Taking a Risk: Leaving the US to Serve in Brazil


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


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.


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




Serving God While I Wait

god's calling


My head is constantly full of dreams of travel, of holding orphaned children in Africa, of touching the outcasts in India with the story of Jesus, and countless other scenarios. I get it stuck in my head a lot that once I graduate and jump through all the right hoops and go to the mission field that is when I can finally and completely serve God and fulfill the calling on my life. This seems like a fair statement, but in truth it is flawed. Because of this intense focus on the future I have often lost sight of the things that are right in front of me now.

There is this song that says ‘while I’m waiting, I will serve you’ and this is the attitude we must have in life and one I continually strive towards. There are so many ways to love and serve in every stage of life. Doing God’s work looks different in every setting, but it is important to involve yourself in such thing. For me a lot of times when I’m at school that means doing stuff like studying and going to classes and even spending quality time with a friend. And right now as break has started and I spend time at home I get to rest with my family, but also volunteer to help as needed or make connections with old friends. These sometimes can seem pretty basic, but they are important as God calls us to love and serve those around us. At the same time I look forward to the plans God has for me in the future. This means farther off when one day I serve him abroad, and even as I head to another summer working at camp in a few days. I know and trust that God will use me. And, something I believe and hold as a principle in my life is that it does not matter if I am washing dishes or preaching a sermon, I am serving God and that is all that matters. I know that God has an amazing destiny for each one of us, but that destiny starts today. Whether you are a student, a parent, a pastor, a teacher, a librarian, or even a missionary trust and know that God has placed you exactly where you are meant to be. Trust that he is good and know that His hand is in your life wherever life may lead you. God calls us to love and serve so remember to focus and to love the ones who are in front of you right now in this stage of your life.

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Great Teachers at Nyack

A good teacher is one who cares about their students as more than just students, but as unique individuals who deserve your time and love. Throughout my life I have been blessed with several teachers like this. They care about your education, but also ask about your dreams and seek to get to know you as a person outside of the school day. There are so many great teachers here at Nyack who go above and beyond their required seat hours to pour into the lives of their students. As an intercultural studies major a few of my teachers live on campus and I have had the pleasure of going over to their houses and sharing a meal with them. It was wonderful to be able to spend time in community with these teachers and other classmates as we discuss life issues and our dreams for the future. This has been a huge blessing during my time here at Nyack so far.


There is one teacher in particular who I believe was a wonderful teacher inside of the classroom as well as a person who I knew I could talk to even once I finished his class. Barry Jordan was the missionary in residence this year at Nyack College and was the teacher of my Culture and Communication’s class. He, his wife Patty, and their family have been serving in Indonesia as missionaries for many years now, but have spent their last year on furlough at Nyack. Barry has become a sort of father-figure on campus through his open-door policy and continuing friendly gestures towards all students as well as the name by which myself and many other students call him. His name on campus is ‘Bapak’ which is the word for father in the country which he serves. When I was in Bapak’s class I learned much about culture and specifically about the people of Indonesia as CTA button for Blog UGone can quickly see his love for these people. I learned much from his personally stories of different situations which he had encountered on the mission field. It was truly a wonderful class to be a part of as I gained knowledge, but also made lasting friendships with my classmates and my teacher. Even though the class ended in December I still carry on a relationship with Bapak as well as many friendships that were born and nurtured in that class. Even now I have made many visits to Bapak’s house, nestled in the center of campus, for dinner, parties, or just to show up on his front lawn to be invited in for cake and ice cream. Bapak and his family’s hospitality and love was a huge gift to this campus for the past year and he will surely be missed as he heads back to do God’s work again in Indonesia.

Is the MDiv Worth It?

Is the MDiv worth it?

Considering a MDiv – Master’s of Divinity degree? This degree program can be anywhere between 72 and 106 credit hours of study. Yes, that’s three or more years of study for a master’s degree. In this amount of time you could earn a JD degree before you earn a MDiv so the MDiv program is a serious degree of high academic learning. What you learn from a MDiv depends on your knowledge, experience, and drive. It is recognized as the most comprehensive and basic level graduate preparation for ministerial leadership and for future study in the theological disciplines.

What you might not know is that MDiv curriculum’s may be shaped heavily around the diversity of the seminary student body’s beliefs and the denomination or founder(s) of the seminary. The wide variety of seminaries’ doctrines and faculty gives prospective students many options as to how they want their preparation for ministry to be shaped through choosing the best seminary for themselves.

Perhaps you’re looking at an MDiv and not looking to enter a traditional ministry position. Perhaps you’re just desiring to grow spiritually or learn more about who the Christian god is. Perhaps you’re not sure if going for a degree is the best way for you to learn what you desire. It is a big investment in time and it can be financially without scholarships. Depending on your social location, you may want to go for a MDiv within your denomination or one that teaches according to a variety of denominations. What’s important is that you go to the seminary, take the program, be mentored, research, or what have you that will help shape who you want to become.

