Christian Recovery Ministry

Christian Recovery Ministry

CLI student Lisa Smith has a visionary dream of starting a Christian recovery ministry where she can help her rural community struggling with tons of drug and alcohol addiction.

Read her story below:

My name is Lisa Smith, and I live in rural Western, NC – right in the heart of Southern Appalachia, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I live in the forgotten mission field.

My community is a stark contrast of opulent golf courses surrounded by million dollar homes and barely habitable mobile homes surrounded by wreckages of car parts and discarded children’s toys. Half of our community lives in gated communities, here only a few weeks out of the year to ski or play golf in what is their second, third, or fourth vacation home. The rest of our community barely manages to feed their families from the low paying service jobs afforded by our seasonal visitors. Most employment is seasonal and very low paying.

Many families have simply given up, surrendering themselves to the methamphetamine epidemic. A secret war is waged behind many doors in my community. Families are falling apart because of drugs and alcohol. The initial addiction is just the beginning it’s often accompanied by increased poverty, crime, domestic violence, child abuse…..the fallout touches everyone.

Worst of all, there is a church on every corner, and their doors are NOT open to the men, women, and children who need them the most. At the beginning of this epidemic, a few churches hosted Christian and secular recovery groups. One by one they closed their doors to those most in need. One by one, they ended their recovery groups and told the secular groups that they could no longer host them. The last one shut its door four years ago.

Why? Because the addicts that attended recovery groups sometimes had the audacity to start attending church! No one wanted drug addicts in their pews. These people were too needy. They were too dirty. They didn’t know how to dress the part or put on a “good Christian façade.” They weren’t raised in good Christian homes. They wore jeans and work boots to church. They smoked in the parking lot. They would be a bad influence on the youth. They had no money to tithe. So, one by one, church doors slammed in their faces. They are left to pray to the only God they know, the God of crystal meth.

My community is full of people who desperately need God. I know because my husband is a recovering addict. He was one of the few lucky ones to make it out of this epidemic. He attended a 3-month long Christian rehabilitation center six years ago…..but most families are not so lucky. When an addict looks for recovery, there are few options. Most families don’t have the tens of thousands of dollars needed to attend a secular inpatient rehabilitation center. The Christian rehabilitation center my husband attended requires a 3-month stay. Most families have no way to survive without both spouses working; a 3-month stay is impossible for them.

My dream is to start a Christian recovery ministry that welcomes the lost and points them to the cross just as they are, wherever they are in their walk with Christ, wherever they are in their addiction. I am not naive to the challenges of starting such a ministry. I have witnessed the darkness of addiction in a very close-up and personal way. There are many ministries nationwide that are willing to offer training, but I know that I will need more than training. I will need a strong foundation first. Christian Leaders Institute will help me build a strong foundation upon which I can build a lasting ministry.

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Church Media Ministry Training

Church Media Ministry Training

Gary McAdams – I was born in Houston in 1972, and have lived the majority of my life in Texas. I was born to a Christian mother and a father who, to my knowledge, never came to a faith in Christ before his death in 1989. The experience of losing a parent and not knowing their eternal fate, gave me a burden to insure that my children never had to ask those questions.

In February of 1996 I met Caroline, the love of my life at an MLM business development event and we were married four months later. While attending a small church in San Antonio, TX, my wife volunteered her “techie” husband who enjoyed messing around with computers to help run PowerPoint for song lyrics. While I grumbled at the time, this experience led me on a path to discover a true passion for church media. I have spent the past fifteen years in both volunteer and paid roles in multiple churches helping create environments for people to have an encounter with the living God.

I am still seeking the Father’s direction as to what His dream is for my future in ministry, but I feel strongly that He is calling me to a ministry leadership role. I believe that my love of technology and media, along with a desire to build up volunteer teams for service, will be used for the Kingdom. I am currently serving on a team at a small church plant that sets up and tears down the meeting room every week. I also have been working with the tech team, working towards creating a live web stream of our service, for those who are unable to attend.

While America is the most blessed nation on Earth, our successes have lead to a self-reliant attitude amongst a large majority of the population. It is a very common belief in the US that since we have so many opportunities to provide for ourselves, there is little need to seek God for the desires of our hearts. It can be challenging in a country with so much abundance, to help people see their need for God in their lives.

CLI offers me Church Media Ministry Training – Not so much the media techniques but the content the help me serve my church better.

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Veteran Ministry Training – Robert “Bob” Pilkington

Veteran Ministry Training

My name is Bob Pilkington. I reside in the State of Nevada, USA. I currently speak with the elderly, usually in hospice care, and veteran’s who need assistance in coming to terms with their mortality or their accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior. It can be difficult because most of the people I talk to are at the end of their lives and realize that they need to get right with God before they die. It is hard sometimes to convince them that they are getting right with God, when they are not getting any physically better.

I started going to church on a regular basis when in my teens and continued through my 20’s. I got very sick with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 29, and instead of asking the Lord for guidance and help, I tried to take on the sickness by myself. Life expectancy for someone with Crohn’s Disease is at 15 years. A little more than 21 years later, I got sick again asked the Lord to help me, and within weeks, I felt healthy. That was 8 years ago and according to my physician from the results of a recent physical examination, I have no symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and my health is A++.

About a year ago, I had this overwhelming feeling that I should get training and become a Pastor. It took several months and me to lose my best friend in the world (who happened to be my blind dog) – but here I am – at Christian Leaders Institute, getting some of the best spiritual education I could find – and it is all on me to get it done and become a pastor.

My ministry dream is to continue to help those at the end of their walk through this world find the Lord before they pass away.

Pastor: Because I have a certain demeanor about me that I did not know I had, in comforting those at the end of their lives. It is not something I ever studied – or really ever wanted to do – but I am good at it and I enjoy seeing people get their spiritual house in order before they pass away.

