AN EXCITING TIME IN OUR SCHOOL
By Dr. Van Lees
April was an exciting time in our school in Donetsk. Our first five graduates presented their final thesis papers. Our students are required to write a fifty page thesis paper as the final project of their work. During my last three teaching trips, I’ve been meeting with each of these students helping them with their project. Last year I met with each one individually and they presented the topic on which they wanted to write. I assisted them with direction and sources they could use. In subsequent trips, I met with them and went over their projects with them. All of the students made good use of the limited theological resources in Russian and wrote excellent papers. On this trip, Natasha, our translator and administrator, translated and read the papers to me and John Farrar. One afternoon each student made an oral presentation of their topic to the class. They then answered questions on their work from me, John Farrar and from the other students.
Besides being a good learning experience for the students, this project was extremely encouraging in terms of our mission to teach Reformed theology. Every student wrote on a topic of Reformed theology, presented their material well, and orally defended their work in class. One man, whom we call big Igor because he is a big man, presented work that was especially exciting to read. In January, 2004 I taught a class on Christ’s work of atonement. During the course of this class, I examined the design of the atonement and considered the points of debate between the Reformed and Arminian concepts of the design of the atonement. Big Igor debated some points with me as well as asking good questions. A year and a half later after continued study in our school and intensive personal study, Igor is Reformed in his theology. His thesis paper traced the origins of Reformed and Arminian theology in Ukraine and argued for the absolute necessity of God’s divine initiative in salvation. Igor is a Baptist Union pastor in another region of Ukraine. He told us he plans on presenting his work to the church leaders and pastors in his region.
I also taught a class on eschatology and examined the various historical eschatological positions. The only perspective most of our students have encountered in their lives is dispensational premillennialism. We examined the covenant structure of redemptive history and how that relates to eschatology. As usual, the students asked good questions and interacted with the material. Near the end of the teaching time, one student commented that it was difficult to see how anyone could hold to the strict divisions in Scripture that dispensationalism espouses. Besides the good work of the graduating students, all of our students are excited to learn and grow in their theological understanding.
We have a picture of our graduating students in our photo gallery.