Dear Friends and Family
I trust that you are well and growing in your love for Jesus and His people.
Renée and I are doing well. We are grateful and astounded by God’s goodness and grace. We thank God for the family, love, fellowship, teaching, and opportunities to serve which we enjoy at our church, Tokai Community Church. We thank God for what He is doing in our lives through our church family.
I have grown immensely in my faith and knowledge of God and His Word through this first semester at college.
Holiday and Work
During this last school (and college) holiday we were able to visit my Dad, Renée’s Mom, and other friends and family in Kwa-Zulu Natal. We were also catch up with a lot of household tasks that have been patiently waiting for attention whilst we have been productively and frantically busy with the demands of the academic term. I managed to find time to fix the ceiling in our home and do some mechanical maintenance to our car which included: changing the timing-belt, doing a service, and replacing the radiator (which actually burst on our drive to Durban – thus the need for replacement).
I feel overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the privilege of studying at George Whitefield College. I find the lecturers to not only be passionate about the subjects they are teaching, but also vigilant of our personal spiritual growth and walk with God.
I have found my first semester to be exciting and invigorating whilst also being challenging, tiring, and stretching.
The academic demand on students at GWC is immense and intense. All the students in all years and stages of their studies often vocalize the strain they are under. I, of course, am new to this whole academic environment, so I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in finding the academic pressure challenging.
Academic Pressure and Deadlines
The required reading assignments are near impossible to complete, particularly when simultaneous deadlines are looming to hand in various assignments, which is closely followed by exams. Having said all this, I must add that it is under such a pressured environment that I thrive. I enjoy deadlines and pressure; it helps me to function. I believe this is one of the motivations behind this intense academic pressure – to help students to present thorough arguments for important and difficult topics quickly whilst under pressure. I understand this skill will be thoroughly useful when in the hilt of ministry situations.
In the first term and into the second term I was struggling with my private devotions with God. I was struggling to find time to have my devotions; and when I did find time to sit down and have alone time with God, I found that the Bible seemed to have lost its capacity as ‘God’s Word’ and now seemed only to be an academic book. I presented this challenge to my Discussion group (at College) asking that they pray for me that I may be more disciplined at my private devotions and that God’s Word would come alive to me again. They not only agreed to pray for me but also admitted that they have the same problem and discussed ways they have found helpful to remain in fellowship with God through His Word and prayer during this intense time of studies. They also directed me to Steve Rockwell, one of our lecturers, who has in the past given them good advice in this regard.
Valuable Paradigm Shift
I had a very fruitful discussion with Steve Rockwell who encouraged me by pointing out that the struggle I was facing was not unique and many, if not all, students face a similar struggle. He gave me tips on how to approach the Bible in my quiet time and suggested a good daily devotional by D. A. Carson (For the Love of God). But his most helpful advice changed my way of thinking about my studies at college. “Make every subject you study a devotional time with God,” he said, “forget about trying to get good marks and just pursue your studies as a means to get to know God better”. He told me how this approach helped him when he was a student. This advice has revolutionized my studies and made every lecture, book, assignment, or exam become a tool to help me know God better. The result is that not only are my quiet times revitalized, but every aspect of my studies at college have become all the more exciting and adventurous.
I really enjoy and benefit immensely from the Chapel services that are held at the college twice a week. The Bible is preached faithfully and I find my faith is strengthened through the communal worship. I have been (as all students are) incorporated into the services with opportunities to read portions of Scripture, pray, and serve as a steward. I am also involved in the music team.
As part of our Public Speaking class, we had an assignment to prepare our testimony in a Christ honouring way and present it in class in under 4 minutes. This was a very helpful assignment. My testimony was selected (among others) to be video recorded for an online app called ‘Yes He Is’. The video crew came around during the holiday and recorded my testimony. As soon as they have done the editing, I will post a link.
First Semester Results
I have finally received my Semester marks for last semester.
79% – REACH-SA History
81% – Christian Doctrine Introduction
96% – Greek 1
73% – Mark’s Gospel
79% – Old Testament Introduction
79% – Biblical Theology
75% – Public Speaking
81% – Study Skills
I am very happy with these results and thank God for all I have learnt through this semester. I am excited and eagerly looking ahead to this 2nd semester.
Thank you very much for your prayers, support, and encouragement. We certainly appreciate you walking this road with us.
May God bless you thoroughly and perpetually!
In His hands,
Michael and Renée Watson