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Melbourne School of Theology

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011


Mission to people on a swamp “Despite living next to ‘a stinking swamp’ with poor sanitation and little connection to the outside world, we felt God strongly convicting us to working with these people,” was the way Donna* described her experience, her excitement bubbling over the phone. According to Donna, sixteen separate missionaries couples or families had visited the project over the past 12 months but none felt they could live there. In fact, none stayed more than 24 hours. Both Bachelor of Ministry students at MST, Donna* and her husband Josh* returned in the past month from a ‘mission survey’ with Australian agency AM Missions*, to explore mission projects across Asia, in particular a new frontier project among an extremely unreached people group, who live in great isolation from other ethnic groups, on an island in one of SE Asia’s largest nations. Donna and Josh have decided since their return that they will move, along with their four children, to live among this people group. Their plan, subject to raising the required support, is to leave in July 2012 and spend the first


12-18 months in language school once they arrive in country. “Despite the inherent risks and dangers, this people group and project really resonated with our heart beat because we get to be part of God’s mission to these people,” Donna said. The distinct ethnic group, numbering between 4-5 million, is of strong Islamic heritage which pervades much of life and society, though much of their religious practice is steeped with folk beliefs. However they are often suspicious of outsiders and do not intermingle well with other ethnic groups and no churches are known to exist amongst them. Donna and Josh will be part of a new team which has many challenges, including how they even enter this area and be allowed to stay. They say they have tentative plans to establish a community development project to open a platform to begin a church planting movement in the area. Donna and Josh chose MST because of its missional focus and heritage and first became involved with AM Missions through its presence at MST. Josh began his theological studies at a conservative denominational college in Sydney

but realised he had to look elsewhere to study missional topics he was interested in. They weren’t even aware of the MST Centre for the Study of Islam and other Faiths (CSIOF) though they recognise now it’s really equipped them for their future mission. “Coming to the completion of my studies, I am eternally thankful to the CSIOF Faculty who have equipped us more than they will ever realise, to reach out to Muslims who are our focus ministry group,” Josh said. ‘Josh’ and ‘Donna’ would love to share more about their plans. To find out more or support them make contact at *Security Warning To protect the individuals and the mission, personal names, the name of the country, province and island, people group and mission agency have all been changed.

MST OPEN DAY Saturday 8 October, 2.00-5.00pm Invite potential students to join you

Melbourne School of Theology

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Fueling the Flame in Mid-Life Ministry Steve’s story Steve McGaw is 53 and has served as a pastor in various churches for 25 years. At last count he was on 14 church and parachurch boards and committees. In the recent census when he came to the question, how many hours did you work last week, he honestly wrote down ‘75’. Steve is a great communicator, has terrific people skills, and the 10 successful years he spent in management with Mobil before he went to Bible College have made him much-sought after by the boards of Christian organizations. Steve’s big problem is he can’t say no. And, if he’s honest he enjoys being needed and sought-after. But he just seems to lurch from meeting to meeting. Quiet times are a thing of the distant past, and more and more of his sermons are recycles of material he prepared years ago.

One of the great dangers of ‘mid-life ministry’ is that the steam can run out of our passion for Christ and for Christian service. Steve has begun to realise that it’s all taking its toll. He’s forever getting colds. He doesn’t exercise. And he’s begun to take anti-depressants. But the most troubling thing of all is that Steve realises that he’s lost the passion for ministry. He wears the mask of the joyful Christian before the congregation on Sunday, but it really hides the fact that he now finds so much of his ministry to be sheer drudgery. Early retirement is sounding really good.


Actually, Steve McGaw is a fiction. But he does exist, and is working in many Christian ministries across this country. One of the great dangers of ‘mid-life ministry’ is that the steam can run out of our passion for Christ and for Christian service. What causes the Passion to die down? As with Steve, it’s often just the busyness of ministry. And if you’re competent, then the range of things you are invited to do, increases. At the very time in your life when you have less energy, and age is beginning to catch up on you, then you become busier. Then there’s the pressure to achieve in a competitive world. We live in a world and a church where the chief – and often the only – criterion for success is numbers. But if you feel you haven’t succeeded then there can be a loss of idealism. By mid-life many look back with a profound sense of disappointment, wondering “what have I achieved?” Finally, there are those intractable relationship problems. Little takes a greater emotional toll than repeated conflict and criticism.