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Do you want to be challenged about your beliefs and learn about other cultures and interpretations of the Bible? Do you want to be ready to be able to defend your beliefs? Do you not want to be told what to believe in, but to be encouraged to think for yourself? Do you want to be amongst students that have different beliefs than yourself? Do you want to be amongst a racial and ethnic diverse student body? Do you want to go to seminary in a city such as New York City, a suburb of NYC, or a rural area? Is the history or mission of the seminary important to you? What classes, concentrations, and class schedule will be best for your growth? Do you want a MDiv accredited by the Association of Theological Schools?

These are serious questions and considers that God has for you.  Every day, people call our admissions offices and ask our counselors for advice.  We say “God will provide” and advise people to look into themselves, pray.

Is the MDiv worth it?

Is the MDiv worth it? That is a question Alliance Theological Seminary – ATS takes seriously with over 763 current students across three campuses in Nyack NY, New York City, and Puerto Rico. Currently, this NY seminary, NYC seminary, and Puerto Rico seminary students’ demographics combined are 45.7% female and 54.3% male, 43.6% single and 47.2% married, 18.7% Asian, 35.4% Black/African American, 24.1% Hispanic/Latino, 11.6% White, 1.8% Two or More Races, and 7.8% Non-Resident Alien. ATS looks at prospective and current students on an individual basis making sure that everyone is on path for success spiritually and vocationally.

The Master of Divinity MDiv at Nyack’s Alliance Theological Seminary is a 93-credit curriculum that blends biblical studies, social science theory, spiritual formation, and practical training with an emphasis upon critical and reflective thinking. The M.Div. curriculum develops progressively over three years at ATS through the Person Phase, the Church Phase, and the Ministry Phase. The purpose of the MDiv degree at ATS is designed to produce whole people for general leadership in Christian service, whether in their own or in another culture, by bringing into dialogue the various dimensions of theological education. These dimensions are (1) church and academy, (2) theology and social science inquiry, (3) the biblical world and the contemporary world, (4) classroom and experience, (5) character and competence, and (6) wisdom and skill.

The goals of student learning at ATS are:
1. Lay a foundation for ongoing spiritual formation including personal development, moral integrity, and spiritual maturity.
2. Gain knowledge and be able to apply methodology in biblical studies, theology and cultural understandings.
3. Gain an appreciation of the relational nature of ministry through the experience of being mentored and mentoring others, and through learning and practicing interpersonal ministry skills. Students will be able to understand and practice integration of the personal, theological, and practical components of holistic ministry. Students will gain ministry skills for a broad range of Christian service responsibilities, and will be able to demonstrate competency in classroom and internship environments.

Tracks are available in Bible & Theology, Church Development, Missions, and Urban Ministries in Alliance Theological Seminary’s MDiv program. In addition to the tracks, students select 6 professional development courses of their choosing from within the ATS curriculum or in consultation with the Dean, from other graduate programs within the Nyack College System. This flexibility allows for further study in areas related to career goals and personal interest.

Bible and Theology: Emphasizes enhanced preparation in biblical and theological studies. Students choose to focus on either Greek or Hebrew. Includes the following 6 courses:

Hebrew progression:
NT Greek I: Elements
Greek II: Readings
NT Greek III: Exegesis OT Book Study (in English)

Greek progression:
Biblical Hebrew I: Elements
Biblical Hebrew II: Readings
Biblical Hebrew III: Exegesis NT Book Study (in English)

Systematic Theology I: God & Humanity
Systematic Theology II: Christ & the Church

Church Development: Emphasizes the broad perspectives and essential skills needed for full-time local church ministry. Includes the following 6 courses:

Advanced Communication
Leading Change & Conflict Resolution
Management & Christian Service
Human Development
Discipleship & Small Groups
Christian Ethics

Missions: Emphasizes perspectives and skills needed by those ministering across cultural barriers, especially in evangelism, church planting and the development of an indigenous Christian faith. Includes the following 6 courses (offered primarily at the Rockland Campus):

Global Expansion of the Church
Cultural Immersion & Social Analysis
Doing Theology in Context
Christian Encounter with World Religions
Theology of Power Encounter
Christian Witness in the Context of Poverty

Urban Ministries: Emphasizes the perspectives and specialized training necessary for ministry in an urban environment. Includes the following 6 courses (offered primarily at the Manhattan Campus):

Christian Ethics
Urban Theology
Urban Church & the Poor
Urban Community & Worldview Analysis
Urban Community Development
Leadership Development & the Urban Church


To request more information on the MDiv or the other programs available at ATS, please click here.


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