The freshly-launched School of Theology Alumni Portal seeks to connect more than 8,000 of its graduates over the last 27 years. Principal of SOT, Pastor Bobby Chaw shares the reason and mission for this portal.
City Harvest Church’s School of Theology is a full-time Bible college founded in 1994. Each year, up to 2020, Christians have come from all over the world to enrol in SOT. They are those who desire to deepen their relationship with God through the study of Scripture, and who seek to be equipped with practical skills for effective and anointed ministry. At SOT, they gather to learn, to train, to pray and to serve within and beyond their local church.
Since its inception, more than 8,000 students from 41 different nations have graduated from SOT. Some graduates return to their home country to bring their skills and fire to serve their local church, while others start new churches in their community.
“For a while now, we have been thinking about intentionally connecting the alumni, to know what’s happening with one another, and to support each other, both locally and on an international scale,” explains Pastor Bobby Chaw, Principal of SOT.
“The vision of the portal is to really for SOT to connect with our graduates,” he adds, “To stay connected to one another in Christ, to enjoy mutual communication and encouragement. Together we form a community, and eventually, we can serve a cause: to serve the Lord together.”
Pastor Bobby emphasises the importance of togetherness, as seen in the New Testament. “In the Book of Acts, the early church was baptised in the Holy Spirit in one accord in one place. There, they had a community where they shared prayers, worshipped, broke bread and listened to the teaching of the apostles together. Then, they were sent out and they went everywhere preaching the gospel. There was a togetherness they had in that community, where they connected and received support.”
COVID may have pulled the brakes on SOT2021—the last intake was 2020, and students that year spent most of their academic year learning online—but it cannot stop the SOT community from doing what any Christian community is meant to do: to grow together.
“In our world today, technology connects us,” Pastor Bobby says. “With the existence of telecommunication, video conferencing and Zoom, we still can achieve the objectives that are listed in Acts 2:42: to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer.”
That said, he is fully aware that nothing can quite replace the joy of meeting in person. His hope is that when the world has returned to some level of normalcy, when COVID-19 is managed as an endemic and travel can resume, “Perhaps once every few years, we can do a big alumni get-together, where everybody comes back to Singapore to have a big physical gathering.”
THE POWER OF A LIVING NETWORK
Meanwhile, it is still key to connect virtually. Pastor Bobby explains the importance of the SOT network for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. With SOT alumni present in various parts of the world, when church members or SOT graduates travel and relocate for work or family, it is highly possible for them to connect with a church run by a fellow SOT alumnus, get integrated into their community and find the spiritual support they need. “The SOT alumni network becomes a resource, and we can share many things with one another,” he says.
The pastor gives a recent example, “A cell group leader from our Chinese church has a 19-year-old daughter who wants to further her studies in Korea. Being a concerned mother, this cell group member asked me if there were SOT graduates in Korea. I immediately connected her with them, so that when her daughter travels to Seoul, she will have a trusted SOT alumnae there who will link her with a like-minded local church and community.”
“This is what is being the body of Christ means – we support each other,” says Pastor Bobby. “There are some communities our alumni can reach that others cannot; there are resources that some have, that can be used to support the cause of other alumni members.”
The flood in Henan, China in July this year powerfully illustrated the support of a connected body of Christ. “When the SOT team received news about a big flood in Henan, we checked in with our students there, offering them help and keeping them in prayer,” Pastor Bobby relates. “In this SOT community, you are never alone, even when you are faced with challenges or disasters.”
SOT ALUMNI, GET CONNECTED NOW
The SOT Alumni portal is bilingual—English and Mandarin—and it features devotions by pastors, stories and testimonies from the alumni, as well as a section providing tips from both SOT staff and alumni that will encourage readers. Members can share their story or submit a prayer request on the site as well.
In the Media section, members can access insightful videos by Pastor Bobby—currently, videos on The Tabernacle Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer are available—along with various performances and testimonies from different batches of SOT students.
One great testimony can be found under SOT Stories: Jason Yuen, who graduated SOT in 2017, shares how God provided for him as he quit his job when he answered the call to go to Bible school. Jason cried out to God in his quiet time and he felt God speak to him about his situation. Eventually, God provided for him in amazing ways, including an SOT scholarship.
“Our portal is just starting out, and we are putting up resources, video recordings, and materials that the alumni can use,” Pastor Bobby explains. “Eventually, we want to work towards having a live chat on the portal where we can have two-way communication.”
Loh Weiwen, 38, a lawyer who graduated from SOT in 2020, says that he is excited at the opportunity to fellowship with other alumni on the portal. “It would be great to hear from my teammates in Indonesia about the work they are doing in their country. It’s a good way to call for corporate prayer too.” Weiwen holds on to the vision of ministering overseas in the new normal, “Although COVID-19 didn’t allow us to go for mission trips during our year at SOT, I look forward to participating in mission trips to Indonesia and Myanmar in the future.”
And yes, for alumni who are looking to delve deep into learning even beyond SOT, the SOT team is planning to create online courses for graduates to grow in the Word of God.
“With the current COVID situation, international students may not be able to travel to Singapore yet, due to border restrictions. We recognise that practical on-site ministry experience may be limited, and so, there will be no intake for 2022 either,” Pastor Bobby says of the School’s two-year hiatus. “We hope that in 2023, we can restart Bible School on-site.”
Meanwhile, SOT alumni are encouraged to register and sign in to the SOT Alumni Portal and stay connected and in-the-know.
If you are an SOT alumnus or alumna, you would have received an invitation to register for the portal. If you have not, please click here to register.