TLBS has been welcoming an increasing number of international students into SOM. Through this interview, we got to know some of them a little better and found out more about their lives back home and their reflections about their TLBS experience. Just as they have been blessed richly, may they return to their countries and be a blessing to their people.
Q1. How did you come to know about Christ back in your country?
Nonie: Since I was 9 years old, my eldest sister would bring me to church every Sunday, but I only really got to know God personally when I turned 15. I was inspired by my sister’s spiritual growth and I wanted to deepen my own relationship with God. I decided to be baptised, and since then, I have served in the worship ministry and attended many seminars and conferences to grow in my spiritual life.
Thawng Neh: My parents are believers, so I grew up with a Christian family background. However, it was only when I was older, that I truly received Jesus as my personal saviour, when my pastor preached about Jesus being the only way to salvation. That message touched my heart deeply, and that day, I confessed my sins before God and accepted Christ as my Lord.
Q2. What are the challenges you face as a Christian in your home culture?
Lovely: Back in Myanmar, our culture, traditions and society are greatly influenced by the majority religion, Buddhism. Hence, Christians are the minority and it is not easy for the Christian community to worship God freely. For instance, in the 1990s when I was growing up, it was difficult to get permission from the authorities to build a church, so we had to worship God in our homes. Our gatherings in the home church were also often disrupted and not recognised as legitimate. But I thank God that there has been a breakthrough since 2012 and there is much greater freedom to worship God in my country today.
Nonie: One of the biggest challenges I face as a Christian in the Philippines is the difficulty of helping others understand the true message of the gospel. Due to the widespread influence of Roman Catholicism in our society, many Filipinos are somewhat familiar with Christianity, however they may not really understand the truth of the gospel. It is also difficult to share Christ when people are deeply rooted in their idolatrous practices and religious traditions. Because of their many pre-existing beliefs about God, it is challenging to help them realise that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God.
Q3. Why did you choose to come to TLBS?
Saw Thet: In 2014, when I was in Singapore for my studies, I joined the Myanmar fellowship in Cornerstone Community Church. Later when I went back to Myanmar, God spoke to me about His plans for my life. I soon received a call from Pastor Saw Thi Ha from Cornerstone, who asked me if I wanted to study at TLBS. In my heart, I knew that was God calling me to go and be equipped for His good work, and so I obeyed His voice to come to TLBS.
Htoo Myat: 3 years ago, a group of Christians came to Myanmar on a TLBS mission trip and I served as their interpreter. They told me about the SOM they attended and highly recommended the course. At that time, I told God in my prayer journal that I hoped I could go to Singapore one day to attend SOM too. I have always wanted to grow in my spiritual walk with God and my pastor has also often encouraged me to attend bible school one day. Last September, my godmother told me that she wanted to sponsor me to study at TLBS. Initially, I was afraid to go because of my fear of the language barrier in Singapore, but God reminded me of the prayer request I made 3 years ago. He had answered my prayer and I decided to obey Him and come to TLBS.
Q4. What is your greatest takeaway in your 3 months at SOM?
Lovely: I have been deeply blessed by all that God has been teaching me in SOM, and my greatest takeaway is to know the Father heart of God. I have experienced the love of Father God so personally, that I am firmly assured of my identity in Christ. Previously, this was merely head knowledge, but His love for me has now come alive and become so real to me. I am excited to continue to grow in my God-given identity and destiny.
Thawng Neh: I have learnt that the most important thing in a Christian’s life is to grow in our personal relationship with God. There are many valuable lessons I have learnt here in SOM, but I am most impacted by the importance of walking closely with God daily. Through the testimonies shared by the lecturers and deans, I have observed that their ministry growth and godly lifestyles are rooted deeply in their personal walk with God. This is something I really want to cultivate for myself and also share with the Christians back in my church in Myanmar.
Q5. What is ONE thing you will miss about Singapore when you return home?
Saw Thet: Every morning, I look forward eagerly to Dean Guek Ju’s devotional sharing at the “Early Bird gets the Word” session and I think I will really miss that when I return home to Myanmar. Those are precious sessions where I receive encouragement from the passionate sharing by Dean Guek Ju, who delivers the word of God for this season. Hearing these living testimonies each morning is like receiving fuel for my own personal walk and ministry growth.
Htoo Myat: I will definitely miss all the friends that I have gotten to know here in SOM! Even though it’s only been a short 3 months, I have been so blessed by the friendships formed here in TLBS. My sisters-in-Christ have been so kind and concerned about me, especially during the times when I was unwell. I am very touched by their love and friendship towards me!