I don’t know what actually prompted me to become a pastor: I just woke up one day and had the feeling that I wanted to help people who were elderly and sick get right spiritually.

Living in a rural county, ministering to the outlying parts can be challenging regarding time. Usually, people want to talk to me just before they pass away – which time and distance have created problems. Living in a small town; EVERYBODY knows your business. Until August, 2015, I wasn’t always the “ministering” type. I was a drinker and someone not to be trifled with and had a very low tolerance level for nonsense. Since my calling to the Lord, I no longer drink and I have become a very patient, caring, loving and understanding man. I don’t get angry, and those who used to be afraid of me, now enjoy my company.

My local churches support my efforts. They want to see me succeed in my education because of me, my life and how they have all seen me change from what I was to who I am.

My wife supports my wanting to become a Pastor. She is probably to most happy to see my life what it is now.

Without Christian Leaders Institute, I simply could not afford to go to Seminary school. This Veteran Ministry Training is a big help. It is that simple. I have the time, desire and wherewithal to go through a program, but I am retired, on a fixed income and do not have the ability to take that much money from our retirement to pay for school – for someone that will probably never pay it back.

Pray that I can help EVERYONE get right with God before they pass away. It is my goal to see every senior citizen in hospice care and every disabled veteran and veteran who needs help.

Ordained for Ministry in Germany – My Life Story

Ordained for Ministry in Germany

My name is Bernd Armbruster, and I come from Germany. In my teenage years, I thought of Christianity as an outdated concept and decided to turn my back against the church. I couldn’t understand how church rituals could have any positive effect on my life. Consequently, I not only stopped attending church, but I also started hating Christians in my heart.

After graduating from University in 2004, I went to China for what I thought would be an extended holiday. Little did I know that God was waiting for me there. In Shanghai, I met people who were madly in love with Jesus. They attended Shanghai Community Fellowship (SCF). They made Jesus so attractive to me that I became a Christian and ended up staying in SCF and Shanghai for 12 years.

Also in 2004, my wife Ryoko from Japan, and I met at SCF. In 2006, we got engaged and married. Now we have three amazing children: Anna (8), Noah (6) and Abigail (2).

In 2006, I also accepted the role of Outreach Director at SCF as a volunteer. At the time, I had already known that God wanted me to move towards full-time ministry. One major step in that direction was when my role as an Outreach Director was elevated from volunteer to full-time position in 2011. For the next five years, I was able to work full-time at SCF. Those were five fantastic years. We saw dozens of people accepting Christ every single year through this outreach ministry and joining our church community long-term. Many Christians who joined our team were completely changed. Some of them have now become ministers or missionaries in other parts of the world. Our favorite story is that of a man near retirement age whose complete Christian life at the time consisted of reading a daily prayer from a Christian calendar. He joined us to help others find Jesus. But during those months, his life was completely transformed. To quote his words: “I had the time of my life!” After spending one year on our team, he was a completely different person. His marriage was also revived. Once he reached his retirement, he decided to work for a Christian organization, and his passion for Christ has grown ever since.

The years at SCF were wonderful and fruitful years. But I always knew that this was still training ground, preparation for God’s long-term calling.

I knew that God wanted me to preach, teach and lead. That’s what I loved doing; that’s what I was good at. Theologically, I always had two big passions: one was for outreach. The other one was for relationships, marriage and family (My wife and I even wrote a book on this topic: www.simplesecrets.info). However, God had to do a lot of work in me before releasing me in my calling. He had to rid me of my immaturity, impatience, self-righteousness, judgmental attitudes, gossip, covetousness and lust. On the flipside, He had to develop gifts of compassion, teaching, sensitivity, care, love and forgiveness. I still fall terribly short of God’s standards. But the Holy Spirit has changed me over the years. And I can see God’s hand in all my past life: every major life experience was about getting me ready for being a Pastor.

The years at SCF were instrumental in preparing us for this. SCF has invested a lot of time, money and energy in developing us as leaders. They encouraged us to explore and develop our gifts. They mentored us and allowed us to learn from failures. Without SCF’s investment and encouragement, we would not be ready today for God’s call on our lives.

Around 2 years ago, God gave me a heart to pursue ministry education. I was excited, but finances did not allow me to pursue Seminary. Then I stumbled on CLI’s website. “Free ministry training and ordination” sounded too good to be true. But I gave it a try. And I quickly knew that this was how God was answering our prayer. What a great decision it was to study here.

In 2015, God started bringing it all together: He called us to Germany, to start and pastor a new church. (Aletheia International Church Munich (AIC), www.aicmunich.org). When we told SCF that we felt this call, we received even more support and encouragement than before, both from the leadership and the wider congregation. Many people there still pray for us. While we are not officially affiliated with SCF any longer, we do see AIC as an overflow of SCF’s great work.

So being obedient to His calling, we left SCF and moved to Germany in June 2016. Now we have just started our first small group with currently eight people. We are excited about what God will do from here.

Now about Germany: In my country, the church faces the challenge of religion. Many people think they know Christianity. But actually, they don’t. It is hard to break through those misconceptions, since many already made up their minds with wrong conclusions about Jesus and don’t see the need to reconsider their opinion.

Due to these common misconceptions, it is our desire that people hear the full, true gospel through AIC. Not just a feel-good-gospel, but the full gospel. We know that many people will not respond favorably. But we will proclaim the truth to as many people as we can, and disciple those who respond to Jesus’ invitation. That’s why we are here. That’s God’s calling on our lives.

The classes at CLI have greatly helped me prepare for this calling. The studies have put the different aspects of our Faith together in my mind. Some classes were pretty basic for me, having already worked in the church for years. However, other classes taught me things I had never heard before (esp. the New Testament and Church History classes). The greatest difference now is that I can see the big picture of the Christian Faith more clearly. As a result, I can better understand and communicate our Faith. I am very much looking forward to taking further classes after this ordination and learning even more.

