Tell me about yourself and how you started out in ministry.
I’m Virginia, and I come from India. Even before I was born, my parents dedicated me to the Lord's ministry, but from my childhood I wanted to be a medical doctor, and I studied sciences throughout school. But something started to happen inside me – the Spirit spoke to my heart and told me that I was in this world for something else. I found myself daydreaming about working in ministry and preaching to people. When I completed my school education, I was intending to go for medical training to work in healthcare – but I didn’t want to go! My mother and my whole family wanted me to pursue medical training, but I felt strongly that I should pursue full-time Christian ministry.
I deferred my medical exams for a year and throughout that year I felt that I was being pulled in two different directions. But God’s voice was stronger, and I finally told my mother, ‘I am going to pursue full-time Christian ministry’. So I completed four years of theological study and then went into ministry. I worked for a mission organisation as an evangelist for two years, then as an evangelist in a hospital chaplaincy for two years. Then I worked for a charity supporting Christians and churches in India for more than six years.
What led you to leave India and come to Cliff College?
In early 2021, God started speaking to me from the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. God called Abraham to leave his people and his country and to go to a different place to fulfil God’s mission – and his descendants Isaac and Jacob followed that call as well. They all experienced many challenges but they persisted in that new place, believing that God would be faithful to his promises. I felt God was calling me to leave my people and my culture and go somewhere else – which was a big challenge! But the lives of the people in the Bible who had trouble and challenge and who remained in the land to which God had called them gave me courage. If they could face all these challenges, was I not ready to face challenge? I said yes to God – and then the next question was, where does God want me to go?
As I turned back to the Bible, I found the account of Moses and the Israelites in Exodus – Moses says to God, ‘do not send us if you’re not going with us’. And that was what I prayed – that God would lead me to that country where he was going to be with me. I submitted applications to different institutions in different countries and prayed over each one, asking that God would make it clear to me where he was leading me and make it clear where he was not leading me. And it happened exactly like that – many institutions did not reply or there were issues with the application process, and with Cliff College everything lined up. So I was confident that God was calling me to the UK, and I arrived in September 2022 to begin my MA Mission.
I felt God was calling me to leave my people and my culture and go somewhere else – which was a big challenge! But the lives of the people in the Bible who had trouble and challenge and who remained in the land to which God had called them gave me courage. If they could face all these challenges, was I not ready to face challenge?
What has your time at Cliff College been like?
My previous education has given me more of a theological and theoretical understanding of ministry, but here at Cliff College my course was more focused on the practical side of ministry along with theory and theology. It was amazing to be able to bring my experience of working in evangelism and ministry and relating that to how other people have studied and written about how it can and should be practiced. There are many things I have been able to reflect on that I could do differently – especially thinking about the difference in cultures between the UK and India and things I can take from this culture and context. In the classroom there was always time to discuss how something was different in my country, or in a different culture – on the MA programme the students can learn from each other as well as the lecturer and the materials. There are many things that I’ve learned from other cultures that I can put into practice in my multi-cultural context of ministry. This experience of studying at Cliff has not only enhanced my theological and missional understanding, but also helped me to relate well with people in intercultural contexts.
What do you plan to do next, and how can we pray for you?
Throughout my time of study, I have been praying and asking God what the next step is for me in ministry. I discovered an organisation called Friends International, who reach out to international students and engage in cross-cultural ministry. There are so many international students in the UK from many different cultures, including India, and Friends International’s ministry is to share the gospel with them and to disciple them. That is what I feel called to, so I will be working with them, based in Loughborough. Working with Friends International is a challenge because it is a self-funded post rather than a salaried one – so I am working hard to raise the money needed from supporters for this role.
Pray first of all that I would be faithful to God and his leading and would be able to fulfill the purpose for which God has brought me here. Pray that I would be a blessing to many people – in sharing the gospel and that people would come to know God and be drawn closer to him. And pray that I would be able to raise the support I need for practical things – money for a salary as well as for visa fees.
We ask that you join us in praying for Virginia and for all our students who will graduate this year, that God will continue to lead them and bless them in the work they do for his kingdom. If you would like to support Virginia in her work with Friends International, you can do so via the Friends International website. Please mark the gift for Virginia Gill.
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