asked why he chose to serve at ATS, Ron responded, “I think it can be best described as a God moment. I was driving my interim Senior Pastor and his wife to take a look at Nyack College. On our way up we have an interesting conversion about my future and the next thing I know I was in the Dean’s Office and was given a job description. I went home to speak with my wife and she said I was crazy. We spent some time praying about it and felt the Lord’s peace to proceed forward.”

An interesting fact about Ron is that he was a high school dropout and joined a gang in Chinatown when he was 14.

CTA button for Blog ATSDr. Aaron Sherwood is the new Assistant Professor of New Testament

Dr. Sherwoord and his wife Lucy have two daughters, Eleanor (5) and Isabel (2). They live in Nyack and have just moved from overseas this summer.

Dr. Sherwoord earned a Ph.D. at Durham University in England, technically in New Testament but really also in Old Testament and early Jewish studies, as well. Before that, he earned an M.A. in Biblical Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, and holds a B.A. in philosophy. Dr. Sherwood and his wife have served in churches in lots of different ways over the past fifteen years, in home group, children’s ministry, prison ministry, and some preaching.

When asked why he chose to serve at ATS, Dr. Sherwoord responded, “I am very excited about the ATS aim of commissioning students to go into the world and engage in indigenous missions, whether in America or internationally and overseas, and that ATS wants those ministries to be grounded in a profound understanding and appreciation of God’s love and purpose for the world as revealed in Scripture. And so, I wanted to take up my role in equipping students by helping them with that first, fundamental step, of knowing and understanding the biblical basis for their beliefs and their pastoral vocations.”

An interesting fact about Dr. Sherwood is that he loves Miyazaki films and has a collection of stuffed animals from them in his office.

Dr. Stanley John is the new Professor of Intercultural Studies at Alliance Theological Seminary

Dr. John was born and raised in Kuwait in a south Indian family. He grew up attending the Indian Assemblies of God church in Kuwait, but for the last several years has been part of a multilingual Methodist church that worships in English, Korean and Spanish. He now attends a C&MA church in New York.

Dr. John received a B.A. in Biblical Studies at Zion Bible College in Barrington, Rhode Island, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. His dissertation is titled, Networks, Agents, and Mission: Transnational Religion of Kerala Pentecostal Churches in a Context of Temporary Economic Migration to Kuwait.

Dr. John has been an itinerant evangelist speaking at churches throughout the United States, especially among ethnic immigrant churches, such as West African, Hispanic, Slavik, Korean, and Indian churches. He also teaches annually in various seminaries overseas including the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kiev, Ukraine, Faith Theological Seminary in Kerala, India and Mission India Theological Seminary in Nagpur, India.

Why attend the Allianace Theological Seminary:

When asked why he chose to serve at ATS, he responded, “I believe God has called me to serve the global church by raising leaders for church and society. I can imagine no better place to fulfill that calling than at ATS-Nyack. Let me give you three reasons. First, the location in New York provides the opportunity to serve not only locally in a very diverse context, but also globally through transnational networks. Second, a missional ethos with a long heritage in preparing and sending missionaries is central to the Seminary, the College and the C&MA denomination. Third, being housed within the larger Nyack College family, ATS has the opportunity to integrate theological and missiological studies with other disciplines such as the humanities, sciences and business so that students get well-rounded education”.

Something interesting about Dr. John is that he has quite a sweet tooth and loves trying desserts from diverse cultures. His favorites are Tres Leches and Tiramisu.

 

Get Over Your “self”

robynNI
Update during banquet

Nic & Rachael Billman. Two people who have truly learned how to love and put others above themselves. I love all of the amazing people, I have met and have the pleasure to do life with here at Shores of Grace.

” You need to get over yourself.” Were the tough yet loving words I needed to hear.

We think about ourselves like A LOT. Like all of the time, a lot. Like more than we think about anything or anyone else; there is a constant ” me, me, me; I, I, I” track playing in our minds. “I have no friends here, I can’t have deep conversations here like I do at home, I feel alone, no one will like me, people don’t see me or my gifts, I am not known, I can do better, ( insert your own self-track here_________) …”

If you’re anything like me and I am quite sure that you are, you are often thinking about yourself in one form or another. And while having thoughts towards yourself isn’t exactly a bad thing, you being the most important thing in your life, is. Yes, we ought to love ourselves, loving ourselves requires us to do some thinking, (God’s thinking to be exact) but that good thinking, those loving, kind and gracious thoughts towards us, could only come from one place…

God commands us to love Him above all else. When you are in love with someone, he or she becomes the object of not only all of your affection but your thoughts as well. God in essence has commanded us to keep our minds and thoughts on Him above all else.

Secondly God commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. However if all you think about is you, you’re not loving anyone else, but you. And even worse, if your thoughts towards yourself sound anything like mine, you only think about yourself, but you certainly don’t love yourself.

robynNI

My friend Robyn and I at our last banquet. She has been one of my blessings here at Shores of Grace. Her kindness and truthfulness, have helped me grow so much here.

To be honest, I spent the first half of my journey here in Brazil thinking about myself. About all of the things God was showing me that needed to change. I had a “me” fest going on practically 24/7. Until God gave me a wake up call and showed me how selfish and un-surrendered I was. And as exhausted from the war continuously going on in my mind, there was no way I was going to dispute His claim. He reminded me, just as my friend Robyn had done earlier that night, that I needed to die. That my “self” needed to be laid down, surrendered, and gotten over, once and for all. And so I did.