God grew and prepared me through CLI, but this ordination will also give our church more credibility. Ordained for ministry in Germany is better received when it come from a place like CLI.  It will help people be more open towards our new Community with a Pastor who has an external approval as an Ordained Minister.

One of my favorite Bible stories is the parable commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son. In 2004, I was that younger brother: Coming home to God full of guilt, shame and embarrassment. But God showed me how much He loved me and rejoiced over my decision to return to Him. More than 12 years later, He calls me to be a Pastor. I’m not worthy of or ready for this calling. I can’t do it by myself. But I do know that God equips those He calls. I know He is trustworthy and a perfect Father. And that’s why my family and I continue to pursue this calling. Not because of us, but because of God’s love and faithfulness.

Our prayer is that God will use AIC to bring the full truth about Jesus to as many people as possible. We would be grateful for your prayer support towards this goal.

Thank you CLI for giving called leaders like me the opportunity to fulfill their calling.

In Christ’s love,

Bernd Armbruster

Credible Officiant Training -Officiant Doug

Credible Officiant Training

Greetings. My name is Douglas. This CLI training is Credible Officiant Training perfect for my situation.

I was raised in the church, baptised at an early age, and was devout until the 15th year of my life… My challenge came from the church “firing” our pastor at the time. A man I loved and brought vibrancy to our small congregation.

So, I left the church, asking God why He would allow such a thing to happen and who were these evil people leading our church? For the next 40 years, I stayed away from the church, referring to myself as spiritual rather than religious. Then, I was asked by a dear friend to officiate their marriage ceremony, since I’m a notary, and allowed by state law to solemnize marriages.

I agreed.

Off I went down this path. Little did I know, it was God’s hand helping me find my way back to Him. Now as I’m blessed to spend time with these couples on one of the happiest days of their life, I reflect on Matthew 19:5-6 and 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13. Having answered the call to establish a marriage ministry, I deepen my knowledge and understanding of our (and my) relationship with God.

I’ve been blessed to perform 150 weddings to date using an online ordination. Now having found CLI, I wish to legitimize my ministry ordination. I ask for prayer from all who read this for strength to continue on this path, and for blessings, upon those, I’m privileged to give a start down the path of “we” and their newly formed family.

This Credible Officiant Training is registered at the Christian Leaders Church website…

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A Woman Ordained for Ministry

A Woman Ordained for Ministry

My name is Robin Hood, and I live in the United States of America. In the United States, often, ministry is not done anywhere, in schools, some buildings, and offices, God isn’t allowed. There is a lot of debate, arguments, and hatred towards Christians. To me, ministry should be done everywhere. Everywhere, can consist of at work, at home, in your school, or even where there are no four walls. Being a Christian isn’t the most popular choice here in the United States, though there is freedom of speech, some are still persecuted, and bullied even for being a Christian. Some are willing to be a Christian when they hear of the love of God found in His Son Jesus who died for our sins, while others aren’t.

I came to know the Lord as my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when I was 14 years old. It was a moment in my life I will never forget. This took place within the four walls of Cherith Baptist Church in Carson, Ms.

My ministry dream is to carry the gospel, and the love of Christ to all that are broken, hurting or lost. To live as Christ outside of these four walls, so that others will see Him, and want to know Him. I have a passion to help others, to see their lives changed, and for them to experience this wonderful life Jesus gives us, without fear or loneliness plaguing them, or causing them to hurt themselves or others. I long to be everything He wants me to be for someone else. I am truly just a servant for Christ, I want to be His hands and feet, and whatever that looks like, that is what my dream looks like.

I currently help at the Life-House here in Winfield, Alabama, founded by Bro. Jeff Norris. My husband, Dale is the Men’s house director, and side by side with him, I help in whatever I can. Sometimes this just looks like me standing in agreement with one of our brothers or sisters in Christ, or being an ear to listen to them, or even to pray with them, especially to pray for and with them.
I don’t know exactly when the moment I wanted to pursue ministry. I do know that all my life I have longed to be something. I didn’t think it would ever be a public speaker or a women’s leader. I never thought it would involve other people. I believe when I was younger it was to be either a teacher or a veterinarian. I believe all of us have a calling to ministry, it all depends on whether we are attentive to the voice of God or not.

In 2013, I messed my life up a good bit, and I had felt for once in my life like I would never be able to go back to the person I once was. It seemed as if everyone hated me, and I was all alone. But, I knew Jesus was there, and I knew that He would help me. He sent me new friends, a new church family, another chance, and a new life. I remember talking to these broken women, who had spent so much of their lives in drug addictions, and no my testimony wasn’t the same as theirs, but I realized they needed the same love that set me free.

I remember working one day, and talking to my boss about this dream God had placed in my heart for women, broken, and abused, to help them. I didn’t realize that God had just given me a dream, and I was living it. No, I’m not the “director”, but I get to partner with her, and all these other amazing people and help the ones that God so graciously puts in our lives. So, I believe in a way, all of this was God’s dream for me. I want Him to dream for me. God knew my heart from the beginning, and He knew how quiet and closed in I am, and He knew that if He directly spoke this to me, that I probably would run for the hills!

The unique challenges of this area that come to mind are the church experiences. These church experiences that many of us hear about aren’t good experiences. Some have felt judged when they enter a church, maybe not by people that know them, but just by their appearance they don’t feel like they fit in. Also, there are a lot of addictions here, and I know this isn’t just here but everywhere, and a lot of the ones that come here find it hard to stay on the right path. This leads into what they would call “so-called church members” turn their backs on them, instead of reaching out and helping them. I understand that most don’t want the help, but Jesus wouldn’t give up so how can we?

My local church is amazing. I am surrounded by a group of men and women that have been in this so long, but still, they are forever learning something new. They long to see me succeed and to grow in the Lord more and more. There are times when they won’t let me stay in my shell. They have truly been my backbone through all of this. They are constantly reminding me to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and not to lean on my understanding.

