Launching out – Jacob & Josephine Li

Photo credit: Deborah Quek


Jacob and Josephine (Josie) Li arrived in Singapore from Vancouver in 2015 to join EAST as Faculty members. Together with their young children in tow, Josiah and Jesse (5 and 1 year old respectively), they began their lives in sunny Singapore. Both of them graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, Jacob with his Master of Theology (ThM) and Josephine with her Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (MABS). Prior to entering seminary, Jacob was involved in real estate development while Josie was into interior design. Due to their desire to honour and serve their aging parents, they have decided to return to Vancouver to be with them at the end of June 2023 after serving in EAST for the past 8 years. While being back in Vancouver, they will still be very much involved in the ministries they are in since EAST. As well, for Jacob, he will continue to serve on the leadership team of Asia Theological Association while Josephine will run her Sisters in Ministry (SIM) Toolbox that offers online workshops for sisters from different nations.

  1. What are some of your highlights serving in EAST these past 8 years?

Jacob: Meeting people from different countries. I’ve never met a Mongolian until I came to Singapore. My perception of Mongolia was what I see in museums about Genghis Khan and their history. In my mind, the Mongolians all ride horses (chuckle!). So it was eye-opening to learn from them what their lives and cultures are really like compared to my limited perspective of the country. Uuganaa, Zulaa, Sunshine were my first Mongolian students. It was wonderful to learn of the normadic lifestyles of their people. To me, it was all very new and refreshing. The same too as I got to know the students from Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, India and other Asian countries. During our time in Singapore, we were able to run some camps with the Myanmar people through groups like Judson Baptist Church. I also had the privilege of visiting  Yangon twice for Ministry Weekend, as well as serving in other nearby Southeast Asian countries with my Mentoring Group (MG).

Josie: For me, one of my highlights was meeting like-minded sisters from different nations with a heart for God and are mission minded. I felt encouraged by their commitment and the sacrifices they have made. We partnered and did things together for the ministry in EAST and also in the community. It’s so beautiful to meet sisters from different cultures that brought different perspectives into the team. As I got to know my Indian and Filipino sisters and understood their cultures, I am touched by their innocent and childlike attitudes as they looked at things and problems. They are just not very calculative people (laughing at herself). This is so refreshing, because I come from a culture that is highly efficient, but where relationships can be highly calculative. It opened my eyes that a lot of Southeast Asian cultures are not like that.

Jacob and Josie shared about their ministries beyond EAST:

Jacob has been serving on the Commission of Accreditation and Educational Development (CAED) which is part of the Asia Theological Association (ATA). ATA is an accreditation body for close to 400 seminaries.  The CAED Board oversees the accreditation of seminaries that mainly serve Asians. It also provides training for faculty, deans and presidents to help improve their education endeavours. Besides serving in ATA, Jacob is also a senior consultant at the International Consortium Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE)—an global entity that enables international interaction and collaboration among all those concerned for the enhancement of evangelical theological education worldwide.

Josie started the “Sisters in Ministry Toolbox”  to provides online training for women from over 10 different countries (e.g., Singapore, India, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and more) by offering them popular and relevant workshops like Sacred Rest (7 different ways of rest), 7 different pathways, Bible Study Methods (Express) since 2021.

What are your parting words to the PIM Ministry (Josie) and your MG and students (Jacob)?

Josie: I would love to see the PIM Ministry expanded to include both married and single women to be trained as Christlike women leaders. (Going back to the US, one of the things that Josie wants to pursue is her Doctor of Ministry, DMin, and continue to strengthen the women ministry in Asia.)

Jacob: I would like to leave the following three words to my MG group and members of my EAST family:Perseverance – don’t give up [as students in general really struggle in language and their academic experience], Excellence – offer your very best (that means going beyond the “just get it done” mindset. Never confuse grace with excellence, or mercy with good stewardship), Dependence on God – don’t think you can do it on your own.

What were the favourite classes you taught?

Christian Marriage course in PIM (taught together by Jacob and Josie) – the students shared about good changes they made as they apply what was taught in class.

Preaching 1 & 2 course by Jacob Li – It was exciting to see how God empowers the students to preach. While English is usually not their first language, it is so satisfying to watch them grow in preaching from the first sermon to the last. I still get emails from students and continue to dialogue with them even via Zoom. The students go on to become fellow sojourners in the journey of faith.

Bible Study Methods in PIM by Josie Li – I remember in my first year how I was dragging my feet, trying to organise the materials and to teach it. This is my eighth year and I finally got the hang of it, condensed it, and feel I have become a better teacher. I managed to help them acquire skillsets in learning how to glean and fall in love with God’s word. It blessed my heart as many of them shared “it’s so exciting how God talks to me”. That is something that touched my heart.

What are some new things that you learned about God and yourself during your time at EAST and in Singapore?

Josie: Learn to take risks. If you know that God has asked you to do, just do it. It started with “Lunch and Learn” – crafts ministry. I felt like I am the boy who has five loaves and two fish. It’s not about your inability but God’s ability. Sometimes, I am so tired. I have no ideas. But God started to reveal to me ideas on what I can do. It’s about journeying with God. It’s really how God multiplies. He always tells me, “I’ll be with you.”

Jacob: “God can make a way when there seems to be no way”. The reason I feel that way is from the testimonies from students. Also, seminary is also the time and place for one to learn “who you are and who you are not”. For me, God designed me to teach and to think strategically. I am not good at doing day to day operational stuff. I end up feeling frustrated at doing operations repetitious work. I enjoyed and will miss interacting with like-minded people whether it’s with the faculty, students, and operational staff. Our kindred spirits really help us live out God’s vision for our lives.”

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