I repented to God, to my leaders here and surrendered my “self” the me, me, me’s, and I, I, I’s. I traded my thoughts for His own, for thoughts of Him and his beauty.

” You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

CTA button for Blog ATSThis is sooooooo true!!! As I have been practicing thinking about his goodness, his mercies, his kindness, meditating on his word, thinking about what he says of me and to me, I have entered into a level of peace and joy I had not experienced before.  It is the kind of peace that doesn’t budge during a dispute, a joy that isn’t robbed when others don’t find your joke as funny as you do. A hope that isn’t quenched by the lack of current fruit. A grace that sees the beauty that rests upon each person you encounter.

Getting over my “self” was literally the 2nd best thing I have ever done, 2nd only to my decision to say yes to a relationship with Jesus. My mind is free now to:

  • Enter into His presence without distraction
  • Know Him and who He says I am
  • Know and enjoy true peace and joy
  • Rejoice, always
  • See what God sees in people, as well as situations

And it is free from:

  • Anxieties
  • Worries
  • Insecurities
  • Distractions
  • Doubts

When Jesus said; ” Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” ( Matthew 6:33) He really meant it. Seek God. Want to know the kingdom? Get to know the King. Want to know how to get to know God? Start thinking about Him. Be so consumed with Him that He’s what oozes out of your lips, pores and actions. That’s the kingdom. All of these things; joy, peace, provision, hope, grace, identity, love, service; come from seeking Him. The kingdom is seeing the work of Christ being completed in you and therefore affecting and changing the world around you.

So as my good friend and God told me; Get over yourself. And find the King and the kingdom in the process.

LeilaandI

Finding yourself frees you to love you, all of you! And then and only then can you love…

 

Working with a Brazilian Ministry: From Orphan to Daughter

Banquet in Brazil
StreetChurch

Made a new friend at street church, she wears an eye patch because she was shot in the eye, and survived. This past Sunday she oded on crack, in the hospital a woman told her she wasn’t going to die because God has a plan for her. I came with the same message… He chases so hard after His loved ones. Truly He does not relent. Love never stops loving

I love Brazil. I love that I am literally living a dream, I dreamt for nearly 10 months. It is a privilege to do the little things to help keep this ministry (Shores of Grace) running, I have learned to love those things. My heart burns within me when I hit the streets with my team, my new family and I see the faces of those women, young men or children. Tears often fill my eyes as I experience the love of the Father towards them. The years at Camp of the Woods as a Guest Service representative comes pouring out, and I love it, the nights we have the Father Love Banquet. Oh what a delight it is to serve a drink to someone who is thirsty.

Yet my dream, Gods dream for me here in Brazil has proved to be a difficult one. These past few weeks I have been wrestling the skeletons of insecurity and pride, that have been rooted into the closet of my heart by the lies of the orphan spirit.  To be honest I was not expecting to come to Brazil and have the rug pulled out from underneath me. Looking back, I realize that expected to come here with so much to offer, so much to give and do and instead God brought me here to break me. To cut some more dead branches out of my life and to teach me how to truly be a “wounded healer”.

Banquet

Shores of Grace staff and volunteers ready for the Father Love Banquet.

I have spent days feeling alone, feeling not good enough, inadequate, and empty handed. And that’s because I have based my identity and my truth on what I could do, and on what others think of me. At home it was easy. I sang, I preached in certain places, I am in prayer ministry teams, I have good grades, people who see and call out my gifts, I have plenty of friends, a good reputation that follows me, but here I have NOTHING. No friends, no reputation, nothing to base my worth and joy upon other than God.

And that is where the struggle began. Because while I thought I knew who I was and whose I was, I surely did not. Let me tell you, this lesson has not come easy to me, at all. I literally feel like the dog who goes back to its vomit, nearly every day. I go eat the good meal of what God has to say, I throw up the lies and then bam, 2.5 seconds later I am eating my vomit and wallowing in self-pity as I do.

But I have made a resolve to win the battle for the inner life as Dr. Rob Reimer would say. I am not, nor will I be a victim. I will no longer be ruled by the opinions of man. Nor will I allow what I do or do not do define me. I am choosing to believe that I AM A DAUGHTER. Whether you think I belong in the family or not =).

A few days ago as I laid in bed with fever over and over again I heard God say, “I have chosen you, I have called you, I have chosen you, I have called you, I have put treasure on the inside of you, I will reveal my glory through you as I desire, when I desire, you are mine, you are mine, YOU ARE MINE.” These words pierced my heart and I literally laid there and cried.

CTA button for Blog ATSI know I am not alone in this struggle, I know many of you like me, truly don’t know who you are, you think you do, but if all of those things you base your identity on were pulled like a rug from underneath your feet, you’d end up on your face, just like me. But the good news is, God longs for us to be free, to walk in wholeness and experience the Spirit of Adoption that already defines us, in full. It’s time to kick that orphan spirit in the butt and embrace who we are!

Here are the ways He is teaching me how:

1- Soak in God. Practice His presence. The word says His thoughts towards us are so great in number, they can’t be told. Yet He burns to tell us what thinks about us. He wants us to know how wide, deep and long His love is for us.

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.- Psalm 40:5

2- Word. Word. Word. – Get in it. The word is a double edge sword. It literally pierces our hearts. I am finding that the mPromisesore I read, the more I soak in, the less the lies play over and over again in my mind. Because truth sets the captives free.