My family has been another backbone for me. They are very supportive and believe in me. My husband is constantly telling me not to give up to keep pushing forward to be a woman ordained for ministry in our community. He believes in the calling and in the dream that God has placed in my heart. On November 30, 2016, my father went to be with the Lord. In so many ways he and my mom have played a crucial part in my walk. I can always remember my mother, who is still living, reading the Bible and praying to God. My daddy went to college and received an Associate’s Degree in Ministry, and when I asked him why he did it, his response was because he wanted to help people. It was told at his funeral, that even in the condition he was in, when in the nursing home, that he would always have a smile on his face. The ones he left behind, were so touched by his friendship and life, they mourned him so when he was gone. But there’s one thing they could all say, and that was that he lived each day trusting in the Lord.
This mantle has fallen to me, and I have picked it up. I want to help people. Often, God does things in mysterious and unpredictable ways.

I remember reading the story of Elijah and Elisha and crying my eyes out because this was the story of my dad and I. God doesn’t look at the outer appearance or gender of a person, but He focuses on the heart of a person. I have a brother, who yes, he could get into ministry and I pray someday he will, but believing in Jesus and standing for truth is what God has been working on him with for a long time now. God chose me for such a time as this…. And He is constantly using my dad’s life to remind me that I have to continue. Daddy had a sweet entrance into heaven, and he fought such a hard fight, but if you asked him right now if he was alone, he would tell you, no. He has finally entered Beulah Land, the land in which he has longed for as long as I have known him.
God has used the distance between my family and me for such good things (1) showing me how faithful He is and how He keeps His promise (2) helping me to depend on Him through everything as a family that we have faced.

I have accomplished so much during my seeking ordination through CLI, and though there have been so many trials and struggles, God has just been so much bigger.

Pray for more of God, and continuing lessening of self. I long for more, and I know there must be so much more that we have yet to see in our lives, as well as our ministry. Wherever this ordination takes me, and to whomever I meet, pray for this journey to be everything God wants it to be. I know this is truly one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I am so appreciative to CLI, for all the professors, and teachers, and for everything this college has put forth to help those like me to pursue the dream God has for them. Whatever this becomes, to God alone be the glory.

-Robin Hood

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Pentecostal Minister Training – Full-Time Truck Driver

Pentecostal Minister Training

Greetings! My name is Lolard Alan Simmons III. I am an America Pentecostal minister in the Greater Houston Texas area. A major challenge to doing ministry in the fourth largest city in America is an overpopulation of religious institutions. It seems there is a ministry on every block.

Christians here tend to assume everyone has their group chosen already. I cannot remember the last time a group knocked on my door. Witnessing efforts have gone nearly extinct. As a natural progression, apathy has settled into our congregations, regarding salvation experiences. Ministry focuses more on living “right” than on being saved in the first place. A burden for souls is an uncommon phrase to hear, and less so in application.

A secondary issue facing our Churches is a practice of aversion (literally, we turned away). Sometimes, this manifests as a simple inhospitality to visitors of certain groups or types of people. Examples would include the following: the homeless, poor, handicapped, infirmed, mentally disabled, interracial couples, unwed couples, expectant teenage parents, the LGBTQCIA community and many others.

Other times, it is a direct request that these people find a different location to gain ministry. It is as if we have forgotten the Great Commission to spread the Good News of the Gospel to ALL people.

My ministry dream is to realign the Christian world with just that message; ALL people means even those with whom we may be uncomfortable ministering. I am convinced, if we laid aside our aversions completely, opened our doors to ALL who want to join us, created a welcoming and nonjudgmental overall environment and make follow-up contact with these forgotten, forsaken and forbidden souls, we would have a massive increase in conversions to Christ.

This increase in conversions would inspire us afresh and anew. In turn, apathy would be less common or eradicated completely. A revival could spark into an inferno of Holy Spirit led the revival. We could see a radical change of atmosphere in our city, and in yours alike. Henceforth, evangelism is my primary focus.

I came to Jesus at the end of a revival meeting at the age of 11. I had been raised in a Christian inspired home. However, this evangelist brought the message forward to our Church in an in-your-face, now or maybe never again fashion. I felt as if the Holy Spirit might never speak to me again if I did not respond immediately. My pastor led me to Jesus at the beginning of that alter call. My brother, Scott was saved that night as well. Pastor Charlie Barnes baptised us shortly after that. Mt Zion SB Church in Piasa Illinois was a Church on fire for quite some time.

At the age of 14, I answered God’s call to preach. My first sermon was at that same Church of my salvation. By 16, I was pastor at Bethlehem SB Church in neighbouring Shipman Illinois. It was that same year, Pastor Lucille Anderson of Fidelity Assembly of God in Fidelity Illinois prayed me through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was a spirit-filled Pentecostal pastoring a Southern Baptist Church. It was a God Happening every week. There was a sense of revival over our area.

I am currently being shepherded at Gateway of Hope Church in Houston Texas. My pastor is a spirit filled a man with a desire to raise up an army of well-prepared ministers, evangelists, teachers, deacons, elders, and worship leaders. He is not focused on numbers in the seats. He is our Apostle Paul, mentoring each of us. He invites these junior disciples to fill his pulpit regularly. My Church inspires me often. I thank God for them daily. There is an anointing constantly upon the worship team which flows into the crowd. We know that Jesus is a regular member.

My fiance was the main contributing factor in my return to ministry and seeking online training in biblical studies. He is my daily inspiration. Without David, the Holy Spirit would have had a much harder time of convincing me to leap out of complacency. I praise God for introducing us.

