Taking a Risk: Leaving the US to Serve in Brazil

planting

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

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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

anna

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?

annaanddave

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!

CTA button for Blog Adult Online

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

“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.

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.

 

“God doesn’t Heal…”

“…Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they praying for healing in Biblical Theologyshall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away…” 1 Corinthians 13: 8 

( Our Biblical Theology class praying for the healing of one our classmates on 10/1/13 led by Dr. Chan—>)

 Throughout my career as an undergraduate student at Nyack College, I heard many arguments for and against the move of the Holy Spirit to heal humans beings physically. I listened to professors I respect greatly, use the verse above, amongst others, to explain why the move of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, such as healing, are no longer in function within the Body of Christ today. But I also heard stories of faith from many others who witnessed physical healings, and/or strongly believed on a Biblical basis for the gift of healing today. 

I shared in one of my posts God used words to create…so be careful with ’em.” ,  my personal experience with the gift of physical healing. As I, last September experienced a complete healing from rheumatoid arthritis, after a time of praying during my “Divine Healing” class here at ATS.  That moment changed my spiritual walk, forever. 

 You see, like many of you, I’d struggled for a long time with the thought that “God doesn’t heal…” and even if He did, He certainly wasn’t going to use me to do it.  After all, I was just a little Christian college student, who was still fairly new to the faith and still struggling and working through a lot. During my time at Nyack college, I’d seen pockets of the move of God, but not much in the area of healing. And so while outwardly I looked confident and sure, inwardly I was just as insecure as a person receiving their first swimming lesson, after almost drowning a couple of weeks before. 

I’d prayed for healing for people, even though I didn’t believe much in it and for a long period of time I saw… NOTHING… Confession time!! While I do recall the several occasions during the small group “The Fire” (which I led my junior and senior years) seeing moments of healing and restoration, my faith was still small and filled with doubt. The constant reminder that God does not and could not use someone like me, kept my eyes off of Christ’s ability to heal, and on my limitations as a person.

CTA button for Blog UGUp until that point I believed that God didn’t heal others, when I prayed, because of me and who I was. Yet all along His healing touch was and is completely dependent on Him and who He is.

As a good friend reminded me of yesterday; “God’s miracles are not contingent on my belief in them.” –Darren Wilson in “Furious Love” (paraphrase)

That evening in class, when I encountered the God who heals, I recognized that it brings God nothing but pleasure to heal the wounds, diseases, sicknesses of His people. I encountered a God who delights in making His kingdom tangible in our bodies. A God who desires to display His authority over sickness, death and sin, by the complete removal of anything that manifests its effects. And a God who works through broken, hurting, disobedient, faithless people to display just HOW faithful, good and LOVING, HE is. 

I went on a journey as I took the Divine Healing Class offered at ATS, praying for the healing of several others. And I saw TEN people who that semester were HEALED; physically and emotionally. 

My favorite one was when my friend Matt was healed. Matt had severe pain in his foot, his foot was swollen and it was difficult for Matt to walk and stand (both of which he did all day) at work. My friend Bill and I decided to pray and pray we did. We began by asking Matt about his pain, the nature of his injury and so on. We then spent some time welcoming God into the moment. Bill led out in prayer, praying some specific blessings over Matt. As Bill prayed, my right hand felt like it was on fire, I immediately put my hand on his foot and I prayed. Long story short, by the time we stopped praying there was NO swelling, and NO pain and Matt stood up and literally ran around the house. We began rejoicing in the Lord so loudly, we woke up Bill’s mom, who also then praised God for the healing as well. GO JESUS!

Here is the cool thing about that story, Matt was not a Christian, He didn’t necessarily believe in God… but that encounter THAT night, led him to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! 

So here is where I challenge YOU. If you believe God cannot, and does not heal; if you’ve never experienced the move of the Spirit of God in healing, whether personally, or seeing it in someone else; give God a chance to BLOW your theology out of the water and go after healing! 

It would please the spirit of God to reveal to you the mysteries of God (Ephesians 3) in healing. 

I bless you to “seek, ask, and knock” and see that truly the “fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.” 

                           love through hugs

                           (and sometimes the healing we need is in our hearts….) 

Death First

“Death first” was a statement made by Dr. Rob Reimer jokingly deeper lifeas he spoke at the Nyack College Deeper Life session on Tuesday night. And while the context in which he made the statement is different from the way I am about to use it, ” Death First” perfectly articulates what God has been doing in my life.

Since Brazil, and in the midst of the craziness that is new student orientation, plus the add/drop period for Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary, God has been talking to me consuming fireabout death. Yes, you read right, death. God is calling me to die, to deny myself and my pick up my cross and follow him daily ( Luke 9:23). He is challenging me to learn how to live my life as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2); To be one who offers up her life to the Lord wholly, so that His will would be done in my life, here on earth, as it is in heaven. 