So, how do we refuel the Passion? Firstly, there’s nothing like seeing lives transformed and people growing in Christ. That’s why Graduation is my favourite MST event. Here we see the fruit of our labours, as students are sent out to various ministries. Of course, along with that there’s no escaping the importance of regular prayer and Bible reading. We’ve just got to do it? Then finally, take time to enjoy the good things God has given us: family and friends, holidays, and the many blessings of creation. John Piper calls spiritual apathy “ a kind of sacrilege”. It does dishonour God when something else (our hobby, our footy team, even our spouse) is considered more worthy of our passion than the one who loved us and made us to find our ultimate joy in him.

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Melbourne School of Theology

MST: Still in Debt … to Stott by Rev Michael Raiter, Principal

Despite significant structural and location changes, with a new campus, new brand name and growing student numbers, Melbourne School of Theology has been blessed enough to come through the past year in the black … financially debt free. However, while most students and alumni might not have been aware of it, MST still owes a significant debt to the evangelist and Biblical scholar Rev Dr John Stott, who left this earth to be with his Lord on 27 July 2011. To my knowledge, John Stott never taught or even visited MST, BCV or MBI. However few men or women in the last 50 years have profoundly shaped the worldview and priorities of our students as the godly, faithful and unassuming Rector of All Souls, Langham Place. Of course he did come to Melbourne at one time to conduct a mission to Melbourne University. At the time he stayed with Stuart Barton Babbage, Bible scholar and former Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. Amusingly, Barton Babbage recalls that Stott was a memorable guest who delighted his children by teaching them the longest word in the English language, floccinaucinihilipilification! Three areas stand out in which MST owes a debt to John Stott. First, Stott exemplified and promoted expository preaching. Indeed, for many people, hearing 3

John Stott preach was their first exposure to expository preaching. Stott described preaching as “opening up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and God’s people obey him”. Stott’s reverence for Scripture and his desire to allow the text to set the agenda for the sermon have profoundly impacted preaching. Through his careful exposition of the Scriptures, week by week at All Soul’s, Langham Place, at the various conferences he addressed throughout the world, and through his commentaries, Stott commended to Christians a way of preaching which is most faithful to Scripture itself and enables the pastor, or College Principal, to effectively shepherd the flock entrusted to them. MST, both as a Bible college, and through its long and close association with Belgrave Heights Convention, has had as one of its guiding principles the importance and centrality of expository preaching. Twice a week the MST community gathers for Chapel, and whenever we meet we prayerfully gather around God’s word to hear the scriptures expounded. Secondly, like MST, Stott remained passionate about world mission. He will always be remembered for the decisive role he played at the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, a gathering of 2,700 Christian leaders from over 150 countries. The conference produced one of the most significant Christian

Stott at the 1974 Lausanne Congress

documents of all time, the Lausanne Covenant, a Christian manifesto that affirmed both the centrality of evangelism to world mission, and the urgency to complete the task. The 2,300 signatories, affirmed: We believe the Gospel is God’s good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ’s commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation. The drafting committee for this important document was chaired by John Stott. While Stott himself would later modify his position, giving more weight to the role of socio-political involvement in the mission of the church, he continued to affirm that evangelism is the greatest service that the church can offer to the world. MST has stood firmly in the tradition of the Lausanne Covenant, and continues to teach and train the next generation of Christians who will be sent out into the world, first and foremost, to proclaim the eternal gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. While Continued over…