After many failed attempts to gain ministry studies that were affordable, flexible and inclusive, I happened across the advertisement for CLI. Christian Leaders Institute was exactly what I needed to complete my Pentecostal Minister Training that fits my schedule! As a full time truck driver, I work up to 16 hours a day and five or six days a week. The at your pace, no rush atmosphere of study is fantastic for me. The teaching seems sound, thus far. Leadership has a passion for this same revival I seek to inspire. Their scholarship class has been challenging, but not overwhelming. The material is well prepared. Their campus being online is impressive. Their reach is worldwide. They make exceptions for students in countries that are not receptive to the Christian message. I feel I have found a great place to grow.
As this article draws to a close, I would ask you to pray for my ministry in these following areas. I crave an overpowering anointing for souls, boldness to mention Jesus everywhere I travel to as many as will hear me, and a silencing from the Holy Spirit when I have spoken enough words. I sometimes say too much. I further ask that I be led to those souls the Church has chosen to leave out: those who feel forgotten, those who sense they were forsaken, and those who were flat forbidden from worshipping somewhere. I ask that God leads me to them. Pray for me, and I will pray for the readers of this posting as well. May you be blessed by his Spirit today. Amen

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A True Story of Ruin to Heartfelt Riches

Patrick D. Garlock – United States of America
My name is Patrick Garlock. I was born in southern California, USA, the youngest of an integrated family of 10 boys. I remained in SoCal until my mother passed away from cancer when I was 11. I moved to the Midwest state of Kansas to live with my father and step-mom. I adapted to the different lifestyle and environment pretty quickly. Soon after, however, I lost my father as a 12-year-old. Sadly, I would lose my closest brother, Dennis, right after my 13th birthday. My Step mother legally adopted me and I finished my primary schooling in a rough and tumble neighborhood, and a very challenging home life until I would graduate high school.
When I was 16 years of age, my friend invited my girlfriend Stacy and I to his church. I would go reluctantly, but then I heard the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for me. That, was the biggest decision of my life! I embraced it immediately and fell in love with my savior.
After high school I would forego college, jump right into the workforce and start a family. Stacy and I got married and had two children, a son and then a daughter. We found a home church and soon I would begin a ministry in volunteer radio. I began a youth-oriented radio program on Saturday nights in the northeast Kansas area and ran the helm for seven years. It was a wonderful outreach. We blended edgy Christian music with conversation and interviews. It was a phenomenal time of my life and it really held me accountable as a young believer.
As our kids were reaching the end of high school and the start of college, Stacy fell ill. Soon discovering that she had the blood cancer disease called Leukemia. It was a very rare form and the prognosis was fairly bleak. She would have a bone marrow transplant and live another year after that, eventually succumbing to the disease. I would be left a widower and for a period of time, I felt very lost. I had lost my high school sweetheart and wife of 22 years.
I wanted to keep her memory alive so I began to do speaking engagements for the American Cancer Society. Little did I know that I had a gift in public speaking. I continued to do engagements, once to twice per month for a while, all over the region. Each time with a great deal of positive feedback. But it was something I was doing for others. I needed to find my walk again. At this point my faith was strong, but my walk was weak.
I had stopped going to church a few years before this point, ironically. So upon an invitation, I would wander into this small bible church. The only way that I can describe it is that it felt like home. I had never felt so drawn to a place. Nothing flashy, just fellow believers who were solid in their faith and an extremely smart, veteran Pastor.
Soon I would rededicate my life to Jesus Christ. I was baptized for the first time in my life and not long after I was on the worship team. Then I would restart a youth program that was defunct at our church! In April of 2015, however, would come THE calling. I woke up at 2am and was told it was time. Something I felt twenty years earlier, was about to be realized. I was to a be a Pastor. I knew it like I’ve never known anything as intently before in my life. I did what was the only decision… I answered the call.
I was street smart, but now was the time to get some formal training and I had no idea where to go. On a single income I couldn’t afford to take on any more debt (I was still paying bills from Stacy’s long, expensive care). I would stumble upon Christian Leader’s Institute and enrolled immediately. Time would only tell if this was quality education, but from the reviews I read, how could it not be?
Fast forward to 18 months later and here I am. I have a Commissioned Pastoral Degree and I’m almost complete with my Ordination to be a Pastor!
CLI has been more than I could ever imagined. I could not fathom the quality of education I was going to receive when I began. The intelligence and experience of the Professor/Pastors is one thing that makes this incredible. They teach COMPLETELY from the Word of God. Their own life experience is obvious because when they communicate it’s from the heart of experience. The classes are intense, accurate, informative and thought-provoking.
All that I had when I began my formal training was life experience. I wasn’t Bible smart. Sure I could quote a handful of scriptures but I could not exegete the Living Word. But now I can. With this training, coupled with the support of my church, it has enabled me to grow in God more exponentially than I could have pictured 18 months ago. My Pastor is my mentor and has taken me under his wing. With 40 years of ministry experience, he is a wealth of knowledge.
Since beginning the classes at CLI, a lot has changed for me. I met a single, wonderful woman of God at my church. We recently married and combined families ourselves. I now have love for the second time in my life and a wonderful step son (who is part of our Youth Tribe)! We serve an amazing God that already knows what we are going to do before we realize it ourselves. And that’s such a crazy, awesome thought!
Please pray for my future with this church as they are considering adding me onto staff, for the Youth of our church and of the world and also for my family. My children lost their mother to a horrible form of cancer and it will take some time for them to heal. Thank you!

Local Officiant Ordination – Erik Leopard

Local Officiant Ordination

Christian Leaders Institute offers Local Officiant Ordination training so you can do weddings. Erik Leopard tells his story.

