tuition free minister education

I am Mitch Needelman from the United States. The tuition-free minister education at the Christian Leaders Institute is equipping me for my ministry service.

My Journey

My relationship with the Lord was a slow, smoldering burn over time. It ultimately caught fire once it got the oxygen it needed.

I grew up Jewish. I believed in God and revered Him during various times of my life. However, my upbringing felt more like family traditions or a lifestyle than having a personal relationship with God. Once I moved away for college, a time came when I questioned religion.

Trauma and Marriage

The seeds of my walk with Jesus were sewn through my wife. Before I came to Christ, my two most traumatic experiences were losing my mom when I was 20 and my wife losing her dad five years later.

When I lost my mom, I was very distant from God and turned away from Him. When my wife lost her dad, she turned toward the Lord and leaned on Him. Witnessing her find comfort in the Lord, rededicating herself to Him, reevaluating and re-prioritizing her life had a profound impact on me. I admired her conviction when I asked her to marry me and even agreed she could raise our kids Christian – if that’s what it took for her to say “yes.” However, I made it clear to her not to try and convert me!

Growth and Salvation

Like many guys, my life before Christ revolved around trying to advance at work and make a good living, being a good husband and dad, and providing a life for my family. For several years, my wife faithfully attended church. When each of our kids came of age, she brought them with her while I stayed home with the baby. We went to church for Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and perhaps other Sundays. However, mostly, I was home taking care of the youngest.

When our fourth child was no longer an infant, I started wanting to go to church. I became conscious of the little miracles and “God winks” occurring in our lives and others around us. God sent people who were “full” – wise, at peace, confident, and complete –  into my life. I developed a passion for learning about Jesus and was intrigued by the linkage between Christianity and Judaism.

For any new believer, there ultimately comes a time when you intentionally decide to step out in faith, surrender, and accept Jesus into your heart. That time was October 23, 2010, at our church’s men’s retreat. Afterward, I became a student of the Lord and trusted Him. I gave up my identity and began to rely on Him. I was accountable to Him and strived to become the spiritual leader of my family.

Health Challenge

A little over two years after I gave my life to Christ, I discovered I had stage 3 colon cancer. It was a lot to accept. I was 41 with a beautiful wife and four extraordinary kids to think about. I wondered if the youngest would even remember me if I passed.

Sometimes, I’m asked if I was ever mad at God or lost faith while going through my trial. In reality, I leaned on Him and witnessed Him work through my life. There genuinely are gifts received throughout one’s trial. That’s not to say being sick was fun or without fear or difficulties. However, I certainly experienced intense love, joy, and an appreciation that can only be realized when one is in Christ and has rid oneself of all mental clutter. In addition, it made a lot of people in my life stop in their tracks and evaluate their own life and health. I like to believe people who witnessed my sickness also saw my faith throughout. It also brought them closer to the Lord.

Looking Ahead: Tuition-Free Minister Education at CLI

Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks ahead. So here I am, over 12 years into my walk with Jesus, and trying to make the most of my “bonus time.” I am as hungry for Him as ever and want to say “Yes” when I know I am called. My spiritual dream is to live a Christ-centered life that encourages people and glorifies God.

For the last ten years, my wife and I have shepherded engaged couples through a six-session program based on scripture. It gives them practical tools that equip them to overcome the challenges of marriage and start their journey on a rock-solid foundation (

I was asked to officiate a wedding in May of 2023, which is how I found the Christian Leaders Institute. My classes were helpful and enjoyable, so I want to continue my tuition-free minister education at CLI. I don’t know exactly where it will lead me, but I’m excited to find out.

If you had told me 15 years ago that I’d share my testimony online, proclaim my love for Jesus, and pursue a path that leads to ministry — I would have told you you’ve lost your mind. But then again – we’re talking about God here!!

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, Diplomas, and Degrees with the Christian Leaders Institute.
  2. 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.