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“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

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

The Writing Center at Nyack College

Writing Center Papers make up a large portion of the requirement for many college courses. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, so I really don’t mind having to write papers for college. But I realize that my opinion of writing is an uncommon one. For some students, writing is the thing they dread most about college. Some people are unsure of where to begin with a paper, and others are unconfident in the quality of their finished work. Thankfully there is a place where Nyack students can get help with every stage of the writing process. The Writing Center at Nyack College is committed to giving students quality assistance with writing. There is a center at both the Rockland and the Manhattan campuses where undergraduate and ATS students are helped. I have worked at the Writing Center as a writing consultant for more than two years, and while there I have seen incredible advances in students’ writing abilities.

The most important thing to know about the Writing Center is that our primary focus is the writer; the paper is secondary. Yes, we aim to work with you to improve the quality of the paper that you bring us, but our primary goal is to teach you skills and methods that will improve the quality of all your papers. We will not fix your papers for you, but we will sit with you and go over the paper’s strengths and weaknesses while pointing out areas that need improvement. We hope that by the time you leave the Center you feel more confident in your abilities as a writer.

At the Writing Center, the consultants will assist any student of any discipline with papers from any class at any stage of the writing process (can you find the keyword?). We offer a free service to any student of Nyack College or Alliance Theological Seminary regardless of the student’s major or academic standing. Our staff consists of students from many different disciplines, and even if your consultant is outside of your major, he or she is well trained to assist you with your paper. It does not matter if your paper is complete, in a draft form, or hasn’t been started; we offer assistance with any stage of writing. Even if you feel confident about your writing, you will still benefit from another’s perspective on your work.

If you feel overwhelmed by all of the papers you have due this semester, come to the Writing Center for help. If you feel confident and prepared to handle all of your papers, you are still welcome at the Center. At the Rockland Campus we are located above the Bailey Library, and in Manhattan we are located in Wilson Library next to the ESL/Computer Lab. We look forward to seeing you!

Why I <3 ATS!

 

  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

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. 
the lame walk
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…

leading men to Christ
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!”

“Abuser of God’s Grace”

Eating dinner at PF Changs in Boston

Eating dinner at PF Changs in Boston

Tomorrow as we all gather together with our friends and families to celebrate Thanksgiving, we have something very special, undeniable and unmerited to be thankful for; Grace.  Grace is the gift from God that keeps on giving. The gift that connects us to Him and His great love. Grace is the reason I and many of you, are still alive today. God’s grace is the life-giving blood of His son, that has opened the door for us to receive eternal and permanent forgiveness and entrance into a love relationship with the God of the universe. Without grace, you and I would have no reason to be thankful, joyful and filled with hope. And while grace is a wondrous, beautiful gift, one I am sure many of us have or at least should have experienced a hundred times over, it is also one of the most abused God given gifts.  And I too have been guilty. I too have been an “abuser of God’s grace”.

 Two weekends ago, I took a drive with two friends to join a bunch of other friends from Eating Dinner  ATS and church ( Living Christ Church in Nyack, NY) for “Holy Spirit weekend”. We make this trek yearly to join Dr. Rob Reimer, Dr. Martin Sanders and Dr. Ron Walborn at South Shore Community Church in Brockton, MA, as they address topics like; the soul, the gifts of the Spirit, healing (of the soul, body and mind) etc. We go to these weekends in a search to learn, to grow and to encounter the Lord in a fresh new way and every year we come back renewed. This was my first Holy Spirit Weekend in Brockton. I was excited, filled with hope and expectation, sure that God had something new for me there, and surely He did.

 We got there 30 minutes before the first service Friday evening after being stuck in unpleasant traffic. I set up my table display for ATS with the help of a Nyack College colleague and got ready just in time for the worship to start. Dr. Martin Sanders spoke that night and out of all the wonderful things he said there is only 1 phrase I could remember “some are abusers of God’s grace” ( slight para-phrase). I remember this statement because of the way it pinched my heart, and I could not understand why. I chose to ignore the pinch, but that did not last very long.

