Payap University and McGilvery Seminary: A Report by Global Ministries Missionary, Dr. Salvador T. Martinez
On November 29, Payap University held its 31st commencement exercises. 1240 students graduated. Of these, 33 graduated from the McGilvary College of Divinity—7 in the M.Div. Thai program, 10 M.Div. International program and the rest graduated with a B.A. in Christian Studies.
It is the International M. Div. that I am responsible for. The ten students that graduated this year came from Vietnam (2 women and 1 man), Myanmar (2 men and 2 women), Cambodia (I male) and Thailand (1 male and I female). All, except one, enjoyed full scholarship during their three-year study personally raised by me from various funding agencies: the United Board, Evangelists Missionswerk, International Christian Scholarship Foundation and some individual donors. One of the graduates was partially supported from the Shaw-McNeely Fund funneled through CGMB.
Commencements at Payap University happen on each last Saturday of November. The students have a long wait between the end of their course work and their graduation. Hence our graduates are already engaged in some sort of ministry even before they received their diplomas. The four Burmese students are already teaching in seminaries. The two women at the Bethany Theological College in Yangon and the men at Kachin Theological College in Myitkina in Kachin State. The Vietnamese women are working for the youth ministry of their churches. It is encouraging to hear of their experiences during a sharing session. Most of them, except for the Cambodian who works for World Vision and a Thai who works in the youth department of the Church of Christ in Thailand are yet to receive a salary. But they do their best anyway and work hard in whatever they are doing.
Graduation is a very festive occasion in Thailand. Payap University is no exception. The whole campus is made to look like spring. Instant flower gardens are planted all over the campus. The graduating students with their togas take pictures with their classmates, friends and parents during the three-day festivities. With the ubiquitous digital camera, picture taking has become even easier and less expensive. The graduating students also go through weeklong rehearsals. Everything is so meticulously prepared. The final graduation ceremony is a very formal occasion. At graduation, the graduates receive a beautifully framed diploma. A professionally taken picture of their graduating class and individually as they receive their diplomas are mailed to them later. In Thai homes where there is a university graduate in the family, one would see pictures hanging, with their diplomas, especially those who graduate from the state universities, where diplomas are handed by one of the members of the royal family.
This year school year, we started with 28 students, 14 Juniors (1st year) 8 Middlers (2nd years)and 6 Seniors. Unfortunately, some of the juniors have to drop out for various reasons including poor academic standing. I hope I can find and recruit new and better students next year and also find generous donors to support the program.
When I started this program five years ago, I fully anticipated marriages among the students. Early this year, I was in Vietnam to give the sermon and help solemnize the marriage of two former students. They scheduled their wedding three days after each other so I can be at both weddings. Again a week ago, I solemnized a wedding between one of our graduating and a current student. It was held at the chapel of McGilvary.
God has blest the program. Our students have had adequate scholarship and those who have graduated are serving God in various ways their own countries and other countries such as Malaysia and Cambodia where they have been called to serve. Please pray that more young people will be challenged to take up the call to the ministry. It has been a absolutely rewarding ministry.