When Mark De Guzman enrolled at Morling in 2017 to start a Diploma of Theology, he was committed to see what God wanted to teach him and be open to where God would lead him.
He could not imagine the personal challenges that would face him during his studies, the ways that God would use his study to transform him, or that four years later he would be planting a new church community of faith in western Sydney – and seeking recognised accreditation with the Baptist Association of NSW and ACT.
Mark’s story reflects the apostle Paul’s declaration of hope and dependence; that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
During his studies at Morling, Mark faced several personal challenges, including significant and ongoing health issues. There were times when Mark was unsure if he would be able to complete his Diploma and it was difficult to see how and where God would use him. Mark, however, held onto God’s promises and faithfully relied on God’s strength.
As he looks back, Mark can see that his studies, and the deep connections he formed with lecturers and classmates, were used by God to equip him and deeply nurture his spiritual life.
As part of his Diploma of Theology, Mark completed units in biblical studies, pastoral care, preaching and pastoral leadership. As he integrated this learning and stepped out in faith, Mark says that he “saw God’s hand moulding me into becoming the person that he wanted me to be: a servant, a friend of the homeless and vulnerable, a listener to the broken hearted and an encourager to the sick”.
They seek to follow the ways of Jesus; to show love, hope and worth to those they meet.
This servant-hearted transformation is evident in Mark’s leadership and ministry at the newly formed Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Blacktown.
In partnership with Toongabbie Baptist Church, this new church community is reaching out with the love of Christ. They seek to follow the ways of Jesus; to show love, hope and worth to those they meet. Since beginning in early 2020, the church plant has been helping to run a food and clothing bank. It also has offered emergency accommodation for those impacted by the COVID pandemic, hosts a senior’s café, and ministers practically to those who are experiencing homelessness.
Mark hopes the men and women they serve will come to know the transforming power of the gospel in all areas of life, and that they will be empowered to be able to help others in the future.
Without God’s strength, Mark knows that the unpredictable and often difficult nature of ministry would be too much for him. He still struggles with his own health, and regularly does not have the energy to do all that he wants to do. Nevertheless, he remains steadfast to his commitment to grow deeper in faith and service. He continues to rely in Christ; his saviour and redeemer who gives him the strength.
He serves a God who can do more than he can imagine!
At Morling College, we love to share stories of God’s faithfulness and power. Mark’s ongoing story is a witness to the ways that God can use theological study to equip and transform followers of Jesus to impact the world.
We hope that our new scholarship program will enable women and men who have not had the opportunity to come to Morling to study, including those from culturally diverse and indigenous communities. If you are wanting to learn and are open to where God could lead you, we would love to explore this with you.
Join us at our Open Night on 28 November to learn more about how we can help you to take that leap of faith in 2021.
Gayle Kent is the Chief Community Life Officer at Morling College. In this role, and as a lecturer, she loves seeing students and staff grow in faith and follow Christ.