A Heart for God’s Kingdom
Ministry Update from our Graduate Habil
Our students and graduates are central to our ministry at ABTS. We are always humbled by His powers of transformation as we walk alongside them during their journeys of theological education and see them grow into effective Church ministers and leaders who serve the growth of the Kingdom. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Habil, our 2019 Bachelor of Theology graduate from Sudan who currently serves with the Episcopal Church in Khartoum, and hear about how the Lord has worked in and around him through his theological education and ministry.
Habil came to ABTS in 2016 to pursue theological education. His first year at ABTS was difficult.
I remember feeling so lost and confused during my first months at seminary. Three months in and I was ready to throw in the towel! I wanted to give it up and go back home. But every time I prayed about it, the Lord would tell me in one way or another to do my best and persevere, so I did. When I went back home in 2019, I went back a different man.
It didn’t take Habil long to begin applying what he had learned at ABTS.
The first thing I did when I went back home was make peace with a pastor I had fallen out with years before. It used to be that when we saw each other, we would go out of our way to avoid each other. If I walked into a room he would leave it, and if I saw him walking down the street I would cross to the other side! But at seminary, I learned that I could not serve the Lord without acting like Him, so I strove to make peace, and I am thankful for it. Today, he constantly encourages me and supports my ministry.
Habil then began to invest his time in ministry.
Before I came to seminary, the diocese I was part of had been struggling to maintain its youth ministry because of conflict between the ministry team leaders. This conflict had led the ministry to be shut down, and it remained inactive throughout my stay at ABTS. When I went back, I knew that this did not please the Lord, and so I worked to restore relationships between the ministry team and with the youth in the community. It took time, but bit by bit, youth started to come back to the ministry, and today, it is stronger than ever! I praise God for His benevolence.
During his time studying theology, Habil came to see the value of strong teaching for the Church.
At seminary, so many of my misconceptions were corrected, and so many of my principles were examined and reshaped into Christlike principles. The Lord shaped and formed me so that I really did come to live the Kingdom ethics we used to talk about. When I went back to my church, I focused on developing our list of topics so that we could engage more deeply with the word of God and have Him shape us more effectively. And, over the past couple of years, I’ve seen the Lord grow us into more loving, giving, and persevering children of His Kingdom.
While he was at ABTS, Habil underwent training to become one of the leaders for our Khebz w Meleh (Bread and Salt) peacebuilding initiative in Sudan. With the pandemic and the difficulties that Sudan has been experiencing over the past years, new needs were emerging in the Sudanese community that this peacebuilding initiative could meet.
Faculty always emphasized the importance of contextuality for our ministries, so when I went back to Sudan, I called the ministry a cup of coffee to suit the context! In 2021, the ministry saw a lot of growth, but it was in 2022 that we saw the largest impact. The Lord helped me carry out 5 groups in 2022, all in the Omdurman area of Khartoum. One of the groups reached out to an underequipped refugee camp through a relief effort that created opportunities for us to share the gospel with them. When the refugees asked why we were doing this, we always answered that we were just doing what the Lord told us to do. Another group that we helped were the teachers at a local school in the Hay Al Zahra area (a neighborhood in Omdurman). The teachers were facing a lot of internal conflicts and difficulties. Having them come together in open conversation through the KwM guiding principles helped them deal with their issues. They then took initiative and started their own internal committee to deal with student and faculty affairs!
Habil is currently assistant pastor of the Episcopal Church in Khartoum. He also serves with the diocese of the Episcopal Church in Sudan through administration and supervision, teaching and training, and through leading the youth ministry.
Without theological education, I do not think I could have ever allowed the Lord to work through me as He has so far. I used to be very aggressive when dealing with conflict inside the church and was timid and shy when reaching out with the gospel, but the Lord changed all of that. He showed me how important it is to make peace and share peace with those around me. He also gave me the sensitivity and courage to share the gospel with anyone and in every context.
Recently, Habil and his church have been focusing on outreach to non-Christian areas in Sudan.
It is amazing how the Lord is growing the church in places where believers are not allowed to practice their faith. More and more people are coming to Christ, and we are doing our best to serve them. They currently come together in small home groups to worship and pray together. I do not know what God is going to do through them, but I am thankful that He is allowing us to be a part of this ministry, and I pray that He continues to use us as we reach out to those who have yet to receive the gospel message.
Moving forward, Habil has a vision to prepare youth for effective church ministry.
Our church ministers and leaders often engage in ministry without receiving proper training or discipleship. This causes our churches to have strong but shallow engagement with our faith. We have a need for ministers who have strong theological foundations, so I want to focus on training youths from a young age and disciple them so that they have strong roots in the word of God. This will help the church altogether. It will also help us break out of our restrictive customs and embrace a God-centered direction that seeks spiritual growth with Him first and foremost.
We thank the Lord for using Habil for the growth of the Kingdom. We pray that He continues to guide our students and graduates as they seek to live out His will for their lives.