3- Community. Seek it out. Speak. Be honest. And allow others to speak into you. Hiding, pretending does not help anyone. Want to live your best life now? THEN BE REAL ( Preaching to myself here).

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1

                                         I am His. You are His. We are sons & daughters of the Living God. And so here in Brazil I am learning how to move from being an orphan to being a daughter…

Ministry is Being Faithful in the Little Things

Pao de Quiejo

Making Pão de Queijo for one of the Betânia girls birthday party… It was the first birthday she’s been able to celebrate.

” … You’re not looking for the big things, you’re looking for the day after day. You’re not looking for the flashy but the faithful ones…” Chris Burns, Faithful 

Many times we confuse ministry for the stages, the big events, the packed out meetings, the music, the messages, etc. While these are sometimes a part of ministry, they in and of themselves are not the ministry the Lord has called us too. Here in Brasil, God is teaching me that ministry is being faithful in the little things, in the day after day living.  Serving isn’t teaching a lesson, leading a group, or being in the front, most people can do all of those things. Teachers, preachers, and worship leaders are a dime a dozen.  Serving is being willing to get your hands dirty by doing the difficult and undesirable. Serving is re-mopping the floor, with a smile, after someone once again dirtied the floor you worked hard to clean. Because everything that we do, EVERY SINGLE THING we must do as unto the Lord, both the things that others see and praise us for, and the things that no one will ever acknowledge.

I have been guilty too of thinking that ministry is glamorous. Yes, there are moments that one gets to see big and powerful, fun things, but those moments are ALWAYS preceded by the day after day little moments one gives their all to.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” - Luke 16:10

Center Do Recife

With Nany (left) and Mirella the full time employees at Betânia, Shores of Grace. Here we were on our way to Center do Recife to purchase the items we needed for the BBQ, Amor do Pai banquet. It was a long ride and a fun adventure.

Honestly, there is nothing glamorous about being a missionary. There is nothing fabulous about giving all one’s life to serve another. Don’t get me wrong, I am having a blast here.  I love this country and all that I get to do here. But it isn’t about the flashy things and it isn’t flashy. Talking to a lady boy whose body is full of scars, on the streets while he tells me he wants bigger breasts isn’t flashy. Painting the dirty nails of a street worker while her next client looks on, isn’t glamorous. But  we love, we do the hard work, we spend our energy, time and money and live our lives for others because God is worth it, and they are worth it too.

The cost of ministry is often far greater than the price we want to pay. We go into things expecting this Hollywood type of life in ministry with signs and wonder and miracles all over the place; when in reality the most successful ministers and ministries are the ones who’ve risked their lives, who’ve slept on dirt floors, who take cold showers, who have up-rooted their entire families to a different country, sell all their possessions and live simply out of obedience. They are the ones who hug the lepers and befriend the least of these, these are the ones who clean and prepare a feast for the prostitute, the transvestite, the widow, the fatherless, who love, and smile and press on when they’ve had little to no help, or have felt alone, rejected and misunderstood.

Jesus isn’t going to admonish us on the day we stand before Him about the amount of people who attended our meetings or enjoyed our music. He isn’t going to ask us about how many people  we saw healed or prayed for. He is going is going to remind us about the ones we loved well, the ones we fed, clothed, visited and cared for.

prep

Banquet prep. It was amazing to see an entire group of people pull together to clean, do yard work, cook, grill,  decorate, build a fire, then tear down and clean again. All in order to honor the daughters of God. Indeed the ministry of Shores of Grace is one of full surrender, love and service.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:40

This is my new reality. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love learning how to be faithful in the day after day. Because the ultimate reward is Him. My reward isn’t in public recognition, fame, or even the praises of man. My eternal, ever lasting reward is the one who will stand before me and say ” Well done my good and faithful servant”.

And so I challenge you, live the day after day for the one who lived all of His days for you.

 This is a 22 minute documentary on the issue of human trafficking here in Brasil. Some of my friends from here at Shores of Grace are featured in this documentary. It is worth your time, I recommend you take your time to watch.

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Amor Parace com Algo

princess Madelyn

cafe meroI’m sitting at a cafe, enjoining a tasty Nutella crepe and café colado, staring at my computer screen and listening to Mama Heidi Baker while trying to come up with words to explain my first week in Brasil. It is not an easy task. Lately words fail to describe the emotions, transitions and thoughts that race through my mind. I am learning and experiencing so much. I guess I could tell you about my new bedroom, roommates, ministry assignments, Brazilian food etc, but none of it has affected me as much as what is happening in my heart.  My new friend Larissa articulated what I am re-learning in the depths of my heart so beautifully; “Love looks like something”  (“Amor Parace  Algo” Mama Heidi).

