From Brisbane to Israel, where to next?

Rowena Coulson

BST student Rowena Coulson with her husband John at the Garden Tomb, Israel

When people think of Bible college they might automatically assume it’s for those who want to be involved in full-time ministry. While there are many desiring to serve full-time, there are also many of us who are working in the secular context, and studying part-time with a desire to be better equipped.

My name is Rowena. While studying the Graduate Certificate of Divinity at BST over the past year, I was working in aged care (my background is in nursing and midwifery). Studying the course part-time has enabled me to look more in-depth at specific interest areas like church history.

My love and wonder for and of God has been expanded through studying church history and seeing how he has worked through the ages – often times through very imperfect people – and his desire to continue this work through his church. I felt that by doing God-related studies that it would help me to know more about God and his work on Earth through the church. Another reason for studying was to be renewed in my passion for serving him and to find personal direction in how I can continue to be part of God’s work.

I’ve been assisting with the Alpha course in our church, which is designed to introduce new believers to basic Christian principles. Studying has given me a broader understanding of the issues discussed in the Alpha course, which in turns helps me to better engage and encourage people to grow in the Christian faith.

Another benefit of studying this past year was going on the Israel study tour (20 September to 4 October, 2014) with 23 other students, led by a faculty member. It was an enriching experience to visit places of biblical and historical significance. All the sites we visited were informative and helped me to connect Biblical stories and history with actual geographical locations. A number of sites amazed me concerning the geographical and historical accuracy of the Biblical accounts. Some of my favourite sites included Gideon’s Spring (Ein Harod), The City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Sea of Galilee. However, being able to visit the Garden Tomb and the Garden of Gethsemane and follow the Via Dolorosa, which were possible places associated with Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion and resurrection, added weight to my understanding and visual appreciation of the Gospel accounts. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal point of the Christian faith and to be near where these events occurred was a high point of the trip and left me in awe of the grace and power of God.

So where to next? I have just one more subject to complete at BST. 2014 proved to be a time of change for me and I was able to utilise my long service leave to give time to my study and join the Israel tour. In recent times I sensed that the study was a transition for further change and have resigned my job to pursue work in an area that I can use the knowledge I have gained and develop the gifts that God has placed within me. This includes the prospect of serving as a chaplain at a school on a part-time basis. I am prayerful about this decision and look forward to where God will lead me next.