At the end of the message, there were different response stations set up, for us to go to and be with God. A cross set at the front left of the sanctuary, for us to write and nail down our sins, struggles etc to the cross. A resolution station at the back left of the room, for us to make and write resolutions with God. A communion station in the back right, for us to partake of the Lord’s supper and a prayer station in the front right corner, to receive prayer from others. I went to the cross and found myself nailing some very familiar struggles to it. Then I confidently walked over to the communion table.

I picked up my little cracker and cup filled with grape juice, as I began to thank God for His sacrifice and prepare to take the communion, I heard God in my heart say very clearly; “You are an abuser of my grace, do not take communion, turn around and repent.”. I felt a deep sense of guilt, I knew God pegged me. He was right, I was/am an abuser of His grace.

Thoughts of the many times I have sinned knowing subconsciously He would forgive me, plagued my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person to do something wrong just because I could get away with it, at least consciously. I never fell into temptation with the thought “well at least I know I can get away with it, cause God will forgive me.” But I have always known that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) and I have learned that even in my failures, I can come boldly to the throne of Grace and receive mercy ( Hebrews 4:16).  And so this sense of knowing that I am forgiven, in a sick and twisted way, propelled my fleshly addictions.

 As I turned around and walked back towards the front with my cup and cracker in hand, I felt my heart-break. I knew I had offended God. I knew I had taken advantage of His goodness and mercy and it made me nearly sick to my stomach. I used to despise when people “abused His grace” and yet I was guilty of the very thing I once hated. I hastily wrote my sin on a piece of paper, nailed it to the wooden cross and took the communion. As I walked back with my little cup, I could not hold back the tears. I saw one of the awesome girls from my church and I told her what God spoke to me and why. I cried tears of repentance, tears that longed for deep change and tears that were aware of how much my struggles, hurt God.

My friend prayed for me and something she said really stood out to me ” God is saying Thank you, thank you for acknowledging me…” And in that moment I felt His grace and love once again. Because really all God is looking for; are hearts that are willing to admit their sinfulness, hearts that are willingly exposed before Him, hearts that long for true repentance ( a turning away from sin) and hearts that yearn for Him, to please Him and love Him above all others.

 So many of us have been stuck in cycles of sin, we make excuses ( I am really good, at finding those), we sin, confess, and sin again. This is offensive to God. This hurts His heart, but in His great LOVE, MERCY and GRACE,  He continues to shower us with the same grace we take advantage of.

My resolution is to NEVER BE AN ABUSER OF GOD’S GRACE, again! To be a woman who truly lays a hold of His forgiveness and kindness and turns once and for all from the very things that nailed Him to a cross.

Because truth is when He forgives us it’s permanent, and so is His freedom from sin over our lives (so let’s walk in it)!!

And THAT is something to be Thankful for!

     HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!! 

Thankful

The Struggle

Learning how to walk in freedomI have learned throughout my years here at Nyack and ATS, that we all struggle. We all have issues with sin, at some point or another. We all have fears, insecurities, doubts, anxieties, wounds and the list goes on. Whether we admit them or not we are all familiar with “The Struggle”; those things that seemingly kick our behinds at times. And if you say that you don’t have any areas of weakness, if you dare say you don’t struggle, I’d dare say you are not being honest with yourself and those around you.

And so I am about to be very real with all of you about “The Struggle”. That one thing in my life, that kicked my butt for years. This isn’t easy by any means. It’s not easy to share ones struggles with friends, nevertheless sharing it with the world-wide web, where millions of people will have access to it, forever. But with this being a growing, prevalent, and perhaps the most unspoken of issues within the Body of Christ, I will share with you all, my journey with “The Struggle”.

I became a Christian in 2008, and within the first month, of making my decision to follow Jesus Christ; I stopped smoking weed and cigarettes. I left a very bad relationship, and I abandoned mostly everything that connected me, with my previous lifestyle. Except for this one thing, an addiction to sexual sin. Now before you find yourself outraged with my confession; remember you, and if not you, someone you know, also has and/or does struggle with the very same thing.

I learned from a very young age, that if I wanted to be loved and accepted, than sex was the way to go. Sexual abuse taught me where and how to find comfort, approval, acceptance, love. And so I found myself as a Christian, dealing with my issues of loneliness, rejection, pain, etc. in the way I knew how;  by giving myself the self-gratification that I thought would ease my pain.

