Posted on 8 Jul 2019 by Jerome Leng
Perhaps the most significant update we have for you is this: Robyn graduated with a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling! We are extremely thankful to the Lord for his divine providence and grace. I wrote a little story about our journey towards the completion of her degree. If you’re interested in reading it, it’s below!
A Graduation Story
We did not plan for it.
When we arrived in the US about four years ago, we had no intentions for Robyn to pursue a degree in seminary. We hoped that she would find a job as a doctor so that we could have some additional income. But when we found out that Southern Seminary offers fifty percent off tuition fees for students’ spouses, we saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Robyn to obtain some theological training.
In one sense, it was a difficult decision for us. If Robyn pursued this degree, we would lose a significant source of our income. We were newly married and young, and here we are, embarking on a “risky endeavor” to be trained for the ministry of the gospel. It would have given us a greater sense of financial security if Robyn had a job while I worked on my degree.
But we remembered Jesus’s words in Matthew 6:25-34. In this passage, Jesus was teaching his disciples to trust in the providence of our Heavenly Father. God knows that we need food and drink and clothes. He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field. Surely, he knows that his children need the basic necessities of life. The problem with sinners is that we feel anxious and are worried that our physical needs will not be met. And so, we fret and focus on obtaining (sometimes we hoard, don’t we?) these things by the only means we know: make more money.
Right before this passage, Jesus addresses the issue of ultimate allegiance. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The followers of Jesus Christ are servants of God. We acknowledge the sovereignty and supremacy of God over all things and humbly serve Him. Our commitment is to live for His glory, not our own. And so, we do not live for the things of this world but for the pleasure of our good and gracious Father. Christians “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
So for us, we see a priority in equipping ourselves for the ministry of the gospel because our goal is to serve God faithfully in the roles that He has prepared for us in Malaysia. We love Jesus and want to minister in a way that is biblical, Christ-centered and God-glorifying. That means we need theological training.
And we believe that we serve God together. We wholeheartedly believe that it is just as important for wives of pastors-in-training to receive some theological training as well. More often than not, we have seen wives sidelined while their husbands receive incredible training. Personally, I know that God has gifted Robyn in many ways, and as her husband, I want to see her flourish as a woman of God. She is my dearest partner in ministry, and I want what’s best for her.
And so, we took a step of faith. Robyn decided to pursue a degree in biblical counseling. And through it all, God has been faithful to his promise. He cared for us and provided for our needs. Robyn was granted a scholarship and the Lord provided us jobs to pay off the tuition fees. When we had Emmett, the Lord gave us strength to care for our little guy as we worked and studied. And it was incredible to see how the Lord was using this training to help Robyn provide life-giving counsel to others. I felt a greater sense of oneness between us as we are able to share the joy of growing in Christ and serving together.
Seeing Robyn walk across the stage gave me great satisfaction. Robyn reminded me that “we did it!” It was her achievement, but Robyn wanted me to know that this degree was mine as much as it was hers. Shared service. Mutual joy. Blessed partnership.
Our prayer is that the training that we receive will benefit his people in the long run. After all, we are but instruments in the Redeemer’s hands. He leads the way and our job is to follow faithfully.
We did not plan for it, but God did.
Jerome Leng has been a Pastor-in-Training of CERC since 2020. He graduated with a Bachelor’s and M. Div in Biblical and Theological Studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was the recipient of the seminary’s prestigious Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award in 2018. He returned in December 2019 to answer what he discerned to be God’s calling for him – to be a minister of God in his homeland of Malaysia. He also serves as the youth pastor of the church. Jerome is happily married to Robyn and they have a son, Emmett.