I am writing this from Guest Room 1, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (Malaysian Theological Seminary), Seremban. I am here to teach a Doctor of Ministry Seminar (DMin) on a theology of the ministry and the minister. It’s a one-week intensive. The pace is brutal. We start at 8 am in the morning and finish at 6 pm in the evening. Today I had a chance to say “hi” to Dr Ezra Kok, the principal. I told him that the hours of the seminar were crazy and that some ginseng tea would help. I was pleasantly surprised when, a little later, Dr Kok’s secretary passed me a flask of ginseng tea, a little touch that reminded me that I was cared for. But then STM (Seminari Theoloji Malaysia) has always been kind to me.
This is not the first time I am staying in Guest Room 1. STM has invited me to do various things for them over the years and whenever I have had to stay over I have always been assigned Guest Room 1. The faculty and staff have always given me a warm welcome. I remember there was once I was supposed to take a series of talks on time management for an alumni gathering but completely forgot to come for the first session. I was somewhat distracted because my dad was very ill. They just rearranged the meetings. Grace.
I will always remember STM as one of the first institutions to invite me to minister after the black years of my divorce and church discipline. At first I couldn’t believe that a major institution like STM would risk allowing someone with my history to minister among them. I told them that surely there would be those who would complain. The STM leadership claimed that they had not heard any complaints. I knew this could not be true. They had decided to risk grace. They did this many times. Looking back, I realise that they have been a key instrument of God’s healing in my life.
STM continues to minister God’s grace to me. I am very humbled by this invitation to teach a DMin seminar. I only have a DMin myself. Surely they should have gotten an instructor with better academic credentials. I voiced my reservations to Dr Philip Siew, the Dean of Postgraduate Studies, and to one or two other faculty members. Their response: they wanted someone with the relevant experience. My reply: I will make available to the class the lessons I have learned from my many mistakes. Grace.
So, yes, the demands of the seminar are ridiculous. And I am back in two weeks to do a Master of Ministry seminar that will be only a little less crazy. But I am glad to be here. I am happy to be given these opportunities to repay my debt of love (Romans 13:8). I owe STM big time. But they insist I owe them nothing. Grace.