But I quickly discovered how different it is to engage in such things as a Christian. I would turn to this sin and immediately after feel ashamed, disgusted at myself and my behavior and completely disconnected from God. I would spend days depressed and angry at myself for committing such a horrible act. It took me years to understand that truly NOTHING could separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8).  That even though, I messed up yet again, there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That God still sees me as His beloved daughter and that His grace was TRULY sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).  I learned this through my amazing leaders, friends and mentors while in Nyack College.

I learned to run to God the Father when I fellwomen who've helped keep me accountable, rather than run away from Him. But this wasn’t enough. Eventually I became SICK and TIRED of falling and running and I just longed for REAL freedom. I recognized I needed accountability in order for that to happen. And so I began to confess my sins. I started to open up to my close friends and mentors about my struggle. I gave them permission to ask me the tough questions and be in my face about it. But that still wasn’t enough. Because no matter how many times I confessed and how many times they prayed for me, I still fell. And even though it was something that happened maybe once or twice a month, it happened enough for me to recognize something was seriously wrong in my heart. 

And so through a class at Nyack, I learned how to begin to deal with the junk in my heart that was leading me to turn to that sort of comfort. I dealt with mommy issues, daddy issues, abandonment issues, rejection issues, abuse issues, fears, insecurities. I was as messed up as they come. I discovered that the more I dealt with my stuff, the less I struggled. But the struggle was still there.

So I went for a deliverance session, and dealt with some spiritual (demonic) influences that fueled the addiction, and that was amazing. I found myself walking in levels of freedom I’ve never known. Until I felt alone again, and fell again. And I realized then, that the only thing that would ever satisfy this longing heart was love, God’s love. So now I am learning how to spend time, daily, with the God who loves me. Allowing His love to wash over me, and fill every fracture in my soul. The more time I spend with Him, the less I crave  a false sense of satisfaction and the more freedom I know.

We all have “The Struggle”.  And after much trial and error, here are a few tips that have helped me walk in freedom:

  1.  Be real, admit there is an issue. Walk in the light. As long as you keep things hidden or pretend you’re not struggling, you will never find freedom. (1 John 1)

  2. Run to God, not from Him. He loves you. He longs to pour out his love and grace over you and over those areas that you struggle with. He is not angry with you or shocked by your sin. He understands, He gets it and He longs to walk through this WITH YOU.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)CTA button for Blog ATS

  3. Confess, share your struggle with a leader, friend, minister, a person you could trust, who will give you sound counsel, love on you and help pray you through; no matter how long it takes. (James 5:16)

  4. Deal with the underlying issues. Allow God to expose the holes in your soul and walk you through healing. It sucks, it hurts, but it is WORTH it. (Luke 6:46)

  5. Set up different levels of accountabilityScreenshotblocks on your internet, friends who will ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable for your decisions and actions.

  6. Seek deliverance, often times addictions are influenced by critters. This doesn’t mean you’re not a child of God, it just means that we live in a world where there are spirit beings who seek to influence and rule our lives. And none of us want that.

  7. Soak in God’s presence and love every day. Ultimately we turn to other things to satisfy a need that only God could satisfy. So let Him quench your thirst, and ease your hunger, with the richness of His love.

Undergrad Mom Turned Valedictorian and MBA

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Every valedictorian has a story to tell.  This week our featured alumna is the 2011 valedictorian of the Manhattan campus: Annette Mendoza.  On a cold Friday, we caught up with her for an interview about her life as a Nyack Warrior and as an MBA.

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Annette fits into the new category of modern-day college student.  A mother of three and full time professional in the banking industry, Annette began her career in 1994 and in 2007 decided to finish her bachelor’s degree in New York City at Nyack College. She began the interview by saying:  “I started as a [bank] teller and worked my way up.”  She wanted to continue her education but life had its demands.  Her career was going well and she had kids in elementary school.  In a one-year span she had doubled her salary and jumped 10 levels at Dime Savings.  She became a trainer and then assistant manager, diving into analytical work.

 

On returning to school to finish her degree, she said, “Looking back it didn’t seem fast.  But now it just seems amazing.”

