Tell us about yourself?
I’m originally from the US but for the last 5 years I’ve lived in the Balkans, primarily doing Gospel work in a Muslim context. I studied for an MDiv in the past but over the last 5 years I’ve felt the need to deepen my biblical and theological understanding, so this year I’ve started studying with UST on the MTh.
Why did you join UST as an MTh student?
The main thing that attracted me to UST was their emphasis on serious academic study which is done for the sake and benefit of the church. Initially I thought that was a really nice, positive thing to say, but I wondered if it would really be the case. Having studied with Union for a year now I’ve been excited to see that it’s actually true. Faculty and students take great care over their academic studies and teaching, but it’s clear that it’s all done to serve Christ and his people.
A second, very practical thing that attracted me to the MTh was the delivery format. Having moved to the Balkans for Gospel ministry I wasn’t able to relocate again for studies, but because the MTh is delivered through a number of intensive teaching weeks on the campus I’ve been able to continue in the Balkans and simply visit the campus a few times each year. Studying like this has also impacted my ministry because I’ve been able to see how the studies practically fuel and shape ministry.
What has particularly surprised you about studying at UST?
I perhaps shouldn’t have been surprised, but what’s continually struck me is the warmth of the community. Studying here isn’t simply an opportunity to study the scriptures and understand theology and ministry better, it’s also an opportunity to be refreshed personally and spiritually. I’m used to the American academic style where you address lecturers as professors (even in a seminary!) and where there’s often a clear distinction between faculty and students, but here I’ve found that you get to know lecturers as brothers and sisters in Christ on a first name basis. It’s been so encouraging to not only learn from them as scholars, but also as friends in their homes and through the daily worship and prayer meetings.
What’s struck you about the approach to studying at UST?
I’ve mentioned the warmth of the community and that really fosters the academic side of the programme. It’s evident that the lecturers are experts in their fields, that’s obvious not just from the books and papers they’ve published but also from the lectures themselves. The teaching is very engaging and thought-provoking but also accessible. Lecturers encourage us as students to freely ask questions but also challenge them on their own teaching and ideas. You very much feel that you are studying the scriptures or particular doctrines together with the lecturer as peers while also gaining from their wisdom and insight.
What do you think you’ve gained from the programme so far?
I’ve gained so much from the programme so far. To pinpoint a couple of things; I believe some people are called to serve the church in research and writing ministries and I’ve never been sure whether that’s for me or not. Being part of the community here while doing the MTh has been a helpful way to reflect on that possibility. As I expected it’s also equipping me in my current ministry and I can see how it’s forming me for future ministry too. It’s deepened my ability and understanding when it comes to teaching and discipling others. Most of all God has used the programme to reinvigorate my own personal bible reading and spiritual growth - I was hoping that would happen and I’m so thankful it has.
David is studying on the MTh programme at UST. Discover the MTh here.