Women: Why Seminary Training May be For You
This past summer I was invited to meet with some of the BJU Seminary leadership to discuss ways to support our student wives. I was surprised to learn that there are nearly 90 women (63 single and 23 married) who themselves are currently enrolled in at least one course. Having grown up in a local church that had a seminary that trained men for pastoral ministry, I wondered what all these women were doing in seminary! It did not take long for me to contemplate the benefit of seminary education for women—especially since I have been a seminary student myself.
My husband and I have been married for 25 years, and most of those years he served in full-time ministry in the Detroit area after earning his MDiv from BJU Seminary in 1997. Early on, Pearson had some insight that I didn’t have, and he encouraged me to take a yearly seminary course. As a young wife and mom, I smirked as we looked through suggested topics for my first Systematic Theology paper and he recommended, “Is There a True Biblical Man-Woman Egalitarianism?” I probably don’t need to explain how valuable studying the Scriptures was for me on this topic alone. I have been happy over the years to embrace the truth that men and women are created equal in essence, value, and worth, but also with differing roles in the home and local church.
I did not know that God would give me opportunities to teach the Bible to college women participating in a missions event, or to area pastors’ wives attending a conference, or to ladies coming together for a camp retreat. I did not know that I would have the opportunity to write and lead women’s Bible studies or write articles that would encourage girls and women experiencing various kinds of trials or suffering. I cannot adequately express my thanks to God for those early years in which I regularly heard excellent preaching and teaching and for the classes I’ve taken in seminary that helped prepare me to serve as a help to my husband and in appropriate ways through local church ministry.
About five years ago, God clearly called my husband from his pastoral role in Michigan to serve at BJU as the Director of Student Care. What a blessing it has been to see the University establish this office to provide confidential counseling for students and staff. It wasn’t long before it became apparent that a women’s counselor was needed to provide biblical help for women students working through specific issues. How grateful I am for the godly woman God has called to fill this position and for the excellent seminary training that has prepared her for this crucial and valuable role. The need for trained female biblical counselors is great.
Recently, the BJU Seminary presented a very generous offer to wives of full-time resident students who are working on an MDiv, DMin, or PhD degree. Those who qualify can earn a Graduate Certificate in either Biblical Counseling or Teaching Bible free of charge. Following this announcement, a wife reached out to me to inquire about the Counseling Certificate. After being in ministry for a couple of decades, her husband is continuing his education at BJU Seminary. Subsequently, the Lord has opened up a tremendous opportunity of ministry for this wife as a director at a local crisis pregnancy center providing help for women experiencing infant loss. She has multiple opportunities a day to share her own testimony and provide biblical counseling to women facing the loss of a child. Her desire is to take the seminary courses needed to complete this Graduate Certificate.
Obviously, seminary training is not for everyone, but my goal in this blog article is to share my own viewpoint of how this type of training has benefited me, my family, my local church, and the additional ministries God has given to us—and how it can benefit other women serving in appropriate ministry roles. Last year, my husband once again encouraged me to take another seminary course. I took advantage of the free class BJU Seminary offers to new students and slid into a Monday night class with my spiral bound notebook and pencil (obviously it had been a while since I’d taken my last class). It was a lot of work but a tremendous time of spiritual challenge and additional preparation. This year, I was the recipient of one of the many scholarships the seminary offers, and, by God’s grace, I hope to complete my MA in Ministry Studies in the next few months.
None of us knows how the Lord will direct our future ministry for His glory. For me, I want to be a good help to my husband and a faithful servant in our local church. I hope to invest in the coming months in the lives of the wives who attend our new Seminary Wives Institute. I am thankful for the BJU Seminary leadership and faculty who continue to invest in educating men and women to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Amy Johnson is the director of the BJU Seminary Wives Institute. She is also a vocal instructor in the Bob Jones University music department.