 

Annette’s Job in a Nutshell

“I don’t do the same thing every day,” said Annette about her work at Signature Bank.  Up early to help her kids out the door, she then leaves her home in Queens and arrives at her Manhattan office by 8:30am.  Her day ends at 5pm and in between she works with branch managers as a technical software analyst.  Her responsibilities include working within the mainframe, ensuring accounts are created and maintained properly.  She runs integrity reports to check client data so that nothing has been entered incorrectly.  She helps customers and bank managers on a daily basis and when big projects come up, such system upgrades, Annette reports to the office on the weekend too.  While life may be hectic she laughed, saying, “I really enjoy what I do.”

 

Her Life as a Nyack Warrior

Annette returned to school to study business administration.  After 15+ years in the workforce and a busy family life, she made the leap and took night classes at Nyack College’s Manhattan campus.  “I had a feeling in my heart that Nyack was the place for me,” she said when we asked her how tough it was as an undergrad mom.  “The professors were very supportive.  Dr. Grant was always available and accommodating especially when I wanted a finance concentration in New York City.  He helped me make it happen so that I could achieve what I needed to.”

 

Professors in her undergraduate classes helped Annette plan for the future and when she became valedictorian of her graduating class, they encouraged her to continue for a master’s degree in business administration.

 

Getting her MBA

Annette didn’t think she could continue if she wasn’t “100% full-hearted” about the program.  She was taking time away from her family.  She was sacrificing sleep and free time.  So when she met the director of the graduate program, she knew what she was facing: 16 intense months that was only possible because of her family, friends, and program mentors.  “Dr. Becker was an excellent professor.  I saw his passion and knew that I wasn’t just a number to him.  There was a personal touch and the professors knew who I was and were concerned about me.  It was a blessing.”

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How has life changed with an MBA?

Annette replied simply, saying that she can work in a wider array of jobs.  Her workflow is effectively structured according to best practices that she learned at Nyack College.  The master’s degree in business administration helped her create tools to improve her job performance. “I work smarter not harder,” Annette said, adding that she feels better prepared for the unknown and confident that her career in business has a solid foundation.  In the future, she even hopes to teach business and personal finance.

 

Advice for MBA students?

“Don’t give up!” Annette explained.  So many times she had an urge to stop and call it quits.  But pressing forward and finishing was one of the greatest achievements she’s had.  In a small cohort of eight students, Annette said the camaraderie helped too.  Each class is a step that the entire group experiences together.

 

‘There’s a lot of changing.”  Annette described the true challenge of the program.  “You are becoming a master in this field.  You are being shaped and molded.  You will cry, laugh, and then you will look back.  There will be a sense of accomplishment.  So just keep moving forward!”

 

Final Thoughts and Thank you’s

We asked Annette if she wanted us to highlight anything in particular in this article.  She answered, “Yes!  My husband, Carlos.  I couldn’t have done it without him.”  Her many thanks go out to her children: Christopher, Faith, and Jeremiah for their understanding and support.  Finally, she gives her best wishes to the next cohorts in the MBA program at Nyack College.

 

Note from the Editor:  Alumni Spotlight is a special column dedicated to Nyack Warriors around the world.  Whether on the banks of the Hudson River or in Battery Park, Warriors go far and wide.  Do you know an alumnus with a great story?  Please message us so we can share their story on our blog.

Tales from a Traveling Admissions Counselor

ATS tableLast week I spent what felt like an eternity driving to an array of Christian colleges, promoting the Alliance Theological Seminary and Nyack’s graduate programs. While the overarching purpose of the trip was to bring awareness of the wonderful institution Nyack is, to hundreds of college students seeking a good seminary; God had other plans. And so in the midst of work, of being focused on getting as much visibility for Nyack as possible, of talking to prospective students and telling them about all of the incredible things Nyack and ATS have to offer them; God interrupted time and time again, seeking to impart something deeper and lasting than information about a seminary. He sought to use me, as a vessel of honor, one who would display His light, love and goodness to His children.

