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

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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?

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!

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“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

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.

 

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.

Pierced by Love


knowing I am lovedA couple of nights ago I was laying on the floor, on my face at Resting Place House of Prayer in New Jersey ( lots of Nyack College students and ATS students visit this place). And I was crying. I was crying over the fact that God is a high and lofty God. He is unapproachable light. His power could crush the universe. I was saddened by this amazing truth, because I realized that this same unapproachable God, is my Father and as much as I would want to approach Him, hug Him, run and sit on His lap in the throne room one day, I can’t.

It’s safe to say that my sentiment moved God’s heart. And instantly I was overwhelmed by a deep sense of love and longing, which were not my own. I felt the affections of this powerful God towards me. I felt a love that saw all of my dirt, all of my sin, all of my mistakes, all of my past, present and future failures but loved me the same. I felt this love wrap around me like a tight, strong, passion-filled hug.

And what I saw next has changed the depths of my being.  I saw a man clothed in white garments, He had a gold belt around His waist, and hanging off of His belt was a sword. He pulled the sword from its holster and carved as holes into the sword was the word ” LOVE”.  This man turned and the piercing light coming from His eyes kept me from being able to see His face. I tried hard to see what He looked like, but I couldn’t. And this man took His sword and pierced me with it. It was not an act of violence or hatred, but of penetrating truth. Seconds later Ali, one of the leaders at Resting Place says while praying: ” He wants to (Jesus does) pierce you with His Holy love…”

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Needless to say, I was undone. I wept and wept, because I got a glimpse that night of the length, the depth, the height, the width, of God’s love. A love that knows no bounds, that holds no records of wrongs, a love filled with grace and compassion. A love that is not only for me, but for all of mankind.

I have been reading a book by one of my professors at ATS called “Pathways to the King”. In chapter 2 Dr. Reimer talks about our pursuit of God… After reading this chapter, I took on the challenge of pursuing God. I recognized that, throughout my career as a college student in Nyack and even in my first year at ATS, God has always been in pursuit of me. But I have never really been in pursuit of Him. So for nearly a month now, I have been sacrificing; time, money, hanging out, etc. to seek the face of God. 

And in seeking, asking and knocking as hard as I can; I have been pierced by the transforming love of God.  The penetrating truth of His love, is not something for me to soak up and then continue living life, business as usual. His love calls me into action. It calls me to serve, to care and to hunger and to thirst for more and not just for myself, but for all those around me. It is a truth that has ever so gently forced a change in me. 

 His love is a love that has challenged me to view others, even love actsthose who hate me, as people who are also worthy of grace and redemption. It is a love that has moved me to sacrifice, not just for God, but for the sake of a sister who was in need.  It is a love that is truly not envious. It is a love that seeks the well-being of others.  Love that is marked not by word but by deed.  Love that has been teaching me, what it looks like to die to myself, pick up my cross and truly follow Him.

We read passages like 1 Corinthians 13 and we make great Hallmark cards out of them. We quote them, pray them, long for them. But yet never take the time to; A) find that piercing love and if we do we, B) don’t allow it to do the work it is meant to do in us and through us. 

And may I just remind you, that this same love led Jesus to hang on a tree, bearing the weight of sin for all mankind for all time, as He swallowed the wrath of a powerful God, and tore the veil of eternal separation from God we truly all deserve, once and for all. 

I challenge my seminary and my Nyack college fireworksfriends, and everyone else reading this blog- Seek, Ask, Knock. Go on a real pursuit of God. Let Him pierce you with His Holy love, so that you can go out into the world and pierce others with His Holy love, in you. 

 

 

Why Alliance Theological Seminary

mishpat study group

“Mishpat” Study group; there were about 20+ of us crammed into ATS housing Studying for a Dr. Widbin Final. There was food, lots of it, laughing, and some great community happening that night.

  Those of you know who know me personally or are friends with me on Facebook, know that I am the admissions associate for the Alliance Theological Seminary. So yes, I am the person that blows up your phone with calls and e-mails, ensuring you  have everything necessary in order to be accepted into our seminary. I am that enthusiastic face found behind a table, a banner and a whole lot of ATS and Nyack College material at an event or church. And I am that woman who prays, encourages, answers the tough questions and lends a listening ear to all of our prospective students of the Alliance Theological Seminary.

 

 

ats christmas party

ATS Christmas Party 2013; cause seminarians know how to get down!

