Go to Seminary Now?

Christopher Moore

Saying goodbye to Mongolia last summer was tough. After years of preparation, we had only been in Ulaanbaatar for nine months out of an expected two years, when suddenly it was time to make a change. We had to back out of teaching roles that we had committed to for the coming fall semester even though our Mongolian language abilities were finally starting to show a little promise. The midweek small group that met at our apartment for dinner, evening prayers, short bible study, and games was just coming into its own.

Go to seminary now?! It seemed almost impossible, being literally halfway around the world, having just a little over a month before classes would begin, and not even having glanced at the application! Yet certainly with God all things are possible, and with the help of trusted counselors, and our sense that doors were opening as we prepared to be accepted into the M.Div. program, we felt He was calling us to take this step of faith.

Pursuing seminary wasn't entirely a thought out of the blue; since the time we had applied to become full-time missionaries with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) I had been pondering the necessity of formal theological training. Even after arriving in Asia, we were encouraged by an Orthodox metropolitan who also was a fellow missionary serving in a nearby country, to take this step if we had long-term plans to serve. However, the answer to my pondering always seemed to be "wait," until last summer.

Fast forward to March, 2016. Between classes, a full liturgical schedule, serving as a husband and father, and participating in extra events, life at seminary is full but rewarding. I was a music composition major in college, and now I've entered into classes filled with theology, history, philosophy, and practical ministry. The topics are at once new territory compared to my former education, yet at the same time quite familiar to me since I've been a Christian as long as I can remember. I am continually humbled at how skilled and intelligent my classmates are, and amazed at their wide variety of experiences.

We all strive together to apply this time of formation to our lives, and I know part of my role is to apply a particular "foreign missions" lens to the light of the education we are receiving. When we finish here, Lord willing, my family will return as missionaries with OCMC. Therefore, I am also glad to be a part of the St. Innocent Mission Society here on campus, since it is one way for seminarians to be aware of—and participate in—missions and evangelism. 

Our desire to return to Mongolia is as strong as ever. Though I know I've got a lifetime of growth into the mature man that Christ calls me to, I pray that what we are receiving here at seminary will greatly equip our family for ministry when we return. I desire to share Jesus Christ and His Church with the people of Mongolia, and to find ways to enculturate the Gospel in a land the size of Alaska, where there is only one Orthodox parish and where less than two percent of the people call themselves Christian. If God has given me such a hope in the midst of my known and unknown shortcomings, I pray that He will open my heart to an even greater love for people wherever He places us, after these years of preparation at St. Vladimir's.

Chris Moore is a first-year Master of Divinity student from St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Church in Indianapolis, IN. He and his wife Jennifer have been missionaries with OCMC since 2012. They have been blessed with two young boys, Andrew, who is 2 years old, and Gideon, born in December 2015.  After graduation the Moores plan to return to full-time missionary service.