This for me was completely new and unexpected. While in the past I have prayed with prospective students and shared encouraging words, this time was different. Monday I drove 7 hours to Houghton College, where for 2 hours I hosted a table and spoke to a good amount of students about our graduate and seminary programs. After about an hour of recruiting, I met Jennifer. She is an eager Junior who is seeking to further her education in Childhood Ed upon graduation. While she shared her dreams with me, I noticed her rubbing her back and neck, so I asked her if there was any pain. She replied “yes, I suffered from an injury and since, my back always hurts.” I asked her ” could I pray for you?”, her reply came immediately ” please”.

So I prayed, I prayed for healing for her back, but most importantly I prayed for the love of the Father to be poured upon her heart. For her to know how deeply God desires intimacy with her, and for the truth that the Holy Spirit is always with her. I spoke peace over her. The prayer was relatively short. As I finished praying, I noticed she was crying. As soon as I said “amen”, she said ” my back has never felt this good”. And it hit me. I drove there, that afternoon, not just to recruit for ATS, I drove there, because God loves Jennifer, and He wanted to use me, to have a deep encounter with her.

 

Be a Vessel of Light Fast forward to Tuesday night. Tuesday was a long day of driving to Springfield,Ohio, where I would be staying to go to Cedarville the following day. Thankfully the drive was interjected by an impromptu lunch with a C&MA pastor, which was lovely and grabbing a cup of coffee with a longtime friend. I was about 2 hours away from my destination, when I really had to go use the restroom and was starting to feel a bit hungry. Determined on finding an Applebee’s, upon seeing what I thought was a sign for Applebees, I got off I 90. But instead, somehow ended up at a Dennys. Being unable to continue to drive, because of how badly I had to go, I resigned and decided to go in. I used the restroom and reluctantly ordered a small meal.

As I sat and ate, I asked God ” Why am I here?” I heard him say “Stand up and ask the people here, if any of them want prayer.” Now that’s just weird. Who stands up in the middle of a restaurant and asks  “Hey does anyone need prayer?”. Okay so Dennys was relatively empty. But still… Anyway I decided to be obedient, stood up and asked. Instantly a waitress, walked up to me and said “Please pray for me, I am losing my home and I need to find a place to live that’s inexpensive for me and my children.” So I did pray. The time of prayer ended with a long hug and two teary eyed waitresses. She said to me:  “This happens all the time, people always come in here and ask me to pray.” It was clear to me, that God is after her. He longs to pour out His love for her. And He unbeknown to me, led me to a Dennys, when I really wanted an Applebees, to show her, how much He loves and cares about every aspect of her life.

Morning Coffee

My journey ended at Geneva College. Which perhaps was the most frustrating day on the road for me, out of them all. Mostly because after waking-up at an ungodly hour and driving 4 hours, hardly any students would talk to me. Until one lovely girl, approached the table and engaged me in conversation. After a few minutes, she asked if I was hungry, of course,I was! And she offered to bring me food. As she walked away to grab me a meal, I heard God say ” You’re here for her.” “Hmm interesting”, I thought.

She came back, sat down and we shared a meal together. During that time, we had a conversation that enabled her to open up about certain things, things that I was able to speak life and wisdom into; having been in those same shoes myself. At the end, I prayed for her, about her dreams and being able to dream like a little girl again. About having peace for her future and trusting that God, is a good God and WILL take care of her. She hugged me tightly and asked “Are you real? Are you an angel?”  I laughed, “unfortunately I am NOT an angel…but God did bring me here for you today, because He loves you…”.  I thought about the trip and everything that had occurred as I drove back on Friday, I realized

CTA button for Blog ATSthat we are vessels of honor:

Flowers from the road

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2: 21

God has chosen ALL of us, who have been called by HIS name, to do good works ( see Ephesians 2:10) that HE planned long ago. I am not some sort of rare breed. I am not any different from you. I did none of those things on my accord, I only did what my Father was doing ( sound familiar?). And you too, can and should do the same.

I recognize finally, that I don’t only represent Nyack and ATS, I represent GOD. My life, (education, job, relationships etc.), is a ministry and so is YOURS!

Let the God of the universe USE YOU to bring glory and honor to HIS name. Be obedient in the little things and watch how He will BLOW your mind.

