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Cross-Atlantic trip led to enriching Seminary experience for mature student
Maarten Gerritsen was introduced to Providence in 2011. He and his wife, Linda, had departed their home in The Netherlands for a summer trip through Canada, and Maarten used the journey to investigate many of this country’s bible schools and seminaries.
“One of the schools I visited was Providence, and we were toured around by former president Gus Konkel,” he recalls. “We had a good time together, and he was able to answer most of my questions.”
Maarten’s main concern was his lack of an undergraduate degree—something he needed for the Master’s program in which he was interested. But Dr. Konkel explained that for prospective students in his situation the institution would provide Recognition of Prior Learning. All the boxes were checked.
“I was looking for a non-denominational seminary—not too big—with accessible professors and accredited by The Association of Theological Schools (ATS),” says Maarten. He found everything he was looking for at Providence.
Six years later he is about to graduate with a Master of Divinity in Biblical Languages. And he has a job waiting for him at a church in Arborg, Manitoba—a posting extended and accepted two days before his convocation.
“I started this process because I felt a call from God to become a pastor,” he says. “So this is something I am looking forward to!”
Maarten explains that life as a mature student wasn’t always easy, but that a strong support network and Linda, in particular, helped him along as he completed his education.
“It was maybe harder for Linda than for me, because at times she was sharing a house with a hermit,” he says, referencing his determination to finish his degree. “We went through this journey without the support of a steady job for either of us, but with the odd job here and there, and financial support from good friends, family and anonymous givers, we found that God has been with us and has been faithful to us all the way.”
Having worked for 26 years before entering seminary, Maarten says he had already seen his “fair share of life and what comes with it” before enrolling as a mature student. But, he adds, he was still shaped by the Providence community.
“Through the Providence experience I feel more complete, more confident, more equipped to start this new journey in life,” he says, pointing out that he’ll miss the professors—their “open-door policy”, in particular—as well as the school’s friendly staff and, of course, his fellow students.
“I am definitely going to miss all that,” he says, “But I feel richer because of it.”
(Top: Maarten and Linda Gerritsen.)
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