I was born and raised in Richardson Texas, a suburb of Dallas. I served in the United States Navy and saw the world while figuring what I wanted to do with my life and returned to college receiving my Bachelors Degree from the University of North Texas. I am currently working as an HR Manager at a surgical hospital in Addison Texas. I have been married to my wife Jessica since 2007 and I have two step children, Danielle (24) and Isaac (22) and another daughter Erika (2) who we adopted at birth. I was raised in the United Methodist Church through high school but never truly understood the Gospel and Salvation. I fell away from the religious life I grew up in early on in my adult years and lived an ungodly, unsaved life for most of my adult life. In 2009 my wife and I were about to divorce when Jesus Christ entered my life and we started attending a non-denominational bible church and attended their ReEngage marriage class where I learned for the first time what a Godly husband and father looks like. I was saved during this time and my wife and I reconciled our marriage.

I intended to use this training to become ordained as my step daughter and her fiancé have asked me to marry them in February 2017. After reading more about the program I am interested in continuing past the ordination certification as I lead my family in bible study and also have a passion for evangelism and have been called by the Lord to do more in this area. We recently moved and have changed churches (Community Life in Forney, Texas) we were quite active in our last church but are not plugged in other than attending worship at the moment.

A scholarship would help me with all of the work the Lord has and will call me to do. As stated before, at the present time that area is evangelism and leading bible study. Please pray for me to lead my family better as the spiritual leader in our home as well as where the Lord wants me to serve as an Evangelist.

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Local Ministry Leaders – Taylor Browning CLI Profile

Local Ministry Leaders

Local ministry leaders are being raised up everywhere. Meet Taylor Browning: 22 years old, oldest of four, homeschool graduate, daughter of children’s ministers and resident of Chicagoland, U.S.A.

I accepted Christ when I was four years old, with both my mum and my dad as witnesses. I was influenced by their faith, and I do believe that even at that young age, I was convicted of my sins and understood my need for a Savior. I have been striving to walk with Christ ever since.

I currently work for my dad’s office furniture company. However, most of my time is spent volunteering in ministry for my church. I love working with children, teaching them about Jesus and what it means to serve Him. I am very involved in my church’s children’s and youth programs including Sunday School, youth group, Pioneer Clubs, Bible Quizzing, Vacation Bible School and one-on-one mentoring. My mom has been the Children’s Minister for my church for 12 years, so my involvement began as a “drafting” of sorts. But then, my passion grew, and God has blessed me with more and more opportunities to share His love.

I am a firm believer in local ministry leaders settings. Some, God has called to be sent to the far corners of the earth, and others God has called to minister to those around them. I believe God has placed me where I am for a purpose and I am fulfilled in work He has given me. It is because of this work that I have been limited in my options for higher education. To go to a traditional four-year college would take me away from the ministries I so long to continue working in. Even going to a local community college would conflict with most of my children’s and youth ministry activities each week. I am praying that CLI holds the solution to my situation. CLI’s degree program would open the door for me to continue ministering while attaining formal training.

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Glory Be to God!

Tina Marie Burris
United States

Hello everyone!

I lead a simple life with my husband, Jeff, and our many animals. My life was once not so simple and full of the constant battling of demons! Those demons were smoking cigarettes, drinking, unmarried sex, and the list goes on and on. I was so very very lost. I did, however, around the age of 6 or 7, ask Jesus into my heart, with the help of the very loving principal of my private Baptist school I happened to be attending at the time. My time in Baptist school was abruptly stopped when my parents got divorced. I was then thrown into public school and soon was lost to the demons of this world and lost for a long time! I met my husband at the age of 32 and got married about 2 years later. We were actually born just 16 days apart in the same maternity ward of St Joseph’s hospital in Tampa, FL. It took us 32 years to finally meet face to face. God brought us together for a definitive reason! We have both helped each other survive our demons (alcoholism and smoking cigarettes) and overcome tough times. Together, we climbed out of the deep hole of despair.

It was probably around 8 years into our marriage (2-3 years ago) that my mother died, God rest her soul. At this time, I was heavily into politics and my views and ideology drastically differed from my mother’s and my siblings. So much so, that the demons took advantage of this and drew a thick line of division between me and them at the exact time I was trying to be there and help my sister take care of my mom. Ever since this time, my relations with my half sister and half brother have seriously been damaged and I pray to God to help bring us back together again. I have since quit politics for the most part. If I feel God is reaching out to me about someone or a special cause, I may vote, but no matter what side you are on or how valiant you think your cause is, the only one that is going to save all of us is Jesus Christ! Amen and Hallelujah!

As I said previously, I had been lost and blind for a very long time! Imagine that! Lost and blind! One day before I had completely given up on politics, I picked up the Bible with the superficial intentions of studying theology so that I could one day debate people and show them how smart I am. Well, little did I know just how miraculous and powerful God’s good word is! It drew me in. Ever since I started reading, I’ve been wanting to read more and learn more. I’ve been completely enthralled. The light of God was shining on me and he was trying to call out to me! This scared me a little, because Jeff, my husband, was a big time agnostic – not quite sure about God. I was afraid this would ruin our marriage so I did not really speak much about it to him. Well, that did not have to last very long. One day Jeff received a divine sign from God. I’ll save this story for another time. He, too, picked up the Bible and started reading, and our love for God grew together. We have both since acknowledged our sins and have repented to Jesus Christ, our beautiful Lord and Savior and have thanked him for the suffering and death he took on for our salvation.

Quite honestly, I do not know yet what I want to do with this ministry training. I pray to God every day to help guide me in the right direction. My plan is to keep moving forward with this training, God willing, until I receive his word one day on how I should proceed. My husband is also taking the training, so who knows, maybe we will minister together or maybe he will minister and I will be his little helper! Either way, I’ll be serving my Lord and Savior in one capacity or another and that’s the ultimate goal.

I welcome any fellow CLI students to contact me via email, as I am always game for making new Christian friends!

Peace be with all of you!

Tina M. Burris

Affording Ministry Training

Affording Ministry Training

Affording ministry training has never been so challenging. CLI has solved this problem by making ministry training free!

My name is David, and I was born in the USA in 1993. I have three amazing kids, one of which I’ll get to meet when I finally go to Heaven. Ministry in the United States is fun, yet a challenging thing to do. Although we have freedom of religion, there are people who try and make it so we cannot share the Word of GOD with others.

