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March 2020

We had food for the mind, food for the soul and food(!) at ETCAsia’s first College Open Day of 2020 on Thursday, 5th March.

Our visitors got to listen to a couple of lectures on Ephesians by Rev. Dr. Ro Mody, attend college chapel and interact with faulty at an informal Q&A session.

Some of the questions which were brought up:

  • Why should one pursue a theological education?
  • What mindset should prospective bible college students have?
  • Is it worth doing a part-time programme?

Come for our next College Open Day on 7th April to find out more and get your own questions answered!

“A theological education will give you a set of glasses to view the world and understand life.”


Sarah Siew | Student

What are some things you enjoy doing as a bible college student?

I enjoy going to college! There may be a few subjects that I have a soft spot for, but I’d never be able to pick a favourite because every subject is so stimulating and encouraging. It’s been a real privilege to study the Bible and grow in my view of God.

I also enjoy the variety of nourishment and service that has been built into a typical week at college. There is principal’s hour where Andrew and the other faculty preach; chapel that is run by students; and small group time where we pray for one another. The times together in God’s word and prayer are often refreshing, and they strengthen me to follow Christ.

One more thing that I enjoy is compiling a list of articles, books and commentaries recommended by faculty or college mates, and daydreaming about reading every single one of them.

What are some difficulties you’ve experienced studying at ETC Asia?

There is always the temptation to compare myself with my classmates, and to feel inadequate and immature in comparison. I’ve been learning precious lessons about preaching the gospel to myself, fighting sinful thoughts and actions, and pursuing God’s glory instead of my own.

Another difficulty is that fatigue usually sets in during the last month of the semester, and it gets harder and takes longer to write any more words. Rest gets patchy, personal Bible reading and prayer are extremely tempting to drop, and people who I usually feel privileged to serve start feeling like a burden. So it’s been an ongoing exercise each semester to be aware of my pressure points and to develop good habits and a disciplined lifestyle.

Sarah Siew

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my Ministry Experience report. Ministry Experience requires us to bring to bear on a particular subject matter both pastoral principles and skills alongside and together with relevant Christian theology.

This semester I got more involved with the young adults ministry at church, and in this report I reflect on what has been done so far, and three particular areas that require further thinking: personal work (or 121s), leaders training, and women’s role in ministry.

I’m also working on my thesis, which is on what the Bible says about sexuality and how this should shape the way Christian young women think about purity and intimacy. This is a topic not really talked about in Singapore, so I’m keen to learn how to speak about sexuality from the Bible, so that we may all better understand and live out God’s design and purpose for us.

About Sarah

Sarah is a final-year student at ETCAsia. She is training to be the women’s worker at SMU Christian Fellowship, which was where she grew in clarity about the gospel as a student, and got exposure to gospel ministry as an intern. Her other interests include communications, which she got to dabble in prior to ETCAsia when she did admin and projects in a corporate relations department. She is a member of Mount Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church.


Nicolas Wong | ETCA Student

What are some things you enjoy doing as a bible college student?

I’ve enjoyed learning God’s word as a student. This generally comes from what I learn from classes, but also from the assignments and class discussions.

This means that I’ve had to learn that being humble is a good thing, since I’ve been humbled as my wrong ideas were corrected. However, this training is to help me to know God more so that I can teach his word more faithfully.

What are some difficulties you’ve experienced studying at ETC Asia?

I feel that the workload is heavy, and my overall load does feel heavier when I include my family commitments.

I want to understand the different subjects more for myself since I do want to know God more and how to serve his people better, and this means that I do try to put more time and effort to understand them. However, there usually comes a point in each semester when I get too exhausted, and I have to rest more.

I do appreciate the help I receive from my schoolmates. We pray for each other and try to help each other out in studies. I also appreciate that my church has prioritized my studies by reducing my ministry workload.

About Nic
Nic is a final year student at ETCAsia. After graduation, he will be serving God’s kingdom through Bethany Trinity Presbyterian Church (BTPC). He previously worked in customer service with a government agency, and left to be a ministry apprentice at BTPC. He’s married to Corlissa and they have 2 children, with one more joining the gang in December.

Nicholas Wong

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my thesis, “The Function of Elihu in the book of Job”. This thesis is an excuse for me to study things that I don’t understand: namely the whole book of Job and the role of Elihu.

What I’ve learnt so far is that the book of Job is about true wisdom. Wisdom is about understanding how God works in the world and the right response to him.

Job’s suffering led to a long discussion between him and his friends, where they pit their “wisdom” against each other. While Job is righteous at the start of the book and is rightly insists on his innocence, his understanding of God and response to God becomes increasingly arrogant towards God.

Elihu then comes onto the scene. In correcting Job’s wisdom, he corrects both Job and his friends, and anticipates God’s answer. It’s only then does Job understands God’s majesty and mercy again does he respond in humility.

The main problem in Job isn’t suffering, but suffering can reveal the sort of wisdom that we have. The book of Job then exhorts everyone, those suffering and those not suffering, to understand God who is majestic and merciful, and remain humble towards him.


Rev Dr Andrew Reid | ETCA Principal

How did you become a Christian?

I was brought up in a Christian family. My parents were medical missionaries in the South Pacific and taught me about the Christian faith. However, when I was sent to boarding school in Australia as a teenager, I rejected the faith.

Six years later, as a young man, I was involved in a serious car accident where I was totally at fault and where two other people were seriously hurt. This accident made me face up to my sinfulness. I then began to attend church functions again and was reminded of my need for Jesus.

