SOTA Online (formerly Seminary on the Air) is TWR’s long-running seminary programme in the Mandarin language for pastors and leaders of the Chinese church. Both Chinese believers and church leaders from around the world, including Canada, Brazil and Germany, study using SOTA.
Over the last five years, TWR has increasingly focused on making SOTA course content available on media players and MP3 devices, as well as on online platforms for download and streaming. There are other options too, including a set of six textbooks and an interactive tablet containing all the course lessons, presentation and manuscript from the instructor and additional theological supplemental content.
SOTA students range in age from early 20s to nearly 80 years of age. Today we want to share some of the amazing impacts this programme has had on its students.
One SOTA student from China writes:
“By studying a series of theological courses in SOTA, I am able to read the Bible thoroughly and completely and to fill my Bible full of comments. I was particularly touched by the lessons on mission. In the mission courses, I learned a lot, including the essentials of faith, about the life and ministry of a Christian worker, as well as topics on how to protect against heresy.
Because I am personally engaged in a career in education, I am also very interested in Christian ethics and the course ‘Introduction to Christian Education.’ From those courses I also learned the similarities and differences between theological education and our general education, where the gaps are, how we should teach, how to preach the gospel, how to carry out missionary work and so on.
During my SOTA studies, I have made progress in my spiritual life, which is gradually maturing. I’ve also made improvements in grasping the Bible’s essence and in interpreting it, and in how to explain the Bible, how to comfort our brothers and sisters and how to preach the Word of the Lord. All these studies will be of great help in my future life and work, fellowship groups and ministry of missions.”
Xie, a SOTA student from Canada also shares her story:
“In my past Bible study, I always jumped from one point to another, a little here and a little there. I had some insights from the scripture passage but not solid at all. In addition, I didn’t know too much about the history of the Bible and my understanding of the truth was very shallow. In the course ‘Basic Doctrine,’ the teacher clearly explained basic doctrines in a very systematic way and helped me to build a very solid doctrinal foundation from the Bible. I know how to use the context of the scripture as well as how to discern the key points of the passages.
Last year, I had the chance to do an internship in my church, which included preaching, teaching Sunday School and participating in campus ministry. I was struggling when I first started to preach. Even though I am used to doing a lot of presentations at my job, I realised that this is not the same as preaching. In the beginning, my preaching was very unnatural and it was a great bother to me. The SOTA student meetings and the exegetical preaching days helped me a lot. SOTA has really helped me to share the Word of God with my brothers and sisters and has helped me to enjoy more wonderful fellowship with God.”
We praise God that SOTA can continue to run despite the restrictions of COVID-19. Due to the lockdown, students have had more time to study, which has resulted in better exam grades. Praise God for technology that can be used to carry on with student meetings and training. Please pray for wisdom for the staff on how to support enrolled students, as well as provide continuous training and support to their graduates.