When Esteban Hidalgo graduates from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2020, he plans to return to Puerto Rico to revitalize theological education, helping others see its importance and gain access to it. But he’s not waiting to tell others about Jesus. In addition to his research project that compares the Gospels with Philo’s On the Life of Moses, he also works as a teaching intern for Dr. Fred Long, Professor of New Testament, a research assistant for Dr. Craig Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, and an online instructor for his “Life and Teachings of Jesus” course for his sponsoring institution.
“I have spent a lot of time in academic studies but found that the deeper I went, the closer I got to God, and the more I wanted to share Him with others, so I just developed a personal mission statement, to know God and to make Him known,” Esteban said.
Prior to coming to Asbury Seminary, Esteban served as a Professor of Theology and chaplain at Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico. In these roles, he was able to directly influence the spiritual development of the entire student body.
“I found that the best way to help these students grow is to engage them in ministry,” Esteban said. “We did a lot of outreach and student-led missions.”
As a faculty member, in addition to teaching, Esteban was invited to help re-build the theological curriculum of the school.
“I did some independent research to find out how we could improve the way we prepare students for ministry today,” he said.
He also remembers fondly assisting international students and those who were transferring from the U.S. who found it difficult to have their credits accepted. Esteban helped one student in particular receive approval for his credits, allowing him to graduate on time, while serving as a spiritual mentor.
“When he graduated, he gave me a plaque of Thanksgiving for helping him achieve his goal, and for our seasons of prayer together,” Esteban said. “I hold that as a dear memory of something I should continue to do, that is, personally investing in students who are pursuing theological education.”
These experiences prompted Esteban to deepen his scholarship. With a heart to serve God and a desire to engage more fully in research, Esteban enrolled at Asbury Seminary.
“The office of community formation impressed me the most about this campus,” he said. “I had known about spiritual formation, but it dawned on me that you can’t have holiness without community. This is something I am taking with me back to Puerto Rico.”
While he’s studying, Esteban is also helping Dr. Keener transfer his research on New Testament backgrounds from index cards to a digital format, allowing the primary material to be easily accessed through a search index. When Esteban graduates, he hopes to translate some of this research into the Spanish language.
“I have been so impressed at the level of scholarship and cutting-edge research available here at the Seminary,” he said. “We have so many books that are being published that need to be made available in the Spanish language. Lord willing, I will serve as a bridge from here into the Latino culture.”
Esteban expects to graduate in 2020 with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. He and his wife, Tara, have three children, Elijah, Enoch and Evan. He takes family life so serious that he jokes that he is pursuing two Ph.D. degrees, one in Biblical Studies and the other in ways to love and cherish his wife and care for his family. “Asbury Theological Seminary,” says Esteban, “is the perfect place to fulfill both goals.”
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