There and back again: Pressing pause on med school for bible college.

Today’s bible college interview is from Melinda Choy. Melinda lived in the room next to me (Alie) at Moore, and we had many a fun adventure. Usually in the middle of the night, and usually involving cake. She paused her med degree to spend a year at bible college.

When and what did you study?

I studied the Diploma of Bible and Missions in 2010.

What were you doing before your study?

I had finished three years of my undergraduate medicine degree. I took a year off my medical studies to do theological study.

What led to your decision to study?

In my first few years out of school, I became increasingly involved in ministry at my church, which also led to a growing desire to handle, learn from and teach the Bible well. I was constantly asking my friends at Bible college about how I should approach different teaching and ethical issues. After one National Training Event, I discovered a love for theology as it deepened my joy in the gospel and began to look for ways to study the Bible more formally. I started the evening courses at Moore College.

I decided to take the year off my studies first, mostly because I wanted a year off the ‘medicine train’, and to take the opportunity to re-evaluate my identity and direction. I decided to go to Moore College for a year because at that time I thought one year of fulltime theological study would be of benefit for all of the different options I was considering in the future (medical missionary, enthusiastic lay member of a church, fulltime ministry, Christian doctor with an interest in bioethics).

How did people react when you decided to enrol for a year? What did you have to give up?

Most people were generically supportive. A few people (including my parents) were nervous that I was derailing or unnecessarily extending my medical studies before I had any job security.

I knew when I started that I was giving up a year of progress in my possible medical career, which might be a disadvantage with the competitive job market down the track. I didn’t realise as much initially how much of a dent it would make financially.

How did your time studying the word change you?

I received the usual benefits of a greater consciousness of God, who He is, what He has done and is doing. I appreciated the laying out a framework of doctrine, which I had learned in bits and pieces through all the teaching I had received before college. I picked up some skills in reading and teaching the Bible, which I’ve used since.

It was learning those things around people though, people who were suffering, growing, grappling with singleness, infertility, family hurts and loneliness that matured my faith. I got a really good sense of the fact that God’s love and the gospel in His word are not static but dynamic and that there really are gospel and relational comforts in our weakness and hurt.

What would you have differently on reflection?

People who I went to college with will probably laugh at this, but I do wish I had made more of an effort to be deeper in study and the community. I started out too keen and then probably cruised. Now that I have been out for a few years and working, I am so hungry for opportunities to read and think through more complex theological issues that can then grow my simple faith. Even though at the time it seemed almost too much, I do somewhat regret the missed chapels, missed readings, missed time and missed thoughtful edifying conversations I could have had if I knew a bit more of how time poor I would be six years later.


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