But for me recruiting for ATS isn’t something I do out of job obligation. I recruit for ATS because I strongly believe in everything that the Alliance Theological Seminary has to offer. I recruit for ATS because God has changed my life here. I recruit for ATS because I have encountered a community that has challenged me to grow and has supported me, spiritually, financially, academically, and emotionally. I recruit for ATS because it was here that I recognized that there is so much more that I needed to learn.

Alliance Seminary StudentSummertime last year, I found myself living in Mt. Vernon, doing an internship, traveling to Long Island multiple times a week for work and in perhaps one of the darkest seasons of my life spiritually. It was a season filled with anxieties, and doubts and fears related to the future. Two weeks before the summer ended and I was ready to begin at ATS as a student in the Masters of Divinity Program, God, yes God, gave me a clear word that I was to live in Nyack, work in Nyack, attend church in Nyack and focus on all that He had in store for me. I stepped out into the unknown, trusting I heard the Lord right. And I watched His perfect will unfold as two weeks later, the night of my orientation, I found a place to live with my first month rent free and got the  job at the admissions office.

ATS has taught me about walking in obedience and faith. Trusting God to fulfill His promises every step of the way.

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As a student of the Masters of Divinity program God has literally shaken and is in the process of shaking everything that can be shaken within me. Through courses my views on scripture, theology and ministry were deeply challenged. Through conversation I learned to listen to, and respect others views and opinions while becoming grounded on my own. Through times of ministry I faced some of the darkest corners of my life and found the freedom and healing that Christ died to freely offer me. And through lecture after lecture in courses like PPTF and Initiation to Spiritual Formation, I truly began to understand who it is that God says that I am. Which I of course, began to live out in front of all of you, through my blogs.

So why the Alliance Theological Seminary and why not; Gordon- Conwell, or Dallas Theological Seminary, or Westminster or Fuller Theological Seminary or any other Theological seminary out there, you may ask?

( disclaimer Please note, we highly respect and appreciate the great work taking place in each of these seminaries mentioned above.)

The answer for me is simple; Because the kingdom of God is evident here. God is moving in our classrooms, through our faculty and staff and in the midst of our community. Lives are being transformed, people are being set-free, we have seen emotional healing take place, physical healings, all kinds of healing!  And the fruit of the ministry of GOD here, is overflowing.

Why pursue a seminary degree with us? Because here you can expect to be challenged; academically, spiritually, and personally to become the man and woman God created you to be. 

Why us? Because our faculty are not just educators, but mentors and disciple-makers to our students.  The lessons taught here go beyond a classroom or a pulpit, they transform lives, that in turn will transform other lives.

I will always passionately and enthusiastically speak of this great seminary, not because I get paid to do so but because I have grown to deeply love this community and will be eternally grateful for it. 

So if you’re looking to go into ministry or you simply desire to grow in  the knowledge, wisdom and revelation of Christ, I encourage you; Come to an Open House, get more information and see all that ATS has to offer you! 

 

ats in israel

God is the MASTER of Blowing Minds

Missions trip fund

An envelope I received through Nyack/ATS campus mail! Giving $205 towards my missions to Brazil!

These past few weeks have been nothing short of inexplicable. I could come up with a ton of fancy words and phrases to describe the moments, encounters, prayers and day by day occurrences, but none could capture my thoughts quite like ” God is the Master of Blowing minds…”

Worship @ LCC

Holy Spirit Weekend @ Living Christ Church; Worship: Andrew Meher, Julie Hodson,  Matt Ellenberger and yours truly!

 

From seeing someone completely healed from a spinal injury (amongst the many who were physically, emotionally and spiritually healed during Holy Spirit weekend at my church, Living Christ church in Nyack), to watching financial provision pour in through my community to support the missions trip to Brazil,to my amazing ATS and NYACK friends who put together a wonderful last-minute Birthday party for me, God has not once stopped to amaze me recently.

CTA button for Blog ATSYes, even after the car accident (yeahhh… I crashed my car into the back of cab on the FDR…), I saw Gods incredible purpose, when I was able to share His love with my tow truck driver. Who afterwards told me, that usually Christians get angry and argue with him when he shares his beliefs and he couldn’t believe how nice I was… I mean come on; only God could put something together like that.

Fancy  Pants

My co-workers at ATS admissions showed me love on my Birthday… By writing ALL over my windows haha

God is a ninja, a master at blowing minds.

