It is my conviction that God’s call is the primary requirement for anyone venturing in ministry. God’s call does not discriminate based on race, gender, or ethnicity.  Thankfully, theological education can bridge the gap between followers of Christ from vastly different backgrounds.

My pursuit for theological education was not a coincidence. Having immigrated to the United States from the Philippines, I founded Jubilee Christian Fellowship in Harlingen, Texas to serve the Filipino community in the Rio Grande Valley. However, even as I was pastoring the church, I knew I needed an education in order to present my best to God and to the people. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly.” An alumnus of SCS, a pastor friend, recommended SCS to me, and after pastoring for more than 15 years, I answered the call to pursue a theological education. 

Like many church leaders, there were many excuses I could have found to not attend seminary. We have busy schedules and financial constraints. When I started at Stark, my wife was battling metastatic breast cancer. I was also warned by friends both in the Philippines and the US about the seminary culture here. However, I knew God called me to pursue an education so I could better pastor my church. For almost six years I was the only Asian student at SCS, but I did not let any excuse or difference keep me from answering God’s call. 

Throughout my seminary education, I was thankful that my ethnicity and even my denomination were never an issue at all. At Stark, I formed deep friendships with fellow classmates and the staff who welcomed and embraced me as I am. Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28 became a reality for me. It says, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” I am blessed to be a part of the Stark College and Seminary family who sees me for who God made me to be, who appreciates the different perspectives I bring to the table, and who joins me in celebrating my Filipino culture. Stark truly is a safe space where they not only teach correct doctrine but live it out everyday in the way they welcome and love their students.  

I encourage you, therefore, regardless of your ethnicity or denominational affiliation, to consider the various accredited programs we offer at SCS where you can learn from practitioners-scholars. Please view our website for more information or call our office to set up an appointment.

This article was written by Pastor Primitivo Pagayon. He is the registrar, assistant librarian, and faculty member at the McAllen campus.