East Asian Scholar Lays Important Foundations for Future Faithful Preaching

Hear from Current Langham Scholar, Crystal

Crystal is a Langham Scholar and is currently completing her PhD thesis through the University of Sydney (USyd). Earlier in her studies, Jill McGilvray, LPA Board Chair who was one of her lecturers at the time, suggested that she apply for a scholarship with Langham, as she was considering postgraduate studies. 

University of Sydney

Becoming a Langham Scholar 

“I thought Langham was simply a scholarship programme, but in reality, it’s a lot more than that,” Crystal shares.

“I really appreciate and deeply benefit from the pastoral support and the regional prayer network I’ve got from Langham. Doing a PhD could be isolating, and the work itself sometimes distracts me from my initial God-honouring goals. Langham’s pastoral and prayer supports remind me that I’m not alone, and help me fix my eyes on God rather than work,” she says. 

Crystal has found encouragement during her time as a Langham Scholar so far. She says some key encouragements she leans on are:

“Firstly, God has led you thus far. He will never forsake you, so lay all your burdens in His hands. Secondly, It is God who has placed you in your current role. So whatever it is, a student, a parent, or a minister, etc., do it for His glory.”

A PhD in languages and Biblical interpretation

Crystal has a strong belief that for the Bible to be understood correctly and faithfully, it needs to be read and understood in the original languages it was written: Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. She is passionate about raising up Christian leaders in Asia who can read the Bible in Hebrew and deliver faithful preaching as a result. Her PhD thesis compares the Biblical Hebrew verbal system in prose with its East Asian counterpart.

Library with shelves of stacked books

Crystal notes that while there has been a surge in Bible translations into many Asian languages, there hasn’t been a specific Biblical Hebrew reference grammar. 

“When studying the Hebrew Bible, East Asian pastors and seminary students around the world are left with no help except the Biblical Hebrew reference grammar in English. This unavoidably hinders their study of the Old Testament, particularly for those with limited English. It is widely agreed that verbs play an important role in a language system. The interpretation of verbs is often the first step of biblical exegesis,” she shared. 

“God willing, I hope my doctoral studies will lay the foundation for the future Biblical Hebrew reference grammar in many Asian languages. I also hope that my thesis will inspire scholars from other parts of the Majority World to work on similar projects, which will help Christians from their own people group study God’s Word in its original languages through their heart language,” she said.

Taught and Challenged 

Crystal feels that God has used different challenges to grow her during her studies in Australia. But God has led many Godly people into her life to journey alongside her. 

When she first moved to Australia, she felt a sense of culture shock. She said it was a challenge to be away from her family and friends, while studying in her second language and trying to learn a few other languages too. 

“I’m thankful that I did it with welcoming and inclusive brothers and sisters in Christ. We often came together to praise God, the Creator of cultures. We humbly learnt from each other. This has turned out to be one of the highlights [of my time] in Australia, it gives me a glimpse of heavenly worship when every tribe and tongue will bow down before God.

Another challenge that Crystal has faced is racism, something she didn’t experience prior to moving to Australia. She shared that she was deeply hurt the first time she was racially insulted but with the help of her brothers and sisters in Christ, she was able to see her identity in Christ. 

“I’m precious in God’s sight, and so is everyone else on earth. Lately, I have been rebuked that I used to consider myself the elite and look down on others back in my home country. I truly repent. I thank God for better cultural awareness now and for the racism experiences I had. I’m praying that I’ll be able to love my neighbours well,” she shared.

Crystal said that adjusting to church life in Australia was a big challenge. “Ministry in Australia is more individual-focused and knowledge-based (e.g. 1-1 Bible reading), whereas ministry back home is more community-focused and activity-based (e.g. festivals),” she says.

Downtown Sydney, Australia

“This may show the difference between individualism and communalism. I believe there is no one-size-fits-all ministry model, let alone the best or go-to ministry model. I’m thankful for the privilege to work with ministers who are open to different ministry models. I believe this has prepared me for ministry in an ever-changing world.”

Please pray for Crystal as she continues in her ministry and her PhD studies. Thank God for the opportunity she has to work closely with her brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the ministry she is doing to assist with Bible translation.

Learn more about the Langham Scholars programme here.

By Ngaire Buckley, Langham Partnership Australia