DTC has existed for more than forty years. Since then several evangelical schools and seminaries have emerged in many parts of Asia including Singapore. Some have similar ethos and most of them are bigger in size and resources. So, is there still need for DTC? Why would someone come particularly to DTC?
DTC, A Small Training Community
DTC was envisioned to equip Christian graduates to serve the churches in Asia in the context of a small, cross-cultural community. The intentionally small size of DTC is really in some ways a strength rather than a weakness. While there are obvious advantages for a large school, small is indeed beautiful, especially when we talk about community, spiritual formation, discipleship and mentoring. We know that the number of people is inversely proportional to the intimacy and effectiveness of community. The more people you have the less intimate and effective community is. That’s why you have to break large communities into small groups for people to experience community. Large crowds followed Jesus but he chose and concentrated on a small band of 12 disciples “to be with him…and to be sent out” (Mark 3:14, DTC’s motto). It is this small band that transformed the world “upside up.”
Theologically, community is not just incidental to the whole notion of being a person but is constitutive of it. It is in God’s nature as Trinity, as Persons-in-relation, that we derive our understanding of what it is to be a person. “To be” is “to-be-in-relation.” To be a person is what one gives to and receives freely from others with whom one is in relation. As persons created in the image of God, we are formed and transformed in and through relationships such as the practice of community. This does not mean merging our uniqueness and particularity (“collective personality” or collectivism which we find in many Asian societies). Just like in the Trinity, we need to maintain our uniqueness and particularity because they are exactly what we give to and receive from each other.
DTC, A Cross-Cultural Community
What better place then to be formed and transformed than in a cross-cultural community which DTC is. Many who have gone through DTC have testified that they have suffered some sort of identity crisis when their own cultures meet (and clash) with other cultures. But it is also in and through this cross-cultural setting and living that they discovered their true selves and prepared them to live and minister in a cross-cultural situation. Add to it the fact that Singapore itself is a microcosm of a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
Anyone contemplating to do cross-cultural ministry particularly will find DTC a good place to prepare. Anyone who is looking for more than academic learning but would like the integration of all of life and the transformation of the whole person will find DTC an alternative place to study. This, I think is a unique role that God gives to DTC in the formation and transformation of his workers.
DTC, A Place for Rest and Renewal
If DTC’s uniqueness plays an important role in the pre-field training of God’s workers, it could also be a resource in the post-field development of those who have been on service. DTC’s more than forty years of experience in the pre-field formation and transformation of God’s workers in a small cross-cultural community could benefit as well those who have been in the field. DTC could provide a setting and community for those who seek rest and renewal.
It is for this reason that we have recently added a new offering called Sabbatical Studies Programme. Those who have been in the field or marketplace could come for six months to one year for sabbatical. They need to propose a project such as deepening of a spiritual discipline or disciplines, research, reflection, writing. They could sit in courses of their choice for credit or audit and participate in the life of the community. DTC will also help find mentors or resource persons for those who need one.
God, by his grace, has used and sustained DTC for more than forty years. For as long as he still needs us in the work of equipping workers for his kingdom, we will wholeheartedly do our part.
George N. Capaque