Seminary and Christian graduate school is not just for recent college graduates. They can also help people already serving the Lord in fulltime ministry. Just ask Kathy [last name withheld]. She spent two years on the mission field in central Asia before returning to America to obtain a master's degree.
"I did consider going to Bible school before I went overseas, but the time was never right. I believe no matter how many years a person has in ministry, seminary or Bible classes can always be a good thing."
Kathy says her professional experience made classes at Asbury Theological Seminary, in Wilmore, Kentucky, more meaningful. "Going to seminary after being in ministry for a short time gave me a better understanding in many of my classes such as anthropology, the history of missions, and cross-cultural discipleship."
In 2006, she earned her master's degree in world missions and evangelism. "My seminary experience has widened my worldview. It has given me tools to use when I go back. It has helped me understand some of the things I didn't understand regarding culture and evangelism when I was overseas."
Kathy also gained from personal interactions on campus. "I have met many people who have become my support net as well as great resources."
Kathy feels called to minister to deaf people, especially children like those she worked with in her two years of ministry in central Asia. "We taught deaf and hard of hearing children morals and ethics using Jesus as our role model," Kathy says. They also taught stories from the Bible. "It was amazing to see how the children grew and changed. Their teachers and parents were very pleasantly surprised at the positive changes they observed."
Kathy's desire to work with deaf children overseas began when she was a child herself. "I grew up in a nominally Christian home," Kathy explains. She made a commitment to Christ at age 7, but didn't understand the full meaning on it until later. "God has given me a love for deaf people ever since I was a child in Girl Scouts. I actually felt called to go overseas when I was in college, but I remember my parents telling me I needed to graduate college and get a job. After graduating college and getting a job and making a mess of my life, I saw my own need for a relationship with Jesus and how much I needed forgiveness and how much I needed to forgive others. It was around that time of falling in love with Jesus that I again felt called to go overseas. I began to pray about it and tell everyone I met about this passion. I ended up in central Asia one summer and fell in love with the people and knew that was what God created me to do."
She says even after working in ministry full time, attending seminary equipped her for service. "It has helped me become a better student of the Word. I now know where to go for resources to better understand what I am reading."
Armed with her seminary knowledge, Kathy is raising funds to return to the mission field. "My heart is still there and there is more work to be done. God has given me a passion for loving the unlovable. Orphans as well as the deaf are 'throw away' people groups. They are not valued in their culture. I want them to know that they are valued in God's eyes, and he loves them regardless of what this world thinks of them."
Kathy leaves seminary with a clear vision and a big heart for communicating Christ's love overseas. "When I get back, my vision is to rekindle my relationships with the deaf and hard of hearing children and adults that I worked with before. I hope to disciple some of them. I also hope to do some character education groups with the orphans and some Seeker Bible studies with the orphanage workers. I also hope to go out into the villages to share God's Word with other deaf people that have never heard about Jesus. My dream someday is to have a big house with lots of rooms and many children. I have a lot of love for children, especially those who are marginalized."
Kara Miller is a freelance writer and TV producer in Chicago.