The vision of Aqueduct Project is to provide access to quality resources for evangelical theological education to the pastors in majority world churches.
Some visions arrive fully formed. Others are shaped over the years by ideas and experiences, nudged along when one door opens or another closes, quietly underwritten by the power and perfect timing of God.
In 2000, Jonathan was working toward his master’s degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago when a favorite professor asked a group of students about their long-term goals. Jonathan responded by saying he wanted to teach at and support little Bible colleges in Eastern Europe. An idea was growing, but God still had some shaping to do.
While studying in Germany in early 2007, Jonathan accepted an invitation to speak at a friend’s home church in Slovakia. The trip offered a glimpse into both the cultural landscape of Eastern Europe and the spiritual needs of the Christian communities there, a glimpse that confirmed Jonathan’s interest in the project. The sermon he preached on the sometimes confusing nature of God’s plans would ironically turn out to be more prophetic of his own life than he might have guessed.
In the autumn of that same year, while researching at Oxford University, Jonathan taught two seminar classes at South London Christian College. Many of his students were pastors from Africa who planned to return home after completing their courses or Korean missionaries who had come to minister among London’s large Korean population.
His experiences teaching at South London Christian College brought to light some of the problems with the way Christians tend to approach theological education. Too often, Christian leaders in majority world nations are pressured to come to the West to study, and when they do, the education they receive is rarely tailored to their unique needs. After being relocated to the West and given a degree that often assumes a Western ministry, many naturally choose to remain in the West. Instead of enriching the spiritual and intellectual life of majority world communities, this system can in some cases actually impoverish them.
Jonathan determined that he would rather focus his energies on bringing theological education to pastors in their own communities. With a growing majority of the world’s Christians now living outside of Europe and North America, the expectation that Christian leaders must be trained in the West is becoming both less reasonable and less practical. By using the concentrated format of a seminar, pastors could instead receive theological training specifically tailored to their needs without having to choose between furthering their education or staying in their ministries. And if this could be done at little or no cost to the pastors, the chances were even greater that underprivileged communities would be able to receive access to the quality education they desperately needed.
But the real push to turn observation into action came from what seemed at first to be a disappointment. Visa complications signaled the end of Jonathan’s time in England. Uncertainty is daunting, but it can also be liberating, and during his final months at Oxford, Jonathan had both the freedom and drive to begin seriously pursuing the calling he’d long felt for theological education abroad. God immediately began opening doors, and Jonathan was able to offer seminars in both Russia and Bulgaria before his time at Oxford came to an end.
A few months after returning to the United States, Aqueduct Project was formally incorporated as a nonprofit.
From the beginning God has graciously supplied both opportunities and means for the Aqueduct Project to move forward, resulting in almost a dozen seminars on three continents. And as long as God’s leading continues, we look forward to continuing to serve the Church until every believer has access to quality theological education.
Thank you for sharing the journey with us!