Hear from graduates serving Christ around the world with the help of Billy Graham scholarships.
Eli Suddarth ’12
"It's hard to believe four years has already passed since I graduated with my M.A. in Evangelism & Leadership from Wheaton College. God used my studies at Wheaton to profoundly shape my years in ministry since that time, and none of it would have been possible without the Billy Graham Scholarship in Urban Ministry. I learned what I needed to know about how to reach this current generation with the Gospel of Christ and how to help people move from seeking to knowing to believing in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Two years ago, I was called to become the outreach director for a church in Charlotte, NC, coordinating local and global missions for the congregation of 1,000. We have seen God move in the hearts of people, producing fruit for a great harvest in dozens of local agencies in Charlotte and countries around the world.
In all of my ups and downs since graduation, I remember well the lessons learned from faculty, staff and fellow classmates. "Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God" goes the saying from William Carey, and as I have followed that kind of thinking, God has never failed to amaze me even in my feeblest attempts at obedience in ministry.
Thank you for the Billy Graham Scholarship and to all the donors who continue to make ministries like mine possible by equipping us for the work God has called us to do."
Eli completed earning his loan forgiveness through ministry in the fall of 2016.
Zach and Noelle Slagel ’07
"Nearly six years ago, Noelle and I moved to Cambodia with our son. Now, six years and two kids later, we are a family of five still living and working in Phnom Penh. We have a couple of ministry foci; namely counseling and coordinating church planting work among an unreached people group. Zach is involved in pastoral counseling and coaching ministries and Noelle has been involved in counseling supervision of Cambodian counselors and social workers as time allows. Having three children six and under is quite busy and we regularly assess how we are doing in order to have a life of balance.
The BG Scholarship allowed us to further our education at Wheaton College Graduate School. Noelle received a M.A. in Clinical Psychology and Zach a M.A. in Intercultural Studies. Both degrees have been invaluable in serving and connecting with people in a cross-cultural environment. We are so thankful for the scholarship in that it eased the financial burden tremendously of attending graduate school and then moving to Cambodia shortly after."
Through their overseas ministry, the Slagels completed earning their loan forgiveness in December, 2016.
Feliks Voloshin ’09
"I am so happy that I know Wheaton and spent time there. I'm so thankful for the Billy Graham Scholarship that made it possible. Studying and visiting modern churches with Wheaton professors and groups of students helped me gain contemporary tools for evangelism and church planting. This brought me to fresh thoughts and understanding of Russian Christianity which I shared with my whole team of leaders at my church. Since that time, we are using your approach for ministry here in Russia. I was ordained to a pastoral ministry in our Bridge Moscow Baptist Church. So now I will implement all that I learned from Wheaton in all our projects and structures. I hope you will hear good news about us in the future!"
"I graduated from the Wheaton College Graduate School in 2009 with a degree in Intercultural Studies and TESOL. Visa difficulties and an unexpected cancer diagnosis kept me off the field for over a year. I am forever grateful to the BGC Scholarship Program for putting my loan in deferment during this time and giving me the time I needed to get well! I was then able to return to East Asia and serve on a team reaching out to Muslim minorities. It was a joy to be able to use my Wheaton TESOL training in Asia. My program equipped me well for my teaching responsibilities, and my teaching experience left me even more thankful for my degree at Wheaton! I'm now involved in creative ways to help people know the Bible is available in their heart language.
In the past year, I have also had the wonderful privilege to serve as an online phonetics coach with the Wheaton College Institute for Cross Cultural Training's Second Language Acquisition Course. This course helps pre-field missionaries be better equipped to learn language and culture. I have loved working in the ICCT and having the opportunity to serve a younger generation of missionaries just beginning in their fields of service! As with so many other things in the past 8 years, my Wheaton training has proven invaluable to my service in the ICCT.
As I reflect on my years of service since my graduation from Wheaton, I am so thankful for the wonderful blessing that my program has been in my life and ministry, and I am eternally grateful for the BGC Scholarship that made my degree possible!"