 

Alumni Spotlight: George Ramos, AGSC Class 2012

At 1pm, George Ramos was leaving family court when we caught up with him for an exclusive alumni interview.  A graduate of Nyack College’s Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, George has spent the past 6 years working for New York City, first as a Child Abuse Investigator and now as a Family Assessment Coordinator.  A part of the Administration for Children Services, the Family Assessment Program (his employer) helps teens and families in crisis.  The agency provides services and social workers to assist families tackling such issues as truancy and drugs.

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At the very start, George said that he wanted to do this interview in order to expressly highlight his gratitude to the faculty of the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling.

 

His work with ACS and the Family Assessment Program… in a nutshell

Specifically, George manages intake, meaning when a case comes in, he identifies specialists who can assist the particular issues of the family.  He speaks to teens, sometimes without their parents in order to learn about the underlying issues in their lives.  Before his degree completion with the AGSC, he already had a steady job within the department.

 

So why pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling?

George wanted to advance his degree and like many adults he struggled with time commitments.  He’d a family and a full time job.  Adding course work to this plate seemed almost impossible and in fact the faculty and admissions counselors were unsure he’d be able to carry all the responsibilities.

 

“I remember sitting in the office as my candidacy for admittance was discussed.  They were skeptical of my application but they wanted to give me a chance to discuss my goals for the program.  As we talked, my understanding of the school deepened.  They spoke about empathy and investment in mental health and the Christian church.  They spoke of people doing good not for a job or number but for a greater purpose.”

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The full commitment of the classes weighed on George but he endeavored to succeed.  “It’s hard being in a class with students who are smarter or younger than you and quicker to understand things. Dr. Lucas believed in me even when I struggled.  I don’t think you can get that in any other program. This is a community of learners.”

 

What was a monumental moment for him in the AGSC?

“Too many,” George told me and again began discussing his admittance into the program.  He knew the program was designed to mend broken lives.  “That resonated with me.  And sometimes in class you wonder how you’re going to remember the material and all the techniques.  But eventually you’re with a client or at your internship and you hear Dr. Chin in your head.  He’s telling you about case studies.  Suddenly, I realized that I knew what to do.  I could hear Dr. Robles speaking and I thought –wow!  I can do this!”

 

What advice does he give to new students?

George said that students should remember that their job is to learn techniques and new information.  Sometimes in the moment, the material can be overwhelming.  But have faith because the greatest strength that the program has lives with the professors who “have knowledge of the discipline and respect to the Bible.  They merge the two together, not letting one outweigh the other.  It’s thoughtful and pointed.”  New students and graduates are in the program for a reason: to help others and the Kingdom.

 

Was the hard work worth it?

Yes.  George said that with his degree he was able to advance within his department and compete with applicants that have backgrounds in social work.  He feels that while a master’s degree in social work is widely known, his degree in mental health and counseling is clinically pointed and based on best practices.  He had an edge and used it.

 

In the future, George knows that he can continue within ACS and can eventually clinch a high-powered administrative position within New York City.  But in fact he wants to open a non-profit mental health practice specifically for people of color.  He wants to continue healing and educating in a Christian way. George is currently enrolled in Harvard University’s Extension School studying Management.

 

 

Final Thoughts?

Before we ended our conversation, I asked George if he wanted anything in particular printed in the article.  He said simply, “I want this [article] to show how grateful I am to the AGSC and for how vested they were in me.  I’d like to highlight how warm they’ve been to me and continue to be.  It’s a lot like home.”

Note from the Editor:  Alumni Spotlight is a special column dedicated to Nyack Warriors around the world.  Whether on the banks of the Hudson River or in Battery Park, Warriors go far and wide.  Do you know an alumnus with a great story?  Please message us so we can share their story on our blog.

Nyack College Homecoming 2013 Pics!!!

This gallery contains 35 photos.

This past weekend, current students and students from years and decades past flooded the Moseley Field and Bailey Library lot, for Nyack’s Homecoming, Under the tent. There were soccer games ( GO Warriors!), volleyball games, good food, dunk tanks, and lots of opportunities to support Nyack College clubs and student activities. Below you will find a FEW of the MANY, captured memories. Photo credits belong to the wonderful Terry Arcia of the Nyack College Graduate Programs, Admissions Department! Enjoy!      

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