Berberian: October 2009

Sam Berberian at Especialidades Juveniles, Aug. 9, 09
Sam is one of the favorite speakers at the anual event to train youth pastors in Guatemala, called Especialidades Juveniles. Similar events are held yearly in Argentina and Texas with much participation.

August 9 he participated in a forum discussing the habits of Bible reading among youth today, and how vital that is. See 2 pictures.

The day before, Aug. 8 he spoke for an hour in a similar workshop (packed full with young people) discussing how to choose your vocation or profession. Sam is 68, and Dean of Theology at Panamerican University.

Praise God for these opportunities to bless others and help them grow in the Lord.
Martha Saint-Berberian Oct.19 2009
October14, 2009

Dear Friends,

I wonder if you are seeing 2009 as I am, looking back at Easter, and looking ahead at Christmas. If we have been as productive as the Lord requires from each one of us, never mind about time going by. But I hope I don’t affect you with my guilt, if I haven’t been as productive as I should; anyway the time is gone. As I grow older (I am almost 69), I have learned to be careful to put time and duty in the balance, and try to evaluate priorities from God’s point of view.
Training Christian leaders has been my main ministry since 1977, when we arrived in Guatemala, so I have taught many Bible courses in different Bible Schools in this Central American country of almost 10 million people. I thank God for my wife, Martha, who backs me up in teaching, transcribing my books, and keeping the home fires burning. In the picture above we are with our three children, Steve, Lisa and Susy, who are married and gave us ten grandchildren. The picture in front of the Brotherhood Church in Beirut was taken back in 1973; they were certainly learning years, blessed by God.

As we come to the close of the school year in Guatemala, with blessings and conflicts mixed up, we thank the Lord that He enabled us to be part of many lives of those who are accomplishing their goals.

Taking advantage of school vacations, I’ll be flying to Pasadena, California December 3rd (after a good many years), to see and fellowship with many of you, and remembering God’s faithfulness and the friendship we have developed in Jesus Christ. I am praying that being there will be more than just being busy, to be a help through God’s grace to each one of you. I will leave Pasadena December 14th. Brother Mike Youssefian is coordinating my agenda.

In the Panamerican University (where I am Dean of Theology) we have 170 students studying theology, in the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. About half are pastors and the other half are professionals serving in their churches. In the picture to the left Hugo Ruano received his PhD in Sociology of Religion. The other PhD offered is Applied Theology. In the picture below I am leading a teachers session.

In the Frederick Crowe Institute (where I am founder and Director), we have 145 students studying in the junior and senior high levels. More than 800 have graduated from high school since 1989 when the Institute was opened to provide education for pastors and leaders. 40% of our students are from very poor families, but have been able to study thanks to generous sponsors who give $300 per year per student ($30 per month for 10 months).

In both the School of Theology and the Frederick Crowe Institute we see in the coming months a time of enlargement, which requires more responsibility as well as wisdom, so things are not done because of the volume, admit needs, which the Lord can multiply, through his grace and power.

The enlargement of the School of Theology involves opening three new extension programs, as well as affirming the three extensions that we already have. Most of our extension students are pastors.

In the Institute, there are plans of enlarging more services to the needy people, on the level of individuals as well as communities, believing that this is a direct way of Christian witness and not simply solving people’s problems. The Dr. Núñez Library is an important part of the Institute, providing access to 13,000 books, that otherwise would be impossible for them to buy because of limited resources. In the picture to the right, a group of students are reading in the library. Below, a good friend from Great Britain, Arthur Willis, visited our library. Both the Institute and the Library are under the supervision of the Doulos Foundation.

How gratifying it is to cross paths all the time with people on the street, who recognize me and express appreciation for a Bible course I gave them years ago or a sponsorship that made possible their studies. And they tell me what they are doing, the church they are pastoring, or what studies they were able to accomplish. Some of them tell me how they got to meet the Lord in the Institute, and now working in a church ministry, or helping in a very poor neighborhood of the city. This gives me much joy as you can imagine. That is why we are in Guatemala, to make a difference.

