First Year Reflections: Nathanael and Rebecca

Monday, 19th February 2024
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First Year Reflections


My name is Nathanael McIlveen and I am a member of Emmanuel Baptist in Lisburn. I came to study at the Irish Baptist College because I feel a strong desire to serve in full-time ministry. Before coming to the College, I studied psychology at Queen’s University, Belfast and previously had the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist. While I enjoyed studying psychology, my favourite parts of the week always involved teaching teenagers from God’s word and serving in the church. During the second year of my psychology degree, I realised that I would feel discontent doing anything other than full-time ministry. After multiple conversations with my pastor and careful prayer, I concluded that God was calling me to full-time ministry. I applied to the College to be better equipped for serving in whatever ministry God will place me.

My first few months studying have been thoroughly enjoyable and I have a lot to give thanks for. One thing that I have appreciated is the fellowship. Both the staff and the other students have been very welcoming. As like-minded students, we can encourage one another and grow together in our faith. Spending time in intentional prayer has been particularly encouraging. I have also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to wrestle with theological ideas and grow in my understanding of God’s word.

The College has also confronted me with some challenges. One example is that I have been challenged to become more organised. The essay deadlines, preaching engagements, and learning Greek, have all challenged me to better plan my week and think about how best to spend my time. I have also gained a better understanding of how the Bible is one story of God redeeming his people through Christ.

Prayer points:

  • Pray that God would help me to effectively manage my time and complete all the work that I have to do to a high standard.
  • Pray that I would be consistent in taking a day to rest each week.
  • Pray that I would not only grow academically but also spiritually. I hope to not only be knowledgeable or skilled but Christ-like in character.



My name is Rebecca Rocha Elliott, I'm 23 years old and a familiar face to many of you, I’m sure. I was born and lived most of my life as a missionary kid in Spain. After moving to boarding school in Dungannon to finish my A-levels, I took a few gap years to sail around the world on a missionary ship called Logos Hope.

Recently, however, God has called me back to Northern Ireland to do some more ‘normal’ but no less exciting things with my life.

After returning from the mission field in September 2022, I spent some time praying about my next steps. I knew I wanted to serve in missions long term. Therefore, I figured that whatever I decided to do next it was to be an investment for a future in missions.

I decided to write to Davy Ellison, the Director of Training at the College, to get more information about the 'Preparation for Ministry' course. To be honest, up until that point I hadn't seriously considered the Irish Baptist College. I didn’t think it would be a good fit for me, and my personality. Eventually, I believe God softened my heart to the idea and he showed me that College was a gateway to so much more.

Given my desire to serve in missions, I knew that I was going to need a solid foundation to build upon. Not only a foundation of theological knowledge, but also one of partnership with my fellow brothers and sisters.

My church, Antrim Baptist, was another big influence in my decision to study at the College. I want to be equipped to serve in missions overseas, but that desire must be put into practice now, in my home church.

College has helped me build connections with people from different churches across Ireland. But it has also strengthened my relationship with my own church. As I learn how to better love and serve them now, my prayer is that someday they will support me being sent out.

Recently, I feel God has been teaching me about the true boldness that comes with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not usually a shy or reserved person, but being surrounded by very intelligent, knowledgeable people, who hold equally strong convictions as me can be intimidating at times. It’s easy to feel like I’m lacking in some way. The reality, however, is that given my identity in Christ, those things matter less. Rather, Jesus matters because he covers my shortcomings at the cross. I need to be faithful and not allow myself to be defined by standards other than God's. I need to be bold with the truth of who God says I am.

In the meantime, prayers for my family would be much appreciated. My sister is currently in South Africa and my parents are looking at returning to Spain in the near future. They are a huge support for me and together, even if we are far away, we are a team serving in Christ’s mission. Also, pray for me to make the most of the next two and a half years of study. The opportunity to take time and deeply study God's word is a real privilege. My prayer is that God would give me wisdom as to how best to balance studies with ministry opportunities. 

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