TARTU ACADEMY OF THEOLOGY

Student Voices: KRISTJAN

It’s difficult to say the moment when I became a Christian. I have been always aware of my Father’s warm and enlightening direction–as a child wandering in forests, as a teenager on the streets, later in the army and today studying theology. I was a fisherman for many years. In the beginning of my career as a fisherman I was a greenhorn in the eyes of old jack-tars. One early-spring morning I went with three old fishermen to let down the nets. Men were studying the sea with deep looks to find the best place for their nets. When all had let down their nets then one of them discovered that I also was in the boat with my nets. Nobody examined the sea any longer and my nets were just let down into the sea. They wanted to get back home and did not want to waste any more time. Next morning we went to bring out the nets. It was a big surprise! These jack-tars got only some fish. Finally, we brought up my nets. The nets began to break under weight of fishes. There was silence in the boat. I was looking to the sky and I knew–God Is.

 

I have seen many miracles. Admission to the Academy is one of them. I came with the aim to become a better servant of God. My miracle starts when I see all that I have. I’m living in a rural area in the parsonage of a local congregation. Sometimes people come to talk with me. We talk about God’s direction in our lives. When this stranger is leaving he or she is not any more a stranger but my brother or sister. I feel fellowship in Christ and I understand that this is the way to serve God, it’s the expression of God’s love.

 

I have been working for years in an orphanage and have learned much from the children. I believe I have learned more then I am able to teach them. I learned to experience God. My wish is that God’s will, not my will, be done in my life. Training at the Academy has opened my mind and heart and it has woken me up. I often give thanks to God for connections I have been experiencing with professors and students of the Academy. God’s grace is holding that school. I pray for wisdom from Father to find the best use for the knowledge I will receive from that school during my life journey. I won’t verbalize my future service, I’ll follow the Lord’s direction. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

 

Alumni Voices: LEA

 

When I introduce myself to other Christians, I love to talk about how God caught me. I was then already 35 years old, married, mother of two, when during one hike in a big forest I was admiring beautiful nature and I realized that for everything we owe thanks to the Creator. It was a wonderful conversion and since that day I started to look and also notice God’s guidance in my life. By His wonderful guidance I also arrived to Tartu Academy of Theology. I felt that I needed deeper knowledge and teacher in my road of spiritual growth, but I could not find it anywhere. Soon I receieved “by chance” information about the admission tests of the Academy.

 

I remember that I was amazed by the open and loving atmosphare of the Academy. The connection between students and teachers were very strong. Our teachers were practicing clergy, best theologians whose example encouraged us to put into practice what we had learned. So it happened often that students served already during their studies as diacons in congregations or worked as pastoral counsellors. We had people from different Christian denominations and this all added value to our  studies. At  the Academy we were encouraged to build personal relationship with God, so that we could feel His presence and entrust us unto His care in all life circumstances.

 

During my studies I started practical training at women’s hospital, where I worked with patients at the pregnancy pathology department. I also organized grief groups at my congregation. Today I work in my congregation. I visit homes, lead small groups for mainly elderly people in several villages and conduct prayer meetings. In 2016 we opened family center at our congregation where we offer family and couple counseling. The staff consists of 10 Christan family therapist, support group leaders and domestic violence specialists, 6 of them are connected to the Academy. I lead the work of this center and it is easy for me to trust current and previous students of TAT as specialists and trainees as I know that our values are based on the same rock – Jesus Christ.

 

For a short time I worked as an assistant at the TAT office. Thus I know how much you, dear friends, have contributed to make pastoral care attainable for Estonian people. I want to thank personally each one of you for your support to the TAT! Your prayers and financial support has helped also me to become who I am today. God bless you aboundantly!

 

Student Voices: MERJE

 

God’s ways are unfathomable, and also marvellous. Looking back at the road travelled in my life, I realize how He has guided me. Amazing, how one situation has led to another, and how everything has been on the way towards something.

 

Nine years ago, having spent many long months with my child in the hospital, this borderline case made me yearn for a good word and deed by a fellow human being. A few years later, this experience led me to understanding that I myself could fill this gap. So, in the autumn of 2014, I opened the door of TAT to begin studying Pastoral Care and Counselling. This institution has given to me a significantly broader meaning for pastoral care and counselling: it means taking care of others’ and also my own spiritual needs, encompassing theological and psychological knowledge. But first and foremost, this means meeting other people in front of God, listening and understanding him or her as well as respecting his or her needs.