On the night before my eighteenth birthday, I brought my previous life before God, asked for his forgiveness and wonderfully experienced the free gift of being made right with him through Jesus.

Have you ever done secular work? How did that shape you as a Christian and a Christian leader?

Yes, I’ve done secular work. When we were church planting in Perth, I worked fulltime as a network and systems engineer for an IT company. This experience helped me to see that sharing your faith as a Christian in the workplace is not as hard as I had thought it might be. It also helped me to see the importance of living an integrated Christian life. You are under the microscope when you are openly Christian in the workplace and that means you need to be godly and also to be ‘prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).

Working in secular work also helped me to see not only the opportunities but the pressure that is on people both in terms of work and morals. It changed my preaching because I came to experience what most of my congregation experience every day. I think that I was able to apply the Scriptures better than I had before.

What did you do your doctoral studies in and how would that help in the training of future preachers?

Since I’m fundamentally a preacher in my gifting, I wanted to explore how to preach from the Old Testament in a way that was sensitive to biblical theology.

This involved exploring just what the term ‘biblical theology’ means and how it should (and should not) be used in preaching. My particular focus was a man who has written much on this topic, Graeme Goldsworthy.

My goal was to help me understand just how it is possible to interpret the Old Testament in the light of gospel of Jesus Christ and then how to preach from the Old Testament in a way that not only took the Old Testament seriously but also exposed how it fitted into God’s great purposes in Jesus.

I did this work not only for myself. I wanted to help others do what I wanted to do—preach well from the Bible. I think that this will be a great asset in training future preachers. After all, isn’t this what we want our pastors to be doing?

What experience do you have ministering in an Asian context?

While I have not led a church in an Asian country before, lots of Asians come to Australia to study, and I’ve ministered to many of them as I’ve encountered them throughout my ministry.

I have also spoken numerous times at conferences in Singapore and Malaysia over the last 20 years for church camps, Project Timothy and the Klang Valley Bible Conference. In addition, my involvement in Langham Preaching has allowed me to minister in several countries in Asia.

On a more personal note, I also have a Singaporean daughter- in-law thanks to my son! While it will still take some adjusting moving to Singapore, I’m confident I’ll be able to minister just as effectively in an Asian context as I have back in Australia.

Tell us about your family and what they think about the possibility of this new college?

As I said above, I’m married to Heather. We’ve been married 40 years and we have two married sons and six grandchildren. We have only one remaining parent, Andrew’s mother, whom we try and visit in Australia regularly as she is now nearing the end of her life.

Heather is active in ministry herself. She is an able evangelist, preacher, and trainer of women for ministry. She is also doing doctoral studies in Old Testament and teaches Hebrew at ETCAsia as well as co-teaching some of the advanced Old Testament units with Andrew. Previously she was a senior women’s staffworker with the AFES in Melbourne. She is enjoying the new opportunities for ministry in Asia and regularly preaches at women’s conferences and is involved in training women in ministry.

Our children are Christians and love supporting Christian ministry. They are therefore very supportive and love the idea of this college and think that it fits well with us. However, there will be a cost for them and for us in the separation that has come about as a result of our move.

Andrew Reid

You were the National Director of Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students for several years and were responsible for turning it around for the better. Can you tell us about that? What was it like when you inherited it and what did you do to change it?

Subsequent to being ordained in the Anglican church, I began to work as a staff worker for the AFES in Sydney. Within 18 months, I became its National Director (although in those days we called it the ‘General Secretary’).

The AFES was struggling for a number of reasons.

First, it had become weak in its understanding of the gospel and a commitment to the priority of evangelism. Second, it had become weak in its commitment to strong evangelical theological commitments. Third, it was more committed to a methodology of ministry than it was committed to making sure that effective ministry was carried out and students evangelised and trained for ministry.

During the eight years in which I was National Director, we worked hard at persuading people that we needed to correct these things.

First, we reinstated the priority of evangelism and began training people in it. Second, we made sure that all our members understood core theological convictions and their implications. Third, we totally revised the way in which we did our ministry in a way that would mean that we could much more effectively accomplish our stated goal of reaching students for Christ and training them for a lifetime of gospel ministry.

In God’s grace, this work has been extraordinarily blessed by God. The two National Directors who have followed me continued to implement the changes we made and the AFES is now one of the largest national parachurch organisations in Australia.

More importantly, it is gospel centred and many people are being won to Christ on campuses in Australia. In addition, it is producing many young men and women for ministry both in Australia and overseas.

Anyone who knows your ministry will know that you are committed to expository preaching and training preachers in expository preaching. In fact, you have been very involved with Langham Preaching in Asia. Why the interest in expository preaching?

When I became a Christian, I learnt to love God and his Son. I also fell in love with his word because it led me into a deeper understanding of him and his Son. However, the church in which I was converted largely had sermons that were topical or that just used the Bible to springboard to something else that the pastor wanted to talk about.

Then I went to theological college and for the first time, I heard the Bible explained systematically, expositionally, and in a way that reflected the theology of the Bible as a whole. It blew my mind.

I realised that when expository preaching is done well and combined with biblical theology, it can be a critical tool for explaining the gospel to those who are not yet Christians and also for ‘equipping the saints for the work of ministry’ and ‘building up the body of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:12). So, I began to explore how I could do this myself.

Since expository preaching has transformed my ministry and since my own experience of preaching was the deficient one that I experienced in the church where I was converted, I wanted to teach others how to do it. It is one little way in which I think that I can help God’s church around the world. It’s been my privilege to do this now in Australia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Chile, the UK and South East Asia.