by Dr. Joseph Shao (President and Professor of Old Testament)
We thank the Lord for the great celebration during the 55th founding anniversary of BSOP last September 2012. We have experienced our Lord’s love and faithfulness in making BSOP His significant vessel of blessings under His mighty guidance. With the recent visit of the Visiting Evaluation Team of the Asia Theological Association in February, 2013, we are pleased to inform you that we have been accredited for another five years (2013-2017). We thank God that we have received the vote confidence for what we are doing. Of course, we shall continue to improve by God’s grace.
In the early years of BSOP’s existence, she was instrumental in the training of God’s servants for key cities in Asia. At each major founding anniversary year, we do witness this evidence of God’s grace when a majority of representatives from various churches came to attend our celebration. Our BSOP friends and family members also continue to support us through prayers and finances. During our alumni and student re-treat right after the celebration, the alumni in the 60s and 70s were able to rub shoulders with the younger alumni. Some alumni came from afar to join us. It was exciting to see the growing and global community of leaders being trained at BSOP, coming together to exalt our Lord and Master, who calls us at different points in time, and who makes us one in Him. BSOP is on the move under His unified and untiring guidance.
Aside from being a strategic center in teaching Biblical Studies, Christian Education, and Pastoral Counseling with our three-pronged masteral tracks, BSOP has added the ThM and PhD programs, in cooperation with Asia Graduate School of Theology, to train faculty in Asia in the areas of Biblical Studies and Intercultural Studies, respectively. BSOP, now on the global map of theological world, is very much connected with the international theological community. God is amazing, in allowing us to be part of the global theological community. With this unique status, all the more the Lord would demand some added responsibilities from us.
As a member of the global theological community, we (BSOP) need to be the link for our stakeholders with the global trends and challenges. We have started by setting up of our Research Center, under the leader-ship of Dr. Stewart Young, in attempting to know more about the cultural, contextual challenges of the Chinese-Filipino churches. We shall gradually expand our research study into the global world, as we allocate enough personnel and funding for various projects. We are hoping that through our research, churches will benefit from our findings and descriptive studies with regards to contemporary and relevant issues affecting our Chinese-Filipino churches such as church growth trends, church conflicts, family issues, discipleship agendas and other relevant topics.
During our 55th anniversary celebration, in one of our seminars under Dr. Edward Choa, we attempted to analyze the life cycle of the church. One of our Board members who attended the seminar (he is also an active elder of a local church) did express the need for BSOP to organize a team to analyze and gauge the health of a church. We shall gather a team of experts to assist this matter, upon the invitation of the interested churches. We shall venture on other creative ministries as the Lord leads us. Symbiotic relationship of BSOP and the Chinese-Filipino churches surely will be strengthened with this new challenge.
We are very happy that almost all our alumni are serving in their respective ministries. In the Philip-pines, most, if not all of the churches have our alumni serving as the Senior Pastor, guiding other younger pastors for God’s ministries. Many of our alumni are actively serving as administrators and leaders in many para-church organizations. Many alumni do have their opportunities to join global consultations to benefit their respective churches. We also witness some senior leadership willing to serve as biblical Paul in mentoring the younger Timothy among us. We pray that God will continue to guide us in our training at BSOP, so that she will continue to be a school that will equip God’s workers who will be effective in their ministry.
Throughout these years, BSOP not only interviews incoming students to evaluate their calling and purpose of studying at the seminary, we also have personal exit interviews, and group process to access their learning. The purposes of the exit inter-views are to improve the integrated and balanced learning of BSOP in three areas : academic learning, character development, and ministry skills and to solicit constructive ideas and suggestions from graduating students for the overall improvement and development of holistic theological training at BSOP. We aim not only to educate our students to be equipped with exegetical skills in expounding the biblical texts, but also to speak to the world with relevant and challenging message.
The Chinese-Filipino church is now at a crossroad. With intentional development of disciples in our church, we shall see a surge of quality and quantity spiritual growth in our church. The Care and Share Group, our weekly regular time of mentoring and discipleship at BSOP, trains a group of caring pastors and counselors. The more we love the Lord, the more we are able to bear each other’s burdens and problems that come our way. With more singles and single parenthood at our church, all the more they need the love of God to experience His grace. By focusing on love for God, our attention will be on Christ as the Head of the church. A trained Christian counselor at BSOP, with biblical knowledge, will be able to serve God’s people effectively in our post-modern world.
It is true that the Chinese-Filipino churches have lots of spiritual heritage from our previous generations. For our generation to be effective and relevant, it would be best for our church leaders to discuss some strategic plans in our respective churches, and also corporately for the growth of God’s church in the 21st century. May God continue to lead us forward to face the challenges of this century!
BSOP will continue to stand firm, being true and sure of her vision and mission of existence: to equip God’s workers with God’s Word for God’s work in God’s world. Under God’s sufficient grace, BSOP will continue to play the role that God has given to us. The Chinese-Filipino church will continue to bless BSOP, as BSOP in turn blesses the church.