Billmans

Love looks like spending lots of $ on marshmallows, so others could have their first s’more.( Pictured top left: Nic & Rachael Billman, and Johnny honoring Gi for her hard work with Shores of Grace.  Bottom left: Larissa, Josiah, and Johnny enjoying s’more’s. Bottom right: Myself and Lindsey, who has amazingly also taken great care of me, and has become a good friend in the process)

Since I arrived on the Shores of Grace base last Thursday, there has been a daily constant in my life: love. More specifically “o amor do Pai”, the love of the Father. It is like I am waking up every morning to a treasure hunt that leads me closer and closer to the heart of God for myself and others. While I have known the love of God and He has been deeply transforming me in recent months with His love, my experience here is like nothing I have encountered before. It is beyond the right theological beliefs or understanding of correct doctrine, something is happening deep within me and I know I will be forever be changed. I cry daily. Not because I miss home, or I am experiencing culture shock or even because there is any particular sadness in my heart. I cry because I can feel the love of God overwhelming my heart, as I sit and read, as I watch little girls jumping up and down shouting the name of Jesus, as I wash dishes with a new friend, and in my broken Portuguese I get to share my story as he shares his with me. I cry because this love goes beyond a feeling.  It is something I literally see, every day.

Mae Robyn and I

Robyn aka Mae Byn (sitting bottom right) has so kindly taken care of me this past week. She has shown me the ropes, shared her life with me and has been a beautiful example of grace and kindness towards me. Thankful for her and the experience we have shared so far. Such as meeting and having coffee with a beautiful Brazilian woman! I am blessed.

I see it in a volunteer or staff’s patience with me in answering all of my constant questions. I see it as my new friends stop and love on the ones right in front of them. I see it in the way each person is honored and treated as valuable. I see it in the face of a boy or girl from a favela (a ghetto that is ran by drug lords, worst than any American “hood”) sinking into the lap of a man or woman whose smile beams with the love of Jesus. I see as an entire group of people has given their lives to bring grace and hope to the women and children on the streets of Brazil. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 Now don’t get me wrong, I have seen the love of God in others before, in fact, I would see it every time I gathered with my church family in Nyack, New York. BUT there is something very different about this experience for me. Before leaving for Brazil I prayed “Father, teach me how to love like you do”. Through my day-to-day experiences and interactions, God is teaching about the depths of his love for me, and the world. And He is teaching me how to love, like He does. He is literally showing me what love looks like.

worship

Worship at the Shores base Monday night. Lots of dancing and joyous celebration of the One who loved us first. Betania Girls, children from a nearby favela, full time staff, guests and volunteers all join the celebration.

Love looks like washing the dishes. Love looks like truly listening to someone else’s story, with grace. Love looks like cleaning up the floor after a little girl pee’d her pants and making sure she is clean and has fresh clothes. Love looks like spending all day in the kitchen to prepare a meal so that others would feel honored and cared for. Love looks like a hug at the right moment. Love looks like forgetting about yourself and putting the needs, hopes and desires of the one in front of you, first. O amor de Deus se parece com alguma coisa, e eu desejo de ser aquele que mostra o seu amor bem. (Gods love looks like something, and I desire to be one who displays his love well.) May this also be your prayer, for truly it is by our love that the world will know HIM.

Luau

Our Wednesday Night Luau with the nearby favela kids. How awesome it is to be able to display God’s love through fun!

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Poetic Prose: A Student Prepares for a Summer Overseas and Writes “Shifting Shadows”

ATSdeans

Selfies with the Deans of ATS Dr. Ron Walborn & Dr. L.A. Carlo

Transition: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.

Transitions have been plenty these last couple of days. Friends moving away some forever, some for the summer. Graduation. The end of an internship. Packing and moving… The old is passing away and the new is coming.

It feels like I am trapped in a house caught up in a tornado that is being whisked away to a land far off… Except there is no literal wind carrying me to new places, nor am I trapped in a house that is being swept away,  I am willingly moving from one country to another. Packing up and changing my entire life for the next 11 weeks, leaving behind the comfortable, familiar and secure. To be real I am a little frightened. I know that even though I will return to NY in August, finish my degree and work for a place I love; when I step on that plane in 13 days there will be no going back for me. This transition will be sure to thrust me into the trajectory my life has always been meant to be on. It will usher me into next stage of my life and prepare for what is ahead in the years to come.

My 10 weeks in Brazil will involve heartbreak, as God will surely break my heart for what breaks his. I will experience culture shock, I will miss home, my friends, my family, my church and I will cry often, for many reasons. And in the end, I won’t want to leave the new place my heart will have grown to love deeply and call home.

mychurchIScoolerThanYours

My Pastors Jeff Salvesen & Martin Sanders, Shawna (taking the pic) and I during our staff photos for our new Living Christ Church Website (go check it out: http://www.lccnyack.org ) Photo Cred: @NyackChurch

10 weeks will be life altering, and I will have no control of it. I won’t have my loving roommate to cry to, and pray for me. I won’t have my pastors, elders and leaders to hug me, share firm words of truth and pray for me and I won’t be an easy phone call away from my family or friends, to carry me through.

How ever I know that I will be surrounded by new friends, some of which I got to know and  love last summer (during my first visit), who will lovingly and gracefully help me through. And I will have those moments in the quiet, in which the Lord will become realer to me than he has ever been. I have the surety in my heart that in the midst of it, God, who has already gone before me, will be there to carry me through.

First Flight

How it all began last summer… Found this gem while packing.

It would be honest to say that I need to grieve. It is the close of a chapter for me, and the start of act two. This means that I can no longer to resort to old patterns of behavior and thinking. I am now responsible for all I have learned and it is up to me to live it out. It’s time to step out of the shore, into the waters and go as deep as God leads me to go, with confidence. I’d been at home at the shore, I grew comfortable there, I was happy with the progress I made while sitting on my beach chair getting my feet wet. But now I have to live it all out, for real, out there, where I have no life vests or opportunities to run to the easy, the secure and the comfortable again.

