Friday, September 7, 2007

Past, Present and Future of Zomi Theological College(Letter by DST)

Back in 1928, a Bible school started in Hakka. The WW II closed the school. After the war, the growing churches in Chin Hills called for re-opening of Bible schools both in Hakka and Tedim. And formal theological education at Bible school started in Tedim, 1953. The following year, 1954, the school moved to Hakka. It was conducted on a middle school level. With much concern to upgrade into a high school level, the school moved to Falam, the then District Headquarters, 1959.
Those years testified the fact that TE work was mobile, shared for management through qualified leaders, regardless of geographical distance. Regarding the names in stages: the 2001 ZTC Consultation did not feel a need to change the name of the school.

The ZTC became a member school of the Association for Theological Education in South East Asia, ATESEA, 1982. The 1983 ZTC saw the start of her B Th degree program affiliated to the MIT, Insein, from 1983 to 1991. For nine years, the ZTC enjoyed for TE teamwork with the MIT. And her BTh degree program was accredited by the ATESEA in 1991.

Since opened, the college has produced Christian ministers and community leaders for 748 in number: diploma, 242; BTh 369; BRE 95; BMin23; MDiv 19. The ZTC also had a good experience of TE teamwork, a joint BTh program, with Chin Christian College, Hakha; Baptist Theological School, now TTC, Tedim; Bethel Theological Seminary, Tahan, and Union Theological College, Matupi, for a few years. Those schools were already BTh accredited by the ATESEA.

Degree for service! Qualification without commitment is lame; commitment without qualification is blind. Hence, offered degree programs at the ZTC are assumed to meet with her motto: to serve, Mk. 10:45.
The four-year BTh program started 1983; the two year BRE program started 1991; the one year BMin program specially designed for pastors started 1997; the three year MDiv program started 2002, having anticipated the Golden Jubilee celebration in 2003.

Teaching ministry is God-given, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, Eph 4:12. In this light, twelve teachers are being engaged in this area: one D.Theo, three MTh; eight MDiv holders. Three are with study leave: one, MTh; two, DTheol. A faculty earning three years of service at ZTC is supposed to pursue for MTh program. The faculty leaving for master studies is given study leave for two calendar years from the time study program starts. Right after the MTh program completes, the faculty comes back and resumes office at ZTC. Academic doctoral candidates are given study leave for three calendar years from the time study program starts.

For rightly explaining the word of truth, 2Tim 2:15; in other words, to promote our simple faith to faith of critical Yes, the ZTC gives top priority to her library development. Now, library holding of books tallied to 12,315 volumes under usable title. The library with its name Sowards Memorial Library is well equipped, and some 150 seats are provided for research and study.

TE means church ministry, i.e., missions of the church. TE not applicable to church ministry is inauthentic, rather is fake! With this view, we are with curriculum and field education. The academic year is divided into two semesters of sixteen weeks each. And the curriculum is planned to meet the situation and need of the church and society in our motherland. Students are assigned to local churches and Christian communities for teacing and learning of field education via gospel tour and internship programs during vacation. Also faculty members offered Vacation Theological Education Course, VTEC, to supporting bodies of ZTC. We believe that the VTEC is a media where word and spirit systematically work together.

Moreover, the ZTC sticks to Asian spirituality: pathos and ethos. In a sense the ZTC demonstrates divine pathos through divine ethos: that is, cultivating spiritual formation through community life, intellectual formation through academic pursuit, and vocational formation through field education. For students feel at home, the Falam Baptist Churches Area extends her helping hand to students; i.e., offering a host-family program. Also for promoting of students-teachers transparency, the ZTC conducts the College Counseling Group, CCG, once every week.

We believe that a good administration is a functional spirituality. And this spiritual experience is exercised through the department or group set-up among students themselves, and through cooperating work programs with supporting bodies. We are convinced that our spirituality points to our self-supporting education system. Accordingly, our local churches through ZBC take care of funding, whereas the ZTC produces responsible workers. Also students are responsible for their tuition cost. Presently, the fee is rated for half of a student's messing fee. Indeed, a high tuition fee is just an indicator to a costly TE, in contrast to a possible cheap TE!

The ZTC, as done with her coordinating bodies, enjoyed the financial support received from her alumni members. It was great that the Alumni Association already made the Alumni Hall, cost of three lakh kyats, called Koinonia of 24ftx30ft, somewhere in the second level of the main building. Also ZTC AA had raised funds for one-third, 25 lakh kyats, of the total cost of the Golden Jubilee Hall.

The ZTC TE started for function in 1953. Since then, time after time, the Lord provides shelter, housing, and accommodation for her. At present the campus is featured with physical plants like:
Nine residential quarters; two double-storeyed dormitories for women and men; one double-storeyed library building of 60ftx30ft; one three-storeyed main building of 24ftx120ft for office and lecture rooms; one double-storeyed building of 50ftx30ft for dining and multipurpose halls, annexed to kitchen and bathrooms; one three-storeyed Golden Jubilee Building, 40ftsq.

Physical fitness is a must at ZTC. And there are some ample grounds for physical exercise: volleyball, badminton, ring ball, and even tennis ground may avail some time in future. Also satellite service started for use in 15 april 2002, which partly proved of the Global Village.

Our vision for our mission is the power, which pulls us into the future. Along with upgrading of the library titles from quantity to quality, more areas fully occupy our mind and spirit for the future of TE at ZTC; viz., implementing SALT I, II, III, starting from the ZTC/ZBC community, for FAITH; experimenting sales on daily essentials, with purpose for community service; exercising upon "thinking globally and acting locally," through multimedia system; promoting of community health through our local or basic community partners.

For the purpose of tilling and keeping our God-given environment, the college community has started implementation of SALT I, II, III for FAITH, at the Lailun area for 13.85 acres, as officially permitted by parties concerned, some six miles away from campus. This means for keeping nature via Ecological Study Center, and also guarding history through the historical site, Lailun, for Tribal Research Centre. [Water and power supply are fine; TV-satellite, telephone, computer service operated; agriculture phase emerged; livestock phase starting; biogas be produced; students and faculty members voluntarily contribute work; four assistants keep farm] Indeed, this Lailun work is none other than the practical or B side of TE as we understood for years passed, side A. Hence, from side A to side B, we moved already!

All aforementioned subjects have entered into a fourfold purpose of the college: viz., to train students for Church ministry and Christian service; to equip students for the build-up of authentic humanity; to produce students, having mission spirit and experiencing mission work;
to have fellowship with other seminaries in Myanmar and worldwide.
Do Sian Thang: Judson College, Elgin, IL

SALT I: Sloping Agricultural Land Technology
SALT II: Simple Agro-livestock Technology
SALT III: Sustainable Agro-forest Land technology
FAITH: Food Always In The Home

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