I came to know the Lord when a friend invited me to go to church with him. However, all we did was play video games the entire time. It wasn’t until I went on my first mission trip (for all the wrong reasons) that I finally came to call the Lord my GOD and accept Him into my life.

Ever since the day I came to Christ, I’ve felt called to become a youth pastor to show kids the love of Christ, the same way they had shown me. I had a real heart for the missionary field and wanted to share my love and passion for that with the youth I will one day work with. My hope is that GOD will show just how blessed that they are for the things that they take for granted every day. Eventually, I want to start my church so I can show what GOD has planned for me and my passion for Him.

I’m blessed to have a wife that supports my dream and is willing to help me to reach it. I’m still in the beginning stages of my goal and ask that you pray for GOD’S continued guidance, wisdom, and mercy along my path. Thank you for all you’re doing to make my dream become a reality. Without CLI I wouldn’t be able to afford any proper training, and would still be struggling with GOD’S calling for my life.

The Prodigal Christian

My Name is Eric; I live in Worcester, MA where I attend Next Level Church with my wife and three daughters. I grew up as a pastor’s kid in a non-denominational church in the north suburbs of Chicago. Truthfully, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth—spiritually speaking. My parents are mature believers, my father an accomplished pastor, and I have a strong family line of generational blessings and ministry. Though I grew up always knowing and loving the Lord, the idea of cheap grace and my own personal insecurities kept me from living a godly life. In college, I came face to face with James 2:14 and was forced to take a deeper look at my commitment and my life. I couldn’t reconcile “faith without works is dead” and the manner in which I was living.

I had a heart for ministry and often believed I was going to be a pastor—even dreamt of working with my dad someday. Then, life happened. It was numerous twists and turns that caused me to end up where I am now. A new elder board unfairly let my dad go and I became jaded to the idea of professional ministry. I graduated college with a degree in education and started working with my brother at a gymnastics gym where I have been for the past 11 years. During that period to the present, I’ve served in lay ministry at my church, always feeling a pull towards leadership and ministry, but also thriving at my job.

I have been in church leadership as far back as I can remember, starting with peer small groups in Sunday School classes as a kid. As I’ve grown in leadership, I started to see the most fruit coming from the discipleship relationships in my life. This has been supported and encouraged greatly by my church’s leadership. Multiple pastors have made time to meet with, poured into, and discipled me in many ways. Though my walk over the past decade has ebbed and flowed, there has always been a desire, a hunger, and a giftedness to teach and lead. After recently hitting one of those points where God had to hand me over to my sin in order for me to turn fully to Him, I’m finally feeling more ready to take my gifts in ministry and leadership to the next level. That’s where Christian Leaders Institute comes in.

I know there is a call on my life for ministry; I’m just not sure in what capacity or what doors God will open in my life. But, I want to be sure that when He does open doors, I’m prepared and ready to walk through them. With my wife in graduate school and my life busy with three young kids, I needed a program that wouldn’t be too demanding or costly. I wanted to wade into my continued education, leery of making a time or financial commitment I couldn’t live up to. I quickly fell in love with the Christian Leaders Institute. It was a perfect fit for my life! I often woke up earlier in the morning so I could fit in extra reading before work. I often jumped out of the course texts to do additional studying or research on a topic at interested me. Not only has this matured me as a Christian leader, but many of the courses have helped develop me as a manager on the job.

I’m not getting this ordination to meet a specific requirement or get a job. Instead, I see it as preparation for any ministry God calls me to. Right now that means small group leadership and children’s Sunday School at my church, but who knows where it may lead. My focus is equipping and preparing myself so that whatever opportunity God brings me, lack of training or an ordination will not be an issue.

Thinking about the questions “what it is like to do ministry in this country,” and “what are some unique challenges in your geographic area”, the same issues come to mind—comfort, prosperity, and laziness. I think it’s relatively easy to do ministry in the United States because of our freedom and resources. However, it is difficult to be fruitful because there is little “good soil” for the seed to take hold and for its roots to go deep. I’m a firm believer that conflict and challenge are tools to grow, strengthen, and spur us forward. In America, it seems like we’re too comfortable to even consider that. It reminds me of Homer’s Odyssey when they land on the island of the Lotus Eaters. There is so much comfort and ease, they forget their mission and continually put it off until years slipped away. That’s what ministry is like in America. It’s so comfortable and easy that spiritual disciplines aren’t disciplines at all. The Gospel is put off or approached haphazardly, resulting in weak or false converts. There is also a strong sense of intellectualism and being too smart for God. Liberal beliefs are incubated at the universities and then spread. Everything is subjective. The only wrong is to tell someone they are wrong, and though the value of love for others is high, it’s completely void of truth. Not only is everyone too smart for God, but no one thinks they need Him.

Your free ministry training has given me preparation that I otherwise would have put off or maybe not even pursued. It’s helped me fill in gaps in my knowledge and theology. As I continue to serve in multiple capacities, I haven’t really focused on a single ministry. I have learned the importance of and tried to incorporate discipleship into all of my ministries. I think too often we see discipleship as a ministry that is done instead of other ministries, which is a big mistake. Discipleship is key in each of my ministries as I work on growing up and multiplying other leaders beneath and alongside me. If I’m teaching a life group, I’m also raising up a co-leader to eventually lead his own group. If I’m teaching children’s Sunday School, I’m raising up kids who can assist/co-lead while growing my assistant into a leader.

Over all, my ministries aren’t focused solely on leading, but on growing up and multiplying leaders. I would appreciate prayer in that venture and as I work to find where God is calling me. Though I would say that I mostly identify myself right now as an “Equipping and Training Leadership” style of pastor/leader, I’m just not sure what that’s going to looks like specifically. As this stage of preparation and training draws to a close, I’m anxious to see where He will lead me next.

