by Joel Martin, Faith Builders Class of 2008
Can we pursue education and knowledge without it being a hindrance to our faith? As a young high school teacher in my lower twenties, I knew that I greatly desired to further my education. The question of education and faith hindered my ability to see a clear future pathway. During a six week term at SMBI, a teacher challenged me to consider a long term program such as Faith Builders. But what place could further educational training serve in advancing my commitment to Christ and to seeking first His kingdom?
Questions such as these appeared to have no concrete answers. The fact that my authorities shared some of the same cautions didn’t make matters any easier. Finally, after a time of consideration my authorities gave me their full blessing.
In the Fall of 2006 I joined eight other students in the Ministry Apprenticeship Program. During my time at Faith Builders I read a quote that challenged my view of what it means to have a radical faith and single hearted pursuit of God. This quote simply said, “Loving God with all your mind includes studying with all your heart.” What an incredible statement!
Though I experienced many memorable things while studying at FB, one of the most significant turned out to be the writing of a term paper. This writing and research report on the history of the English Bible became more than an academic assignment. I fell in love with the history of the English Bible, and began to wonder whether my love for the Scriptures and desire to be a missionary to an unreached people group may both find expression in the ministry of Bible translation. I left Faith Builders with my sights set on pursing training for Bible translation. Transferring from Faith Builders to the Intercultural studies program at Lancaster Bible College provided me with a unique challenge and an exciting adventure.
The challenge? Trying to be discerning in an ecumenical environment where my kingdom Christian convictions would be tested. The Anabaptist worldview and commitment to a literal reading of Genesis 1, I Corinthians 11, and the Sermon on the Mount all came under attack. The reality that I discovered was that the convictions I had already embraced in these areas proved to be scriptural interpretations that I could find no reason to abandon. The privilege of taking a public stand on my own understanding of the scriptures seemed to be something others respected.
And the adventure? The chance to study Greek, missiology, theology, and more! During my time at LBC I also spent a couple of months at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in North Dakota. After transferring those credits toward my major at LBC and completing a practicum the following summer, I graduated with the fall class of 2010.
I am thankful that God opened the way for me to study in all of these places and look forward to continuing to develop whatever talents I have by studying to show myself approved unto God. I truly desire to be a workman who needs not to be ashamed in my calling to rightly divide the word of God. And finally, I want to be a Christian that from now on enthusiastically embraces the command to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Matt 22:37