John and Heather Lance believe every minister should have the opportunity to get a good theological education, no matter where they are in the world.
They, along with numerous other individuals, Bible study groups and churches, have signed up to Anglican Aid’s Bible college student sponsorship program, helping theological students across the world access the training they need for a lifetime of ministry.
More than 100 Bible college students have been sponsored since the program launched in November 2020.
“If people can be trained properly with good teaching, that’s a wonderful thing,” says Mr Lance, who attends church at Sans Souci. “We’ve always thought we have so much opportunity to know Jesus here [in Sydney]. We’ve learned so much from training here. I was struck by the fact that in many countries, Anglican Aid has found good training colleges for ministry that are Bible-based. To fund a person [to study] in their own culture has advantages.”
A combination of a simple lifestyle and a big heart for seeing people saved motivated the Lances to sponsor Jean Rafalimanana’s education at St Patrick’s Anglican College in Madagascar.
“We are blessed to own our home in retirement and have quite enough to live on, and especially so in lockdown,” says Mr Lance. “In any case, we rarely went out to restaurants — I love my wife’s cooking. The difference is now we can’t get up to see the grandkids on the Gold Coast.
“The Lord has been good to us, and it’s by his grace that we can help others to some extent. It’s all his grace, not us.”
As well as contributing financially to Mr Rafalimanana’s Bible college experience, the Lances keep up with how studies are going, and pray regularly for his ministry in Madagascar.
“We don’t want to sound like we’re great prayer warriors, but we certainly pray as we write letters, and he’s included in our prayers,” Mr Lance says. “I just want to encourage him. He’s already doing some ministry in [his] church... He has been a catechist in his church and he wants to go on to be ordained.”
When you include the Bible college student sponsorship program, Anglican Aid is now supporting more than 500 theological students across the globe. Sponsored students are studying towards a certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree or higher award at trusted Bible colleges in countries such as Egypt, Nepal, Kenya, South Sudan, Chile, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda and Uganda.
"My heart has changed" the real life impact of Anglican Aid
Beshoy Wageh Adawy Mikhail is an Egyptian student who has been able to pursue studies at the Alexandria School of Theology thanks to the Anglican Aid program. He is grateful for the huge impact theological education has already made on his life and ministry.
“My heart has changed,” he says. “I now have a better understanding for God’s word. I research more to understand and deepen my relationship with God. Studying at Alexandria School of Theology is a life-changing experience. I now see the Bible with a new perspective. What I learned helped me to see the responsibility that I bear towards the people in my church.”
David Mponda from Malawi is grateful for the sponsorship, as without it neither he or his diocese could afford to fund his studies. He is currently working towards a Diploma in Theology at Bunda Bible College in Tanzania.
“The sponsorship is helping me in many areas like tuition fees, accommodation, medical, and also basic needs while at the college,” he says. “I have seen the changes in my understanding, on how I can interpret the Bible as the word of God. This has come because of the effort that our lecturers are imparting to us... My aim is to master the New Testament and Greek.”
The level of support for students is a joy to Anglican Aid’s CEO the Rev Canon Tim Swan, as his own experience on the mission field showed him how challenging it can be for people to access theological study.
“One thing I learned from my 10 years as a Church Missionary Society missionary, teaching in a Bible college in Chile, was [not only] the massive need for good theological education in the developing world, but the difficulty in affording it,” he says. “I’m thrilled that many Sydney Anglicans are now sponsoring students... This is already leading to transformation in churches around the world.”
Mr and Mrs Lance consider it a great blessing to be able to contribute to the education of someone on the other side of the world. “Life doesn’t work if you do things for yourself,” Mr Lance says. “You get much joy when you can do something for other people.”
Get involved with the Sponsor a Bible College Student project here.