Kioko Mwangangi ’16
Kioko Mwangangi M.A. '16 was featured in the autumn issue of the Wheaton magazine. Read his profile
Jeremy Gatzke ’12
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity I was afforded by the Billy Graham Center Scholarship Program. If it wasn't for the generous scholarship I received, I don't believe I would ever have had the chance to do postgraduate studies at all. Yet, because of my BGC Scholarship, I was able to complete a MA in Biblical Exegesis under an amazingly gifted group of instructors at Wheaton College Graduate School. And, this education has had a significant effect on both my personal life and ministry.
After graduation, my family returned to serve as missionaries in Thailand and I was asked to serve on the faculty at Phayao Bible Seminary. I have been teaching Bible and Hebrew language to Thai undergraduate students ever since. It is an opportunity I would never have received without my training at Wheaton, and it is a blessing to be able to pass on this training to young people preparing for ministry. It is a capacity in which I hope to continue serving for many years to come.
Luis Velasco Silva ’16
“I only have words to say thank you, many times. To have the opportunity to complete this program was simply a dream coming true.
- In 1989 I started my studies at a seminary in Brazil and started dreaming to study at Wheaton.
- In 1999 I had the opportunity to walk around Wheaton College and the dream became alive again.
- In 2009 I was awarded with the scholarship. Isn’t it amazing?
So, I thank God for his grace and the donors of Billy Graham Center for their vision and generosity. Certainly they have no idea how big is the impact they have been causing for Christ around the world. Without this award it was simply impossible to me to reach this point in my ministry.
So, I pray God keep all of you faithful to this purpose to equip leaders around the world. For Christ and His Kingdom.”
Miriam Smith ’07
"You know those "Ah-hah" moments in life when experiences and theory merge into a moment of pure illumination and understanding? That is what my time at Wheaton Grad School was like: moment after moment of "ah-hah" or "ohhh now I get it..."
I grew up as a missionary kid in central Africa, went to the Horn of Africa as a short termer from 1993-1994 and then returned to Africa full time in 1999. By the time I received the BGC scholarship and entered grad school to earn an MA in Intercultural Studies, I was a mother of 3 children and had a lot of experiences and questions swirling around in my head. Sitting in classes such as Intercultural Communication or Transformational Development or Issues and Trends in Missions was like someone taking the blindfold off my eyes and allowing me to see what had been going on around me all along.
It is really impossible to measure how profoundly the understanding I gained at Wheaton has influenced the fruitfulness of my work as a missionary. I have been able to capably serve the church through training, curriculum and program development. Currently I serve as founding director of a ministry called Eden Environmental Camps and Clubs. Eden Camp is a weekend wilderness camping program for orphans and vulnerable children to be exposed to the wonder of God’s creation, to be encouraged to join all creation in worshipping Him and to be challenged to use wisdom in living more sustainably. The Clubs are hands-on after-school programs focused on teaching students God’s incredible design for all created things and humanity's role in protecting, restoring and stewarding all that God has made."
Roberta Adair ’10
"I am so grateful for the BGC scholarship and for my time at Wheaton Graduate School. My husband and I met in the program, and it has been good in our relationship and ministry to have the shared classes, vocabulary, and knowledge from our time there. We learned a lot from our professors, our classmates, and our time processing our previous experiences in and out of the classroom. As for our time in Japan, our experience at Wheaton has given us a filter and a base for understanding the obstacles as well as appreciating the beauty of God's work already going on here.
Currently, we live and work in northern Japan in a community affected by the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami. We work alongside a Japanese church, and we are preparing to be a part of a church plant in a nearby community when we come back for our next term. Thank you so much, BGC scholarship committee, for enabling us to be here!"
W. Lovell ’09
“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to study at Wheaton Graduate School through the BGC Scholarship Program. One of the things I valued most was being able to complete my studies in such a way that it did not take me away from ministry for unreasonable amounts of time.
Since receiving my degree, God has continued to develop me into the person he created me to be. I’ve gained new confidence as I partner with my husband to disciple new believers with whom God continues to bless us. I’ve also acquired new skill sets as I’ve organized a variety of evangelistic outreaches for women from M-background countries. For me it’s been a joy to observe God unfolding a beautiful picture in the area of women’s ministry including new partnerships that address women’s needs like crisis pregnancies and trafficking.
