From Athiest to Holiness

From Athiest to Holiness

Stéphane Tibi (ST) is from Paris, France. His wife, Sandra, is Swiss but has lived in many Near Eastern countries. While completing his MDiv degree at Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS), he worked in what was World Mission Literature (WML). After being involved in pre-field training at in Kansas City, they were deployed to Rwanda and now serve in the African nation of Reunion where he is coordinator of the Africa French Equatorial Field. In addition, he has developed Bible study tools including: hXXp://www.studymaps.org/

HT: Share about your spiritual journey.

ST: I was raised atheist. Just as I completed a master of science degree in Paris, I watched a film, "The Mission," about missionaries in South America. I heard beautiful words about love, which I wrote down and memorized. While searching for the source of this text, I went to the bookstore. Holding a Bible for the first time, I discovered the words in 1 Corinthians 13. Moved by what I read, I purchased my first Bible. I sensed that such love was what I was truly hungering for, not power and prestige.

HT: How did you move from introducing yourself to the Bible to becoming a believer?

ST: Through many steps, and with the encouragement of Christian friends, the Lord helped me see that He existed and I could come into relationship with him as my Lord and Savior. Theological studies in Switzerland laid key foundations for my faith.

HT: Where did you discover holiness?

ST: A theology professor invited me to read John Wesley's biography. I was moved by the grace and love of the Lord working through Wesley. Later, the professor shared about the holiness movement. We discovered old texts on the Internet and read books explaining entire sanctification. As I read, I realized sin was deeply rooted in me, I needed God's grace to be delivered.

HT: Did you find peace?

ST: When I consecrated myself to him, I received peace in my heart.

HT: What led you to seminary, especially when you held multiple academic degrees?

ST: I wanted to meet people who believed this holiness message. My professor and I traveled to European Nazarene College in Büsingen, Switzerland. There, I met my first Nazarenes, Trevor Johnston, Daniel Ketchum, and Gordon Thomas-who prayed with me. I felt encouraged to pursue further studies in a place where holiness would be emphasized.

HT: As newlyweds, you left familiar cultures to attend NTS. Was this overwhelming?

ST: Sandra and I felt embraced at seminary, in WML, and at our church in Kansas City. My classes helped integrate my faith with the study of the Word, theology, and ministry. I learned much through discussions with my professors.

When [NTS professor] Roger Hahn asked me to teach Hebrew, I gladly accepted. It was meaningful to me since my father was a Jew and I find the biblical languages of key importance in theological education. Uniting believers in the holiness tradition-students with teachers-is something I value dearly as I believe in the importance of higher theological education.

HT