I was asked to shortly say something about myself and my studies. So here are some short reflections and thoughts from my experience: The journey to Theology is seldom straightforward, especially if it grasps you in the midst of a career in Civil Engineering. Judging by my experience, it is the unlikely combination of conviction and yearning that finally constitutes a calling which is persistent enough to motivate a career change.
I arrived at Stellenbosch in 2019 with quite a number of preconceived notions about who God is, what Theology is and who I am. Luckily this did not preclude me from learning anew and getting to know different perspectives. In fact, I would be much poorer if I had not been willing to learn. It is a very discomforting experience to question the axioms of one’s life and faith. The only thing that could have prevented me doing this would have been fear of inquiry. But is fear not the opposite of the one we call love? We are told not to fear (Isaiah 41,10). Therefore, should we not be able to pursue, seek and look for truth without fear? Even though it feels as if we move away from what we are comfortable with, one must remember that no learning happens without discomfort.
What was crucial to keep me grounded during the difficult times of grappling with tough topics was to be part of the Lutheran community in Stellenbosch. I’m very thankful for the support of the church embodied by especially Pastor Meylahn (and others) during these difficult times. A special thanks also goes out to Tristan, my fellow student, for the countless arguments and discussions we’ve had: Iron sharpens Iron. Since I’m on to special thanks, I also have to mention the generous Elisabeth Rohwer, who is kind enough to let me park my CamperVan (yes, I built my own CamperVan over lockdown and now live in it) in her yard and has gone out of her way to make me feel welcome.
As this is my second degree, the academic side is not as difficult for me as for other students. I actually really enjoy the academic environment. I particularly enjoy Philosophy, Systematic Theology and Ethics, New Testament, Beer in good company and helping my fellow students where possible (okay, maybe the Beer is not strictly speaking part of the academic environment). Through an initiative from the Cape Church, I was also able to plan and participate (together with Rutendo) in an online exchange programme with youths from Brazil and Chile. I’m also quite proud that I have already co-authored a soon-to-be-published academic paper on Aramaic Performatives, and also hope to publish my interview of our own Professor Klaus Nürnberger soon.
I am grateful for the moral support from my family, but also for the financial support I receive from the Lutheran World Federation Scholarship and the new friendships I can and have made here in Stellenbosch. I am looking forward to everything that I have yet to learn and experience in my time here.