He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He knows how to deliver, how to captivate our hearts and how go above and beyond what we could ever ask, think of, or imagine. And that’s just it, GOD DESIRES to blow our minds. He desires to do the inexplicable. He seeks for every opportunity to display His glory in our lives. He gets a thrill out of working ALLLLLLL things together for our good ( Romans 8:28). And He thoroughly enjoys putting a smile on one of His kid’s faces.

God, is a good God. Nothing, no circumstance, mishap, disease, trouble, violence, natural disaster could ever negate that truth. And truly it is up to us, to see HIM for who He is and seek HIM for what he wants to offer us; His mind-blowing presence in every corner of our lives.

Bday party

These people made my birthday a special and blessed one!

The reason my mind is being blown so much lately is because I finally understand that God wants to do the incredible and give us the incredible, because HE is the incredible one. And He wants to give us HIMSELF.

I can seek God for finances, a spouse, provisions for my job, (insert any other need here)… But friends there is something so much greater to seek God for and that’s HIM!

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying to not pray for anything you need, I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of our prayers for all and in all things.

BUT I AM saying; SEEK HIM FIRST. You’ve heard it before, “seek first the kingdom and all its righteousness and everything else will be added onto you.” Matt 6:33

God is not a means to an end my friends. HE IS THE END. HE IS beyond anything we could ever ask for, think of, or imagine…( Ephesians 3:20)

And so my ninja God, who has so masterfully exploded my mind lately, longs to do the same for you! Because he’s a master at blowing minds and He loves to do so! =)

intentionally diverse

Me+friends from ATS/Nyack= Intentionally Diverse

 

The Word- Spoken Word Piece

CTA button for Blog ATS

The Word- Spoke Word piece written by yours truly.

Watch and listen first before reading below! ( hahaha, no seriously!!)

This piece was inspired after a time of prayer two years ago in my dorm room in Simpson Hall at Nyack college. I remember exactly how my though progression took place;  As I was praying, and using several scriptures to pray, I remembered that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. And then I thought about John 1:1 which describes Jesus as the Word. And suddenly it ocurred to me; God used words to create, and the word He used was Jesus and Jesus came out of the abundance of God’s heart.

In other words, JESUS is the revelation of GOD the Father’s heart. INCREDIBLE. So if we know Jesus, we know the heart of the Father. WE know the very things that move him, that cause him to smile, that make him cry…  If we want to truly have God’s vision, we need to first know his heart and the revelation of His Heart is: Jesus.

I pray this piece and revelation blesses you as much as it blessed me.

~Are you interested in ministry?  Discuss how you can serve God and others at the Alliance Theological Seminary. Ask us! 

10 Amazing Adventures around Nyack

Here’s a list of 10 amazing adventures you can have for cheap or free while you are looking for something fun to do while you are a Nyack College student. College life is busy, but sometimes it is hard to come up with fun and new things to do. Or maybe you are a perspective student and you want to know what there is to do around Nyack in your free time. This list is a compilation of just a few of the fun things I have gotten to do since I’ve been here and I look forward to adding many more adventures in the future.

Day in downtown Nyack

Nyack College is nestled in the small, but lively town of Nyack which is filled with cute shops, unique food, great events, and amazing river views. I have spent whole days just walking around downtown and especially on days they have street fairs I love walking around and meeting some of the community.

top10 downtown

Hall Events

Whatever dorm you live in there are sure to be many hall events which are hosted by different floors and R.A.s. I love going to the ones on my floor, but have also crashed many other ones. These events offer free food, good conversation, bonding, and often time some crafting and all for free.

The Woods

Another great way you can spend your time is taking a hike or walks through the different wooded areas and trail that sit on the mountain behind the school. This is a great place to just relax and enjoy nature or visit some of the infamous sights that students like to visit in the woods.

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NYC

Of course if you have a little money and some willing friends you can always go and spend the day in the incredible city of New York. There are endless things you could do in the city and even get out without spending a lot of money. Take the public transportation in and eat cheap like at the $1.00 pizza joint at 40th and 7th street.

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“DATES”

Set a date with a friend or even your roommate to share some tea and coffee or watch a movie together and pop some popcorn.

top10 dates

Go Home with a Friend

I live 8 hours from Nyack so I don’t really have the option to go home, but I have gotten offers from some great friends to go to their home for the weekend. I got to go spend the time in a nice bed, get my laundry done, eat home-cooked meals, and spend time with a great family. It was such a huge blessing!