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Melbourne School of Theology …Continued from previous most of our graduates may not be aware of the content of the Lausanne Covenant, they have been shaped and moulded by its priorities and commitments. Thirdly, one of Stott’s lasting legacies has been the establishment of the Langham Partnership. Now an international organisation, Langham Partnership has three main ministries. Langham Books provides theological books for seminary libraries, pastors and theological students in the majority world. Langham Scholars provides scholarships to enable younger evangelical teachers from the majority world to study for doctorates in biblical and theological fields. They then return to teaching positions of strategic influence in their own countries. Next year MST will welcome its first Langham Scholar to the College. Qaiser Julius is the director of the Open Theological Seminary in Pakistan and will be coming to MST to study under Prof Peter Riddell at our Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths. Thirdly, Langham Preaching conducts seminars to equip young men and women in expository preaching. MST has been privileged to partner with Langham in this important ministry. It is my prayer for MST that we will continue to honour the legacy of John Stott by remaining a college centred around expository preaching, which sends out men and women with a clear commitment to gospel proclamation, and which continues to partner with groups like Langham, who are committed to the maturing and strengthening of the worldwide church. Thank you John. MST and its students will forever be in your debt!

New for Old Librarian Back to MST

After 17 years of ministry interstate, Ros Devenish has returned as the new but old Librarian to MST. Prior to returning to MST, Ros worked as Librarian at Morling College in Sydney for 4 years and before that was the Spiritual Care Coordinator at Hawkesbury District Health Service, a role she describes as “challenging but wonderful.”   Prior to this, Ros moved to Melbourne in 1987 for her husband Stuart to work with OMF, and Ros commenced part-time as Librarian at BCV in 1988-89, which gradually moved to full time as the College grew and the library developed. Ros and Stuart lived on campus with their young sons during 1992-93 while Stuart completed his Masters Degree and she saw many graduates continue into full-time missionary service with OMF during their time in Melbourne.

Alumni and Friends

Cup Day Afternoon Tea Melbourne Cup Day 1 November, 2.30-4.00pm RSVP: Tuesday, 25 October Anne Horswell, phone 9881 7821 or

MST OPEN DAY Saturday 8 October, 2.00-5.00pm Invite potential students to join you


“The thing I loved most about BCV was the terrific community fellowship enjoyed no matter whether it was study time, Friday afternoon duties or one of the many special mealtimes  spent together,” Ros remembers. “God laid it on our hearts to return home to Melbourne to be closer to part of our family and maybe even to call Victoria home for good,” Ros said. Ros, who has been married to Stuart for 35years, has two adult sons, Sam and Luke, who are both married, with one grand son and a second grand child on the way in early October. 

2011 Annual Leonard Buck Lecture in Missiology

Integral mission in a disintegrating world Tuesday 18 October, 7.30 - 9.30 pm Exploring the impact of 21st Century missiological thinking on the theology of integral mission. Delivered by David Williams, Development and Training Secretary at CMS Australia. MST, Corner of Burwood and Mountain Hwys, Wantirna

Melbourne School of Theology

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

A conversation with Tim Most readers would have heard in July that the Council announced the appointment of Rev Tim Meyers as its next Principal, joining MST later this year. However, apart from a few introductory facts and statements in the recent media release, many MST alumni and friends would never have spoken to Tim so we asked him a few personal questions on your behalf to start to get to know him. In terms of your personal faith journey, tell us about your greatest influence “In terms of my Christian faith and convictions, my early life as a missionary kid in Papua New Guinea was probably the most formative and significant influence that’s shaped my life,” he said. “Obviously having deeply committed parents, who were themselves serving in missions, was tremendously important. Not only did I witness personally the profound impact of the gospel in a cross-cultural setting but our entire context was one in which knowing Jesus and living in light of the call of God was by far the most important thing. “I gave my life to Christ at a young age and have never really walked away, either from that sense of calling or my own personal commitment to the Gospel.” What has God taught you about leadership and how? “God has a way of ensuring, I think, that the most profound and life-shaping experiences come as often, if not mostly, through pain, and brokenness, rather than through accomplishments and ‘success’. Certainly that’s been my own sense,” he said.