As I tried to process and explain to my friends what God was doing in me, I was having real difficulty, until Dr. Reimer spoke on it during chapel at ATS.He helped me understand that what God was asking of me was completely normal and necessary.

 Truth is, Jesus very much meant what He said when He called us to die to ourselves. And most of us live under the false assumption that we already do this. We think that because we stopped doing the things we use to, or have dealt with some of the heart issues in our lives, that we have learned to die.

But death to self goes deeper still. It is a realm of self-denial that forces us to love our enemies as ourselves. It is living in a place where, truly, it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me (Galatians 2:20). It is surrendering ALL that we are, ALL that we have and allowing God to do whatever, however, whenever, with ALL of our lives. It is living a life that says, “God this is what I want, this is what I have, this is who I am, take all of it, consume it, and do with it all, what you will.” It is no longer making decisions and asking God to bless them, but truly asking; “God what is it that you want?” and walking under His leading.

And I have come to realize that unless we learn to live “Death Surrendered at the AGSM retreatFirst”, we are going to miss out on truly seeing God and His move here on this earth. Dr. Reimer touched on this while he spoke in our chapel. He mentioned that unless we live in this level of Holiness, we will not see God (Hebrews 12:14). We pray and plead with God for revival yet we are still the masters of our lives. We still live with division amongst us. We still live being offended and angry with one another. We still control our decisions and the things we do. We want to see God, without living wholly, Holy lives and that my friends will not work. 

CTA button for Blog ATSYou want to see God?  Choose ” Death first”. Choose to surrender all that you have and all that you are and let God have His perfect will done in you, as it is in heaven. 

“We desire that God would give us the death-stroke; but we long to die without pain; we would die to our own will by the power of the will itself; we want to lose all and still hold all. Ah! what agony, what distress, when God has brought us to the end of our strength! We faint like a patient under a painful surgical operation. But the comparison is nought, for the object of the surgeon is to give us life — that of God to make us die.” François FénelonSpiritual Progress 

Personal Advice for Seminary Student at ATS

ATS Faculty Blessing New students

ATS Faculty Blessing New students with some words of wisdom at Orientation. ( Pictured left to right: Dr. Lim,  Amy Nehlsen director of AGSM, Dr. Widbin, Prof. Dressler, and Dr. Liu.)

As I look back and reflect on the last year of my life, (thanks to a good friend of mine, who through her blog, encouraged me to remember the faithfulness of the Lord),I am grateful for the many things I’ve learned in my first year as a seminary student and as an admissions associate for the Alliance Theological Seminary. Some things I learned the hard way-through tears, sleepless nights and what felt like endless struggles. And others I learned through the wise counsel of the many amazing seminarians I met. So this blog is a letter filled with words of wisdom from some of us to all of you.

Dear Seminary Noob,

1) Please be pessimistic when scheduling your time to do work, rather than being optimistic in assuming that you will get all of yourGet Started Right away work done. Seminary work requires more time and effort than undergraduate work. You are building a foundation for your ministry in Seminary. It is important that you give it your best and take your time. – Sam Lee 3rd year Masters of  Divinity (M.Div)  Bible & Theology, with Chinese Ministries student.

2) Stay as long as you can. Do not rush through your courses. -Kong Hang 3rd year Masters of Divinity Church Development student.

3) RELAX. That’s right—relax! This doesn’t mean you should get lazy, be irresponsible, or spend all of your time in leisure activities (instead of studying, researching and writing). Rather, choosing to RELAX is about adopting an attitude or trust-ful rest. It means choosing peace over anxiety, faith over fear and “good enough” over perfectionism.

4)  Don’t start “catastrophizing”. You’re here for a reason. And Katie Getting us Orientedyou’re not alone. God is with you. He will help. And you are surrounded by a community of others who share your experiences. concerns, and burdens. SO…

5) Embrace the resources God—and ATS—provide. -Katie George, Administrative Assistant to the Academic Dean.

6) Invest fully, while you  are here. There is a worthy cost to the great cause of ministry. The benefits will far outweigh the cost of your development; Spirit, Soul and Mind. – Drew Strecker 3rd year M. Div. Church Development Student.

7) Schedule free time and don’t forget to breathe. You will need the rest because your brain cannot work without it! – Terry Arcia ATS Alumni 2013 – Masters of Professional Studies, Church Development.

8)Have FUN! Enjoy your time in seminary!! – Dustin Collins- 3rd year M. Div Bible & Theology with Greek Student.

9) Seek community– ATS is a safe place. It is the best place to start dealing with all the “junk” in your life…so do it. – Eugenia Ko ATS Alumni 2013 – M Div. Bible & Theology.

10) Ask for HELP! – I survived my first year with its many ups and downs because of the many people in this community who were willing to invest in me. Whether you need tutoring, help writing a paper, someone to pray for you or even a hot meal, we are here to serve one another! So ASK!- Madelyn Badillo M.A. Intercultural.

