Some random (well, perhaps not too random) thoughts on two dozens years (24 years old is the sign that you are old now… since the Scriptures say that there were twenty-four elders… Rev 4.4) of the faithfulness of God (please pardon my Indo-English language).
1. Many friends made well-wishes about my phd study and I thanked them for that. But, I guess for the sake of accountability I need to update that I’ve considered quitting my postgraduate study for a few months already, although most would reply that such intention is pretty normal actually and even necessary -_-. There are a few reasons for this intention. Pertama karena natur kerjanya sendiri yang most of the time ngikut aja apa kata sup, sementara seharusnya phd itu gw pikir mesti gain and produce knowledge independently (of course, not 100%, but definitely more on the independent side than the dependent one, right?). Jadi pengen quitnya itu dalam arti, ya udah gw jadi project officer aja, nggak usah nerusin phdnya lagi. I’ll honor my contract until it ends (currently sampai 2012, walau biasanya research grant bakal di-extend satu tahun, so most likely sampai 2013). Although, on the other hand, it really doesn’t make any significant difference if I continued my phd. I will do the same thing basically, and most likely will graduate in 2013 also (current estimation – 1st quarter of 2010: confirmation, 3rdQ of 2010: apply for research grant for thesis, 1stQ of 2011: research project for thesis begins, 3rdQ of 2012: thesis writing, 2013: graduation). Well, yang signifikan mungkin adalah mesti nulis tesisnya itu sendiri… dan bayar uang sekolah tiap semester haha. Walau, alasan sebenarnya mungkin adalah I’ve lost my passion in this field. Which brings me to the second point.
2. I’ve lost count of how many times someone asked me when I will start pursuing formal theological studies. Of which I could give the answer now. I plan to take one class in TTC next semester. At least I can become a so-called ‘occasional student’ now haha. Btw, not that I want to enter school because of others. I have always wanted to do it. But then God used friends and mentors to ask me again and again about this such that I can’t avoid to think about it. I don’t know the appropriate timing. Perhaps next semester will be too soon, since I still have a lot of commitments actually (Alison joked that it means I will be studying in two institutions, NTU and TTC, and working in two institutions, NCC and… FESIM =p). Or perhaps not. When I read that there will be one evening class in TTC, I felt that this is the time to start (oh btw, I choose TTC over SBC/BGST simply because I think TTC is the most academical of all and after all these years I’m still that nerdy guy who likes to read and do research; I want to quit phd not because I dont like doing research anymore, but that my research interest has changed… more into this on the third point). I’ve been waiting for such evening class (evening 14-week course that is offered primarily for the full-time students, not the more common continuing education 8-week courses that are offered primarily for general public seperti yang gw ambil sekarang). Hopefully I can register for the class (Peter informed me that the registration will be in mid-November). Hopefully next semester will be just right in terms of timing. Well, at least after June 2010 at least I will have one less commitment (KTB; not that it will stop, but the nature of meetings will be different after graduation). This would be the begininng of, I think, a long theological study journey. And, yes, I want to pursue this until doctoral study! Which brings me to the third point.
3. Salah satu hal yang ditekankan di ISCF selama ini adalah jangan sampai pelayanan di persekutuan kampus mengorbankan studi. Studi menempati posisi primer di filosofi pelayanan kita. Panggilan utama kita adalah untuk belajar dengan setia sesuai dengan apa yang kita ambil saat ini. The problem is I’ve taught this for years and now I’m in the verge of breaking it myself, no? Is it a hypocrisy, then? It is perhaps not too invalid to say that my after-working-hour interest is the decisive factor that make me to lose my passion in what I’m doing primarily at work. Well, at least for now, I can only pledge to fulfil my contract until 2012/3. I won’t opt out before it ends. I won’t just quit and enter full-time theological study. I need to learn to live in the present, not in the future. That’s the least that I can do.
