As a small child, Sarah Sanders’ life was far from ordinary. Her father, Jim, was a traveling evangelist known to many in Australia and Hungary as “the American missionary.” “We would travel throughout Eastern Europe for months at a time,” says Sarah. “I remember as a kid I’d sleep under tables in restaurants and sleep on trains. I had an unorthodox upbringing, to say the least.”
In an Australian lilt, Sarah describes her dad as a bull. “He’d see red and go charging like a bull,” she says. Sarah jokes, but it’s true. Almost all of his ministry was done in communist countries, where he aggressively preached a message on the power of the Holy Spirit. It was his favorite subject, and Sarah grew up traveling through Hungary with her family, witnessing healings and miracles, but she struggled with the simple devotion of reading and studying her Bible. “My dad would say, ‘people go to seminary and come out atheists.’” After all, he jumped right into ministry after he experienced the love of God when he was in his 30s.
Jim met Sarah’s mother, Roslyn, an Australian, in Jerusalem while he was working with Cola Tikvah (translated, “The Voice of Hope”), a Christian radio station in Southern Lebanon. Sarah’s father, a Texan, was passionate about evangelism after graduating from Christ For The Nations Institute (CFNI). Within a few months, Jim and Roslyn married in Jerusalem.
During the early years, Sarah adapted well to their lifestyle, but before her seventh birthday, her parents divorced. Sarah’s father continued building churches and evangelizing in Eastern Europe, and she returned to Australia to live with their mother. She still visited and traveled with her father every other year; however life began to look a little more like that of other kids her age. In school she found an interest in architecture, and after she earned her degree, she became a town planner for the state government in Australia.
She had incredible favor in her work and received promotion after promotion until the next step was to go into politics. On the side, Sarah began a property development business and even began to consider a career in politics. Her faith had always been geared toward the work of the Holy Spirit. She understood signs, wonders, and miracles, but she didn’t understand the Bible. “I would sit down and read the Bible and get so frustrated because I didn’t understand what I was reading,” she says. “I knew if I grew in knowledge of God I would grow in every area of my life. And the Bible was key to that.”
Sarah began thinking about a change of course—one that would potentially derail her career but allow her to grow spiritually. “I wanted to know how to read the Bible,” she says. “I needed someone to teach me about theology.” That’s when she did something drastic.
In late December of 2014, Sarah’s family attended a wedding in Dallas. It was right around the time Sarah had been doing Google searches on Spirit-filled Bible schools. A number of familiar names popped up including CFNI and Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, but there was a school she’d never heard of that kept showing up on her screen—The King’s University. She wasn’t familiar with the names Jack Hayford (TKU’s founder and then-chancellor), Robert Morris, or Gateway Church.
While she planned a trip to Dallas for the wedding, she realized that Gateway Church, which was connected to TKU, was just a short drive away from where she would stay. “I decided that if I got a good feeling about Gateway, I would know it was right,” she says. So she went to the first service of the year. To her surprise, Jack Hayford was speaking that weekend. “I knew he was the chancellor of TKU because I’d just been looking at the website,” she says. “It was so significant because I had gone to Gateway to get a feel for TKU and the chancellor of the school was speaking. It was the confirmation I needed.”
Upon her return to Australia, Sarah received yet another promotion at her job in the state government, but she turned it down. In fact, it was the third (and best) promotion she had been offered and subsequently turned down. Instead, she shocked her team by requesting a leave of absence and telling them she was going to Texas to go to The King’s Seminary for a year. For anyone else it would have been devastating, but Sarah knew she was obeying God. She sold three properties, her car, and all her belongings and moved to Texas.
As she began taking classes and starting to understand hermeneutics, which is the study and interpretation of Scripture, she describes it as a feast. “It was like I was at a table and there was all this food that the Lord had prepared,” she says, describing a vision she had during her first year at TKU. “I was gorging myself, and the Lord said, ‘Sarah, you know this food is here every day—just take it easy.’ Once I actually connected to the Word, I was just in it 24/7. I could finally meet with God in Scripture for myself.”
In the midst of her awakening, her employer called and said they needed her to come back to Australia. “I hit that crossroad sooner than I expected,” she says. She knew what she had to do. “I wrote my resignation letter and cried for three days straight.”
Since she graduated with Master of Divinity degree in 2018—and during her time in school—God provided for her in every way. She has not had to apply for one job. “The Lord has opened every door and provided in miraculous ways,” she says. Now, she has been able to use her in-depth knowledge of the Bible in a way she never would have imagined. “I have gotten to teach reading and understanding the Bible through Gateway’s Equip program,” she says with a grin.
Teaching Equip classes is only the start of Sarah’s ministry.
In late 2018 her father went to be with the Lord, and she has continued his ministry, leading meetings in Cuba in 2019, and in 2020 she was invited to preach in her father’s churches in Hungary. She is amazed at where the Lord has taken her and how He has equipped her.
But somehow things are different with Sarah, in addition to receiving and growing in her father’s ministry, she is able to teach as one who has been sharpened and equipped in the Word because of her time spent at TKU. She explains now there is a balance in her spiritual life that hadn’t been there before.
Sarah’s dad’s work impacted her life remarkably, and he has left behind a rich legacy of fearless faith. Sarah carries on his legacy proudly.