Yet in the midst of the fear, and the grief, I am ready.  I am ready to take the plunge. I am ready to embrace the new, to open up this good gift he’s given me and I am confident in the one who makes a way in the sea for me! Because even though everything around me is changing, I can rest assured in the truth that He, my God, will never change; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17)….He is the constant in my life. He is the security I need.

“Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters…Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

- Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

moving day!

Finally moved all of my stuff into my friends storage space! Shouts outs to Koob ( in the red) & Chris for helping me move! Bigger shout out to the Kotecha’s for allowing me to store my belongings in their storage spaces for the summer!

Taking a Risk: Leaving the US to Serve in Brazil

omwtohooding
planting

And also planted some flowers for our Easter service in good company! Photo Credit to @NyackChurch!

psf

Nyack College’s PSF class 2014 !

So much has happened since I last blogged; Lots of tears popped out of my eyes, anger was explored and roots of deception and bitterness in my life were finally uprooted. I Am now free from years of brokenness, internal struggles and dark secrets. I joined the healing prayer team for my church, Living Christ Church, and learned how to walk in my authority as a daughter of God. I witnessed a class of Nyack college students experience the freeing and the healing love of the Father. Then I began training the new admissions associate for the Alliance Theological Seminary as I prepared to transition. I accepted the position as Area Coordinator for Simpson Hall at Nyack College this Fall and said “See ya later” to my amazing roommate over a turkey bacon & egg breakfast (as we are both moving out of our shared space). I finally ended my 2nd year at seminary with a 4.0 GPA- this woman got Straight A’s.

These last few months have been incredibly difficult, transformational, and emotionally unnerving. But somehow I got through them all and I am now preparing for my next adventure; Spending 10 weeks this summer in Recife, Brazil working with Shores of Grace in their efforts to rescue women and children from sex slavery. I leave May 28th! woooohooo

off of the streets“In 2010 it is estimated that 40,000 sex workers were active during the World Cup in South Africa. Now four years later, the World Cup is on its way to Brazil, a country already known for its exploitation of sex workers…hundreds of thousands of women & children will be at risk for trafficking, violent sex crimes, disease, drug abuse and death. In the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to see 4 children pulled off of the streets of Brazil and placed in a home where they were given a safe environment to live in for the very first time. God broke my heart over the injustice and exploitation of Brazil’s women and children. So in the summer of 2014, just as the World Cup begins, I will head back to Brazil to be a part of God’s rescue mission for the vulnerable.”

 (An excerpt from my support letter that perfectly articulates the need, & my heart to serve this summer.)

I am taking a huge risk; I resigned from my job, I am moving out of my apartment anbrokem by God's loved I bought an airline ticket believing that on the streets of Brazil loving those women and children is EXACTLY where I am meant to be. The center of God’s will for me this summer will be in a place of vulnerability to the unknown, of risk and of deep trust, as I count on Him to be everything I need to survive.

To say that I am excited is an understatement. This is a thrilling adventure into the unknown, may it be the first of many!!  In the moments of fear and discouragement (because they have come) I am holding on to those memories of last summer in Brazil, when God broke my heart and put his love in me for that beautiful nation and its people.

As a graduate student in Intercultural Studies, I have the opportunity to use this trip to fulfill degree requirements (2nd continent experience — required of ATS’ MA IC students), and put all I am learning in the classroom into practice, gain experience and hands on training in missions work to the poor, hurting, and marginalized. At the end of my trip I will put together a thesis that I will present to my Intercultural Studies professors.  How awesome it is to be a part of a seminary that sends its students out to do the work of the gospel!!!!!

 I cordially invite YOU into my adventure into the unknown. Please partner with me in this mission! I want to share my experiences, heart breaks, victories and day-to-day moments with you.

Throughout my time in Brazil I will blog weekly, so check-in to get the scoop of all that’s going down on the streets of Recife during the 2014 World Cup.

Also please, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! I need prayers for courage, wisdom, and strength as I face these transitions.

 www.gofundme.com/MaddyBack2Brazil – If you have a heart for women & children in sex trafficking, but cannot physically go, you can still join in this mission by partnering with me. Your support will make a lasting impact in the life of someone who needs YOU.

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Thank you for partnering with me, believing in this mission and praying as I go into an “adventure into the unknown”.

 

 

 

Online Courses: An Insider Interview with Anna

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At Nyack’s Memorial Park

The following is an online interview I held with current Master of Arts in Biblical Literature student Anna Bailey Shuman. Anna is now in her second semester of her first year of study at the Alliance Theological Seminary. Having graduated from Nyack College May of 2013, Anna knew her next step would be to complete a seminary degree. However her busy schedule; coaching volleyball, playing softball for Nyack College and working in ministry prevented her from starting her degree within the classroom but that didn’t stop her… Read the interview below!

 

Q- Why did you choose to begin    softballseminary with online classes?
A- I chose to begin seminary with online classes because my schedule was too crazy to find an empty three hour block, but I didn’t want to put off my education.

Q-What was your online experience like?

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Anna and her husband David(also a Nyack grad) at Nyack College’s chapel, in which she was given the opportunity to preach.

A-My first semester online experience was wonderful!  At first I was worried that I would feel disconnected from my classmates and professors, but that fear was proven false.  Everyone was super intentional about building a class community through the online discussions, email, and review sessions we held.  It was definitely interesting adjusting back into a physical classroom assignment this semester.   I grew accustomed to having time to research my responses to classmates questions or statements; a luxury I actually miss within the classroom.