For the graduation at the Institute this year, scheduled for November 7, we invited a former student of ours, Rev. Juan José Pérez, to give the speech. He graduated from our adult high school program in 1993, being already a pastor, and today he has graduated as a psychologist, and is pastoring one of the leading churches of the Church of God Pentecostal. The majority of our students keep studying and reaching for more training, doing the best they can. For example, an Assembly of God pastor, Byron Mazariegos, after finishing his high school with us in the Institute, today has closed his Master’s program in Theology and is one of our teachers in the School of Theology, teaching systematic theology.
If you wonder why all these details of the people we work with, it is just because you are a part of it through your prayers and giving, and we want to be thankful. We want to be like the Samaritan who came back to thank Jesus, not like the other nine who never were thankful. As you pray for us, we pray for you, so the Lord can make the difference in your life in these days of uncertainty that the world is going through.

As to my autobiography/testimony that came out earlier this year, Señor, Hazme Útil (Lord, Make Me Useful) young people have commented how the book encouraged them to follow their dreams. One person told me: “When someone meets you, they never think of all the things you have been through, to make you who you are now; so I can believe that God can use me too.” The book has 47 pages, and includes many photographs of 50 years of ministry in Argentina, Lebanon, the United States, and visits to many countries, 36 in all. There are plans to translate it to English.

Luke 24:15 says: “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” The Lord today wants to walk with us, and inspire us to greater service for Him. I invite you to continue to be a part of our multifaceted ministry in Guatemala through your prayers and generous donations. Funds are needed to sponsor needy students, plus funds for the building that seems just out of reach, like this beautiful Guatemalan volcano, but ever more necessary to provide better service. If you need an income tax receipt, make your check out to CMM, Christ’s Mandate for Missions, P.O. Box 7705, Charlotte, North Carolina 28241. The Director of CMM, Jorge Parrott, is a close friend.

Your brother,
Dr. Samuel Berberian

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Letter from Sam Berberian – April 26, 2009

Making a difference through preaching, teaching and writing. April 26, 2009
Dear Friends,

After going over my agenda since November, and seeing the diversity of ministry, I remember what I prayed when I was a newly converted teenager: Lord, make me useful! That is a dangerous prayer, because the Lord takes us seriously. Even today the Lord calls us: “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt.4:19).

I never imagined the wide variety of ministries God would lead me into over 50 years of serving the Lord: fishing for men through street evangelism, tract ministry, literature distribution, traveling speaker in 36 countries, pastoral ministry (in Lebanon and in Kansas), and now in Guatemala: training Christian leaders since 1977. Martha has been updating and editing my life story, adding more photographs, and, you bet! The title is “Señor, Hazme Útil” (Lord, Make Me Useful).

So, what “useful” activities filled my agenda in recent months? I have traveled five times to the interior with responsibilities as Dean of the School of Theology, because pastors from several major cities have been requesting extensions of theology in their area. Three extensions have already started with much enthusiasm in Zacapa, Jutiapa and Puerto Barrios. My present goal is to train enough teachers who can teach in these extensions. I think you agree with me that a pastor who reads and studies makes a better pastor, and serves his congregation more efficiently.
On the other hand, the Instituto Federico Crowe (Frederick Crowe Institute), graduated 27 students in November, including a pastor’s wife, Irma, a grandmother, whose husband, Fermin Cuyuch, graduated from the IFC a few years ago, and recently graduated from the School of Theology (see foto). We are proud of these Guatemalan leaders who didn’t give up, but decided, with effort and determination, to complete their high school education and more.

A new school year began mid January, and at the end of February we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Institute and Library, that my wife and I, with a group of Christian professionals, established in 1989. With my wife, my daughters and their children, and a host of former students, we celebrated this unique effort to train leadership, in a country where education has been so limited. One after the other, our graduates (now university students or professionals) expressed the meaningful impact the Institute had in their lives. This is just the hand of the Lord that makes it possible, using donations from many of you to provide sponsorships for needy students.
And the Dr. Núñez Library? Begun with my personal library, it now has 13,000 titles. Let me tell you something: every time I get a call that someone has books to donate for the library, the question is: where do I put them? The library is growing and we expect a miracle of the Lord to give us the right facility (a building of our own) so we can serve God and His people through education as well as through the facilities of the library. There is no greater gratification than when you see someone walking out of the library with a smile and a spark in their eyes, expressing appreciation because they found what they were looking for and promising to come back because there was a lot more available.

