by Dr Joseph Shao (President and Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew)
God establishes the Biblical Seminary of the Philippines (BSOP). She is not only a blessing to the Philippine Churches, but also a vessel in God’s hands for the Asian Churches, and the Universal Churches. Facing the fast changing era, under the direction of the BSOP founding motto of “Believe in Christ, Suffer for him,” we have the BSOP vision and mission of “Equipping God’s workers, with God’s word for God’s work” as our functional goal and fervent prayer. At the throne of grace, we hope that those who pass through BSOP in the past, present and future will be God’s faithful work-ers, who can expound God’s word, serving as good stewards in doing God’s work.
During the BSOP 40th Anniversary celebra-tion, the Board spearheaded three building pro-jects. As we finished the first building project, God opened a huge door for BSOP to have many opportunities in training ministries. In the 90s, we earned the official recognition status of the Philippine Commission on Higher Educa-tion (CHED), giving us more opportunities to serve God. During the 50th Anniversary, with “Expanding Horizons” as our theme, we con-tinued to count God’s blessings together, while at the same time seeking God’s desire for our Seminary as we continue our journey.
The Fulfilling of Expanding Horizons
“Expanding Horizons” is our earnest desire, and is also our heartfelt prayer. God truly in His will expands His horizons at BSOP. From both aspects of qual-ity and quantity, we really experi-ence His bountiful grace. From the quality aspect, aside from the existing faithful faculty already in our faculty-training program, we have more additions like Dr. Jean Uayan (major in Church History), Dr. Jay Hallowell (major in Inter-cultural Studies), Dr. Chen Kai Ying (major in Ministry), and Rev. Samuel Tan (ThM in Old Testament). Samson and Juliet Uytanlet continue their studies in London and in the US, respec-tively, for their PhD degrees. Rev. Anthony Hao is also aiming to finish his PhD in the US, while Rev. Philip Co and Amor Hallo-well are working toward their PhD in Manila. We are also thrilled that the Lord has led Dr. David Chang and his wife Joyce, Dr. Wilson Tran and Dr. Irene Tran, professors Li Bai and Linda Tue to join our faculty team. Our team is growing stronger as we continue to discover and recruit faculty. Actively, we also seek to train new and young faculty.
In the quantity aspect, our stu-dent body has grown from 100 to 150 students in 2012. BSOP in cooperation with AGST conducts ThM and PhD in Biblical Studies. In 2011, we have started a PhD in Intercultural Studies. All three programs received CHED recog-nition. Students come from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, Korea, Pakistan, and now we have even expanded to Africa with one student from Ethiopia. Due to the increase of our student body, we have just added five classrooms in the fourth floor and two rooms in the fifth floor of our Administration Building in June 2012.
The Filling In of Supporting Partners
As God supplies our needs we declare our exciting experiences as “Ebenezer.” When the Board desires to have more students, we wait upon God, the Author and Perfecter of our faith to grant our expansion essentials. We pray and hope that God will raise up more partners who will care for the needs of God’s family at BSOP. Some partners come to network with us for our growing ministries, while others support our growing programs. Allow me to share some testimonies.
By God’s providence, a brother wanted to support God’s work and offered one million pesos (roughly $20,000) to support sev-eral students in the year when we wanted to expand our student body. When I received the gift, one less zero was written on the cheque. As we depended on His grace to affirm the detail with him, this brother not only imme-diately resolved the mistake of his secretary, but he also added 100% to his original amount! It was God who touched his heart and encour-aged him to give for God’s work. He gave at a time when we needed all the encouragement to await God’s timely provision.
Numerous families have con-tributed to BSOP in memory of their loved ones, to support stu-dent scholarship. The faithful Lord moves churches, people, foundations and others to support the needs of the Seminary. We also have many partners who give sacrificially for the cost of train-ing God’s workers.
As the number of BSOP family increases, there are moments of happiness and sorrow. When our BSOP family is healthy, everyone praises the Lord; when in sickness, we pray also to the Lord. In times of peace, work progresses faster; in times of difficulties, spiritual
Phase 1: Dormitory Building (1997-98)
Phase 3: Dormitory Extension (2005-06)
Phase 2: Administration Building (2000-01)
Retirement and Multipurpose Building (2009-2010)
life renews. In these five years, we have Christian doctors like Dr. James Go who look after our medical needs. Every year, our Board member Sister Clarita Lim comes to our school to give medical examinations for the whole family. For dental needs, the Lord has sent two dentists, Dr. Priscilla Uy and Dr. Lydia Hao, who come weekly during school days to care for the dental hygiene of the BSOP family. Holistic cares are provisions of the Lord.
One time, a student suddenly got sick and needed surgery. The Business Office went ahead and issued a cheque to pay in advance for the huge expenses. That morning, a loving sister had deposited the same amount into our account. The timely deposit allows us to testify to His faithfulness.
The raising of supporting partners is a gift from God. As we continue to grow in size, the Lord raises churches and many individuals as our part-ners to sustain His challenging work.
The Focusing of Molding Disciples
BSOP started out with nothing and became some-thing, from small to a big school. In our founding stage during the 50s, we were one of the five ear-liest Chinese seminaries. The most important con-tribution at that time was not only to supply the pastors for the Philippine Chinese churches, but also to train pastors for the needs of the Southeast Asian nations. The first President Rev. Hsueh Yu Kwong also helped in the training of the leaders of the Campus Evangel Group of Taiwan. Rev. Stephen Chan wrote his New Testament commen-taries using his notes that he taught at BSOP. It was our late Elder Henry Co See Cho, one of the Founders and Board Chairman for a number of years, who published his books which became a blessing to the global Chinese churches. Dr. Denny Ma’s famous Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey were written after students at BSOP listened to his lectures. The contributions of our predecessors put BSOP on the theological map of the global Chinese churches. Now with BSOP involvement with the Asia Theological Association and Asia Graduate School of Theol-ogy-Philippines, BSOP is now one of the seminar-ies in the Global Community.
After the celebration of the 50th Anniversary in 2007, we started our annual Board and Faculty retreat. The purpose, of course, was to strengthen our disciple-making process and improve our training ministry. Aside from conducting the en-trance and exit interviews, we welcome construc-tive criticisms for us to improve. We grow through changes for improvement. From casual visitation of alumni in the past, we now have regular planned visits to alumni. We have focused our attention on our Thursday Care and Share Groups to mentor our students. Molding disciples is our duty; molding kingdom disciples with a bigger vision is our prayer.
In these five years, we have organized our Care and Share Groups to get involved in short term mission once every two years. The purpose is to engage our students in the needs of the mission field. Every two years, we have organized teams to visit Philippine Chinese churches. The goal is to expose our students to the real needs of the churches and become kingdom disciplers.
Students of BSOP not only enjoy the care of their faculty in their respec-tive groups, we also intentionally assign our faculty to counsel all our stu-dents individually to monitor and encourage their spiritual growth. At 5:00 a.m. each day, morning prayers are uttered up on our roof deck and in dif-ferent corners of our campus. On weekends, aside from providing practi-cum for students to learn to do ministry, we also have some groups who gather together for mutual learning in preaching and teaching. BSOP is indeed a praying and learning community.
BSOP is a big family held in the hands of our God throughout these 55 years. God enables BSOP to expand the horizons in its service. God raises his faithful stewards to be the partners of BSOP. One day in front of the judgment seat, they shall receive the same reward. God uses BSOP to mold kingdom disciples. They, in turn, will become kingdom soldiers, finishing the task given to them.