DMin Alumni Put Seminary Training into Practice

 At the end of August 2018, Drs. Jody Becker (LSF, 2017) and Scott Ness (SFS, 2014) traveled to Ethiopia for a preaching and teaching tour with the director of Missions for the North American Lutheran Church, Dr. Gemechis Buba. While visiting in Sashemene, they taught and trained teachers of LeadStar International Academy, a thriving K-12 school. Utilizing her studies while at Portland Seminary, Becker emphasized the significance of a wholistic approach towards education for both the teacher and the student. Ness led a discussion with the teaching staff on ways to increase the standard of excellence for the teachers as well as the students. While visiting Hawassa, both had the opportunity to preach at a worship revival conference that has been meeting annually for over 20 years. Both Becker and Ness experienced the understanding of the glory of God expand ten-fold as they worshiped with more than 2,000 people in a language unknown to them.

Upon returning to the capital city of Addis Ababa, the two had the joy of participating in the the commencement exercises of LeadStar College. Ness delivered the Keynote graduation address to more than 5,600 MBA and Leadership graduates. The focus of his message was the importance of risk and hope—two words that are significant in the life of LeadStar College. This was only the 4th graduation ceremony of LeadStar College, which was founded by Missions Director, Dr. Buba. Among the esteemed graduates that have already received a diploma from this institution is Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the current Prime Minister of the country. The following day Becker delivered the keynote sermon to the LeadStar Theological College graduates. Her words focused on John 21, and the reinstatement of Peter. She used the three fold question of Jesus, “Do you love me?” to challenge the past, present, and future of our service to Christ and His church. It was also during this commencement that LeadStar bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Ness for ongoing service, support, and dedication to the institution.
One of the most touching moments of the trip is captured in a photograph following the MBA graduation. While dozens of people wanted to have their pictures taken with the guests on this day of celebration, it was the polite request of a young girl that captivated Becker and Ness. In hope filled eyes that saw Dr. Becker’s success as an invitation to follow her own dreams, the little girl grabbed Jody’s hand and dreamed of what she might one day accomplish. For the visitors, this one photograph captures the essence of the whole trip.


We pray that our presence might inspire hope and possibility for an emerging nation that is erupting with the power of the Holy Spirit. It was an honor for both of us to make this journey and to be inspired by what the Lord is doing. And it was a joy that many of the things we learned during our time at Portland Seminary helped to shape our teaching and interaction with the beautiful people ofEthiopia. Above all, while we were invited on this trip to bring our expertise, it was abundantly clear that this was one more step on a journey of further learning ourselves. For, as much as we may have given during this trip, our overwhelming emotion is one of gratitude for what we received while visiting this land.


Have an alumni story you’d like to share? Let us know what you’ve been up to!
Email article ideas to Sara Reamy at


The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Portland Seminary, George Fox University or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.