4. Why the change? If I looked back, actually I’ve changed field for a few times. My original interest and love was mathematics. I think that’s the main academical gift that God has given me. I wanted to become a mathematician when I was in high school, and was prevented to do so because I didn’t return to Jakarta to do the NUS test during the olympiad training in Bandung and NTU, at that time, didn’t have what we call now the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. If I was born two or three years later, I think I would be studying mathematics in SPMS. Hence electrical and electronic engineering for my undergraduate study. And now I even work in altogether different field. I work with drug trials, cancers, and scanning mice and artificial capillary using MRI. MRI does give you the electrical engineering part, but a few years ago I couldn’t imagine I would be doing this biological and medical stuff that I do daily now (seriously, my high school friends will be surprised if they knew I work in biology-related area). So, change is pretty normal, I guess. I’ve been wandering around in different fields. Although I hope the next phase would be the final one. Although again we never know what God has in store for us.
5. Walau di sisi lain ini sebenarnya hal ini mengulangi lagi apa yang terjadi di SMA waktu itu. Dimana sepatutnya kewajibanku adalah untuk belajar semua pelajaran yang diajarkan, namun pada kenyataannya aku jauh lebih banyak menghabiskan waktuku untuk belajar matematika saja. Yang saat ini mungkin tidak sampai separah itu, namun jelas bahwa aku kurang meluangkan waktuku untuk pekerjaan utamaku (bdk. me with 9-6pm working hour and Herry with 9-11pm++ working hour + weekend). Simply I didn’t really put enough effort and time for my phd. And I need to be ashamed of this. Since on the other hand I spent so much time on my after-working-hour stuffs. In high school perhaps I could justify what I had been doing by saying that it was for olympiad. But now?
6. What’s next, then? My whole theological venture would be in these three topics: (1) Biblical studies, (2) Church history, and (3) Mission. The authoritative past, the traditional past, and the imperative present. Being academical doesn’t mean to be held captive in your own ivory tower, although most of the time it does look like that (admittedly, I do like to be alone haha). Being academical should be translated into embodied praxis (one might wonder whether Singapore context might influence this understanding since nothing is really ‘pure’ here; interestingly, my current research project is also translational, from bench to bedside, from in vitro to in vivo, from pre-clinical to clinical – that’s how your life might influence your understanding also). That’s why my utmost conviction is mission. Although the understanding might have changed from a few years back, the conviction has not. “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you; … receive the Holy Spirit” (Joh 20.21-22) – pax vobis; sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos; accipite Spiritum Sanctum.
My concern is with the whole people of God participating in the Son’s mission in bringing peace and reconciling the world into himself. And how to translate this understanding from the ancient texts to our praxis in current context. Hence the three-fold structure of my project: biblical studies, church history, and mission. And even when I’m in full-time study later, I think I will still be serving in some kind of ministry or whatever. Three ministries that I’ve been immersed in for quite some time now are student ministry, teaching ministry, and literature ministry, so they will be more automatic I guess. I really love if I could try new experience, like serving in an NGO while studying later. After graduating, I want to be a lecturer in any of those three fields mentioned above in Indonesia. For honesty sake let me just say this out loud: I want to be a lecturer in New Testament or Church History. And, of course, still participating in some mission work (student/literature/else… I’m really interested in doing literature translation work) as an embodiment of what being taught (I need to quickly add that biblical scholarship itself is a participation in God’s mission). To return to the first point, since I want to pursue this until doctoral degree, it is really, really hard to justify this intention (how to justify this to my family and friends?) if I fail my current one.
7. Perhitungan umur: will finish current work in 2013, then hopefully by that time I’ve taken enough credits to be able to finish MDiv in two years time, i.e., 2015 (or, should I take a shorter two-year MTS degree?). Add another six years of MTh and PhD, hence 2021. I will be thirty-six years old by then! Age is another factor why I need to serve in other ministries aside from the study.
8. And the question of ‘pasangan hidup’ becomes more complex now… definitely I can’t wait until all of these are over righttt.
9. Let’s review this not-too-short note again next year and see how many things have changed by then. Hopefully not much.
10. I really appreciate if you can pray for me on this matter. I’m struggling a lot now. I’ve been storing this for myself (more or less) for a few months and it is indeed a bit relieving when I wrote all these (though I need a lot of time to click ‘Post’, still a bit paiseh to tell this story). Thanks for those who read this until the very end. Nevertheless, I pray not for a clear path, but for an everlasting guidance of our Lord. This saying is trustworthy: He is faithful.