BA in Religion – for me?
Amidst all the anxiety, the year 2021 also brings some good news – one of which is the opportunity to get Adventist higher education without leaving the Baltics. Already this coming September a BA program will be provided for Baltic Union by Newbold College in affiliation with Andrews University to prepare both pastors and lay members to stand firm in their Biblical knowledge and to actively partake in church ministry.
There are so many reasons, why an opportunity to receive education in one’s homeland is significant for our ministers and why the Baltic Union team devotes so much attention to expanding these opportunities. Churches may be praying that their pastor would not have to leave for years of studies abroad and even considering costs involved. Of course, this opportunity is not just for the pastors that are waiting to be trained for their everyday duties or youth considering becoming a pastor, but also for many lay members, who would want to study the Bible and ministry – which will both be the focus of the BA curriculum. Therefore, while the details in curriculum are yet being discussed, every follower of Jesus is invited to ask himself a question: Is God calling me to get more training in His business?
Christian life itself is a never-ending education. All our life God is working with our character in different ways, so that we would be more like Him. He has a lot to do with our mind. The battlefield of the great controversy is our mind and the information that flows in it has a significant role in many fights. It was not without a reason that through Solomon God reminds so many times how important pursuing wisdom is: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
But what is this wisdom that we are supposed to get and value so highly? Where do we find it? We are living in a time overloaded by information, and every year keeps affirming that. With only few clicks we can access an unending sea of information and opinions. Right in front of our eyes one conviction clashes with another in an aggressive battle that sometimes wears us out just by watching it. Seeking wisdom seems like looking for a needle in a haystack. But amidst all that the words of Psalm 119:105 are still resounding: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Could it be that the sea of thousand truths is a very dark place indeed and while living in here we should hold on to that lamp more than ever? Verse 130 of the same Psalm gives us a promise: “The unfolding of your word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (NIV) Yes, indeed, God has taken care of the depths in the Bible that are not always so easy to unfold, which seems to be normal, since even the psalmist has experienced that. We are living in the end time since the year 1798 – how long could it last? If we believe the warnings of the Bible, in the very end the attacks to the truth will be especially dangerous; therefore, we should make sure to put on every piece of the armor, not to be injured. Injuries are real. Who has not experienced it? When we do not have an answer to an important question that is burning in our heart or in the heart of our neighbor, it can shake the foundation under our feet like an earthquake. God has stored so many powerful answers in His word! Deep. Deeper than a morning devotional reading and even deeper than the Sabbath school quarterly, since in the Bible He has got some personalized depth for each of us. Why deeper? Because we benefit by digging deeper. No hour, spent in studying the depths of God’s Word to understand it better, can be in vain. It is like drinking from the fountain of living water. “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)
We are born in God’s family as missionaries. It is the greatest joy – to experience God using us in His fields of harvest. The fact that we are aware of it and act accordingly is also prerequisite for the latter rain, as it is written in Christian Service by E. G. White: “When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.” But the Spirit of Prophecy also points out how important is the preparation of the laborers. Perhaps the strongest statement about it is mentioned in the book Evangelism, page 474: “One worker who has been trained and educated for the work, who is controlled by the Spirit of Christ, will accomplish far more than ten laborers who go out deficient in knowledge and weak in the faith.” This quote can challenge one’s imagination to compare one trained worker with another less trained and try to judge that the latter may be achieving more; but such way of thought is vain, everyone has its own starting point – the real comparison is with oneself. In the book Christ’s Object Lessons, page 333 we read: “The uneducated man who is consecrated to God and who longs to bless others can be, and is, used by the Lord in His service. But those who, with the same spirit of consecration, have had the benefit of a thorough education, can do a much more extensive work for Christ. They stand on vantage ground.” We should always strive to have more advantages today than we had yesterday. Continuing in the next paragraph we find this encouragement: “The Lord desires us to obtain all the education possible, with the object in view of imparting our knowledge to others. (..) We should not let slip even one opportunity of qualifying ourselves intellectually to work for God.”
How much should we encourage each other to consider these appeals! Testimonies to the Church, Volume5., page 390 claims: “There are many who would work if urged into service, and who would save their souls by thus working.” Even if in our lives we do not see a possibility to devote ourselves to advanced training, we can increase the number of trained laborers for the Lord by encouraging, urging, and supporting those who have such opportunity. Let us be the encouragers! It can be so crucial! So often we hesitate to fulfill the very deepest callings of our soul because of the lack of faith in ourselves and the enemy trying to discourage us, when the supportive voices of our brothers and sisters are far too rare and quiet. What agents of change we could be by expressing even one yet meaningful encouragement in making sure that our children, our peers, our spouses, our brothers, and sisters know, we support them and want them to grow in knowledge for the work of the Lord. Let us also encourage our young people – the age group for which the encouragement means the most! How many of our young people are graduating high school every year – from whom some know exactly where to continue their education – but most part desperately resorts to exclusion method just to choose something where to fight with slumber in lectures, because they do not awaken their interest. In such a perplexed moment, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to start with an education that invests in the most important area of life from eternity’s perspective and can give a foundation for any future path?
Whether you’re a pastor or a full-time minister in another line of work in the church, or you are willing to work as a volunteer chaplain, or teach Christian ethics in school, or be grounded in Biblical knowledge, or you feel the calling to be a well prepared laborer together with God in all the different mission opportunities in your everyday life, or there is yet another reason – every reason is a good reason to consider the open doors of the year 2021 – the Baltic Union BA program in Religion. Part of the good news is financial concerns – the program is sponsored to such an extent that anyone can afford it. Application process will start in Spring. English or Russian language skills are required.
www.bauc.lv (BA program)
Facebook – “BAUC Higher Education in Bible and Ministry”.