Alex Nuku Johnson is an EIIT student who serves at New Vision International Church in Austin, Texas. He left his home country of Liberia 26 years ago during the country's civil war, first living in Nigeria and then in Ghana before coming to Austin. His service at New Vision, whose membership largely comprises African refugee immigrants, includes preaching, outreach and leading Bible study and prayer meetings.
"A lot of immigrant African pastors experience culture shock when they come to the U.S.," he says. "This causes a lot of them to let go of their ministries and just work regular jobs. They really don't have the theological education to enable them to be ministers in this country, and what they really need is a helping hand to get them through and give them hope. The EIIT program is very good at doing this. My EIIT education will enable my biblical foundation to be more solid, and it will help me to be more effective in the ministry service that I do."
Andrés Valencia, a native of Santiago, Chile, is a Center for Hispanic Studies student who serves Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Mount Prospect, Ill. He leads the church's Spanish Bible study and serves as a multicultural coordinator and a part-time Spanish teacher at its school. In addition, he is a member of the team that coordinates "Breakfast with Baby," a church program that provides a Bible study and free-of-charge diapers and other baby supplies to low-income families with babies. He previously had served in campus ministries for 10 years in Santiago and in Puebla, Mexico.
"I'm serving with my church to reach out to the Hispanic population around Mount Prospect," Valencia says. "We want to bring more people to God, and we're doing this by first fulfilling their physical needs and then talking with them about God and faith. I feel that God is calling me to build my theological knowledge and to be able to dive deeply into sharing the Word of God."
Fabricio Velásquez is an EIIT student who serves at the Multiethnic Church, which is a part of St. John's Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Va. The Multiethnic Church's congregants comprise immigrants who largely are from El Salvador, Honduras, Syria, Ethiopia, Egypt and several Asian countries. Velásquez's service for the church includes holding Friday night Bible study, leading worship on Sundays and performing community outreach, including backpack drives, other back-to-school activities and Christmastime toy drives for children in low-income area households.
He was born in El Salvador and came to the U.S. when he was seven years old. "The church has been a big part of my life pretty much since the beginning, as my dad was a Pentecostal minister," he says. "I became Lutheran five years ago." He adds: "I feel that God has called me, and I expect my EIIT studies to help me to better spread the Gospel, biblically speaking, to different cultures."
Henry Chanderdatt is an EIIT student who came to the U.S. in 1988 from his home country of Guyana. He serves at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he is an elder who also assists with the church's services and its choir. In addition, he performs outreach services that include ministering to people who are unable to attend church, such as those living in nursing homes. St. Peter's membership largely comprises immigrants from the Caribbean and Central America, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
"My EIIT studies and ordination will enable me to increase the amount of services I can perform for the church and also make me more effective in bringing people to Christ," he says. "Since I was young, I've wanted to do more for the church and for God - and the more I do for God, the more I feel my calling. Each time I serve the church, I feel blessed, and the more I do for the church, the stronger my passion is for serving."
Jae Hyun Park is an EIIT student who came to the U.S. in 1999 from his native South Korea. He serves at Grace Korean Lutheran Church, which is located in Watauga, Texas and has been operating for a year and a half. At Grace Korean, which is a partner church of Light of the World Church in nearby Fort Worth, his service includes Bible teachings and leading prayers at adult cell group meetings.
"Right now, Grace Korean has about 30 members," Park says. "What I'll gain from my EIIT studies and my ordination will help me to help the church to grow. We're planning to soon begin outreach, and there's a good number of Koreans living in the area to be reached."