“Practically speaking, my time as a local church pastor and then in mission leadership gave me insight to the tremendous privilege, yet profound challenges, complexities, sometimes loneliness, and most important, the daily dependence on the grace of God that often accompanies leadership. “Of course there have been many tremendous joys, particularly those seasons when there is growth and spiritual fruit. “Building teams, working with wonderful people, exploring creative and strategic ideas and seeing God at work in unique and remarkable ways in people’s lives are some of the great privileges of leadership. “And yet I reflect almost daily, with a deep sense of reverence and thanksgiving, at the ways God seems to delight in using ordinary and inadequate people to do things that can have eternal value. I count myself honoured to have been able to serve Him over many years.” Tim, how do you re-create yourself, what are your recreational interests? “At the moment I really enjoy kite-surfing, running, riding my bike and pretty much anything that gets me active, and outdoors!,” he said.

“But I also love reading; hanging out with friends, a nice coffee, spending time with my terrific kids or a lovely quiet weekend away just with Kathryn.” What are you most looking forward to at MST? “I feel a deep sense of honour and privilege to be asked to take on this role. MST has such a rich and unique history and the men and women who have trained here have influenced generations of people in the cause of Christ. “My hope and my prayer is that somehow I can continue to help build on the incredible foundation, history and heritage, and calling of MST to equip and train God’s people to effectively live for and declare the Gospel, both here in Australia and around the world. “I’m incredibly excited by what I already sense to be the calibre and commitment of the faculty, staff and students and look forward immensely to serving alongside them, working with them and partnering with our alumni and supporters, churches and mission agencies, to engage a world desperately in need of the Gospel.” Continued over…

Melbourne School of Theology …Continued from previous

More About Tim

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

MST’s DNA: World engagement MST’s Most Recent Recruit Dr Scott Harrower Talks About Why He Chose MST

Tim grew up in a missionary family in Papua and New Guinea before moving to Melbourne, where he met and married Kathryn. They now have five children. Tim holds strong academics with a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary, with a double major in Systematic Theology and Bible Exposition and is currently deferred for Doctoral Studies with Fuller Theological Seminary. He brings to MST extensive leadership experience as a pastor at Ashgrove and Helensvale Baptist Churches in Queensland from 1991 to 2000, and then as a mission leader with Pioneers. Until recently, Tim served as Associate Director of Pioneers International, having been National Director of Pioneers of Australia from 2000 to 2008. Tim has lived in Melbourne for the past 10 years and is well-known among churches in Victoria, as well as around Australia and beyond, through his mission leadership activities, preaching and teaching.

The conversation started as abruptly as it finished. Scott had squeezed me in while preparing his latest lecture on the Doctrine of God and work of Christ for our secondary campus in Melbourne CBD, ‘MST in the City’. Speaking to theologians and church leaders around Melbourne, they all knew of Scott and his talents and were aware that he’d joined the Faculty at MST after starting his academic career at Ridley, then moving to work alongside D.A. Carson at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (USA) and completing his PhD under Graeme Cole …  but few understood why.   So I asked Scott straight up, ‘Why join MST?’ For Scott the answer came without hesitation. It was simple, clear and concise. “Two words. World engagement,” he said. “MST was by far my preferred first choice because world engagement is such a big thing for me, and it’s part of MST’s DNA, not just an add on. “I mean, the whole of MST is built on C.H. Nash’s vision for the Gospel in Asia and we have real connections with the world on Faculty – from South America to the South Pacific, from the United States to the Middle East, Germany to Africa, Pakistan to PNG … all places our students may end up.” From as early as he could remember, Scott has been involved internationally and cross-culturally. Growing up in Argentina as a member of a CMS missionary family, Scott grew


up speaking Spanish and Portuguese as well as he could speak English, and still speaks Spanish among his siblings whenever they are together. “Another big standout for me,” Scott says, “is that I’ve been a big fan for many years of MST’s Doctor of Ministry (DMin) model offered by MST Postgraduate.

