Stanford Phiri is an LCC International University alumnus from Zimbabwe. He graduated in 2018 with a BA in Theology, minoring in Contemporary Communication. Currently, Stanford is serving with Eden Ministries as a Senior Pastor of the Village Church - a unique congregation of divorced or widowed women and the orphans under their care. Pastoring is Stanford's way of extending God's kingdom and giving back to the community that raised him.
Stanford found his way to LCC through Eden Ministries, which is an independent, inter-denominational collaboration of followers of Jesus Christ where Stanford grew up, sharing the same beliefs and values. His adventures at LCC began with him studying International Business Administration. A few days into the journey, Stanford realized that although he was not yet sure what God had in mind for him, it sure was not business, and he quickly switched to Contemporary Communication major instead. Following the Lord's guidance, Stanford found his passion in Christian ministry and eventually decided to study Theology. "I ended up studying Theology at LCC, and I do not regret it even a bit. In fact, I am very proud and confident that LCC gave me just the foundation I needed to follow my passion and calling. God used my circumstances and the people around me to direct me according to His will. I am at peace knowing that I am where my Maker wants me to be," said Stanford.
Stanford was actively engaged in both the spiritual and cultural aspects of LCC. He served with the Spiritual Life team for two years and with the CMAP (Community Multicultural Awareness Program) for a year. Additionally, Stanford enjoyed playing soccer for the LCC team. However, time constraints forced him to choose personal development as a leader over sports. He concentrated all his abilities in serving and growing while at it.
Stanford's favorite part of being at LCC was the intercultural environment. He was thrilled to meet new people who shared diverse opinions but had the same passions. "Learning the stories of others - their past, regrets, and dreams was fascinating," said Stanford. He admitted however that life in a foreign culture was difficult initially until he found his "new family" and embraced the foreign experience. LCC encouraged and provided Stanford with countless opportunities to make new friends and feel at home, even thousands of kilometers away from all that was familiar - family, food, clothes, and language.
After graduation, Stanford went back to Zimbabwe and continued serving with Eden Ministries as a Youth Pastor until his Senior Pastor's promotion came about late last year. He enjoys pastoring and shepherding those entrusted under his leadership. Stanford is currently getting his Master's degree in Christian Spirituality and Formation online through Regent University in Virginia, USA. He is expecting to graduate this summer. Studying and gaining new knowledge has always been his passion.
Today, Stanford continues to be connected to the LCC community and makes himself available for mentoring, disciple-making movements and leadership. "I have no other purpose on Earth but to use my spiritual gifts, heart, skills, personality, and experiences to bless others. After all, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." As a disciple-maker and mentor, Stanford's objective is to help others find God and discover their fullest potential. "Like a flower, I will seek to blossom in whatever environment God plants me," comments Stanford. As of now, he is thrilled to serve among his people in Zimbabwe, but he understands that God's vision for him is greater.
Looking back at his LCC experience, Stanford's advice to current LCC students is this. "Countless young people have their hope drained, enthusiasm depleted, and dreams derailed because they compare themselves with others. Do not try to be someone you are not because you will never succeed. Be the best version of yourself. Know God personally because the deeper you know Him, the better you will know yourself."
In keeping with the spirit of a preacher, here are Stanford's five points about being your best self.
“Whom can I trust?” This is the question that best defines the need for security. I encourage you to put your trust in God. He will never turn his back on us because His love does not come with conditions.
To effectively navigate life on earth, we need to know our true identity, so we ask, "Who am I?" I urge you to seek your answers from the God who created you to bear His image.
We all need to belong, and so we ask, "Who wants me?" Live as though you belong to the One who created you and will never deny, abandon, or reject you.
We all wrestle with the question of purpose. You wonder, "What on earth am I alive for?" Indeed, there is a bigger purpose to your life than just consuming resources and dying at the end.
We all want to know what we can do well. The answer to the question of competence has to be found in God and knowing who you are. Worshipping and serving God is the one thing we all can do so well without being threatened by others' talents and gifts.
In conclusion Stanford shares, "Do not stay by yourself, alone. Get involved in LCC's community life. Study hard, get enough sleep, eat well, and watch the company you keep. I wish you all the best in this journey. Remember, it is not only about the destination like graduation or a high-paying job, but about the journey. The process matters more than we really understand."
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