Don’t Let the Lack of Formal Bible Education Stop You

Don’t Let the Lack of Formal Bible Education Stop You

My name is Courtney Johnson. I live in the United States of America. I accepted Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior, in a small South Texas church when I was 12 years old and was baptized in water that same year. I was filled with the Holy Spirit, one year later, during a home Bible study.

I am married to Travis Johnson, and we have six children. Travis and I work in prison. I am a Correctional Officer, and he is a Maintenance Tech. Our current mission field is difficult but rewarding. There is a hunger for God within the prison walls.

Travis and I have had a burning desire to be in full-time ministry for many years. We enjoyed working with a homeless ministry for several years. We provided a sermon, singing, a hot meal, clothing, blankets and love to the unlovely. We also taught a home Bible study group for over a year. We had very little help financially so we lived on very little so that we could do more for Christ. We believe that church planting and evangelism are our callings.
It is becoming harder to preach the gospel in a nation that is convinced that sin is acceptable. There is a church on every corner, yet our prisons are full. The homeless and veterans sit under our overpasses, and our youth are at night clubs while unrepentant people sit in church pews drinking coffee while they listen to sermons that fail to convict them because the pastor is more concerned with the head count and tithes than he is about lost souls.

We feel God calling us to do more. Our lack of formal Bible education has prevented us from qualifying for positions we would love to have in the ministry. The education we will receive through Christian Leaders Institute will open doors we never thought possible.

The combination of having a large family and the slump in the economy has made it impossible for either of us to quit our jobs so that we could go back to school. The scholarship CLI offers truly an answer to prayer.

We just want to be doing exactly what God created us to do. Please pray that we will have wisdom, boldness, faith and that we will hear God clearly.

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Online Ordination Training – Worship Leader

Online Ordination Training

My name is Tony Wetmore. I’m a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I live in a small resort town in the mountains of Southern California, in the United States of America. Yet, within a two-hour commute from this small community by car is a harvest field of about 22.68 million people!

I came to the Lord at YMCA camp when I was 12, and participated in youth groups during my high school years. I fell away from the Lord shortly after graduation, and spent a decade in the “world,” before returning to Him and becoming born again.

I’m married to a wonderful wife. We’ve been happily married nearly 30 years and have three children. My youngest, Joshua, is a youth leader and worship team leader at our church.

For the past 25 years, I’ve served as a ministry leader in programs ranging from youth and men’s ministry to those aimed at serving the homeless and those in prison. Throughout it all, music and worship leading have been an integral part of my service. I currently serve as the worship leader for my church, Selah Christian Fellowship, in Crestline, Calif. I’m also blessed to preach the message periodically at Selah as well as preaching and sharing the gospel on the street and in a local prison.

I work as a first responder/emergency medical technician for a 9-1-1 emergency ambulance service in Riverside County, where I am able to pray over, and with, my patients in times of crisis and need.

Here in the United States, in every city, in every small town, I have to ask the question: Are we becoming a post-Christian nation like much of Europe? Will my church one day be turned into a museum, where tours of people come through to see how the 21st century Christians in my town used to worship the Lord? Will there be dusty sheet music on rusty music stands with Chris Tomlin and Michael Tait music on it, with song titles such as “God’s Not Dead, He’s Truly Alive” yellowing and decaying?

We are in a spiritual decline here in America. Many Christian denominations are diluting the true Word of God, and making changes to the very Word itself. I am praying that there will be a Great Awakening in the early 21st century to revive the awakenings and enlightenment of the past, here in America, and around the world. But what will that look like? How will it come about? Who or what will be the catalyst? I pray that Christian Leaders Institute will have a great hand in God’s will and work for the future, and help to fulfill the Great Commission written in Matthew 28:18-20: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

My ministry dreams have begun to be realized, as our nonprofit, Domestic Missionaries, Inc., is now officially a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. I am the pastor and executive director, and my wife is assistant director. Under Domestic Missionaries, we are able to minister to the homeless, needy, and low-income people on the streets of San Bernardino. We set up “church service” on the street, and play worship music, read scripture, take prayer requests, pray for, and with people, give them a relevant message of hope, and distribute food cards, hygiene kits, first aid kits, clothes, jackets, shoes, socks, blankets and Gideon Bibles. We also share with them the love of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation. We remind them that the material gifts we give—water, food cards, hygiene kits, etc.—are only temporary. That the real food—the eternal Bread of Life, the very Word of God—is what lasts forever.

At Pilot Rock Prison Camp, we do the same: worship, Word, prayer, fellowship, message, and love, plus the gift of bibles, devotionals and snacks.

Christian Leaders Institute has given me not only the knowledge, and a deeper understanding, of what it means to be a follower of Christ in the modern world, but also has taught me to become a true pastor and shepherd to people in need of salvation, in need of Jesus. Matthew 25:31-40 tells us to tell ALL people—those who are lost, hurting, abused, hungry, imprisoned and even those who think they don’t need Him —about the love and saving grace that can only come through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We need to help them turn from the earthly bread, water and empty promises of this world to the Bread of Life, Living Water and eternal promises of the One who loves them so much that He died to save them.

People ask me: Is revival coming? I say, “Hold on to your bootstraps. His kingdom will come, His will shall be done, on earth as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10)

Christian Leaders Institute has given me the depth and education to move forward in ministry. It has been a blessing to me and many others around the world. I would never have had the time or money to complete seminary if it had not been for CLI! I can trust that my monthly donations will go forward to help train others seeking a higher Godly education, accredited and recognized locally and around the world.

My ordination ceremony was on Saturday, October 15, 2016, with my mentors, pastors and peers, at my side. As reverent and joyous as my wedding vows taken years before, it represented my deepening commitment to our Savior and a conscious step into a new level of service and ministry as I humbly take on the duties and title of “pastor.” My life will never be the same. Praise the Lord!