“We need to give students a dymanic theology, more than just knowing the Bible and Church History, but we need to equip not just for the next 5 or 10 years of ministry… “If the church can enable both the continuing education and also capturing the wisdom our ministers have gained over their years of ministry, we will be building upon each other’s strengths,” he said. Scott has a long passion for both healthy churches, as a pastor in both Anglican and independent Bible Church settings. Following his initial theological training (an M. Div and Grad Dip in Bible and Theology), Scott completed a Research Master of Theology at Ridley College, on Calvin’s Theology of the Trinity in his commentary on John’s Gospel, before moving to the USA to undertake a PhD on the Trinity in Luke and Acts at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He says he was blessed to have intellectual giant of the faith Don Carson as both a boss and role model while researching and working at TEDS. They worked closely together, Continued over…

Melbourne School of Theology …Continued from previous lecturing, marking and researching and writing a number of scholarly papers and books. “D.A. was a real role model of how an academic can serve both a pastoral role as well as being a thought leader.” “The vast amount of academic works he published, the teaching he did, the pastoral role, as well as being a really good family man - but most of all his steady discipline,” Scott said. “He also provided a good example of a person with a big Kingdom view,” he said. He says he and Kate were planning all along to be missionaries ‘slumming it in South America’ but their plans were turned on their head when they had twins in 2004 with health complications.

“There seems to be a real energy among faculty and students at the moment, an optimism which is really big,” Unsure what God had for his future, Scott remembers a conversation with the Late Bishop John Wilson, which would change his path forever. “Bishop Wilson said the church needed more theologians and suggested I do a PhD through Princeton University in the United Stated,” Scott said. “When I started researching it, the Supervisor at Princeton said something like ‘If you want to do something so Biblical, you’re better off doing it at St Andrew’s in Scotland or TEDs in Chicago,” he said “So I checked them both out but decided basically that Scotland was too cold, so on the way from a Lausanne Conference in Hungary, I dropped in for a week long date with Graeme Cole, ended up supervising my PhD.”


MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Despite sitting in an office surrounded by thick theological texts, holding several degrees and speaking half a dozen languages, Scott describes himself as “not a natural geek.” “When I get out of here of an evening, I love to go home, watch Sci-Fi movies and play Xbox with my kids,” he says. In deciding to return to Australia, Scott was keen to be part of an institution raising the academic bar for ministry, however, wanted to qualify by adding, “I don’t believe in academia for academia’s sake.” In Scott’s mind, being an academic is all about making disciples. “I don’t want to create a bunch of little Scotts but want to teach, to model to people what it means to be deep disciples. “I hope to model that discipleship is more important than life-long learning.” “There are lots of missionary and bible colleges in Australia, USA and Europe but the many of them are simply training people to do mission, a skill-based functional approach.” “What MST adds to this is Bible, History, Theology and an understanding of Culture, in order to enable a deeper discipleship and ministry, which will help students cope with whichever situation God’s hand puts them in … “ “We need to give students a dymanic theology, more than just knowing the Bible and Church History, but we need to equip not just for the next 5 or 10 years of ministry

but modeling discipleship so they can handle confidently anything they have before them under God’s hand.” Scott also talks openly about what he calls a ‘life-long affinity’ with BCV and MST. He remembers the college out at Lilydale when he was just a teenager and his father, John Harrower, now Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, completed an MA in Mission at BCV. He also had a long association with current Principal, Michael Raiter. “I came back, moved half way around the world to work with Mike Raiter and I get here, and he announces he is leaving,” he said jokingly. However Scott says the college is moving ahead strongly and positively and is looking forward to working with Tim Meyers when he starts later this year. “There seems to be a real energy among faculty and students at the moment, an optimism which is really big,” he said, as he ran out the door to deliver his next lecture. Wow. Scott can say a lot in 3 mins if you get him started on a topic he’s passionate about. Why not engage him in conversation when you visit MST Open Day on 8 October? Rev Dr Scott Harrower teaches theology and church history at undergraduate and graduate level at MST and is also involved in supervising postgraduate research at the MST institute. Scott can be contacted on 9881 7809.