 

Based on the experience of a personal crisis, I see my future pastoral work based on counselling. I believe this approach is very important and specific for me.  Sharing my story with people of similar experiences became the first lifeline that helped me back to the surface. Having survived the crisis with God’s help, I can be an encouraging example to others. Despite the traumatising incident, and the profoundly disabled child who came into my life, God has helped me to re-shape my life as normal and rewarding.

 

I do not think that the past ordeal in my life was given to me so that I would become a good pastoral caregiver and counsellor, but I believe that God has guided my way to pastoral care and counselling so that I could understand my own incomprehensible sufferings and the suffering of others. Pain and loss do not mean God has abandoned you, but that the hope He offers provides meaning to all suffering and loss that is otherwise incomprehensible.

 

Alumni Voices: HEIDY

 

I entered the Tartu Academy of Theology thanks to one copy of the lecture notes brought home by my husband who was a student there, so that I happened to read them. Having completed the confirmation class, I looked forward to reflecting upon religious issues and these lecture notes provided an answer to my thoughts. Later, the Academy did not only provide the education but also the community who prayed together and taught me to rely on God. Personal faith of professors and fellow students sustained and cultivated the seed sown by God. As time went by, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into care of soul, where I discovered the whole new world: kingdom of God revealed.

 

Once a week I work as a volunteer in children’s hospital, providing pastoral care and counselling. Serving as a pastoral care giver and counsellor I put all my hope in God, because this is the only way for me to help people. Before going to hospital I ask His guidance to reach the people who He has chosen. I wish that the will of Jesus would be done by each adult and child, hospital staff and patients whom I meet.

 

Congregational life has played an important role in my growth as a pastoral care giver and counsellor. I would say that I belong to three congregations at the same time. First is a small home church in a small village called Mary Magdalene, where I go every Sunday. Second congregation is my family, and third is fellowship in Tartu Academy of Theology. In all three I highly appreciate the care and honesty, which are not so obvious in this world.

 

Working as a trip advisor at present, I hope that my extra work as a volunteer in the church, and pastoral care giver and counsellor in hospital may someday become my profession.

 

Student Voices: MONIKA

 

My way with the Lord began in 1990 in a small Christian fellowship in rural area. I married in 1995, and our family is blessed with three wonderful children. For a number of years we have served in various churches in Estonia as a family band, singing and proclaiming the Word of God. In 2015 my husband and I, we established the Christian Missionary Congregation of Hiiumaa on one of the small islands of Estonia. But during all these years, God has put into my heart the desire to work specially with people who are in desperation and trouble.

 

In the autumn of 2014, I felt the urge to make changes in my life and could take the chance to begin my studies at Tartu Academy of Theology, where was organized an annual basic training course in Pastoral Care and Counseling. This was the answer to my prayers: for many years I had asked God to engage me more in the work of His kingdom. At the end of the training, I realized that this was just the first step in this journey. In the autumn of 2015, I entered Tartu Academy of Theology as a student of undergraduate program in Pastoral Care and Counseling to learn more and get to know the depths of the mysteries of God, and with His help prepare myself to work in the field of pastoral care and counselling.

 

Now I’m a first year student and the first semester, which proved to be very successful, is behind me. More than the great amount of theoretical knowledge that I have acquired in such a short time, I appreciate the people with whom I have come in contact there, and the relationships that have formed during this period. I admire the faculty members, whom I have had an opportunity to meet, and their extremely high competence in delivering their subject in the manner which incites students to learn more and more. I am very grateful to God that He has guided me to this school, and I believe that He also helps me later, after my graduation, to find a job as a pastoral care giver and counselor in my hometown. With God’s help I am looking forward to reach these people, this small community on my home island, among whom I have been living all these years. I love them all and wish to be in their service as a pastoral care giver and counselor

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Pastor Bob Nordvall

TAT representative in U.S.

National Field Coordinator of

East European Missions Network

 

cell: +1 701-391-0182

Skype: pastorbobnordvall

email: pastorbob(at)eemn.org

Pastor Siimon Haamer

Dean of Tartu Academy of Theology

 

 

cell: +372 515-9127

Skype: siimon7

email: siimon.haamer(at)teoloogia.ee