One of our new students shares his experience of the newly developed OCMS Programme for Research Induction (OPRI) for recently registered PhD and GSP students.
I have often used the high salt and mineral content of the Dead Sea in Israel as an illustration of what happens to a follower of Jesus when they do not have an outlet in their spiritual life…when they simply receive and never share their blessings with others. However, when we visited Israel two years ago, we noticed that the water level of the Dead Sea had dropped dramatically. When we asked our guide to explain this phenomenon, he told us that the Israeli government had been piping water from the Sea of Galilee to the arid Negev region for irrigational purposes. So now not only was the Dead Sea not giving out water, but it was also not receiving adequate water as in the past. No ‘outlet’ and very little ‘inlet’.
Most biblically faithful leaders do not have a problem with outlet. To the contrary. Tragically, they often pour out from a place of spiritual emptiness; from wells that have long since run dry. Those working in fields where there is little or no supportive faith community are even more at risk of attempting to survive in a state of barrenness.
The OCMS Programme for Research Induction provides a perfect balanced spiritual diet for those who seek sustenance that is both academically rigorous and intellectually stimulating as well as spiritually nourishing and satisfying. While the thought-provoking lessons, readings, online videos, and class discussions are healing balm for the pastor’s soul, the prayers, the weekly informal chapel gathering, and the camaraderie are life jackets for those who find themselves in the raging seas of life in a topsy-turvy world reeling in shock from the relentless onslaught of an unseen enemy. Then there is also an ongoing programme providing the researcher with a constant flow of resources as they continue to plumb the ever-increasing depths of learning together with a personal tutor. The researcher is not left to flounder in a shallow pool of limited personal or abstract book knowledge regarding research styles and methods but is given every opportunity not just to acquire the necessary skills to engage in sound theological investigation, but also to hone these skills together with others who have been or still are actively engaged in the ministry of reconciling the world to the Father.
The developing online options have made it possible for global participation, adding a rich tapestry of cultural experience to the programme. To engage with brothers and sisters from every part of our Lord’s world is a blessing few are privileged to receive.
I cannot recommend this programme highly enough. In the words of the Psalmist, my cup overflows. I am truly grateful to every member of this programme who are fast becoming more than co-workers in the Gospel; I would consider them both friends and family.
The Rev Dr Johannes W H van der Bijl
Villiersdorp, South Africa