FEBC opened its new semester on January 2, 2020 with a day of prayer, and the reading of Matthew 13:51–52, “Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old”. The Principal spoke on the importance of understanding cohesively and coherently all fields of theological studies (Bible, Systematic Theology, Church History, Pastoral Ministries etc) so as to be effective servants of our good Lord, never running dry of more and fresh things to preach and teach from His infallible and inerrant Word.
Four new full-time students joined the College this semester: Cho Ji Hyun (Korea), Felix Piratheepan (Sri Lanka), Joyce Park Jong Eun (Korea), Riangwati Gulo (Indonesia). Ji Hyun is an MDiv graduate of Korea Theological Seminary and is here to do his Master of Religious Education (MRE). Felix who comes from the Reformed Protestant Mission in Sri Lanka is reading for his Bachelor of Theology (BTh). Joyce, the daughter of missionary Dr Park Seung Kyu, is studying for her BTh (together with her mother and sister). Riangwati had graduated with her BTh in 2002 but is back for her MDiv, a requirement of the college where she serves with her husband who is the dean of students.
Total enrolment this semester (January–May 2020) is 640: 79 day students (fulltime: 46, part-time: 33), 320 students in the Basic Theology for Everyone (BTFE) night classes, and 241 distance learning students. Students enrolled from 14 countries: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
We welcome two new tutors:Joshua Yong who earned his DipTh, BRE, MDiv and ThM from FEBC. He is full-time preacher of Calvary Pandan BPC, and is taking over the Contemporary Theology courses previously taught by his pastor, the Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew. Mrs Patricia Joseph replaces Mrs Anne Lim as Intensive English teacher. Mrs Joseph is wife of Elder JT Joseph of True Life BPC. She holds a BSc (Hons) and MSc from the National University of Singapore (NUS). She also holds a postgraduate Diploma in Education and has 32 years of teaching experience in Singapore schools. Our heartfelt thanks to Mrs Anne Lim for her faithful service in the College for over a decade. She has stepped down to tend to her ailing husband.
The lecturers/tutors and courses offered this semester are: Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo: Greek Exegesis II, Heresies and Orthodoxy; Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew: Hebrew Reading II, Homiletics, OT History I, Numbers; Rev Dr Prabhudas Koshy: Ezekiel II, Systematic Theology II; Rev Stephen Khoo: Church History II; Rev Dr Koa Keng Woo: Bible Geography III, Church Music I; Rev Tan Kian Sing: Epistles of John; Mrs Ivy Tow: Greek Elementary II; Mrs Jemima Khoo: Childhood Education, Beginner Pianoforte; Miss Carol Lee: Theological Research and Writing; Dr Jose Lagapa: Biblical Science; Rev Clement Chew: Hebrew Elementary II;Mr Samuel Joseph: Greek Reading II; Mr Joshua Yong: Contemporary Theology IV; Mrs Patricia Joseph: English Intensive I; Mrs Irene Lim: English Intermediate II; and Eld Han Soon Juan: English Advanced II.
With the departure of Eileen Chee who left for graduate studies in Haifa, Israel, Khoo May Lynn is the new assistant to the Matron, serving in the kitchen. (May Lynn has completed four years at FEBC and is now writing her thesis for her BTh.) Mrs Jemima Khoo steps in to help buy foodstuff in bulk. One good place discovered is the open air night market in Toa Payoh which opens for business near midnight.
FEBC’s new Liteace goods van is put to work. We thank the Lord for church members who have given to the dining club in cash or in kind (vegetables, mushrooms, meat etc). “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” (Ps 34:10). JK
FROM HAIFA UNIVERSITY
Thank God I have been adjusting quite well since I arrived at the campus (22 Oct 2019). I have six courses for this Fall semester, namely, “Land and Jewish Settlements in Late Ottoman and British Palestine”, “Nationalism, Zionism and Israeli Archaeology”, “Israel: Society and Policy Development”, “War and Peace in Israeli History”, “Coping with Memories: Holocaust in Polish Literature & Film” and “Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages (Part 1)”. There are a lot of readings and many papers to write. I am also taking the Ulpan (Hebrew classes). I do feel quite overwhelmed because there is so much depth and breadth to cover, and we are to turn up in each class fully prepared to speak and discuss about issues. I pray that God will grant me the wisdom and mental clarity to handle them all.
I thank God that there is a reasonably sound church that I can worship in on the Shabbat. It is called Beit Eliyahu. Though everything is spoken, read and sung in Hebrew, there is English translation via headphones. There is only one bus service that operates hourly in the whole of Haifa and this bus does bring me to church on time. God has been good and near to me.
My days here are quite simple—go for class, prepare my meals, talk to friends, etc. Still, there were a few highlights in the past month. First, I was really glad that the Pandan pilgrims came to the Holy Land and I took time off to meet them in Nazareth and then later on in Jerusalem. I travelled 2.5 hours from Haifa to Jerusalem, and upon reaching, I headed straight to the Bible Lands Museum (just next to the Israel Museum) for a free guided tour. I really enjoyed the museum as it brings out the culture of the ancient civilizations in Bible times. On every wall and panel, there are Bible verses put before the exhibits. It is a very good museum to visit if you have the opportunity in future pilgrimages! After which, I walked to the Old City to visit the first Protestant Church in the whole of Middle East. It’s called Christ Church (near Jaffa gate) and inside, there is a heritage center that speaks of British missionary efforts to encourage Jewish migration, even before the First Zionist Congress happened! Eventually, I caught up with the Pandan group and joined them for a day tour at two archaeological sites (Maresha and Lachish) but found these places uninteresting.
Nearing Christmas, I went to an Arab-Catholic village and helped at a crafts and Chinese calligraphy table. The purpose was to give out gospel tracts and booklets in Arabic. I wished I could speak Arabic to speak to all the children who came for the crafts. Because of this, I think I will try learning Arabic next year!
After this event, I found opportunities again to give out gospel tracts—one under the Messianic congregation I go to and another with just a group of believers. The reason why evangelistic efforts are intense during this period is because Christmas and Hanukkah fall in the same week! Haifa is the only city in Israel to have this festival called the Holiday of Holidays. So we made use of this time to give out as many tracts as we could. Again, I am still very limited in my language, yet I see people reading the tracts after I put them into their hands. That is already a seed planted! One thing that struck me was the Christians who have this zeal and willingness to be used by God to speak to those whom He would bring on their way. There were two Jewish young men who joined us from the military. They specially made sweatshirts with Bible verses on them, wore them and then just stood in the middle of the street, and looked for conversational opportunities with tracts in hand. One of them told me that God has been using him as His witness in the army and he thanked God for this time of mandatory service for the country, which really becomes service for the Lord.
The last highlight was a field trip to Tel Aviv/Jaffa. Our professor brought us to a Christian guesthouse called Beit Immanuel in the south of Tel Aviv. The person in charge of the place is also a Messianic Jew. The students asked him, “What is a Messianic Jew?”, and he just shared without any reservations and fear. We were there only for a really short while but I will definitely go back there again to find out more of its history.
In short, even though there were no Christmas services/meetings for me to attend, I thought this Christmas in the Holy Land was really a special one for me because of these experiences. I was also listening to True Life’s message on the Ministry of the Gospel from Romans 15 and all these encounters made the message even more meaningful. I am reminded of my purpose here in Israel and am thankful I can serve God in these little ways. I still have much to share but this should be enough for now.
I know that FEBC is going to start in a couple of days and I am seeing all these scenes of students checking in, cleaning the campus etc in my head. My thoughts are with you all in the college. I will sign up for the online course too!
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