Q-Are there any highlights you’d like to share?

A- I think my favorite part of the online courses was the structure and routine that accompanied it.  The level of organization made it easier for me to balance school, sports, work, and family at the same time.

Q-What is your advice for any prospective seminary students seeking to do an online program?
A-If anyone is considering partaking in an online program my advice is this:
1) Set a weekly schedule for yourself and adhere to it.  Find different sets of time to block off specifically for your class work and do not compromise.   It can be very easy to fall behind without the physical reminder of going to class.
2)  You will receive what you work for.  If you slack off and settle for doing only what is required of you, you will not have the best experience in the class.  Read the notes, do the entire reading assignment, ask the extra questions, and most importantly,  push your classmates towards excellence. pierparkPictured left to right: Amelia, Michelle and Anna.
Some of Nyack’s and ATS’ best at Memorial Park in Nyack.

         Thank you Anna! Great advice from someone who’s experienced both the classroom and online learning experience.  If you’re interested in pursuing a seminary degree, contact me (Madelyn.badillo@nyack.edu) and let’s see if perhaps an online program would work for you!

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ATS to go Online… We Want to Hear from YOU!

Ron

Ron“Friends, may I ask you a favor? If you are involved in Church leadership or ministry at any level, would you please consider filling out the following 3-4 minute survey? Alliance Theological Seminary is preparing to launch several online degree programs and we would like to make sure we are listening well to Church and Ministry Leaders.”

Here is the link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NFHHFRZ

Thank you again,
 Ron- Dean of the Alliance Theological Seminary

 ATS

 

 

 

 

The Unoffended Heart

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The cross

At Keswick Retreat Center dozens of young people left their burdens at the cross. #Freedom

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…” – Job 13:15

These past two months have been the most trying months in the recent history of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced and participated in some wonderful things, but in the midst of the wonder and the work of the Lord; I have been dealt some serious pain and testing. I ended up in the hospital for a few days shortly after my return from Haiti with Dengue fever. After a quick recovery, I believe because of the prayers of my elders, family and friends; I faced some serious slander and verbal persecution and lost a friend to a misunderstanding. And in the heat of the pressure cooker; all of the dirt, all of the fears, all of the hidden chains that held be trapped in a cage, were exposed.

These past few weeks I have laid bare, naked, exposed before God and before man. The good, the bad and the ugly, hanging all out for all to see. Pain searing the depths of my soul, in ways words cannot describe. Yet the freedom and the eternally valuable lessons I have learned are worth all of the vulnerability, the tears, the loneliness, the fear, and the flesh I have been forced to tackle head on.

 As I lay in my new hospital room, filled with fear because the doctor told me, my kidneys and liver were not functioning, I cried out to Jesus. I asked him to make himself known to me in the room, I asked him to speak to me and I declared with the little bit of strength I had; ” Though you slay me, still will I trust in you… though you slay me, still will I say yes to you God.” Instantly the peace of God filled my worrying heart, and I knew he was right there, next to me, in that hospital bed. And I learned in that instance, that no matter what comes my way, I must have a resolution in my soul, to say yes to God, to trust him with my present and my future. Because he IS GOOD.

 I struggled my entire life with people pleasing, and with the bondage of perfectionism. With the NEED to be liked, accepted and loved by all. I was my toughest critic. I was not allowed to make mistakes. It was not okay for me to disappoint ANYONE. I had to cross every t and dot every i, PERFECTLY. And I felt the need to control what everyone felt and thought about me… Yet these past few weeks, in which I faced all sorts of slander, accusations and arguments, I recognized that even when the ugliest parts of me are exposed before God and man: I AM a LOVED, ACCEPTED, BEAUTIFUL BEING.

But the greatest lesson I have learned is that, in order to live continuously walking in freedom before the Lord,  I must live with an un-offended heart. A heart that does not become bitter or angry with God and man. A heart that  let’s go of the pain and decides to love, to trust, to forgive, to move on, to believe the truth and remain optimistic, even when the world around seems grim.

Having an un-offended heart, is having a heart that chooses to  ” love those who hate you… bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you” ( Matt 5:44; Luke 6:28).
 This is by no means an easy task. It can only come when you take all of your junk, offenses and pain to the presence of the living God and hand it to him, like a gift you’d give your best friend.  I have learned that even when I spill out garbage, God is so GOOD and faithful, to clean me up and make me new again. He loves when I trust him with my pain, and my insecurities! AND  He looks beyond my imperfections and He sees what a continual relationship with Him will create in me. And because everyday he makes me new and every day his mercies and grace are available for me to start fresh; I can forgive others, renew my relationships and live with HOPE and FAITH that sees beyond my present situations.
Keswick TeamAn un-offended heart is what enabled me to stand in front of 200 young people at the beginning of the month at Keswick Retreat Center for the Midwinder Advance with a team of Nyack College students, to declare the truth, love and freedom of the Lord over them.  Many accepted Christ and many more leave their burdens at the foot of the cross and walked away with true freedom. An un-offended heart is the reason I can smile, genuinely, at someone who wants nothing to do with me. An un-offended heart, is the reason I can admittedly say, I am not perfect, I will make mistakes, and that is perfectly OKAY!
( The Keswick Dream Team left-right; Esther, Jamie, Boris, Momoko, Eddie, Aaron, Wilkenson, Me, Tyler and Jennifer)
Being an un-offended child of God breathes a freedom in you to be who you are, with no chains of performance or expectations (from yourself and others) holding you down.
The un-offended heart, trusts in the Lord and has faith in HIS WORDS… ( not the condemning, anxiety, accusing, fear filled words of satan)
Unity

May we all with unoffended hearts; “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

Why I <3 ATS!

