AGST MTh(Ed) at Bible College of Malaysia

Bible College of Malaysiadormitory and apartments behind the basketball court

Living room: great to have two TVs but no programs worth watching!great to have two beds but no companion!

The 5th module of the AGST MTh(Ed) program was held at the Bible College of Malaysia. Finding my way there from Bangsar station was simple and it was a treat to have a comfortable and spacious apartment all to myself. Pastor Benedict Muthusamy, my good friend was supposed to be my roomate, but he withdrew from the course at the last moment,  and I was left all alone but I was not complaining. The solitude was strangely pleasant.

Raju Indian restaurant - sedapI got roti planta instead of roti prata

This Aussie was highly adaptable: even tried durian

The college was having a trimester break so it was quiet and we had to eat out for all our meals. Turn right and walk for 10 minutes and you have a row of shops with the famous Raju restaurant. Several meals, both breakfasts of roti chanai and thosai, as well as banana leaf lunches and dinner were had here as well as at Kanna Curry which was nearer, just a 3 minutes walk to the left of the college entrance. No more Indian food for me for a few months. Another famous restaurant was the Ipoh Ngah Chai Chicken, and its neighbour coffeeshop which sold exactly the same stuff but cheaper.No more chicken rice for me in the next few months. After a week, I felt great empathy for the grumbling Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years on a highly restricted menu.

Allan Harkness(Dean), Arthur Brown(guest lecture), Dr Perry Shaw

Indry, Khanattha, Arthur, Winnie, Perry, Ladeq, Kenny, Lina, Derrick

interaction, presentations, lectures

discussions, question and answer

lots of  10 nminutes teabreaks to perk us up

It was an enriching learning experience for me as the lecturer Dr Perry Shaw guided us through a wealth of materials to equip us in “Building formative faith communities”. Arthur Brown began with a theological basis for community rooted in the Dr Perry: skilled teacher, culturally sensitive, considerate and caringTrinity. From that theological base, Dr Perry Shaw continued to build an understanding of the self; group dynamics; hidden curriculum; form and meaning; understanding church culture and its interaction with the community; and the dynamics of change. The unfamiliarDerrick Chong: my Tung Ling classmate material which employs tools from social sciences, social psychology, and anthropology was challenging but fresh. It gave us an introduction to tools by which new insights and perspectives could be gained when we intentionally build faith communities.

It was lovely to see the same batch of students and to renew acquaintances with them. In addition, I met an old classmate of Tung Ling Bible School, a short term training I did in 1979. His name was Derrick Chong. It was such a pleasure to catch up with him.

AGST MTH(ED) – Making Disciples (4th module)

recreation area at Malaysian Bible Seminary in Kuang

Studying is a spiritual discipline – one that helps you to grow spiritually in grace. Yet it was with some apprehension that I entered into a formal program of study. After all it had been over twenty years since I wrote essays with endnotes and bibliographies. And the sight of students studying in the Trinity Theological College’s library always evoked feelings of pity in me for them. The Asia Graduate School of Theology Master’s in Theology (Education) is the only post-graduate course that appealed to me and stoked my long dormant affair with education. Only that my interest had shifted long ago from school to education in the faith community. So the challenge felt like climbing Mt Kinabalu: it’s doable, but you may not make it, and it called for preparation, sweat, money, and perseverence.

Kuang, the town where the Malaysian Bible Seminary(MBS) campus was located is 45 minutes north of Kuala Lumpur Sentral by KTM. MBS had bought over and renovated what was formerly a leisure farm/golf country club. This would lend the MBS the my hostel roomdistinction of being the only bible school in all of South East Asia with a swimming pool! The hostel room I stayed in was once a golf driving range and its door open to an open field. There was even a very large indoor stadium for basketball and badminton. The grounds were large and breezy: I liked it immediately on arrival. Though the furnishings were spartan, they were clean and there was an attached bathroom and airconditioning. The AGST program would move among its several  affiliated member theological institutions in Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand.

While we were there, the Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church was also using the grounds for a two week intensive vacation bible school for school leavers. There were about 30 of them studying the Word in depth in the mornings; workshops in the afternoon and ministry at night. At the end of the school they would take all the services in the church over the weekend, except preaching. Another group that used the place was SIB KL’s worship ministry having a 2 days retreat.

S- Rev. Benedict Muthusamy; myself; Ms Winnie Chan; Ms Ladeq Mutang; rev Carlos Pena. Seated- Ms Lina Kristo; Ms Khanittha Panam; Dr Sylvia Collinson.

The lecturer was Dr Sylvia Collinson and she had written her thesis on Making Disciples which was then the basis of her published book, “Making Disciples: The significance of Jesus’s educational methods for today’s church”. Having read her book as part of the preparation I was keen to interact with her and the other students. The students were of different nationalities and ethnicity: Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean. They are theological lecturers, pastors and leaders of parachurch groups. We were all at different stages of the course, some near the end, others at the middle, and me and Carlos just at the beginning.

The readings before the course were beneficial and since reading and writing are pleasurable activities for me, doing the reading report and the class presentation were as easy as climbing Bukit Timah Hill. Its the formal essay requiring research, footnotes and bibliography that presents a psychological barrier. To help me overcome that, Benedict installed in my laptop a software called “Endnote”.

lectures and interaction

We began at 9am each morning and typically ended around 4.30 to 5pm, including Saturday. The course was marked with a good balance of lecture, small group discussions, class presentations. Everyone contributed to the learning but the lecturer was the main contributor and facilitator as well. I look forward to the next course in April on Spiritual Formation. But first I need to complete an essay for this course by the end of February.

CarlosLadeq MutangKhanittha PanamBenedict MuthusamyMrs Winnie ChanDr Sylvia Collinson

Meal times were leisurely and the food was good local fare. Breakfast was mostly Malaysian, and only on one occasion we went Western with bread, bacon, eggs, sausages and baked beans. The banter were usually stories, discussions over lectures and getting to know you stuff. All were mature people with a sense of purpose. It was enjoyable.

good Malaysian food