divinity degree program

New Creation

My name is Kelly Maine, and I began my studies at Christian Leaders Institute in July 2020. After completing my Associate of Divinity degree last fall, I am continuing in the Bachelor of Divinity program.

My Testimony

As a child, I competed and placed in bible quizzes, taught Sunday school as a teenager, and spent a summer as a CEF (Child Evangelical Fellowship) Missionary. I knew that even dabbling in the occult was a turn away from God. While heavily involved in church during my childhood, I drifted away from seeking a new church family after leaving home following high school. As time passed, I realized that I missed the fellowship of other Christians and felt an emptiness in my relationship with God. As a teenager, I experienced hurt within my church family. It led me to develop biased beliefs about the church and shape my life accordingly. Sadly, I held onto those beliefs for 30 years without addressing the underlying issues.

Although I considered myself a born-again Christian who loved God wholeheartedly, I failed to be honest about what that meant. Gradually, my relationship with God became blurred. Further, in September 2019, I opened a small shop selling rocks, crystals, and fossils. Within a few weeks, I realized that my shop had transformed into a full-scale new-age store. While I was aware of the deadly spiritual dangers associated with these products, I justified my involvement by telling myself that God created crystals. Therefore, they couldn’t be evil.

This flawed reasoning sustained me until customers sought advice on how crystals could solve their problems. I wasn’t comfortable engaging in such conversations. As a Christian, I felt like what I offered in my shop was a stumbling block. Every day, I became increasingly uncomfortable in the space I had created.


Coincidentally, the shop was located across the street from a Methodist church. One day, the pastor stopped by and invited my husband and me to a Thanksgiving dinner. As he entered my shop, I was instantly on edge, seeing his Bible and feeling defensive. After he left, I was filled with anger and defensiveness, although I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason. As I contemplated sharing the invitation with my husband, Mike, I realized my anger had no foundation. The pastor had visited my shop, surrounded by pagan offerings, yet showed no judgment or disapproval. Though we did not attend the dinner, this encounter planted a seed in my heart.

Gradually, my discomfort in the shop intensified, and I found reasons to keep it closed for days. Eventually, in 2020, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the shop remained closed indefinitely after being shut for about two months prior. At this point, I shifted my spiritual search and enrolled in yoga instructor and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner courses. Although these courses repeatedly preached that “everything is temporary,” I recognized that God is not temporary but eternal. He is the Alpha and Omega. I began losing interest in false teachings and self-serving pursuits.

More Changes

Then, I even obtained an online ordination through a secular website during this time. However, when I received the email confirming my ordination, a thought kept nagging me. I wondered what it would be like to pursue ordination or obtain a Divinity degree through a program for real. Initially, the idea felt unapproachable, and I felt ashamed for thinking that I could be of service to God. In retrospect, those unsettling thoughts were crucial because they helped me see the reality of who I had become.

Therefore, I searched for online divinity degree programs and stumbled upon Christian Leaders Institute (CLI). I signed up but initially only explored the website briefly. It wasn’t until the funeral of a close relative in July 2020, when I struggled to offer comfort to grieving family members, that I searched for online grief counseling schools. That’s when CLI’s Leadership Excellence School popped up. As I started enrollment, I realized I had already created an account a few months earlier!

As I began the first classes, it surprised me how much I didn’t know despite thinking I had a good understanding. I quickly accepted that my perspective had been distorted, and my heart hardened to God’s will. I found great joy studying God’s Word and felt I was on the right path. My heart and thoughts began to change, and I developed a deep longing for all things of God while simultaneously praying for the removal of ego-driven aspects in my life.

Total Surrender

Then, one day, around eight months into my studies, I listened to a sermon by Billy Graham on the television through CLI’s class link. As I happily took notes, I suddenly felt drawn to the pastor’s enthusiastic words. At the same time, I felt held back, believing that the call he proclaimed was for everyone but me. At that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, and the story of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and His love for me struck me in an entirely new way. Simultaneously, I realized that my intention in enrolling at CLI was to help others, yet I failed to recognize that I was drowning in my sin and rebellion. Overwhelmed, I dropped my pen on my notebook and rushed to the front of the television. I raised my hands in praise, reaching for God, thanking Jesus, feeling the Holy Spirit, and surrendering every part of myself to the Lord.

