My name is Martin Newell. I live in Dollingstown, Co Armagh, and I am married to Kathy. I enjoy going to the gym and walking - both come in handy as Kathy likes to bake a lot and I am obliged to taste! I left school at 16 and went to work for my father in the family business for 28 years, until 2013. This taught me a lot about working with people. I have been a Christian from the age of 20 and have been a member of Moira Pentecostal Church for the past 26 years.
Have you enjoyed your time at IBC and why?
I can honestly say that the last three years of study at IBC have been so rewarding. I wanted something that was going to challenge me to understand what I believe and why I believe it. I knew it was going to be hard work but I can now say that it was on a totally different level. I mean this in a positive sense - I have been stretched, spiritually and physically. I don’t know if I have ever used my brain as much, but it has certainly been worth it. I read and study the Bible now with very different eyes. The best way I can describe it is to say that the college modules put a set of tools into your hands that, by God’s grace, enable you to approach the Bible and find answers for yourself.
What was your favourite module and why?
It is hard to select one but it would be first-year Biblical Theology. For me, this unlocked a whole new world of how to read the Bible as one story, from Genesis to Revelation. We probably all have our own favourite books, but Biblical Theology turns them all into a single story; one that follows the plan of God’s salvation for his people. It highlighted major themes, especially the idea of God’s covenant promises, and how his word and his promises will never fail. It painted such a clear picture of God as a complete Sovereign who controls time and eternity.
Why would you recommend IBC to somebody considering studying here?
I have encouraged many people, who potentially feel a call of God upon their lives, to seriously consider theological training and I have every confidence that IBC offers some of the best preparation for future ministry. All the subjects build on one-another. Biblical Theology, Historical Theology and Pastoral Theology, along with the study of the biblical languages and combined with the study of individual Bible books all give such a rounded picture of Christian life and practice. Wherever the Lord leads me in the future I feel so much more equipped.
Tell us something that you’ve learned at IBC?
There are many things that I could mention, but here are just a couple:
IBC has shown me that the Christian church is much more diverse than I knew. Each of us comes from a different church background and I think this can sometimes lead us to be a bit insular. The experience of meeting students from many different backgrounds has widened my appreciation that God is working all over. This is best explained by being involved in evangelism work and going to different churches in both the north and south of Ireland, and Scotland, as part of a team. It was rewarding to work together with local churches, supporting God’s work.
The other area is the support that the whole teaching faculty has for all the students, not just in an academic sense but in pastoral support also. The whole team is passionate and caring, and this comes across so clearly, and I can say this has been a great encouragement to me over these past three years.