MST Postgraduate

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Constructing an Asian Theology of Common Grace “Throughout my years of theological teaching in South East Asia, I’ve yet to discover any Asian theologian who has been directly influenced by the twentieth-century Western Reformed theology of common grace,” says ThD candidate, Jim Blumenstock. Jim recently spent just over 4 weeks in Melbourne as part of his induction to postgraduate research. He is one of the first postgraduate candidates under a new system, pioneered by MST Postgraduate (now available to all ACT Colleges), which allows candidates from all over the world to be enrolled in postgraduate research or coursework while remaining resident in their location for mission or ministry. Instead of having to raise three years of fees and accommodation costs in advance of being granted a student visa, students can now study part-time and travel here annually for contact with their supervisor and engage in the scholarly community at MST Postgraduate.

Jim came to MST from Thailand, where he has been Assistant Professor of Historical and Philosophical Theology at the Asia Biblical Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Chiang Mai. He also spends much of his time travelling to Myanmar, Singapore, PNG, South Korea and China, teaching an intensive seminar in philosophical and historical theology, with a little bit in systematic theology. His research will, in simple terms, be working out how to frame a Thai theological system in a way that takes account of both the Western solutions from Neo-Calvinist writers on common grace and the pluralistic worldview of the Thai mindset, focusing particularly on the ways God’s grace is manifest within cultures beyond an intersection with the Gospel. Jim could have chosen anywhere in the world to complete his ThD but says “I was drawn to MST because of its high academic standards, its strong mission heritage in Asia as well as its excellent faculty in MST Chinese,” he said.

Recent Doctoral graduate, Kwasi Boateng, has returned to his native Ghana after many years abroad to take up the role of Principal for the recently refounded seminary; Life Bible College. Kwasi will be involved in organizing and restructuring the college, enrolment, course structure and content, online facility, and seeking national accreditation. His Doctoral Thesis, titled ‘Serving the Lord in a “Strange Land”, was an enquiry into Southern Sudanese worship in Melbourne, examining how dislocation and relocation, and Australia’s socioeconomic culture have impacted or are impacting the Christian life of members of four Sudanese churches.  “Our mission is to the wider church, not just to individual students, to develop theologians undergirding tomorrow’s church today. So Kwasi is a great example of the core purpose of MST Postgraduate,”says Rev Dr Jeff Pugh, Dean of MST Nash Institute.

“This is an issue of contextualisation which is vital if the gospel is to encounter Thai minds in categories indigenous to that culture without the loss of the particular shape and sharpness of the Gospel itself,” said Dean of MST Postgraduate, Rev Dr Jeff Pugh.

Kwasi Boateng

MST OPEN DAY Saturday 8 October, 2.00-5.00pm Invite potential students to join you


MST Chinese

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Human Passion + God’s Approval = Anything is Possible MST Chinese has taken a strategic step towards reaching its dream with the launch of an updated master plan for its development between now and 2022, according to Rev Dr Y.C. Liong, Dean of MST Chinese. “We recognised the need to take a long term view, so the MST Chinese Strategic Plan lays the foundation for growth over the next ten years, from 2012-2022,”he said. The dreams Dr Liong referred to include providing accredited postgraduate programs, such as MA, MTh & DMin; establishing a Chinese Research Centre for local and international scholars and; setting up the infrastructure to offer distance courses online. The Strategic Plan was developed following an extensive review, from its mission and objectives to analysis of the external and internal environments. The review and analysis predicted the population of Melbourne to reach 5.9 million by 2051 and showed that MST Chinese,

as the only institution in Australia offering accredited undergraduate or postgraduate theological degrees fully in Chinese, is absolutely critical to a healthy and growing Chinese church in Melbourne and Australia more broadly. “It needs to be stated that the training of pastors and church workers, missionaries and lay leaders for the Chinese churches in Australia and beyond remains the key function and driver of MST Chinese,” Dr Liong said. “However, the enhancement of the theological foundation in the evangelical position of Chinese churches is also an important responsibility, and our research centre, with a strong evangelical stand will contribute immensely to global Christianity, particularly in the Christian academy,” he said. MST Chinese, which has been in operation as a full-time theological education provider since 1996, has had over 140 graduates, with 70%

involved in pastoral ministries or missionary work in Australia and abroad. “In short, the contribution of MST Chinese to Australia and beyond is immeasurably exciting,” Dr Liong said. The move to the new modern campus at Wantirna, co-locating with MST, has allowed MST Chinese to grow considerably, and under the Plan, will increase from three to four full-time lecturers in 2012, growing to seven full time lecturers by 2022. “When human passion is coupled with God’s approval, anything is possible at MST Chinese,” Dr Liong said.

