"Very ambitious!" This was the comment I got from a friend upon his hearing of my plan to pursue a PhD at Andrews University. Mrs. White says, "Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard. The fear of the Lord lies at the foundation of all true greatness." Yes, I am ambitious because my Lord is ambitious for China.
Actually, as a Mainland Chinese Adventist believer, I have to be ambitious. You see, since 1957, the Seventh-day Adventist church in Mainland China has become congregationalized without formal church organization, institutions, or even a seminary. Today, with a membership of 340,000, we only have about 100 ordained pastors in China. At least 95% of them have no formal theological training and only four attended Adventist seminary overseas. The work is mainly carried out by lay workers who try hard to follow the visions God gave them with little pastoral and theological guidance. The Spirit of God is the only Teacher who says behind them, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isa 30:21). Today, serious challenges are facing our church in China due to the lack of trained workers. The Macedonian cry from China is: We need to train our workers!
With this cry ringing in my ears I came to the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University to prepare myself as a teacher. I enjoyed the luxury of the Bible-based, Christ-centered teachings of the professors, and the service-oriented leadership of the university. It is here I grow not only in biblical knowledge, but also in my walk with the Lord. It is here, God stirred my heart and the cry became a vision that someday a seminary like this should be built in China.
My professor, Dr. John Matthews, often tells us, "When God puts a desire in our hearts, He is able to fulfill it." All through the years of my study, God has blessed my endeavor in various ways. If I made a list of all the gracious help I received from God’s people here in this university and from outside, it would weary the reader. But God remembers them! For me, getting a PhD from Andrews is a miracle, yet I know I am just a sign of a much greater miracle-building a seminary in China someday!
God has the ambition. I simply responded and tried not to disobey this heavenly vision knowing that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Phil 1:6).