Jun 30, 2022 | 5 min read | Petar Tatarski
Humans are biologically wired to seek and make sense of the world. Our brains work by gathering and processing information. As a young Christian, this became evident as I sought answers to my questions. I desired answers about various church practices and problems I faced in my ministry. I had come to a place where I needed to study theology more deeply. I wanted to grow in my theological understanding to provide answers for myself and help the youth around me. It was a year later when Josiah Venture began sharing about ForMission College. Gabe Hillman, the country leader in Bulgaria, encouraged me to sign up. My hope in being a part of ForMission was that I would be a better missionary when I graduated.
One of my highlights from the past three years at ForMission has been the morning prayer times during our live gatherings. Our classes are online, and we mainly study at home, so this time of prayer was one of the anchors that provided stability for other students and me, especially with global disasters like the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Other highlights are the teachers and the teaching method. The teaching method is drastically different from my experience in Bulgarian public school, which focuses more on regurgitating information instead of applying it to my life. Coming from this background, I had no experience in higher education. I was not used to giving my opinion and did not know how to think critically. It took me the entire first year to stop trying to memorize information for when I was asked a question, and this significantly limited me when I was writing my assignments. The teachers helped me improve my critical thinking and writing skills through assignment feedback. The teachers communicated what I did well and what I could improve on. I am very self-aware and self-critical, and I know where I could have done better. The patience, kindness, and individual approach of the teachers' feedback was a new world compared to the input I received growing up. It was designed to build me up, not shame me. All the teachers are experienced in ministry and deeply care about what they teach, making the teaching process and discussions very interesting!
If someone is interested in joining ForMission, I would tell them to apply! There must be a reason they are considering theological education, and if it is to grow spiritually and theologically, ForMission is an excellent place. Also, I would encourage them to start reading academic literature and writing at least one essay before the school year starts. I needed to spend 12-15 hours per week on schoolwork to succeed. I was expected to read and understand study material, even though I was not a native-English speaker but spoke English fluently.
My faith was tried, tested, and refined along this higher education journey. My perspective has grown from God wanting me to make disciples to God’s overall plan, which is to reconcile the world to himself through Jesus. Of course, making disciples is still a big part of my ministry, but instead of asking: “What is something important my disciple needs to know?” I ask: “What is God doing around me, and in what way is his Spirit leading me to participate in that as I disciple this young person?”
Now, I teach my disciples to ask the same questions. I am more equipped to think critically, reflect biblically and respond missionally. The word missional was not part of my vocabulary before. ForMission did not just answer my questions but gave me the tools to overcome difficult situations and circumstances in ministry for the rest of my life. I am thankful to pass off what I have learned as I participate in developing missional leaders. Now that I am graduating, I will focus on encouraging, supporting, and training youth leaders locally, nationally, and even internationally within Josiah Venture, mainly through wilderness ministry. And I am really looking forward to it!
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