CPSOT | IldikoSzabo

California Pacific School of Theology

Rev. Dr. Ildiko Szabo

Rev. Dr. Ildiko Szabo

I am a native of Hungary, a country as old as her Christian roots; over one-thousand years. I grew up in an environment of traditional family values, Biblical, Calvinist faith, opportunities to learn, travel, explore the world that seemed less complicated at the time.

The first three decades of my life I spent in Europe; the second three in the US. My first Ph. D. came from KLTE University, Debrecen, Hungary, in English Linguistics, on the topic of Conversion; a morphological shift among parts of speech. A decade later, I was involved in conversion in a much different, religious sense that started also in Hungary; when I returned to my home country as a Fulbright exchange teacher in 1996/97.

It was God's will for my life to work as an English teacher in the South Eastern part of the country, Szeged, where the ambitious local bishop ran several Reformed institutions from Kindergarten to Seminary, hiring some of the best known professors from Debrecen, the Calvinist Rome, as well as Budapest, the capital of Hungary. While European schools seem to provide mainly for a solid theoretical foundation in the humanities, in America, there is also focus on a more practical approach that I experienced in the Los Angeles area seminaries where I followed up my Spirit filled interest in Christian Theology.

First I received an M.A. in Religion from Life Christian University, Gardena, CA; then I moved on to more research centered education at the California Pacific School of Theology, Glendale, CA, where teams of enthusiastic scholars, such as I. D. Thomas from Wales, or Dr. Daniel Goldberg from Moody seminary lectured along with well known archaeologist Richard Fales and other missionaries to the world with a plethora of experience. I was extremely motivated to take just about every class offered on different campuses through the end of the 1990's, in Glendale, Los Angeles, or the South Bay. In the year 2000, I received my Ph. D. in Christian Theology. My thesis was attempting to embrace a wide range of literary analysis, dozens of publications on 'The Earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ, His Divine Character through His Teachings and Miracles', a comprehensive study. My interest did not stop there: I felt I was missing something very important, the most critical element of our faith, the resurrection of our Lord.

For the Doctor of Ministry degree I was able to try other schools, so I ventured out to La Mirada, where they offered some really insightful classes on Pastoral Ministry, or Christian counseling in collaboration with the reputable Psychology department. Lab research, behavior monitoring seemed new and eye opening for me; how it had played such an important part in their educational goals. I still enjoyed the ministry program of Cal Pac where students were for the most part already established pastors, who always asked very mature questions, while sharing their many years of community experience from a wide range of areas and cultures of cosmopolitan Los Angeles and vicinities.

As soon as I received my D. Min. my first full time ministry started in West Los Angeles, with the Chinese Baptist Church, an enthusiastic, growing church reaching out to other Asian groups. They needed an English minister at the time, and I took up the challenge gladly. What attracted me to them was the many UCLA and Berkeley students who were more comfortable worshiping in English than in Chinese, and who conducted Sunday school to younger children, who are now grown, to assume leadership roles also.

Missionary work to the Arizona native American communities there fascinated me. Chinese dedication and hard work are inspiring me even today, when I occasionally visit with them witnessing their accomplishments for the glory of God.

Currently, I spend most of my time visiting and serving my own Hungarian Christian community; the half dozen Protestant churches, just in the Los Angeles area.

Each of these places have something unique about them, either it is their Sunday school, Scout programs, cultural events, or the enthusiasm of co-workers, or just a small home church setting that set them apart, and provide an environment for long time and new immigrants to be able to worship in their mother tongue. My desire and prayer for them is to grow, raise up ministers from within to carry on the message of the Great Commission.

Personally, after trying many different schools of higher education, I am absolutely convinced that Cal Pac is the school where the most individualized attention, and flexibility by staff are ensuring quality training for those who hear the call to serve God's Kingdom by leading others to Christ, planting and developing growing churches built on solid Biblical principles.