The Kuoks start a new chapter as they prepare for seminary | CERC Blog | Christ Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)


The Kuoks start a new chapter as they prepare for seminary

Posted on 24 Sep 2022 by CERC News

David Kuok is CERC’s latest apprentice to pass the Church Ministers’ Apprenticeship (CMA) programme. A third-year apprentice, he is now preparing to head off to seminary at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. Recently, we took some time to ask them a few questions as they are planning to leave for seminary as a family in January 2023. The following is an interview conducted by Celine Wong from CERC News.

Celine: Hi David and Emerlyn, thank you for taking the time to have a chat with us. Maybe you can start off by giving us a little bit of context on how you are doing as a family, what David will be studying in seminary and how your preparations are going?

David: Hi Celine, thanks for asking. Things are going well for us as a family. Personally, I have been preparing myself by finishing off my list of readings and I have recently been accepted to Moore Theological College. I will be taking the Bachelor of Divinity at Moore Theological College which is 4 years long. 

Emerlyn: Yeah, we’re doing well so far. As for me, I am serving my final notice as a medical sales representative as we’re also expecting a second child this November. Adding on to that, I am preparing myself to be a full-time stay-at-home mom by helping out in the Mum’s Growth Group, doing some readings, planning for the move to Sydney and last but not least, I really need to learn how to cook because we have been relying too much on food delivery services!

Celine: Sounds exciting! Can you share with us, how the ministries you have been involved in during your time in CMA helped you in your preparation and what are your reflections from it?

David: The ministries have prepared me by helping me know what is on the ground in terms of how to minister to our Malaysian context. Together with the practical training CMA has provided, the readings have helped me see the relevance of what I have learnt and taught me to translate theology into daily life. Without this intensive period of CMA training, my time in seminary might actually be wasted because I wouldn’t be able to understand the relevancy of how theology, ministry, and what we learn in the books translates to real life. As for reflections, there’s a lot, but one of the main things I reflected on during my time in CMA is my own sinfulness, incompetency, and weakness, which have in turn shown me God’s sovereignty. CMA allowed me to confront my own sinfulness and the sinfulness of those around me, and yet, God still uses me (and us) for His service, to glorify Him. To be able to use my skills and gifts to serve Him and not myself is truly humbling and a privilege. 

Celine: How about you Emerlyn? Do you have any reflections from David’s time in CMA?

Emerlyn: I have been learning how to be a good helper to David, especially when he is busy doing ministry, writing sermons. I’ve learnt to give him the time he needs to do his work and not to be selfish about my own needs. This has definitely been a sanctifying process – learning about my own personal sins, repenting of them and learning how to live sacrificially. It also made me admire and appreciate the wives of reformers and pastors even more, seeing how they made themselves good helpers to their husbands, like, how do they do it?!

Celine: Well, you are about to find out even more! What are some things that both of you look forward to as you prepare for seminary?

David: Definitely to be able to spend 4 years to prepare myself for a lifetime of serving God’s people, to oversee the church – as it is quite a daunting task. I hope that seminary will help me form an attitude of constantly learning. I also want to be able to learn from and be exposed to the landscape of Sydney Christianity which will help me broaden my experience in different Christian environments and different cultures. 

Emerlyn: I, on the otherhand, am worried about the different environment, especially the cost of healthcare in Australia, but I have to learn to trust God in this. Although, I am actually excited to learn wisdom from the way of ministry in Sydney churches, and from meeting other seminarian wives. Moore also has a programme to train seminarian wives to help in ministry, so I’m looking forward to that! 

Celine: That sounds a little bit scary and quite a lot of planning. What are some of the biggest challenges you both foresee?

David: Being in a new environment and jumping in with a family and 2 kids (1 of them being a newborn!) especially seeing how both Emerlyn and myself have never studied overseas. Also, studying the bible and theology everyday sounds very challenging but I am excited for this as well.

Emerlyn: For me, healthcare is definitely a concern – let’s hope we don’t get COVID! Another one is learning to adapt to a new culture, understanding their slang and accent as well as being a full-time stay-at-home mom!

Celine: We will keep you guys in prayer. How else can the church and our supporters continue to pray for you and support you? 

David: Thank you. Well, do pray for us to raise enough funds, since Emerlyn is not working anymore and we need to raise the minimum balance required. Besides that, pray for us that our second child will have no complications and that the application process will be smooth and that our family will persevere through the challenges as well as keep CERC in mind for the next four years.

Celine: David, you’re the 4th seminarian CERC is sending off on her 14th anniversary. Is there anything you want to say to encourage the church?

David: yeah I feel very privileged and thankful that CERC is so serious about raising future overseers and pastors. Recently, I have had the opportunity to talk to people outside of CERC about seminary (people like Dr Brian Tabb and other future seminarians) and after hearing from them, it reminded me of how different CERC is in the way we raise future church leaders. 

I could see that we really do take seriously this necessity of raising church planters and I’ve not heard of any church so far who invests as much funds and time as we do into training people like me. A lot of work has been put into me, since my university days all the way up to my CMA days. No other church I know gives the kind of intentional structural support for training future overseers as we do in CERC. For example, we even have a pre-CMA program so that future CMAers can already get some preaching and leading experience before they formally start their apprenticeship. So even before I started my CMA, thankfully I’ve wasn’t starting completely from nothing: I’ve preached a few sermons and led some conference workshops as well as electives. 

And the fact that I’m going to seminary soon is really an accumulation of all that training I’ve received, whereas most people I know who end up doing FTPM just happen to be the rare individuals who are where they are purely by their own effort and willpower (and funds!) without much support from their churches. So yeah, structurally, CERC is very serious and intentional in training/supporting future church leaders so that Malaysia can have top quality teaching of the Word and I’m really thankful for that!

If you’d like to support David’s seminary education and his family, you may do so by contributing to CERC’s Theological Fund here