My Wheaton TESOL/Intercultural Studies M.A. has equipped me to serve the needs of Central Asian migrant workers. I can better assess the needs of individual students and prepare lessons for tutoring sessions or larger group classes. I’m also able to analyze and evaluate cross-cultural dynamics as I encounter a variety of situations in international ministry. In short, the concepts and ideas that I’ve been exposed to through Wheaton’s excellent educational program have become an integral part of how I do ministry.”
Solomon Tang ’11
"One summer, a Wheaton professor asked us to write a future ministry plan as our final assignment. This assignment became my proposal to Operation Mobilization Taiwan. Two years later, this proposal became reality. Together with OM Taiwan, I launched the Community Transformation Ministry Center in 2013. The aim of this ministry is to reach the least-reached people group in Taiwan, the “Hakka” with only 0.3% Christian population. We host international short term mission teams four times a year that work alongside local churches. We also provide 3-month to 2-year on-the-job training for cross-cultural workers. Wheaton’s education equips me to think globally and act locally. It also helps me to share the gospel in a culturally sensitive way. I thank our heavenly Father’s provision through the BGC scholarship which made my study in Wheaton possible."
Mary Lederleitner ’97
Wycliffe Global Alliance
Mary was awarded the BGC Pre-field Missionary award in 1996 and is currently a Consultant on the Leadership Team of the Wycliffe Global Alliance. She is also a researcher and adjunct professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School from where she earned her PhD in Educational Studies. Mary has sat on various ministry boards and has published several articles with Evangelical Missions Quarterly. She wrote Cross-Cultural Partnerships: Navigating the Complexities of Money and Mission and contributed to other edited works. She's thankful for the BGC Scholarship as it freed her from the limitations of academic debt so she could serve in ministry immediately after graduation.
Myrto Theocharous ’07
Myrto writes, "being a Billy Graham Center Scholar was a wonderful gift and significant milestone in my biblical studies education. Completing a Master's in Biblical Exegesis in 2007 opened the door to an amazing world of research and learning that I could not have imagined possible otherwise. I was not only blessed to have had great professors but I have also been blessed with many good friendships which I hold to this day. My Wheaton education was a great preparation for continuing on to my doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge in the area of the Old Testament. In 2010, upon completion of my PhD, I returned to Athens to teach at the Greek Bible College in the area of Hebrew and Old Testament, resumed ministry in the Greek church and in anti-trafficking work. This work inspired me to write theologically about the critical global issues of human trafficking. My teaching, speaking and writing for the church in Greece and worldwide has Scripture as its starting point and a beating heart for the current problems of our suffering world."
P.C. is Field Leader of Operation Mobilization (OM) Central Asia North where nine multi-cultural teams are ministering to Muslims. He says, "My time at Wheaton and the learning that took place through the degree program have tremendously transformed me, resulting in incredible effectiveness in my ministry now. I thank and praise God for the BGC Scholarship that was instrumental in making the much needed transformation possible in my life and ministry."
Lydia G. ’10
Lydia works as an English teacher in China. She just earned complete loan forgiveness for her time on the field. She says, “I can't help but again stop and reflect in awe at the Father's sovereign, graciously loving ways. For me, receiving the BGC Scholarship was much more than "just" receiving the fund itself, though that was, of course, a much-needed & deeply appreciated part of it all! In addition to its providing the means for me to make it through graduate school AND become a much better-equipped teacher here in this field, receiving the BGC Scholarship was a very special token of the Father's blessing & confirmation of His call. For me, it has become a 'stone of remembrance' along the journey.
My heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude to the Father for the stellar training I received at Wheaton Graduate School and for the professors who invested so much us. Not only did I glean effective teaching skills, but I also have gained wonderful models of excellent teachers whom I strive to follow. I sincerely ask that the Father may bless all those who gave so generously--and continue to do so for current Wheaton graduate students!--so that so many of us can follow the Father's call to go where He leads.”