ATS Faculty Blessing New students

 

  There are many reasons I love the Alliance Theological Seminary! But you’ve already heard my input on the matter through my post ” Why ATS?!”.  I think it’s time you hear from others what makes ATS the place they love! Enjoy =)!

If you are thinking about seminary, IT IS NOT TOO LATE! There is still time to apply and enroll before the end of our Add/Drop period.

Begin by filling out an online application here: http://www.nyack.edu/content/ATSOnlineApp

#HopeForHaïti

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I had the privilege to close 2013 by spending Christmas in Haiti with a group of amazing missionaries. The 10 days spent with them in the beautiful Caribbean country of Haiti, were truly transformational. Words still fail me in an attempt to describe my experiences. But as they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so I pray that this photo journal of my experience will somewhat tell you the story. These are only a few pictures, which captured only a glimpse of all we experienced in Haiti. 

IMG_0137This was our view from the roof of the church/missions base: “Light for Living International Ministries”, in which we stayed. We had wonderful hosts and a team of people of who really served and loved on us during our entire stay. Haitian Hospitality is beautiful. I am eternally grateful for Pastor Reginald Celestine, his wife Johanne and the their ENTIRE loving church, who became like

our family during our stay.

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 Day 2 – We sorted through tons of donations: clothes, vitamins, medicines, sandals, and toys. Pictured from left to right; Steve, Jodie, Carmella, Paul and Aaron.

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Having fun while sorting… who says serving is no fun!

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BT Sorting through the toys, what a joy she is!
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Worship in Haiti was amazing. God truly responds to the hunger and thirst in the souls of man!
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Adam Livecchi of We see Jesus Ministries and Pastor Reginal Celestin did a great job tag teaming and bringing a message of hope and faith. That night several people received physical and emotional healing. I saw a girls right ear open instantly at the name of Jesus Christ!
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This little girl slept on that roof…. She was trying to keep it some what clean, this image broke my heart.
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Taking on the Streets of Carrefour for some street evangelism. Not only did we share the gospel message and pray others. But we gave out sandals, clothes and vitamins…
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Paul, Sarah and Andrea enjoying a tight squeeze…
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The sights and sounds of Haiti are captured perfectly while riding on the Tap Tap…

Things get a little crazy in Haiti, so we had our own security guards courtesy of Pastor Reginald. These young men work for the church.  Left to right: Oge, Paul (from our team) and Elie.

Things get a little crazy in Haiti, so we had our own security guards courtesy of Pastor Reginald. These young men work for the church.
Left to right: Oge, Paul (from our team) and Elie aka “Bang-Bang”.

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Tap Tap; “There is always room for one more.”
Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

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Adam praying for a beautiful little girl, as the team became acquainted with the kids at the orphanage. 
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The children singing for us as we entered into the orphanage… It’s safe to say we all cried. These faces are painted into my heart and mind. Those loving children need to receive the love of the Father, but who will give it to them, if we don’t?? Who will go to serve them, if we don’t? 
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The moments I spent praying for this precious little man changed my heart… William, one of our translators praying with me. 

 

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Jodie; the kids loved her and she loved them, deeply.
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Carmella, sharing her testimony on Sunday morning as Pastor Ricardo Francois translated… if you haven’t, you want to hear this woman’s story! Ex Muslim, who is now a fiery woman of God!

 

 

 

It is so important to do everything we do, IN LOVE. I saw what love looks like through this wonderful woman, everyday in Haiti. Andrea.  Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

It is so important to do everything we do, IN LOVE. I saw what love looks like through this wonderful woman, everyday in Haiti. Andrea.
Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

BT and a young woman we met while doing some street ministry. This girl invited us up to her home, where we prayed to bless their household. BT proceeded to pray prayers of blessing over all of the children, it was beautiful.

BT and a young woman we met while doing some street ministry. After praying for her brother, she invited us up to her home. There BT prayed, prayers of blessing over her, her siblings and her cousins, it was beautiful.

Leaders and Pastors conference in Haiti. They all received solid teaching, a new leadership book from Adam and a good meal.

Leaders and Pastors conference in Haiti. They all received solid teaching, a newly translated leadership book from Adam and a good meal, because they are worth the investment. Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries

Steve, surrounded by kids who were intrigued by his camera. He did such a wonderful job, engaging them and showing them their curiosity was valuable and appreciated.

Steve, surrounded by kids who were intrigued by his camera. He did such a wonderful job, engaging them and showing them their curiosity was valuable and appreciated.

 

 

Here I was a leading a young woman to the Lord. She'd heard my testimony that morning and Jesus captured her heart. It was a true honor to lead her in prayer and watch and the Holy Spirit made her new. Thank you Pastor Ricardo for this honor and Adam for trusting us to represent you and the Kingdom of God well.

