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Central Bible College, Springfield, Mo.

Training ministers and missionaries

By Ann Floyd

For the training of ministers and missionaries. This seven-word mission statement has impacted more than 25,000 alumni — some serving in 87 nations today — since Central Bible College was founded in 1922.

"Students today are as committed to the cause of Christ as any generation has ever been." — President Maurice Lednicky

According to 20-year president, H. Maurice Lednicky, "The uniqueness of CBC is that our focus is to help men and women who have a call from God find their places in the kingdom of God as senior pastors, missionaries, evangelists, youth pastors, music ministers, children’s pastors and other areas of ministry. The disciplines [at this college] are restricted to areas that relate to helping those who are called to full-time Christian service."

Students like Leila Nayeem, 20.

I find her "soaking up" the presence of God after a service in the E.S. Williams Chapel. She’s aware that the "incredible speakers and classes" will not be available when she graduates next spring.

From godly faculty and administrators, she says, "I have learned how to listen to the Lord for myself. This is where I received a call to China. He’s giving me dreams [for ministry]."

Leila’s call to missions is a departure from a family tradition that has produced doctors, lawyers and other professionals. While enrolled as a student at Washington University in St. Louis, studying international business, Leila felt God calling her into ministry. "I dealt with it one whole summer," soft-spoken, diminutive Leila says. "I didn’t grow up in the Assemblies of God. I didn’t even know where I would go if I went to Bible college."

A friend invited her to visit CBC. The week before Thanksgiving she went into a room in a church she was visiting and said, "God, I’m not leaving this room until You tell me where I’m going and when.

"That morning God spoke to me," she says, " ‘I want you to be [at CBC] in January.’ "

In 1997, during Thanksgiving at home in Thomasville, Ala., she told her parents.

Leila’s twin sister, Alia, left Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., the next semester to attend CBC, abandoning plans to become a doctor. "Of five girls in my family," Leila says, "[there are] two doctors, a pilot and now two preachers."

Student Carl Long, 34, brought his family of five from the Kansas City, Mo., area to attend CBC to study pastoral ministry. Carl was saved in the late 1980s through the ministry of Assemblies of God missionaries while serving in the military in Japan. He felt a call to ministry at that time. After he was back in the States for 10 years the Lord began to deal with his heart about going back to school. "Ten years before, I felt like God wanted me to get my education at CBC," he says.

"The special thing about CBC is that the focus is specifically on ministry and missions," says Carl, a junior. "By keeping the focus on those two aspects, we are better prepared for ministry. Everything we do at CBC in some way comes back to ministry, ministry, ministry. After four or five years of hearing that same thing, it really gets instilled in you."

Carl and his wife, Margo, serve as presidents of the married student association on campus. FOCAL (Fellowship of Couples and Lone Parents) reaches out to new families moving to campus. "We help them with the basics — finding employment, getting their utilities turned on, etc., and then we provide fellowship and help them get plugged into campus life."

FOCAL offers special events for married couples and families throughout the year, including a Christmas party for children of CBC students and a marriage retreat each spring.

Professors like Vernon Purdy and Jennifer Morrison model combining practical ministry with academics.

Vernon Purdy, Ph.D., with his wife, Naomi, a medical doctor, pastor the Assembly of God in nearby Billings. "The Lord knows I need to be connected to the world outside of academia," Vernon says. "It’s best for me and the students that I stay in touch with the world they will be serving when they graduate."

Jennifer Morrison, M.A. in English with an emphasis in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), teaches missions majors. She says, "Right now overseas, especially in closed countries, teachers are needed. ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers are in demand in other countries, and it becomes an open door to get into those countries."

Prior to coming to CBC, Morrison taught international students at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield for three years. "ESL teachers get very close to their students," she says, "because the students are learning the language, which is a very personal process."

Lednicky says, "A positive in this generation of students is their strong commitment. In the past when the church and the culture weren’t very far apart, young people didn’t have to make definitive statements because even the culture was dictating they follow a certain standard. Today it is different. I believe students today are as committed to the cause of Christ as any generation has ever been."

For a college committed to training men and women as ministers and missionaries, that’s good news.


Ann Floyd is associate editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

 

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