Soo Hoong Teo
1991-1993 / Bachelor of Ministries (Henderson Campus)
Some special memories are of life on campus... weekly duties, kitchen duty, making significant friends around the clothesline while hanging out washing, and enjoying time together outside of lectures. I enjoyed the chapel sessions as a community, our sessions with our Prayer Ladies, and attending lectures!
The most significant and memorable part of my College experience was the Spiritual Formation course I took, and the retreats that came with the course. I signed up for it without knowing much about the course (my interest was pastoral care), but ended up doing it (plus pastoral care) for three years. It turned out to be the most transformative experience in my life. It was a small class of six under Sheila Pritchard. The first one-day retreat, meditating on Psalm 23 brought Scriptures to life, and I had a heartfelt experience of God as the Shepherd. The first five-day silent retreat was an experience beyond words! I was graced with a deeply significant experience of God, which brought about a 180 degree turn in my relationship with God. Having a spiritual director (something so entirely new to me then) and receiving spiritual direction as part of the course in the final year brought much healing, as it allowed me to experience God's unconditional love through a person. Journalling, reflecting, retreats, silence, solitude, and spiritual direction introduced in the course were all strangely new to me, but they were transformative experiences of God's wonderful grace.
My time at BCNZ was an amazing spiritual milestone in my journey of faith. Witnessing people of different cultures loving and worshipping God in their own ways changed my view of God. He is not just God of the little conservative church I came from. Bible College helped me to be less legalistic, more open and accepting of others and "freer" as a person. In interacting with friends in College, I learnt to respect the wishes and decisions of the other person when offering help to them… whereas in my culture, we "impose" help on the other because we think it is good for them!
The lectures I received in Pastoral Care, Theology, the practical ministry opportunities and living life in a different environment and culture were valuable in laying a good firm foundation and preparing me for full-time ministry. The entire experience of being a student at BCNZ helped me to be more open to change, differences and to be less judging of others.
I returned to Singapore thinking that I would serve in the Brethren church where I worshipped before going to BCNZ. But God had other plans and I was led to serve at Paya Lebar Methodist Church. I joined the small team there as a full-time ministry worker. I was involved in pastoral care, and spent time teaching what I learnt in the spiritual formation course at BCNZ and introducing retreats to church members. After two years, I decided to be trained in spiritual direction, because I experienced the value of this ministry and saw it as a much needed and valuable ministry. I took a course with Spiritual Growth Ministries in NZ (long-distance) as there were no such courses in Singapore then.
Currently, I am still serving in the same Methodist Church and am still involved in the pastoral care and spiritual formation ministry in the church, leading groups and individuals on silent retreats, giving spiritual direction on a regular basis, as well as on retreats for both church members and others outside of the Methodist Church. I am currently involved in a local training programme to equip others in the ministry of spiritual direction.
I am very grateful to God for His amazing, mysterious and gracious ways in leading me to BCNZ instead of letting me be equipped for full-time ministry here in Singapore. I am grateful to God that BCNZ accepted me, even though I was late in my application; for urging me on to proceed with it when the acceptance came, as I was tempted to delay it for another year; for the significant personal experiences of God on the five-day silent retreat; for giving me a wonderful spiritual director and the healing He brought into my life through spiritual direction; for significant friendships made in BCNZ which continue to this day; for the good foundation I received in my three years there; for the valuable ministry He gave and entrusted to me in the Methodist Church, and for God's faithfulness in my journeys with Him. Looking back, I am so grateful to God for being the Shepherd in Psalm 23 to me and all the wonderful plans He had for me which I never knew!