Here, I was a leading a young woman to the Lord. She heard my testimony and Jesus captured her heart. God sometimes sends us for the one. After all he is the good shepherd who will leave the 99 to find the 1… It was a true honor to lead her in prayer and watch as the Holy Spirit made her new. Thank you Pastor Ricardo for this honor and Adam for trusting us to represent you and the Kingdom of God well.

 

 

Buying some sugar cane. One US dollar got us 3 canes.

Buying some sugar cane. One US dollar got us 3 canes.

We brought pampers and a couple of other items to this momma who had none for her new baby. Earlier in the day she met with a couple of our team members who prayed for her. In Haiti I quickly learned it is never enough to just pray, one must also serve, give and sacrifice...

We brought pampers and a couple of other items to this momma who had none for her baby. Earlier in the day she met with a couple of our team members who prayed for her. In Haiti I quickly learned it is never enough to just pray, one MUST also go, serve, give and sacrifice for others.

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This little boy was walking around naked, so Jodie and Nadine proceeded to clothe him.
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Luckner of We See Jesus Ministries Haiti, dropping off clothes and shoes to this woman in need. Though not smiling here, her joy and gratitude was inexplicable, she hugged us all.
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“Big Momma” as we affectionately called her, is raising her grandchildren, on her own. Something about her reminded me of my grandmother. Perhaps it was her strength and love. She was so happy when we came by with toys and clothes for her little ones… Earlier in the day the team had prayed with her and then prayer for her granddaughter who for the first time WALKED!
The kingdom of God is in the miracles and in the sacrificial giving/serving of the saints.
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Luckner helping Jodie and Nadine make it down this rocky hill safely. After making our rounds he took us on a mini tour which led to a mountain top, where we could see all of  Carrefour from the highest point. It was beautiful. 
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And here she is! After the team prayed, this little girl walked for the very first time! Here we see Luckner and Adam leading her, in her first steps.
Photo Credit: Carmella Ayaad of We See Jesus Ministries.

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         May I always see what God sees when He looks at Haiti…IMG_0448

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This is how we got our water to shower and use the restroom. I was grateful for the efforts they made to ensure we had water everyday. 
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We were very well fed everyday thanks to our wonderful kitchen team lead by Johanne Celestin! Haitian Food is delicious! 

 

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The view on our way to Jacmel on Christmas Eve.
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The Nazarene church in Haiti, in which we served that morning and afternoon. These children did not make it inside of the church because we only had enough gifts for a 100 kids. However, thankfully we had enough shoes, vitamins and coloring books to bless them as well.
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Adam and Pastor Reggie giving a word of blessing and instruction.
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Some of the women who did not make it inside with us. There was such hope in their eyes, mainly because that day, the people of Jacmel knew that they were not forgotten. 
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A little boy was walking around in these sandals that were falling apart.
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Paul fitting this boy with new shoes, his joy is evident.
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He did not care that his new shoes were pink, he was happy that his feet were covered and protected.
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We attempted to go to a water fall in Jacmel, but because of time we were unable to. Instead Adam preached the gospel to the tour guides,the leader as pictured above came forth to accept Christ. A little while later the rest would follow…

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Carmella shared her testimony while Nadine translated and the rest of the tour guides decided to accept Christ… Here we see BT leading them in prayer to the Lord.
Photo Credit: We See Jesus Ministries.
This little had a 1 month old wound, which was continuously bleeding and surely infected. Aaron and Jodie took the time to clean her up, apply medicine and bandage her up. That is the gospel.

This little girl had a 1 month old wound, which was continuously bleeding and surely infected. Aaron and Jodie took the time to clean her up, apply medicine and bandage her up. That is the gospel. Photo Credit: Adam Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries

 

riding in the back of a cop car
On Christmas day we went to a boys prison in Delmas. YES, Prison. The boys behind those bars have committed all sorts of crimes. We had the privilege to share the gospel with them. A few of us shared our testimonies including myself. We led 10 of them to the Lord for the very first time. A bunch were physically healed. They all sung, ate well and received brand new sneakers ( thanks to donations collected the night before!) and toothbrushes and toothpaste. It was a very Merry Christmas indeed.
Photo Credit: Sarah Livecchi of We See Jesus Ministries.

the Haiti Team
The Haiti dream team left to right: Nadine, Alan, Myself, Andrea, Aaron, Sarah & Justice, Adam, Carmella, Paul, BT, Steve and Jodie. Out side of the boys prison in Delmas. #Christmas in Haiti!

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<—Took a ride on this water taxi! If you look closely Adam is enjoy an iced coffee while relaxing in the Caribean ocean, that’s the life.

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Photo Credit: Jodie Garcia

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Absolutely gorgeous!

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Mountains on 1 side, the ocean and it’s unending beauty in the other, a perfect way to end a perfect trip at Kaliko Beach.

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Check the video! The team describes the trip in 1 Word!

To Adam and Sarah Livecchi, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to serve under your leadership yet again. I am grateful for you both and all I’ve learned on our trips together! Words can’t express how blessed I am to be a part of your family… I look forward to traveling and ministering with you again!

If you want to go on a short-term missions trip that will change your life, check out We See Jesus Ministries

Alan standing on a wooden plank to hug Oge goodbye. I think it's safe to say none of us wanted to say bye. But it isn't "goodbye", it's " see you soon, Haiti!"

Alan standing on a wooden plank to hug Oge goodbye. I think it’s safe to say none of us wanted to say bye. But it isn’t “goodbye”, it’s ” see you soon, Haiti!”

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