Yonkers

The Tappan Zee Bridge can be seen from the college and just across it is the city of Yonkers. My favorite things to do across the bridge are to visit a giant market-style store call Stew Leonard’s or to visit the other unique sites on the other side of the bridge.

 

Sports Events

There are a ton of different sporting events on campus that I have been able to attend throughout my time at Nyack. We have lots of different teams and it’s a great way to spend time with friends and support our Nyack teams.

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Piermont

Just a short drive along the Hudson River lays the adorable town of Piermont. It’s right on the water and as you can guess the town is complete with a huge pier. I love driving out on the pier and singing or to watch the sunrise on occasion.

top10 piermont

Photo-shoots

This idea may be last, but it is definitely my favorite thing to do with my friends on slow Friday afternoons. We get dressed up and go to take pictures at different places around campus or hop in the car and visit some of the beautiful abandoned building that dwell in Rockland County.

top10 photoshoot

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God used words to create…so be careful with ’em.

“God used words to create this planet so be careful with ’em.”- Andy Mineo ( “Still Bleeding”- Heroes for Sale) 

Words. We use a lot of them, every second of every day, to create, inspire, teach, relate, share, love, confess, repent, rejoice, bless, worship,  pray, but also to hate, destroy, tear down, criticize, judge, condemn, make fun of, reject, inflict pain… Without ever realizing that some of the most of powerful weapons in this universe are: WORDS. Because while sticks and stones always break bones that eventually heal, the impact of an ill placed word, can last a lifetime.

I find it interesting that we read verses like ” In the beginning was the WORD… or  until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter… by any means will disappear…” (John 1:1; Matt 5:18) And somehow overlook the fact that not only do God’s words hold that much weight but ours, as his children, do also.

 I mean it’s in the scriptures folks: ” Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Provers 18:21

So where do we justify and find it okay to gossip, back-bite and slander one another? I guess in the fact that we can say whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever and it’s cool, because YOLO we got freedom of speech.

Or do we justify our hateful words, snide remarks, and hurtful comments in our hearts because what’s in our hearts is just as poisonous as the words we speak?

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Now please don’t get me or this post wrong, no one is talking about me ( if they are, it doesn’t matter to me) and this isn’t directed to any specific person in particular. In fact, as a woman in Seminary, I am so guilty of this too. I can think of the times in Nyack college, I chewed people up verbally. But I can also remember the wounds all too well inflicted by Christians shooting rounds like “she’s too deep… she’s too fat… she looks like Steven Seagal…she thinks she’s better than every one else… get away from me, I want nothing to do with you….” – Sounds familiar, eh?  I’m, writing this post because frankly, I am done  listening to people cut each other down, and using freedom as the excuse to do so.

 Perhaps the issue isn’t the words that we so creatively use against one another. Because a word, standing alone on a blank page, means nothing, perhaps the real issue, the force behind what we say lies in the; heart. 

When God spoke, he revealed his heart to us, his heart to create, to establish, to be in relationship, his heart of faithfulness, holiness, love, and grace. With his heart he formed a word, that would become the redemption of mankind. His words could sustain the universe and all that lies within because of the life force his heart provides to those words.

It is the same when we speak!

This past September in my Divine Healing class at ATS, God healed me from rheumatoid arthritis. The dean of my seminary inquired, during the time of prayer I was receiving, as to when this disease began to affect me. I replied that it started as I was about to begin my first year in Nyack College. A few seconds later, a classmate began to pray against any curses spoken against me. Ron Walborn, our Dean at ATS followed the students prayer, by saying ” people have been speaking against you in ministry… they’ve cursed you with their words.” Ron broke those curses spoken over me, and began to speak blessing. I NEVER had another flare up again.

Moral of my story; THE POWER OF LIFE AND DEATH ARE IN THE TONGUE .

And what comes out of your mouth FLOWS from you heart and has the power to give life, renew and restore or to kill, steal and destroy…

Before I can change the way I talk about others, I need to allow God to transform my heart and renew my mind and the way I view myself and others.

I am a work in progress, but I am proud to say, God has placed a distaste in my mouth for any words filled with venom.

I invite you, join me and let’s fast from gossip, slander, negativity etc., and used our words to Bless and give life to one another, permanently!

What do you say?

Words; Written and spoken over me by dear friends, left posted on my desk as a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness…. ( click on the pic and you can read them.)

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