Niamazime Ferdinand’s father died when Ferdinand was 6 years old.
In his early years, Ferdinand struggled; he was aimless.
Growing up in Bangassou, in southeastern Central African Republic, he went to the local Roman Catholic church. But it didn’t give him what he needed.
“At the age of 12, I was trained in drugs and banditry by street child comrades,” he said in a document translated from French.
But then at the age of 14, Ferdinand said, “The Lord led me to a Coopération Evangélique Church of my city, Bangassou.”
That Sunday the pastor preached about the dangers of drugs and people’s separation from God.
“The Holy Spirit touched me, and I abandoned all and accepted Jesus to serve him as my Savior,” said Ferdinand, now pastor of Coopération Evangélique Church in the town of Bangui and a Timothy Leadership Training facilitator.
But his challenges were far from over. After being baptized through immersion in water, his family shunned him because he had left the Catholic church.
“I went to inform my pastor and asked to stay at his home like his child,” Ferdinand said. “He accepted me and began to train me in the way of the Lord.”
One night he had a dream in which God was directing him toward a crowd of people as their pastor.
“I explained to my pastor, and he told me that God called me for his work,” he said. “Subsequently, I spent several years with the pastor, and he saw my determination and vocation to serve God.”
His pastor established a church in Bangui and placed Ferdinand there as its pastor in 1989. From there, Ferdinand did his theological training at two schools.
Since 2016, he has been connected with the Timothy Leadership Training program, a ministry of Raise Up Global Ministries based in Grand Rapids, Mich.
TLT works with ministry leaders around the world, especially those in rural or remote locations. TLT is centered around interactive learning in which participants study Scripture and develop action plans that result in visible transformation in individual lives and communities.
“What I have learned from TLT in leadership is great,” said Ferdinand, who has used his training to teach other ministry leaders in his country the skills they need to serve their churches.
Ferdinand said he has learned to “take care of God’s people, … overcome violence and harm in the family, and to honor God through work and worship.”
In addition, as a training leader, he has been able to teach these ministry skills to other pastors in the Central African Republic.
“I have already trained more than 50 pastors and Christian leaders with TLT,” he said. “I have made efforts to have TLT courses translated into the national language spoken throughout the Central African Republic.”
Even though he lacks enough Bibles to distribute and can find it difficult to travel to teach TLT in his country, which faces a range of armed conflicts, he remains committed to the process.
“In spite of the wars in my country, the Christian church is alive in some places,” Ferdinand said. “But in most cities in the country, the church is still struggling to grow up following the multiple wars in the country. There is a need to multiply TLT to churches and leaders of all Christian churches.”
About the Author
Chris Meehan is a freelance writer and commissioned pastor at Coit Community Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.