This is the second in our series looking at how Bible college can help prepare Christians to serve cross-culturally. (Catch the first here).
OMF worker AJ Meiring shares how studying at Baptist Theological College of South Africa and South African Theological Seminary helped prepare him to serve with us in Japan:
Why did you go to Bible college?
I went to Bible college to equip myself for full-time ministry as a pastor. At that time, I had no clue that I would become a missionary. But the principles you learn at Bible college are important for any form of full-time ministry and it has definitely helped me to be a better gospel minister in Japan.
How does what you learned at Bible college help you now in your ministry?
Spending six years studying the Bible and how to apply it well, has definitely helped me realize the weight of importance in teaching the Bible to others. The Bible contains an infinitely important message and it is a tremendous privilege to teach it to others. One key thing was that God will hold leaders/pastors/Bible teachers doubly accountable so it definitely challenged me to be serious in how I teach the Bible to others.
How did you explore what to do after Bible college?
I never went to Bible college with the intention to go into missions. In fact, at my college you got to choose which track you want to major in; youth, pastoral or missions. I did the pastoral track but actually ended up going into missions after working four years as a youth pastor. Coming from a country that is considered a reached nation, I started wondering why I wanted to work there instead of in a country that is still unreached. I started to think about the fact that even if I stepped down there would be plenty of others who could easily take my position in the church (which is exactly what happened). South Africa is blessed with many Christian workers so I decided to go to a country where that is not the case.
How would you encourage someone currently at Bible college?
Theology can become very academic and one can easily get distracted by theological disputes and theories. Remember the most basic and most important – Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. And of course, others need to know too and that’s why I am studying!
What would you say to your younger self at Bible college?
Be more humble. I have missed out on fellowship opportunities with others and missed out on other good theological perspectives because I was at times pretty arrogant in my views.
Anything else you’d like to share about your time at Bible college?
I studied correspondence and while studying I interned at a church, ran my own business and got married. Looking back, it was a very busy time but the wide range of experience I was getting was invaluable. Along with studying the Bible we ought to live life and take the principles of the Bible into work, marriage, church, and everywhere else.
- Reflections on missionary life, stories from our workers about their experiences serving cross-culturally.
- Do you need a Bible degree to be a long-term missionary? A blog post from OMF (US) worker Karl Dahlfred.
- ‘I want to be a missionary! What now?’ Further reflections from Karl.
- ‘How we raised support for missions without asking for money’ Shona’s story of God’s faithfulness to her family.