When I travel on behalf of the Network to our Majority World partners, I always ask students two questions: "Why are you pursuing a theological education and what will you do when you're finished?"
One of the students I remember most was a tall, confident man who looks to be 45 or 50 years old. He might be as young as 35. It's hard to tell because of the difficult miles he's travelled through life already. Let's call him 'Joe', because his name is so long it's a source of humor on campus.
Originally from South Sudan, he was an untrained, nominal Christian. One day a Muslim teacher, Yusef, from Sudan, challenged him to find answers to three questions in the Bible. "If you find them, I'll become a Christian." Joe spent a year reading and studying the Bible. When he had finished, having found the three answers, he went to Sudan looking for Yusef.
"What was it like looking for a specific Muslim in Sudan for the purpose of converting him?", I asked.
"It was hard. I was threatened at gunpoint, beaten several times, put in jail and in prison. I was stabbed with a knife and once with a sword.", Joe smiled. "If I took my shirt off you would see a little of what Paul's body must have looked like."
Perplexed by his sense of humor, I asked, "Why are you laughing?"
"Because I haven't begun to suffer for the Lord the way He suffered for me.", Joe replied.
I wondered, "What do you hope is your future?"
Joe, knowing instantly, "I am almost finished my M.Div. in Islamic Studies. Then I will go back to Sudan and look for Yusef. There are many Yusefs. I will tell them the truth immediately - no more one year delays. I will be armed like an Ephesians 6 warrior." He smiled again, "My purpose will be to find many Yusefs and introduce them to the Lord."
"Moving to Kenya to study and prepare is a huge privilege.", He smiled. "I understand almost all the books in our library came from the Network?", I affirmed. Joe nodded his head and gave me a big hug, "I will be praying for God to bless the Network."