MST Chinese Diary Dates Open Seminar on Family Ministry Saturday 15 October Graduation Ceremony Saturday 26 November

MST OPEN DAY Saturday 8 October, 2.00-5.00pm Invite potential students to join you


MST Chinese

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

New Light on Good Samaritan From Trinity Scholar David Pao The Good Samaritan was exposed under new light when visiting lecturer and international scholar Dr David W. Pao took the stage to speak on the Parables in Luke, at the second annual symposium hosted by the MST Chinese Research Centre this July. A renowned New Testament scholar and Associate Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr Pao gave a fresh interpretation of the Good Samaritan. He brought everyone’s focus to the powerless victim and drew a parallel with the wounded Jesus on the Cross.

Participants “learned surprising new ways of looking at familiar texts… [stimulating] deeper and wider application in teaching and preaching in the Church.” “Who is this man’s neighbour? Jesus asks, and his answer lies in the one who ‘receives’ him! It links directly back to the original question: What must I do to inherit eternal life?’’” Dr Pao said. The MST Chapel was full to overflowing with the vast majority leaders and pastors of Chinesespeaking churches across Melbourne, including many current and former students at MST Chinese. Three MST lecturers also presented their insights to the Lukan Parables: Dr Greg Forbes on the theology in the Parables; Dr Justin Tan on the Parable of the Ten Servants and; Dr King She on The 10

Rich Man and Lazarus . All agreed that the Lukan Parables have much to say about applying the Word of God to contemporary life. The MST Chinese Research Centre, established in 2009 and headed by our Resident Scholar Rev Dr Justin Tan was founded to meet the growing need for deeper studies of the Christian faith among the Chinese in Australia. “It was very encouraging to see so many church leaders positively respond to this seminar,” Dr Tan said. “We are once again assured of our goal in meeting the desire for deepening the understanding of God’s Word,” he said. One senior pastor who attended remarked, “Chinese Church leaders across Melbourne and interstate are eager for more symposiums of this kind. This symposium was the highlight of my learning this year... please organize more, as many times as possible!” The main aim of events like this is to foster mature theological and Biblical thinking in the Australian Chinese Church. As a training

ground for God’s workers, MST will seek further opportunities for such open seminars in the future. “MST has always tried to present a fresh perspective on the Biblical text. However the audience at the symposium got to learn surprising new ways of looking at familiar texts, serving as a stimulus for deeper and wider application in teaching and preaching in the Church,” Dr Tan said.

Dean of MST Chinese Rev Dr Y C Liong welcomes Dr David W Pao

MST Chinese

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

20 Years in Waiting … Biblical Studies Taking Hold in Peking It was the Summer of 1990 and a balmy afternoon in Beijing. A young pastor from Hong Kong stood defiantly outside the official gate to Peking University, which had been inaccessible to outsiders. There had been unrest in the past year. The Authorities took the cautious approach to prevent the situation from escalating again. All the young pastor wanted to do is to savour the poetical beauty of the famous academic institution. It was not possible then. “Would you open that gate for me one day,” he cried out to God. 20 years later, that heart’s desire is being fulfilled by one of MST’s finest scholars. After more than six decades of New China, teaching of Biblical Studies and Christian Theology is finally being endorsed in China. “This is such an exciting new development both for Peking University and Biblical Studies in China as a whole,” MST Chinese’ Rev Dr Justin Tan said.

Almost in unison the said: “…we want to know, are you a Christian?” For many decades, Biblical studies was not seen as a rigorous academic discipline within universities in China. However, in the past decade, recognizing some of the social benefits of religion, the Chinese Government has encouraged a secular study of ‘Religious Studies’ within Philosophy Departments.


