Building on the skills I gained from my postgraduate study.

Monday, 29th April 2024
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Building on the skills I gained from my postgraduate study

By Hicham

If you asked me twenty-four years ago whether I would be studying theology or becoming a pastor, I would not only have found that unimaginable, but would have taken it as an insult. I was brought up as a Muslim, but in 2000 had the immense privilege of hearing the gospel and being saved. I was then finishing my robotic engineering (Masters). My university studies were time-consuming, and it was frustrating not having enough time to study Christianity in depth. I longed for the opportunity to do so. Therefore, before embarking on a scientific doctorate in France, I was granted a gap year in order to move to England for one-year of theological studies at the European Missionary Fellowship (EMF) School of Theology. At the end of that year the Lord completely changed my career direction! I was offered the chance to undergo pastoral training with an evangelical church in the north of England and was at the same time able to help with their outreach among ethnic minorities. After three years as assistant to the pastor I became the second pastor of the church. In 2010, now married and with children, I moved to France to join and help a team plant a Baptist church.

While in France, I was invited twice by the Irish Baptist College to give seminars on Islam and Muslim evangelism. This was my first contact with the College team. I greatly enjoyed the fellowship, the warm welcome, the theological ethos and particularly the missionary and evangelistic focus of the College. I took the opportunity to find out more about the possibility of completing an MA.

There were various reasons why I decided to do the Master in Theology. The main one was certainly my desire to enrich my understanding of biblical interpretation and knowledge, to help me in my ministerial and pastoral role. I do believe that for those of us who are already leaders in Christian ministry, achieving an in-depth understanding of biblical and pastoral theology, evangelism, discipleship, and more can broaden our perspective and deepen our impact within our communities. Secondly, I am involved in teaching and training in Bible colleges and churches in Europe and North-Africa. Having an MA would give me a little more credit/authority! Thirdly, French people (not only citizens, but the authorities as well) are very suspicious of “religious leaders”, including pastors, without any official qualifications. My conviction was (and still is) that it would be a good testimony to the Christian ministry that I should work towards a proper postgraduate qualification.

When I decided to do an MA it was then natural that I chose the Irish Baptist College, not only because of the reasons mentioned above, but also because of the flexibility of the programme. The most helpful thing about the postgraduate study is that the en bloc teaching requires only 18 days attendance across two years, with on-site teaching being supplemented by assignment completion off campus. This meant that I could do my MA while continuing my ministry in France. The College also offers a flexible payment plan which can be spread over the course of the studies. 

One of the amazing advantages is that for each of the modules, students can choose to write their essays on a subject related to our ministries (the same is true for the final assignment). I really loved this approach because our studies should be useful in our ministries. For me it was so practical that it provoked a desire to further my research (PhD) on a chapter in my assignment. Two months after finishing my MA, my application for a doctorate was accepted by a university in Paris. On 15th December 2023, I defended my PhD (viva) and presented my studies on Raymond Lull’s method of reaching Muslims in the 13th century and his contribution to modern interfaith dialogue. I was then awarded a doctorate in history and socio-religious sciences, with a summa cum laude distinction. All the praise goes to God!  

I am thankful to the Lord for the opportunities he has given me to study his word. My postgraduate study at the College certainly played a major part in the process. I was able to build my PhD on the skills gained from my MA. So, by God’s grace, the work I did at the Irish Baptist College has not gone to waste!  

If you would be interested in doing some Postgraduate study at the College you can click here for more details, and information on how to sign up. 

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