As the 2011 intake of School Of Theology students graduate this weekend, one shares how going to Bible school has touched his life and those of his classmates.
Contributed By Reuel Eugene Tay
August 21, 2011 marks the closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next for 518 Bible school students from 21 countries who will be graduating from City Harvest Church’s School Of Theology. For some, this has been a challenging journey, but for the rest of us, we wish that school could continue.
Not only have we had to undergo an intense six-month course filled with Bible lectures, we also have had to put our knowledge to the test by sitting through 10 exams, enduring four preaching tests, going for mission trips, preparing 10 sermons each, clocking a minimum of 57 ministry practicum hours, and to top it all, writing 10 book reviews.
Beyond all these works, we have been challenged to seek God and His will and to discover His calling on our lives. For the international students, this means returning to their countries to share what they have learned in SOT in order to bless their church and congregation. To others, it is a reminder to excel in their work and to be the salt and light in the marketplace.
We remember the encouraging words of our Dean of Students, Bobby Chaw, who said at his opening speech on the school’s orientation day: “We (SOT) may set the test, but it is God who sets the ‘exam.’ It’s more important to pass that ‘exam’ that God has set for each one of you.”
Six months have come and gone for the 17th SOT intake. We have fought the good fight and finished the race (2 Tim. 4:7). Many of us came not knowing what to expect, armed only with hearts that were spiritually hungry for God and His Word. But as we graduate this weekend, we leave with hearts filled with visions and dreams, and greater faith in God, excited to pursue His call.
STEPPING OUT IN FAITH
Corriolan Pierre Olrich, 42, an associate pastor with Light Ministries Inc. in Carrefour, Haiti, took a leap of faith by enrolling in SOT together with two fellow Haitians, Rodolpho Merientié and Sherly Otilien Merientié. They came with the desire to be trained for ministry. Olrich first came to know about CHC and its Bible school program through a disaster relief worker from CHC who served in Haiti.
It was a tough decision for Olrich. He came to SOT without a single cent in his pocket, leaving behind his wife, 8-year-old daughter, and 10-day-old son. Despite all this, Olrich came to Singapore with a heart of expectancy, believing that God would provide and move mightily in his life. True enough, the last half a year has proven to be a fruitful time for Olrich. He has been blessed in many ways, most of all through the SOT sessions during which faith was deposited in him and ignited a fire in his heart for his church and country.
“SOT helped me in my spiritual life in more ways than I could imagine,” he says. “Through the in-depth and practical lessons conducted by the various pastors—Pastor Kong, Pastor Tan, Pastor Ming, Pastor Bobby—I grew more in my spiritual walk, learned to discern and listen to the voice of God, learned to flow with the Holy Spirit and even gained confidence that as I laid hands on people, they would be healed, as Mark 16:18b says.”
Olrich will be returning to Haiti on August 23 and he is excited to go back. “My vision is to impact my church, and other churches in Haiti and share everything I have learned at SOT, all for the glory of God!”
AGAINST ALL ODDS
Japanese national Katsutoshi Kido, 26, faced one of the most challenging circumstances the last six months. During the SOT preparation course in February, he flew back to Japan to spend time with his ailing mother who had been struggling with cancer for several years. It was a difficult decision for Kido to return to Singapore to resume his studies. But he did so only because his mother expressed her wish for him to complete his studies and to serve the Lord.
Even after Kido’s mother passed away on March 31, Kido continued his studies. But he was constantly plagued with doubts about whether his decision to complete SOT was the right one, till one day, God comforted him. “During one of my prayers, God spoke to me, ‘Your mother served the Lord and the people her whole life. She’s never stopped her ministry for revival in Japan. Now it is your turn to continue her legacy to serve the people and churches in Japan.’ Since then, I have never wavered in my mind [about finishing SOT],” Kido reveals.
PURSUING GOD TOGETHER
One of the biggest enrolments this year came from a single cell group, W460. Nine of its members registered for SOT: Shaun Neo, 21, Yang Wyncy, 21, Wei Yangling, 25, Lee Yi Ling, 21, Natalie Sun, 21, Jason Ng, 20, Yap Hwee Ying, 23, Rayna Tan, 20, and Vanessa Ng, 21.
For these nine friends, seeing each other six days a week created deep bonds between them. “SOT allowed us to get to know one another on a deeper level. We were able to pray over issues of the cell group and for each other more frequently, as well as encourage one another to be persistent in our calling, our walk with God and our ministries,” says Neo.
“As we studied the Word of God, each of us became more spiritually mature, learning to build our own altar in Christ. Through this, we became more independent in our walk with God, while working together to build a dynamic team to do more for the kingdom of God.”