And so with all that being said, enjoy your first year and welcome to Seminary!!!!!!!!

With Love,

The ATS Community

Receving the Blessing

Our new seminarians receiving a blessing from our Dean Dr. Ron Walborn and Faculty as they begin their journey at the Alliance Theological Seminary.

ATS ONLINE COURSES $500 Grant!

banner at graduation westchester county center

ats in israel

 

If you’re interested in the Alliance Theological Seminary, but you’re unable to relocate now or you just can’t fit an onsite class into your busy schedule…

You may be eligible to receive a onetime grant for $500 towards one online course!!!!  This offer is for new students, taking 1 or two online courses with us this Fall! ( who are not currently enrolled) 

ATS is offering the following courses online this Fall:

  • ONL TH 602.RW Systematic Theology II: Christ & the Church

  • ONL OT 503.RW Reading the Old Testament

  • ONL OT 504.RW Hebrew Bible and Eastern Med. World

  • ONL NT 503.RW  Reading the New Testament

This offer is only available for online courses offered Fall 2013.

Online classes are the perfect solution to a busy schedule. Receive the benefits of a seminary education from the comfort of your home,  pacing your school work in a way that works for you!

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If you want to further inquire, Please contact me at: madelyn.badillo@nyack.edu or

(845) 770-5703.

Esperança

For a week now, many of my ATS and NYACK college friends have asked about the mission trip to Brazil.  I have attempted to put into words the dramatic life change I experienced and honestly, words still absolutely fail me. Which is rather unusual, seeing as how I am someone who is quite talkative and verbally descriptive. It’s like no matter how much I think about it or how hard I try to explain it, I truly cannot fully put my experience in Recife, into words. And yet here I am writing this blog for you all to read and join in my experience. (And if you have not; do check out the Brazil photo blog)

Out of all the many life altering moments I encountered in Brazil, if there is one that truly changed me, it’s the following:

editedworship2On Wednesday night, the girls from the rescue home “Betania”, along with the “Shores of Grace” staff and our team got together for a time of worship. We gathered together in a room, and we sat around on the floor, on chairs and mattresses, and sang our hearts out as some of the kids colored and made drawings for us. The brokenness, weariness, hunger and thirst in the room was so thick, I am nearly positive you could cut it with a knife. There was an unspoken desperation for God, in me, in all of us. And as the minutes went by I could begin to feel the love and grace of God begin to satisfy our deepest longings for Him.  In a rather unusual scene, I began to sense the presence and pleasure of God, like I never had before.

CTA button for Blog ATSAnd then I saw her. A beautiful, young, 13-year-old girl. She sat quietly against the wall, crying. She cried and cried through nearly every song. And I could not help but stare. Something about her, caught my attention. Finally I asked God to make a space for me next to her ( as she was surrounded by others), so that I could join her, if it was His desire. Instantly the girl to her right got up, and began to color at a different spot in the room. She looked at me and noticed me staring, I got up, sat down next to her and grabbed her hand. For the next 20 or so minutes I held her hand as she cried. I cried with her. As I held her hand, I could feel her immense pain. I could feel the shame and the hopelessness she carried. My heart broke. How could someone so young, know such deep heartache? I knew she’d been prostituted and devalued, her tears spoke of the abuse she’d identified as her identity for as long as she could remember.

Yet in the midst of this hopelessness, I felt the depth of God’s love. I thought I had truly encountered this love, and I shared my personal experience in my post “Pierced by Love”. But honestly, what I saw and felt as I held this little girl’s hand was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I was caught in the middle of two realities. The reality of her pain and her past, and the reality of a hope and a future in Christ.

Despite all of my own personal experiences and lessons learned at the Alliance Theological Seminary, nothing could have prepared me for this moment. The moment in which the veil of my perception was torn down, and for the first time, in my entire life, I could see what God saw. Worship ended far too quickly for me. And I knew I had only but a couple of moments to share this love, and hope with her. I shared a few words with her. I gave her something tangible to hold on to. And then I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes. (I, of course had a translator for this.)

prayer for betania girl

A special thanks to Adam LiVecchi ( from We See Jesus Ministries) for capturing this life changing moment for me.

I placed my hand on her shoulder and instantly I felt the Lord’s desire to redeem and make ALL things new in her life. I saw how He planned to use everything that was meant to destroy her, for her good and for His glory. I knew that no matter what horrible thing she’d gone through, He really had  “a hope and a future” for her. That her past was covered fully by the blood of Christ shed on the cross, and all God the Father was concerned with, was creating something deeply beautiful and profound out of her life.  I spoke deep words of life, that were not only for her, but for me. Words that let the both of us know, that regardless of what we’ve been through, we look like our Daddy and He soooooo delights in us.