Emmanuel Tahear ’12
Emmanuel is of Ethiopian descent. "Refugee" and "prisoner" were labels before he was granted a BGC Urban/Ethnic Ministries award and graduated in 2012 with a M.A. in General Theology. He works with SIM in the Chicagoland area mobilizing church-planting among immigrants, Muslim evangelism, and leadership/discipleship training. He networks with ethnic churches and coordinates the annual “All Nations Worship” event. His ministry extends overseas to Ethiopia, Egypt, and Japan as he coordinates leadership and discipleship training there.
Emmanuel Ndolimana ’15
A recent Billy Graham Center scholar was featured in the Spring 2015 Wheaton Magazine article, Answering the Call:
Rwandan Emmanuel Ndolimana M.A. '15 went from homeless teen to church-planting pastor, teacher, and Billy Graham Center scholar. Find out where he's headed next.
Access the article
Josh and Alicia Crowe ’07
"Since graduating in 2007, we have seen God's hand at work in our lives and ministry. We moved to Hokkaido, Japan in 2009 to begin the long process of language learning. Due to financial crisis in America, we were forced to cut back on our language school thus extending our time there. After three years, we graduated and began working with a Japanese pastor in a relatively new church plant. At that church we taught the Bible, led worship, ministered to youth, and joined the church in prayer for their community. We were blessed to see how God works in the midst of His people throughout the world when they call and wait upon Him.
The BGC Pre-field Missionary Scholarship allowed us to begin the journey that He had laid before us. Thank you, Billy Graham Center!
Roger Simmons ’16
"My goal is to be in relationship with organizations that help serve the same purpose of reaching families that live in urban communities."
Lorraine Green ’96
“2015 will mark 35 years of ministry for me in Africa, most of which was in Chad. After 30 years of teaching the Bible to women, TEAM asked me to join the leadership team as Senior Director with responsibility for our Africa fields. In 2015, TEAM celebrates her 125th anniversary. In the fall, we will trace the steps of David Livingstone along the Zambezi River and reflect on what the Lord has done in Africa, and particularly in Zimbabwe."
Jong Dae Choi ’12
New York City
"I'm a missionary from Korea to reach out to children in the U.S, especially Korean-American kids. Through suffering from many circumstances, I learned many things and I felt God's broken heart and tears. For the first three years in Chicago, my life was like a desert. CEF ministry was slow, my body was aching, my wife was depressed, and my mother-in-law passed away. I was desperate and miserable. When I attended a retreat, a speaker shared her story. Her story transformed my life. (I realized that) the problem was not my wife, or Chicago, but ME. When God transformed me first, He changed everything. God gave me a chance to reach out to children in Chicago, LA, New York, and Portland. I did not initiate ministry, but God did. I just followed His way, and listened to His voice. It was much easier than before. Through the wilderness, I experience God's presence in God's absence. I can totally trust him now."
Lisa Anderson-Umana ’92
“I am rejoicing at having been a part of Christian Camping International, Latin America (CCI/LA) for 31 of its 50 years!." CCI/LA celebrated its 50th anniversary in October, 2014. "My gratefulness inspires me to want to continue serving the Lord in CCI/LA for as long as He gives me breath. Were it not for the scholarship BGC award provided by Wheaton, I never would have been able to aspire to a Graduate degree.”
Regina Alexander ’97
“The BGC Scholarship Program is not about money and funding, even though it is set up to give grants, (and for those wanting to study overseas, money is a big issue) for me, it was an insurmountable obstacle. The BGCSP, I believe, gave me one of the largest scholarships available to train at Wheaton College. God called me to two large missions: one, to “educate to empower” the millions of dropout and out-of-school kids who are mostly rural Dalits in India. Two, and an even bigger commission— I was to develop an alternate education system for here and now and for eternity. I was connected with God’s amazing people at the BGCSP.”
John Raines ’11
“After spending about two years living and ministering among people in North Africa, I wanted to enroll in a program that would deepen my knowledge and love for God's word and thereby equip me for further service in that same part of the world. The Father has used the BGC Scholarship to make it financially possible in a way that won't hinder my return to the mission field with long-term debt. I'm so thankful for it, and I pray that my life would steward this investment into the eternal treasury to which it has been committed.”