The Transformers: A Tribute to Teachers



Life is More Than Just Assignment

“A little past midnight last night, I was contemplating whether to work on Dr Ying Kheng’s assignment that was due today or go to sleep. Suddenly, I remembered what Dr Ying Kheng said awhile back: ‘Life is more than just assignments.’ With that reminder, I went to bed to get some rest, tired from working on assignments.” Elijah, one of my classmates, shared this story in our student lounge during our afternoon class break. We all had a good chuckle.

Through Elijah’s story and Dr Ying Kheng’s wisdom, I was reminded that life is more than just assignments. As seminary students, we can easily lose ourselves to assignments and tasks while negating the more important things: our relationship with God and others.

Love God, Love neighbor in the life of Jesus

Out of love and compassion, Jesus constantly ministered to the needy and the helpless but amidst all the unceasing needs, he never relinquished his first love. On multiple occasions, Jesus slipped away to commune with the Father. I asked one of our new students Joanni if there is anything she has learned from our teachers that she would like to live out in her own life and carry into her future ministry. Joanni said “Yes, EAST faculty taught me that our priority in life is time spent with God and reading His word.”  Nuugii (from Mongolia) said, “Something I have learnt from the teachers is their dedication to God.”

Jesus did not simply just talk a good talk, he walked the walk. Jesus taught the importance of prayer, and he often withdrew to pray. Jesus taught to love the sinners and he associated himself with the sinners and outcasts. Jesus lived out that example for his disciples to follow. Similarly, our teachers at EAST lived out that example for us to imitate. Our EAST Teachers met us in the classrooms for theological growth, in mentoring groups for spiritual growth, and in their homes for meals sharing stories and laughing at jokes. Athem (from India) says, “Generosity is an important lesson I’ve learned from our teachers. They are always willing to go the extra mile to help us understand a concept or overcome a challenge. I have also learned about the value of hospitality in our classroom. Our teachers create a warm, welcoming environment where every student feels valued and heard. This has shown me how important it is to treat others with kindness and respect.”

Teaching for Transformation

Last night, I asked Elijah, “So what happened to your paper? He said “Dr Ying Kheng gave me extra grace to hand in the next day. However, it was a long process of editing after the submission. Initially, I was stressed because each edit would take me about three hours. Realizing I do not have time to do my other assignments, I put little effort into the process. However, Dr Ying Kheng desired me to do my best. Throughout this process, God used Dr Ying Kheng to change my wrong attitude of viewing it as a task to now seeing it as something in which I get to learn more about God.

“Thank you Dr Ying Kheng for your unending patience with me. From me choosing to sleep over doing your assignment, you never gave up on me and gave me that extra grace. You helped me edit my paper repeatedly. I even occupied your rest time during Singapore’s National Day holiday. In the end, my paper became a real paper from nothing. This truly is a process of life transformation for me.” – Elijah’s personal message to Dr Ying Kheng.

On behalf of the EAST students, I sincerely THANK each one of our teachers at EAST for being faithful to what God has called you. You have been teaching us to learn the complex and the deep things of God. At the same time, you have been teaching us how to love simply yet profoundly.


The article above is written by Clare Chen, an MA in Intercultural Studies student, who penned it in appreciation on behalf of EAST students to EAST Faculty in celebration of Teacher’s Day on 1 September 2023. 

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