The more meaningful for my heart is the privilege to serve the Lord, preaching the Word and counseling with people in different ways. Believe it or not, I am 68 already, an old man, and now I have volunteers to drive for me, taking me to my preaching engagements in the interior. In one of the cases, my son-in-law, Ivan, offered to drive for me to Cobán which is 200 kms away, and then drive back the following day after the preaching engagements were over. It must be God’s grace.
Last Sunday our home church had anniversary activities, so I was asked to preach in the three services. Man o man! The third round was a “knock out” for me! Gone is the time when I could preach five times a day and no problem! Today the pastor gave the comment that it was a real blessing, that my being worn out in the third service didn’t show. What was so gratifying was that in the services people came forward to accept the Lord as Savior.

Thanks for your prayers, so this old “machine” can still function and be productive on the basis of God’s requirements. My prayer for you is that this crisis that we are going through, can reveal in you the Mighty One that can give you maturity to adjust your life and not miss your responsibilities.

Your brother,
Dr. Samuel Berberian

Guatemala, April 28, 2009

Dear Prayer Partners,
Life is always full of things to learn, and Sam encourages me to keep learning. With the crisis in the world today, we have ample opportunity to study about what happened, how it happened, and pray intensely that God work mightily in the hearts and minds of the world leaders today. It is said that the United States is in trouble because its leaders left aside the Word of God and its teachings, and are harvesting the consequences.

It seems that I spend 8-10 hours a day at my desk writing, editing, correcting. Personal letters are part of my ministry. For several years (until he was set free in December) I corresponded with a Christian inmate, unjustly incarcerated, encouraging him to write; God has given him a wonderful writing ministry now. My weekly column comes out in La Palabra newspaper, where I answer questions related to family, studies, church ministry, health, all kinds of topics, and folks comment how they are helped. Who knew when I took that elective typing course in 10th grade that I would get so much good out of it! November 26 I graduated with my Masters in Pastoral Theology (see the picture above), and the following day I began a blog to train Christian professionals to write, with 53 now signed up.

TEACHING. I just finished teaching another course Techniques of Research to the first year students at the Panamerican University School of Theology. I am honored to invest in the intellectual lives of pastors and leaders who are excellent preachers and teachers, but few know how to write a research paper. Actually my job is to help them organize their thinking as they analyze a Guatemalan problem such as domestic violence, adolescent pregnancy, or a church problem. Four pastors weren’t there the day the picture was taken. I have enjoyed photography since Sam bought our first camera in 1967, and consider it a ministry because it blesses people.
FAMILY. I enjoy baking with the grandkids, and attending school events, seeing the kids participate in various activities. But mostly we sit on the rug, get out the blocks and make a garage, and put cars inside it. With some of the family living far away, we installed Skype in our computers to be able to chat with Lydia in Argentina, and Steve in Houston.

DOULOS FOUNDATION: Frederick Crowe Institute and Dr. Núñez Library. Many of you know about the Institute that we founded with so much love and effort 20 years ago. Over 800 students have graduated successfully from the excellent high school program we set up, oriented to pastors and leaders. Sam is there every day supervising and guiding. Our constant prayer is that the many Guatemalan adults who never completed high school, will have the determination to study in our Saturday program.

About 40% of our 170 students are from extreme poverty level families who live on less than $250 dollars a month, such as Florinda (see picture right), who completed her studies with honors; her mother is a Bible translator. You can make a difference in a student’s life being a donor. We continue to rent a large house in downtown Guatemala City; the 6 classrooms barely hold 15 students each when our goal is 23. We are considering a building in downtown Guatemala City valued at $160,000 dollars and we have 20% in hand. You can be a part of this important project by designating a gift.

THANK YOU for your prayers and gifts. We invite you to be a part of our ministry by praying and giving, perhaps sponsoring a needy student ($300 per year per student), or a gift towards buying a building.

For a tax deductible receipt, write your check to CMM (Christ’s Mandate for Missions) directed by our close friend, Jorge Parrott, and mail to P.O. Box 7705, Charlotte, North Carolina 28241, USA. Telephone: (704) 225-3927. If you don’t need a receipt and it is more convenient, you may deposit your gift directly into our Bank of America account. Write us for details.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10: “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!…’ And God granted his request”. God wants to bless you with a larger territory for His glory.

Martha Saint-Berberian