From then on, the Holy Spirit ignited a fire in my life! Strained family relationships began to heal, new paths opened up, and former dead ends were replaced. During this time, one of my CLI classes required a mentor, and I knew exactly who to ask—the pastor who walked into my crystal shop, oblivious to the signs indicating that his invitation was falling on deaf ears. My husband and I planned our first visit to his church in early January of the following year, 2022.

New Beginning

The worship service was underway when we entered the church, and we quietly sat in the nearest pew. Everyone stood, singing praise songs my husband and I had been singing together in the car for months. Being part of a congregation of God’s children worshipping together felt incredible, and I loved it. Emotions overwhelmed me in ways I had never experienced before. Hearing this congregation join in hymns was like nothing I had ever heard or felt before.

After the service, I battled shyness and negative thoughts, feeling too timid to introduce myself. I almost reached the back door, ready to leave without sharing how the pastor’s visit had impacted my life. But then, a thought stopped me in my tracks. It dawned on me that I was only thinking about my discomfort. It occurred to me that God might want me to share an encouraging message with the pastor. I should tell him about his visit’s life-changing effect on my testimony. Without giving myself time to debate the thought, I turned around and approached him to introduce myself. That Sunday, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I found the courage and words to share my brief testimony with the pastor. Both my husband and I felt like we had found our church family.

God’s Perfect Timing

However, two Sundays later, we received the news that the pastor and his family were moving to a new church a few hours away. This news hit me hard, stirring up old wounds from the past. It was painful to lose wonderful pastors, teachers, and other notable people who had played significant roles in my life when they moved to different churches.

The following week, I discovered that the pastor would serve the church I had participated in during my youth. He asked if I remembered the names of people there, and I mentioned the youth leader’s name. The pastor laughed and shared that the youth leader had interviewed him just a week before. During the interview, the youth leader asked him to share when he planted a seed and saw growth. He told them about the woman who had just attended the previous Sunday sharing her testimony of how God used his simple visit in her life.

It felt as though God had brought me back to where I had detoured from 30 years ago. However, now I was equipped with the knowledge and education I gained at CLI’s Leadership Excellence School. Only God could orchestrate the countless details that led me back to the church I had always longed to be a part of in my youth.

Divinity Degree Program

This experience has led me to believe that God has called me to share the story He created in my life using many different people, places, and perfect timing to speak to my heart. I am eternally grateful for the pastor who took the time to plant a seed in a seemingly hopeless situation. Not because he had hope in me but because of the unwavering hope he held in Christ the Savior.

Further, I can never express enough gratitude for Christian Leaders. The education I have received here is beyond priceless. I am excited to share that my husband has also enrolled in the divinity degree program at CLI. We eagerly anticipate where the Lord will lead us in ministry.

Above all, I am humbled by and cherish Jesus’ love and sacrifice for me. 2 Corinthians 5:17  – Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Register a Study Account

Register for a free study account, automatically enrolling you in the Getting Started Class at the Christian Leaders Learning Platform. The Getting Started class will take you less than an hour to complete.

When you log in to the Learning Platform, you will notice that the Getting Started Class automatically appears on your dashboard.    

The Getting Started Class will orientate you to the Christian Leaders Learning Platform and the Programs offered, including:

  1. Ministry Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas with the Christian Leaders Institute.
  2. College Degrees and Divinity Degree Program with the CLI’s Leadership Excellence School.
  3. Minister Credentialling (Ordination) with the Christian Leaders Alliance, including local Soul Center registration possibilities. 

Note: You can enroll in tuition-free courses or mini-courses immediately without finishing the getting started class.  

Find out more about women in ministry here.