*Names have been changed
Junior and Fatima Azikiwe* are natives of a small country in Africa that has long been known for its rolling hills, mountains and exotic wildlife. Sadly, for the past few decades, the country has become infamous for its political and human rights crisis. The country’s volatile state and unsafe living conditions because of political tensions have caused an estimated 400,000+ people to seek refuge in nearby countries and elsewhere.
The Azikiwe’s count themselves among those numbers. In 2015, when escalating conflicts in their home country showed no sign of ceasing, the pair fled to a neighboring country. “We decided it was better for us to leave because the situation was deteriorating,” said Fatima. “Every time we thought about going back, something would happen. We are still praying for things to get better.”
Once the pair arrived safely in another country, they became active in ministry. Both Junior and Fatima helped to lead worship in their local church – and a desire to earn their degrees. Through a fortuitous encounter with a local missionary who helps to run a pastoral training school in the area, they were introduced to Lancaster Bible College. From there, the couple researched the college’s online degree options, and saw it as the perfect opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the Bible while giving them valuable, marketable skills.
According to Fatima, though it can be difficult to balance her challenging coursework along with her other responsibilities, she says it’s worth it. “I have been stretched because working and studying can be demanding,” she said. “There were times I never thought I would be able to complete the work but somehow I did. The lecturers have been helpful in working alongside us to help us when we are behind and encourage us when we can do better. I have learned to work very hard because it does pay off!”
Junior and Fatima both say their LBC education has been transformative. “It has impacted me in so many ways,” said Fatima. “I see myself growing every day and so is my desire to know more about God. It has given me more confidence to stand and lead. I can clearly see God teaching me through each course. I vowed to not just go to school for the credits, but to be transformed – and I can confidently say I am!”