A Reflection On My Training Ministry Journey
by Donny Dominique
In the beginning of 2017, I had made a resolution to do some courses in Theology. That being said I started searching for online programs. After much research, I landed on the Christian Leaders Institute and began preliminary courses. It led to completion of my diploma in Ministry. The quality of the courses and the study habits I started to cultivate led me to want to continue studying and registered to do the Associates in Divinity and now the Bachelors in Divinity.
Professor Ted Hildebandt during the Biblical Greek 1, made a comment that he was an Instructor’s Assistant who would come along side to help as he recognizes with this method of online learning I was the student and the Instructor at the same time. This was so true for me in that I was able to go at my own rate day or night once I had internet access using my laptop or smart phone to work. Daily when I woke up, prayed or had my devotion, I would literally be itching to start my study either reading materials, listening to audio or video. Thus I mastered the art of multitasking. I thought I was good at it before but I think I got my “PHD in Multitasking” during this journey.
In the morning while making the family breakfast, I would be studying course materials. When walking the dog (Buster) I would listen, and rehearse materials. At work once I had a break or over lunch, I would go online do continue working. When I got home in the evening, once I spent time with the boys, had dinner, and freshened up I would get to work again. During this journey I took a much needed break from my favorite TV shows to devote much time to course work. My wife will tell you, so to speak, that is a sacrifice for me, as this has been one of my favorite past time. At some point I felt a little guilty of not spending quality time with the wife, since on most evenings I would go sleep past midnight doing as much work as I could. It was good however to be able to share with her as I learn and to have points of discussion on the various subject matter covered throughout the journey. I am grateful to her for assisting me with editing most of my papers which were submitted, as she is trained and gifted.
My motivation and passion has been due to setting goals for myself for each class and the course as a whole to accomplish this journey. I asked my brethren to pray for me so I could continue despite discouragement, which could and will surface from time to time. I must say God has been good. He has seen me through the tough times of the journey and given me the fortitude to stay on course.
In the continuation of my journey from the Associates degree to the Bachelors there were several new classes that had to be done both general and Biblical to meet the course requirements, and as such I wanted to share a few highlights.
In the general classes I really enjoyed the English Comprehension with professor Denise Eide. The way she broke down the fundamentals of reading and spelling, expanded my vocabulary of words and my understanding of the best practices for different learning styles and understanding the disabilities. I for one was a product of the public school system, and I struggled at elementary school with reading, and I am thankful because of my church family I overcame, but for other it has been a problem that went on into their adult life. She really simplified a lot of the rules of English and gave me a better understanding and appreciation for the language. Another general class which I covered as an elective was Communication with Steve Elzinga, who did a great job as an experience communicator, gave a proper understanding of communication, gave proper practices of tactful and compelling communication. I am really thankful for the practices he shared with sermon delivery to local church and other audiences. The tips he shared for example using more jokes and stories has been added to my delivery style.
The study of Historical classes was quite insightful. I was not born in United States and as such it was helpful to study U.S. History with professor Tyrone Tiller, who was very articulate and interesting to the ear. He took me through a journey of important persons and events in American History from the Civil War to present; he identified the political, social, economic and cultural development during these periods. This allow me to form my own conclusion on the American life and culture in our time shaped by the past. The World History class instructed by Richard Hamstra was refreshing to understand the world that we live in and how it was shaped by dynasties and their cultures long before my time from the early Mesopotamians, Chinese and Europeans. And in Early Church History class it was useful to be reminded of the important events, persons, and trends in the first century church as seen in the New Testament and substantiated by contemporary historians like Justin Martyrs. It’s good to have extra biblical evidence which solidifies the theme of the book of Revelation. It is amazing the persecutions and atrocities the early Christians endured for Christ, and today, at least in the west, we have religious freedoms that we should not take for granted for a moment.
The Biblical classes were extremely helpful in both deepening and broadening my knowledge. The two studies with Ray Vander Laan on Biblical Interpretation was not short of amazing. The journey to Palestine and Asia Minor cities to discover archeological finds, provide the biblical history and to make application for our modern day Christian has been a tremendous blessing. Many of my Old Testament and New Testament questions have been answered through this exposition. It was interesting that he shared passionately on his personal walk with God and made himself vulnerable.
The Evangelism and Grace taught by Ren Broekhuizen and Dr. Ed Roels was a call to remind us of the great commission, and more so living the great commission through everyday living at home, the job, at play; being a living witness and epistles as Paul says, which are seen and read. A very telling statistic that was shared, that is 90 percent of Christians in churches were converted through a friend, or family members; less than 10 percent of the church members are evangelistic; and gospel meetings account for less than 5 percent of conversions in churches hence the need for our personal witness.
The Missions and Revivals class taught by Dr. Bruce Ballast, Dr. David Feddes and President Henry Reyenga was historical review of the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Awakening and the Revivals in America and the world by extension. Dr. Ballast shared from his book “Ordinary People Extraordinary Things.” The Awakening had its start in Europe with the coming of the Pilgrims, and through many men of humble beginnings like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Dwight Moody, through late Billy Graham in our time just to name a few.
There was an entire class on Prayer instructed by Dr. Feddes and Dr. Edwin Roels which was very encouraging for people in ministry like myself. It was important to be reminded of the value of prayer in ministry and the life of the child of God. I was reminded of the types of prayers, namely: Praise, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplications and Intercessions. There were many lessons shared by Dr. Feddes on prayers that I really appreciated like “Praying and Doing.”
In the course I took the following electives, namely: Biblical Wisdom, Biblical Greek and Thriving Marriages. Biblical Wisdom led by Wayne Brouwer, David Feddes and John Piper was an in depth study into the Wisdom Literature to include Job, Psalm, Proverbs, Songs of Songs and Lamentations. After over 30 years being a Christian and reading in particular the Psalm and Proverbs, I got a refreshing perspectives on these books. I really appreciate it and have used some of the material in Bible study at my home congregation.
Thriving Marriage was a class I was really looking forward to getting into after being married for 15 years. Kristine Koetje-Balder did and amazing job sharing from her experience as a Christian Clinical Therapist, from her personal relationship, family and anonymous clients. She dealt with import marital issues like Forgiveness, Conflict Resolutions, Good Listening Skills, Prayer, Anger Management, Gender Difference, Sexual Intimacy and Finance. I have found these topics to be helpful. I decided to start a small group of married for people at church to be get together to be blessed by some of these materials.
The study of Biblical Greek has been such a blessing as I have always wanted to learn Greek since the New Testament is written in that language. This class provide that opportunity, and I was being assisted by one of my favorite instructors, Ted Hilderbrandt. As I started the class it was certainly a challenge to get to learn the Greek Alphabet, then the accents which English does not have. I persevered and found the interaction component of the class quite useful. As I went through the class it was interesting to see the similarity with the French language in term of the accents, verb endings and noun endings etc. This class will continue to help me to do better exegesis of the scripture.
In conclusion, this has been and enriching and fulfilling journey. It’s an experience that will help sharpen the rest of my walk with the Lord. I am able to have greater profound philosophical and theological discussions in scripture having gone through this journey. My hope is to continue to teach, preach and live the Christian life that the learnings will be made manifest in such a meaningful way. I looking to starting a new chapter in graduate study in the not too distant future. I have started doing research on graduate institutions, in addition to the ones suggested in this course.
I really want to thank the President and staff of CLI in helping make this ministry journey a reality. My prayers and support will continue with you all.