Student profile / Master of Divinity
The more Joel goes deeper into his studies here at the Seminary, the more he is convinced to go back to the Philippines and plant a Presbyterian church to the glory of God.
Hometown: Metro Manila, Philippines
Family: Wife JC; Children: Ioelle Aletheia (7), Ioanne Kharix (6), Ioenne Theuios (3)
Degree sought: Master of Divinity
Church affiliation: Pilgrim Community Church (International Presbyterian Church [UK])
I grew up in a denomination that is not Reformed. I always thought that Reformed Theology was a false teaching. By God's providential care, when I entered a Bible College in 2006, I was able to hear, read, and learn more about this rich tradition. I graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, majoring in Pastoral Ministry. I always thought of myself as leaning more toward Reformed Theology. After graduating, I wanted to pursue further studies and get deeper into it. Still, the problem was that no Re-formed seminary exists in the Philippines. From 2011 to 2020, I worked full-time in several churches and denominations that were not Reformed. As expected, they came with many challenges, both in my personal theological convictions and practices. Finally, in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, JC and I, together with our three children, decided to join a Presbyterian church. We were received as covenant members one year later, and our children received their baptism. During all those years from 2011-2021, I never really stopped dreaming of studying in a Reformed Seminary. In January 2022, I got Covid and needed to be isolated for two weeks. On my third day of being isolated, I thought to search and survey the websites of several Reformed seminaries in America. I started sending emails to several of them. Several weeks after that, one Sunday morning, an Elder from our church told me to try applying at Mid America Re-formed Seminary. The night of the same day, I read through everything on the MARS website.
“God's providential care for me, my family, and my dream to study in a Reformed Seminary was powerfully demonstrated through the generosity and ministry of MARS.”
I also contacted a Filipino Minister who is an alumnus of MARS. He told me great things about his alma mater and how MARS helps the students by granting various scholarships. He encouraged me to push through with my application, and that same week I sent an email to MARS. The following week, April 1, I was on a video call with Brian Blummer, the Director of Advancement. The responsiveness of MARS was un-believably impressive, and on April 27, I was able to finish my application and received an email that contained my admission letter. Mid of May, one month after receiving the news of my admission to MARS, we received our approved Visas from the US embas-sy. By June 8, we were on a plane to Mid America Reformed Seminary. God's provi-dential care for me, my family, and my dream to study in a Reformed Seminary was powerfully demonstrated through the generosity and ministry of MARS.
The further I go deeper into my studies here, the more I am convinced and encouraged to go back home to the Philippines, work on becoming an ordained Minister, and plant and pastor a Presbyterian Church to the glory of God, the edification of the church, and for the sake of the Gospel. This reflection is mainly because of the Seminary's holistic approach to its curriculum; it is perfectly balanced with its commitment to providing an excellent education for the students, together with the programs that promote practical applications in the ministry through exhaustive internship opportunities for the seminarians.
Besides seeing myself in the future as a Minister of the Word and Sacraments of a Presbyterian Church in the Philippines, I also intend to expand the online Reformed bookshop (Coram Deo Books) that my wife and I started back in 2020 and still manage to this day. Coram Deo Books actually began during the pandemic in September 2020. Lord willing, we hope to establish a Reformed Publishing and Translating Ministry and a Reformed Bookstore. As a matter of fact, the Philippines has over 120 dialects, with 134 ethnic groups spread over more than 7,000 islands. Therefore, publishing and translating Reformed resources into local dialects will be a big help in the work of Reformation in the Philippines.