By Somy Madeoy, Staff Writer
Elijah Kellogg is a missionary in residence at The Master’s university, a part of campus at The Master’s University that mentors international students and disciples those interested in missions. Kellogg uses his experience as an overseas missionary and current pastor to serve the school in these areas. His role is profitable to students and his story reveals how God calls His people to share the gospel.
Joel Schroeder, a TMU senior mentored by Kellogg, said, “Not only has he given me practical advice on what this could look like in my own ministry, he’s also shown me that it’s possible.”
He continues by saying that Kellogg has truly invested in his life, and shown what it looks like to follow Jesus and imitate him.
“He balances a sharp insight into the shortcomings of the American church with a joyful optimism and excitement about where his church is, and where God is leading them,” Schroeder said.
Elijah Kellogg was originally a graduate of Eternity Bible College with Francis Chan and received his bachelor’s degree in biblical studies. He has since been involved in several forms of ministry.
Kellogg’s long-term goal was vocational ministry and he hoped to avoid debt. In his words, “A lot of agencies require that you are not currently in debt… they just don’t want to get into legal trouble.” This profited him in the long run since agencies overseas often require that you aren’t in debt due to legal reasons. However, Kellogg never thought he would be a missionary, let alone overseas.
After four years at Eternity Bible College, in order to graduate, he would have to have to write a paper on a cross-cultural one-to-two week overseas ministry. “I wanted to go somewhere I was interested in,” he said. “Though I was not interested in missions.”
Pondering where to go, Kellogg reflected on his time as a foreign exchange student in China after graduating high school. “I loved China, I loved Asia,” he said. This, combined with previous research on the AIDS epidemic, along with a fascination of the area south of China, set off an idea. He connected with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF), originally known as China Inland Mission with Hudson Taylor, and finalized his plans.
After having a lively dream, he woke up on the first day of about 10 a.m. in China, ready to seek the Lord and understand the deeper reason for what He had planned.“It was on that trip that God had begun to do a work in my heart”, Kellogg said.
While there, Kellogg learned from missionaries and participated in prayer walks through unreached people groups, village after village, for the first time. After this trip, he went back to an American ministry and was involved in worship and youth ministry for a year as a pastor.
As he continued his work, he was able to go to a Catalyst conference with David Platt, where Platt recited a large portion of Romans and stated that some were there who were not supposed to be, disobeying the Lord’s call to go overseas and share the gospel. This conviction sunk deeper into Kellogg.
“In these other regions, there are village after village that don’t know Jesus. I’ve been there, I’ve seen that!” he said.
He realized that during his prayer for missionaries, he may have been praying for himself all along.
“It was the instruction of God and the word of God- ultimately the conviction of seeing the need, scripture, and Jesus’ heart for those who are lost,” Kellogg said.
Newly married, he told his wife Ally about the conference and how he believed the Lord was calling them overseas to Southeast Asia. Six months to a year of prayer passed, but the burden to go burned hot, even though their ministry in America flourished.
After contacting the fellowship again, Kellogg and his wife went on a trip together. This sparked the final word, and, in 2015, they were finally ready. With the Lord’s hand in every part of the journey, they arrived in Southeast Asia August 2017 for their four years deep in the jungle of Myanmar.
Kellogg is now co-director of a student ministries center (student union) amidst three centers for higher education (University proper, tech school, and teacher’s college) that don’t have any student life or activities. Boys were at brothels and bars, and girls had no safe place to go.
He and his local ministry partner saw the need and the receptiveness of students to the gospel. Myanmar, which is about the size of Texas, comprises nearly 200 ethnolinguistic people groups. Though some groups have heard of Christianity, others have no knowledge at all.
They now have a live coffee bar, noodles, breakfast, a live music stage and English tutoring where the students can get involved and hear the gospel. Theravada Buddhism is a unique sect with Myanmar and Sri Lanka and is the primary religion there. With Buddhism’s end goal of reaching Nirvana, the state of nothing, the goal is to find an escape.
Theravada Buddhism recognizes the difficulty of reaching this state of nothing, so this life should be dedicated to good works (karma) to become a monk with your full chance to reach nirvana in the next life. In Buddhism, women can’t reach Nirvana, so the hope is that they will build enough Karma to become a man or monk in the next life.
Since this religion is connected to culture as a whole, it’s harder to cut loose when hearing the gospel, and often there are those who are outcasts because of it. Kellogg’s and his partner’s ministry continue to run it and a goat farm while Kellogg is back in the U.S for the time being, though he hopes to go back and establish a church.
He is back now because of the military and parliament. When the military claimed the election was a fraud, they revoked votes and took power, and as the central bank collapsed the money was becoming worthless.
Kellogg’s goal is to “minister to students, excite them about missions, challenge them with the word of the Lord and His commands to go and make disciples”. He will remain here as a pastor of worship and outreach at Faith Community Church until he is able to get back to Myanmar.
“No one at any point, even in serving the Lord, is able to accidently establish their own eternal kingdom, it’s not possible. Christ is inviting us to eternity in His kingdom … Missionaries can take relief in it being God’s work,” he said.
In the words of TMU junior Michael Museler, also mentored by Kellogg, “He’s given me different perspectives on our calling to the Great Commission, and has helped me to have a greater passion for the Word and for pursuing Christ.”
Somy Madeoy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org