However things have moved significantly in the last few years with MST Chinese’ Resident Scholar and Senior Lecturer Rev Dr Justin Tan now teaching Biblical Studies at a Post-Graduate level at Peking University, one of China’s oldest and most prestigious institutions. The program involves both lecturing and supervision of thesis writing and Dr Tan spends one semester per year in China, offering Old Testament courses. “I only have 10-12 official students enrolled proper in my course,” Dr Tan suggests, “but I open the door to my lectures to anyone who wants to attend, so they are usually filled anywhere between 40 and 100 students.” He now also teaches undergraduate students, drawing students from other Faculties as well. As a result, it throws the door of the University wide open for the discipline of Biblical Studies. The journey behind this new venture started more than 10 years ago through a mutual agreement between

Justin Tan outside the West Gate at Peking University, standing alongside MST Chinese graduate, Charles Ho.

a U.S. based international educational organisation and the Philosophy Department at Peking University, allowing MA courses to be offered by international visiting scholars on a full-range of Theological courses for Christian leaders from all over China. About five years ago the Philosophy and Religious Department launched a Post-Graduate and PhD program in Biblical Studies for their own enrolled students. Eminent New Testament Scholar from the USA, Professor KK Yeo is the coordinator of that Program and from 2009, Dr Tan was invited to take up the post of Visiting Professor in Old Testament Studies, making Dr Tan the first professor appointed to teach Old Testament Studies in China since the times of the Western Missionaries in the 1930’s, after nearly 80 years! When asked about the experience teaching Theology in China, Dr Tan shares a memorable experience from one of his first weeks. Continued over…

MST Chinese

MST Ambassador · Issue 212 · September 2011

Justin, centre, in group photo with students at Peking University

“I don’t just teach Christian theology but I believe it to be true. I am a Christian. I am also an ordained pastor so I cannot deny that.”

…Continued from previous “I will never forget one lecture at the start of my first term at Peking University,” he remembers. “After the lecture a small but passionate group of students rose to their feet and approached me. They said, almost in unison: “Sir you have taught us very well but tell us, we want to know, are you a Christian?” Dr Tan had heard stories of visiting lecturers being frowned on for speaking too overtly about their personal faith. Still, unsure of the political sensibilities of sharing one’s own personal faith convictions while teaching in China, he answered in the only way he could. “I don’t just teach Christian theology but I believe it to be true. I am a Christian. I am also an ordained pastor so I cannot deny that,” he said. “We’ve had many professors and teachers in the past who know the text but none teach it like you. We can hear and feel the difference. You teach it from your heart, not just your head,” they said. “We want you to teach it like you believe it,” the Chinese students said.


Justin says that he feels truly blessed to be working at Peking University. The main reason, he says, he always wanted to teach at Peking University is that it has had a long history of passionate and active students. “A recent independent survey conducted by one of the University’s sociology professors showed that of the total 12,000 students at Peking University, 10% declared themselves Christians, which I found very encouraging.” Dr Tan, or simply Justin as he is affectionately known by his students, says that his Chinese heritage has helped him greatly to connect with students on a personal level. He tries to form genuine relationships with all his students in Melbourne and in China, which he sees as quite distinct from many traditional academics, particularly visiting University lecturers who try to retain some distance. “I received an email recently from a Post Graduate student I’m supervising. It said “We have had many highly-esteemed visiting lecturers from Europe and America in the past but they find it very difficult to interact culturally with us as students.”

“She went on: ‘Justin, you speak like one of us, you hang out and speak to us after the lectures. We love that you feel so at home here and we feel at ease with you.” “I found that very complimentary because the truth is, I didn’t just go to China to teach, but I went there to learn. To learn about more about Chinese culture and how Christianity is developing in China.” Dr Tan, wipes a tear away from his eye as he reflects on standing outside the Gate to Peking University more than 20 years ago and how much God has done in his life and the lives of Chinese students. “To Him be the glory!” Dr Tan says.

Rev Dr Justin Tan is Resident Scholar at MST Chinese Research Centre and Senior Lecturer at MST.

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