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The New England School of Missions
A Light to the Nations, by Jeremy Minsk (Editor: Jeanie Shaw)
Every other Tuesday morning, around three dozen faithful disciples converge upon an unassuming church building in Framingham, Massachusetts. Whether they come from Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, they all come for the same reason—to change the world.
The New England School of Missions (NESM) is a response to the Biblical command to entrust the gospel to “reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Its purpose is to train and equip the next generation of evangelists and women’s ministry leaders for service in God’s kingdom, especially those who want to go and serve in mission fields around the world.
NESM is the brainchild of Valdur Koha, Douglas Arthur, and Kevin Miller, who had a dream to raise up future leaders of the church.. In the fall of 2010, their vision became a reality and the New England School of Missions was founded. Years ago, a brother from Oklahoma named Tom Beam bequeathed a generous donation to the Boston Church. His desire was that this gift would be applied toward efforts toward high-impact missions.
His generous donation allowed the dream for this school, as well as similar schools that have since begun, to become realities.
Since then, NESM has been through an entire cycle of curriculum and has sent out young leaders who are now laboring effectively in the Lord’s fields across the world. Jon and Rachel Buchholz graduated and are now leading the church in Milan, Italy. Christen McDuffee graduated at the same time and is now working with the Berlin Campus Ministry. Steve Schnell, a recently appointed evangelist, helps lead the Boston Campus Ministry.
NESM’s curriculum is consists of seven semesters. Typically, each semester contains twelve hour-long sessions, which are divided between three tracks: public speaking/preaching lessons taught by Doug Arthur, practical church- building lessons taught by Kevin Miller, and academic lessons taught by Valdur Koha. Every other week, the students gather from all across New England to attend a double session of classes– two public speaking lectures, two ministry lectures, and two academic lectures. In order to graduate from NESM, each student must complete all seven semesters. (insert link to class offerings.)
Guest speakers and teachers are also part of the classroom sessions. Classes for women, taught by some of the seasoned sisters in the ministry, are also offered—including a semester course on “Women of the Bible”. Another semester course “The Inside of the Cup”, taught by the Wyndham and Jeanie Shaw, covers studies on spiritual integrity and character. Throughout the sessions, students are often involved in projects such as writing a commentary, learning how Missions Societies are set up in various organizations, and practice in organizing conferences.
While the workload is substantial, so is the reward. “The fellowship with the other young people in the ministry is invaluable,” says Kristen Balzer, who is the women’s minister with the church in Burlington, Vermont. “I always leave refreshed, inspired, and with more faith than when I came.”
Anselm Beach, soon to be a graduate, agrees. “My favorite thing about NESM,” he says, “is the camaraderie that I forge with the other ministers and leaders my age. I like to imagine all of us meeting 20 years from now. We’ve married, started families, and travelled all over the world. I imagine we’ll laugh and reminisce over the lesson that we learned together—the academic lessons and the life lessons.”
Recent NESM Graduates
In addition to growing spiritual relationships, NESM is a place to build sturdy biblical foundations. “We are truth seekers together,” says Amber Lafever, women’s campus ministry leader in downtown Boston, “trying to understand not only the elementary truths but diving into the rich depths of theological study… I love what I’m learning and I love that I’m making lifelong friendships in the process.”
Sarah DeSouza, a native of London who began NESM only a semester ago, also appreciates the quality of the instruction that she is receiving. “My favorite thing,” she says, “is learning from and being taught by heroes in the faith in a small, intimate, classroom type setting. These are people who live out what they teach, who have decades of personal experiences, and who are not just knowledgeable but have shown themselves to be effective with that knowledge.”
While NESM has been having a great impact in the lives of its students, it is also producing ripples across the pond. NESM has become a model for other churches across the world. Inspired by what God is doing through the Boston church, new schools of missions have begun in the following churches and mission fields: Bangalore/India; Manila/Philippines; Kiev/Eastern Europe; Sydney/South Pacific; South Florida/South America; Nairobi/East Africa and Johannesburg/South Africa.
Hopefully, many others will follow. “The idea,” said Valdur Koha, “is to build a leadership training concept… that is effective, that is practical, that is biblically sound, and that can be replicated around the world.” What began as a tiny spark in Framingham, Massachusetts, is quickly becoming – with the help of the Spirit – a shining light to the nations.
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