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Meet Dr. Sammy Wanyonyi

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“People ask, ‘Is seminary education still relevant? Is my giving to an institution like Bethel Seminary still worth it?’

“Of course, the answer is yes,” says Sammy Wanyonyi S’08, S’14, founder and president of Minneapolis-based Shine in the World Ministries (“SHINE”). “Because billions of people still need to be exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Born into a family of 23 children in a remote village in western Kenya, Sammy knows firsthand the far-reaching impact that scholarship funding and a seminary education can have:

“In my early 20s, I had a clear sense God wanted me to take his gospel as good news to the nations.

“I also had a clear sense that part of that plan involved getting training—a season of theological and cross-cultural training to navigate the cultures where God wanted to use my life.

“It was daunting to know how to pursue that call with my background and lack of resources.

“I arrived at Bethel Seminary in 2003 with only $15 to my name. Somehow God, in his own amazing way, provided people who helped me cover the cost.”

That investment has brought significant kingdom returns.

In 2008, Sammy graduated from Bethel’s Master of Divinity program, and in 2014, he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree.

Since launching SHINE in 2005, he has shared the gospel with three million people around the world.

Nearly 300,000 have professed their faith in Christ.   

SHINE partners with the church in local communities in the U.S., Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world to host community-wide evangelistic festivals, pastoral leadership conferences, and business leadership seminars in developing countries.

One of those countries is Rwanda, where the devastating genocide of 1994 created deep spiritual confusion. “But there is also deep spiritual hunger,” Sammy explains. “It is fertile ground to share Jesus—and God is bringing healing and reconciliation.”

SHINE couples this gospel message with tangible assistance.

For example, in a rural Kenyan, SHINE helps sexually exploited women gain freedom through a program called “Cages of Hope.” 

Cages of Hope on Lake Victoria

Cages of Hope on Lake Victoria

Using Lake Victoria as a resource, women learn how to fish with cages to create sustainable income—and gain economic independence.

“Dr. Wanyonyi not only has a passion for serving as a Gospel influence globally, but he also cares deeply about kingdom work locally in the U.S.,” says Justin Irving, Bethel Seminary professor of ministry leadership.

Through a ministry called Merge Our Diverse City (“Merge”), SHINE reaches out to burgeoning unchurched immigrant communities. “We have close to one million first- and second-generation immigrants in the Twin Cities,” says Wanyonyi. “Less than 10% are churched.”

Merge involves prayer, care, and evangelism. Churches participate through training and non-threatening evangelistic events. The hope is for Christians to see the immigrant next door as someone God brought to them. “There is an opportunity to make a difference, not just for this generation,” says Wanyonyi, “but for the future of the church in the Twin Cities.”

“God led me to Bethel Seminary that I may be well prepared to be what he was calling me to become,” says Sammy.

“Bethel Seminary enriched my faith, developed my skills, and strengthened my confidence.

This enabled me to step onto the stage that God has been preparing me for all along.”

Sammy Wanyonyi Kenyan Evangelistic Festival

Sammy at a Kenyan evangelistic festival.

“I feel inspired to give as much as I can to as many people as I can for the kingdom because of the gifts that people gave to allow me to be prepared for ministry at Bethel Seminary,” says Sammy. 

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“I want people to know that investing in an institution like Bethel Seminary is worth it because it changes lives. It provides opportunity for people like myself who come into the seminary with great passion and calling, but few resources, to follow the calling God has on their lives.” 

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