FEBC presses on in its ministry of biblical and theological education despite the lockdowns and restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When the nation-wide “Circuit Breaker” took place on April 8, 2020, we were nearing the end of the semester and so the classes for the remaining two weeks before the exams were conducted online. The graduation service and annual retreat in Mersing had to be postponed.
Daily Vacation Bible College
DVBC is usually held during the week before Graduation Sunday. Dr Park Seung Kyu, Principal of the Bible College of East Africa (Tanzania) was to teach “The History of Fundamentalism.” The lockdown mantra—“Stay Home, Stay Safe”— meant that the course had to be offered online, together with three other courses—“The Sevenfold Will of God,” “Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology” and “Zechariah” by FEBC Principal Jeffrey Khoo. The courses were conducted from May 11 to July 5 free of charge. This is to encourage people to stay home to stay safe and what better way to do this than to study God’s Word online. 818 students from 136 churches and 12 countries signed up for the courses, a good number for credit working towards the Certificate of Religious Knowledge (CertRK, 20 credits) or Certificate of Biblical Studies (CertBS, 40 credits).
During the mid-year vacation, most of the foreign students chose to remain in Singapore and did not return to their home country. The few who left found it most difficult to return given the travel restrictions imposed by Singapore and other countries. Hence, those who chose to stay chose the better part. During their stay, they were well taken care of—free room and board, three meals a day, seven days a week all provided for by the college. We thank some friends who sponsored dinner packets for the students especially on weekends. The students in turn were cooperative and kept the campus clean. Students also took turns to cook, and those who did not know how to cook had to learn. All students now know how to cook. This is all part of their missionary training. Thank God for the peace and safety we enjoyed on campus despite the lockdown.
The new semester opened on Monday July 20 with a day of prayer. Owing to Covid-19 measures, only 40 full-time students and resident lecturers gathered at the FEBC Hall for a time of Bible reading and meditation, testimonies and thanksgiving, and prayer. It goes without saying that safe distancing had to be observed. With safe distancing of 1m, the FEBC Hall can seat 50 max. Students had to don their face masks, and the Principal had to wear his face shield. It was an unusual situation, unprecedented and uncomfortable. The service was livestreamed for others to join from their homes.
The campus remains closed to the public but lay students can take the courses online with 12 “Basic Theology for Everyone” (BTFE) courses to choose from.
Total enrolment this semester (Jul–Nov 2020) is 673: 33 fulltime and 640 part-time students (day classes: 249, night classes: 174, distance learning: 217). The day and night classes are livestreamed. Students enrolled from 14 countries: Australia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
There are no new students this semester. The immigration authorities did not respond to our application for student passes. Some students who went back home during the college vacation found it difficult to come back for classes.
Faculty and Courses
The lecturers/tutors and courses offered this semester are: Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo: Life of Christ I; Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew: Hebrew Reading I, Homiletics, OT History II, Hermeneutics (night class, live stream); Rev Dr Prabhudas Koshy: Theology of Prayer, Systematic Theology III (night class, live stream); Rev Stephen Khoo: Nehemiah; Rev Tan Kian Sing: 1 Thessalonians (live stream); Mrs Jemima Khoo: Teaching Methods, Beginner Pianoforte; Miss Carol Lee: Youth Christian Education, Women in the Bible (live stream); Rev Dr Jose Lagapa: Acts of the Apostles (live stream); Rev Clement Chew: Hebrew Elementary I; Mr Samuel Joseph: Greek Reading I; Mr Joshua Yong: Contemporary Theology I (live stream); Rev Dr Park Seung Kyu: Intertestamental History (live stream); Mr Zhu Jianwei: Systematic Theology I (Chinese, night class, live stream); Mrs Irene Lim: English Intermediate II; and Eld Han Soon Juan: English Advanced II.
Rev Dr Koa Keng Woo is taking a sabbatical and should be back next semester to teach. Mrs Ivy Tow now 82 has decided to stop teaching Greek. She continues as Matron and takes pleasure in talking to students daily at the garden by the “Sea”. Khoo May Lynn, having completed her BTh studies, is now full-time Staff Assistant.
God willing, the graduation service this year will be held on the Lord’s Day November 15.
Support from Churches
Praise the Lord for churches like Calvary Jaya BPC that support the distance learning programme of FEBC. In an email dated 21 July 2020, Dn Lim Seh Beng (MDiv 2019) on behalf of the CJBPC Session wrote to say that the church will “promote and publicise the online and in-house courses offered by the FEBC… [and] serve as a collection hub for FEBC enrolment forms and the payment of the course fees. As an encouragement for students enrolled to successfully complete their courses, CJBPC will unilaterally rebate a percentage of the course fees to those who have enrolled for course credits.” This is an excellent idea on the part of the church to encourage its members to embark on a sustained, systematic study of God’s Word.
A Macedonian call has come from Bible College of East Africa (BCEA) Rwanda. BCEA Rwanda has asked FEBC for assistance in educating their students by using the videotaped courses of FEBC. The faculty there will serve as facilitators and examiners.
Most of the faculty at BCEA are FEBC graduates, and we can be sure they would uphold high academic standards. The Rev Dr Mark Kim (EdD 2008)—principal of BCEA (Kenya and Rwanda), together with Rev Dr Park Seung Kyu (ThD 2013)—principal of BCEA (Tanzania) and his wife Dr Ra Chaewon (MDiv 2020), Rev Eben Yoon (MDiv 2005), Bai Eun Young (MRE 2004), James Tan (MDiv 2016) and his wife Shermaine (MDiv 2018) are all FEBC graduates serving as missionaries in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda). Local faculty who are FEBC graduates are Bishop Richard Kivai (BTh 83), Rev Lazarus Ngige (MMin 2015), and Lorna Were (MDiv 2010) who serve in BCEA Kenya, and Rev Judah Pallangyo (MDiv 2008) and Rev Joseph Amos (MRE 2013) in BCEA Tanzania.
The BCEA faculty believe and teach the Verbal Plenary Inspiration and Verbal Plenary Preservation of the traditional Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus, and uphold the total infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures. Since the medium of instruction is English, they use the King James Bible in the classroom, and defend it as the most faithful and reliable version of the Bible there is today.
Wedding bells have rung for some of our graduates. We congratulate Shobastian (MDiv 2018) and Murniwati (BTh 2018) who were joined in holy matrimony on 8 August 2020, and Joshua Yong (ThM 2016) and Ho Xiaowei (MDiv 2011) on August 22. Proverbs 18:22 says, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” JK
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