She cried. I hugged her. We parted ways. When I was asked by Adam ( from We See Jesus Ministries), what I experienced while praying for her, because he could see how powerful the moment was, I could not speak. I cried. I sat on a mattress on the floor and cried. Because  that night I’d been given an eternal glimpse at” how wide, how deep and how long God’s love” is for us.

My perception has been changed forever. It’s like I got an upgrade on the prescription of my spiritual contact lenses. I understand in my very being, that with the same hope God looked at that girl, He looks at EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING on the planet.

There is not one person who is hopeless in the sight of God…

amazing people

Our team and some of the amazing ” Shores of Grace” Staff at the base. ( Left to right) Evan, me, Aaron, Caleb, Aline, Gi, Jonathan , Glaucia and Stephen.

Taken to “Shores of Grace” and ended up floating in an ocean of endless love…

worship-sunday I put this picture first, because this was a defining moment for me. It was during this time of worship on the Sunday night of my trip, at a conference at ” Living Waters” Church in the favela of Olinda, that God challenged me to leave the comfortable for the unknown. To trust Him, when He calls me into the scary things that make NO sense. And to truly say “YES” to Him, with all of me. A lesson I’ve been learning since I started at the Alliance Theological Seminary.
worship with betania

Worship with the “Shores of Grace” staff and Betania girls who were rescued off of the streets of Recife. There is nothing like being in a room filled with children and people who are broken and longing for the love of God. It moves God’s heart and He truly does respond to the praises of His people.

foot washer ” He [Jesus] had been given all things, all authority and what did He do? He took off his garments of a rabbi and he put on the garments of a servant. He got to the lowest place in the room and washed the feet of his disciples… No, you don’t need a microphone, if you’ve been given that much authority, you need a towel and a basin of water. This is what we do with the authority we have been given. We position ourselves to the lowest place so that we could lift others up to their proper place… we bring our best to the lowest places and we wash the feet of the people who serve us or of our enemies or of the people who are so broken that they need the cleansing of the Father…” – Nic Billman, Shores of Grace. ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries)

love through hugs Sometimes a simple hug is all it takes to set a captive free… ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

brokem by God's love Or a heartfelt gift and that truly shows how much someone is really worth… This young woman was taken off of the streets and now lives in the Bethany House. During our worship night, she cried and cried as I held her hand and she perhaps for the first time learned how much God loves her and how deeply he desires to make all things new in her life… street church

Street Church: This was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. We were worshiping and praying and serving those men, women and children, while most of them got high off glue, had condoms falling out of their pockets and laid on dirty, naked mattresses. And yet God was in the midst, pouring out His love, because He LONGS for the least of these… ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

getting high on glue during the service Young man getting high off glue… ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

off of the streets

And that night in the midst of all that was going on, this little boy and 3 others, were rescued off of the streets and placed in homes. That night hope was restored! ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

 

bringing love and pizza to the prostitutes Bringing Pizza and presence to the prostitutes on the streets of Recife. Most of these women, wanted out, and if they only fully understood that freedom is found in Christ! ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

aaron no shoes My dear friend Aaron, gave his shoes away to an older woman whose home we visited. She had no shoes she could fit into and rather than pray and wish her well, he took his shoes off and walked around the dirty and muddy streets of Favela the rest of the day. Because LOVE is an ACTION.

beach!! And then we had a day at the beach and it was AMAZING.

A feast

 

We had a FEAST on the beach. Kinda like fathers table, the food kept coming out, there was plenty to eat and drink and we could take as much as we want!

yep!

 

 

 

And I did zipline into the ocean and it also was AMAZING. zip line into ocean

 

 

 

We were all too happy to spend a day of rest at the beach. ( Pictured below: Back left to right: Aaron, Evan, Marcia, Eliana, me and Sarah).road trip to the beach!

 

 

 

 

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The convoy! Now that’s riding in style hahaha! Pictured below:Left to right: Marcia, Eliana, Aaron, Caleb, Adam.the cool kids

this is how you bbq

 

 

And so in Brazil this is the way to BBQ! Outside, in a fire pit, with a fireplace, and the food taste AMAZING. This was at the “Shores of Grace” base.

we made memories

We made memories, we laughed, we cried, we became a family and I will forever be marked by every single one of them, and the rest of the amazing people I met in Brazil. Mishpat was had in Brazil, I think my ATS buddies would be more than happy to know this. (Pictured from left to right: Caleb, Eliana, Ricardo, Aaron, Evan, me and Marcia).

 

team worship time

The team got together for worship on Tuesday Morning. And the presence and love of God in our midst was truly overwhelming. I realized that truly choosing the road that leads me to know the more of God is the best decision I could ever make. And any other choice would truly be a loss… And I will never be the same again…  ( photograph taken by Adam LiVecchi of We See Jesus Ministries).

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