Interview with Koh Siang Kiang
On 31 May, Koh Siang Kiang, one of our missionaries, officially retired as full-time faculty from Singapore Bible College. We catch up with her to find out what are her plans and how we can pray for her.
1. Hi Siang, for those who are new to GBC, could you introduce a bit of your work at Singapore Bible College (SBC) before retiring?
Hi, I’m Koh Siang Kiang. My full-time ministry in God’s work began in 1976. Since then I’ve studied full time for 6 years for my Bachelor of Theology and Master of Arts in Biblical Studies & Christian Education. 6 years were spent as Director of Christian Education (CE) at GBC. 8 years were spent in administrative work, assisting Dr Poulson when he was Dean of the English Dept at Singapore Bible College. That prepared me for 25 years I spent as professor in Christian Education, in three seminaries: Baptist Theological Seminary (while there I worked on my Doctor of Ministry concurrently), Dallas Theological Seminary and Singapore Bible College where I served 19 years.
(L) Siang's first year of study at SBC circa 1976. (R) "Retyre-ing" in 2021 after 19 years of faithful service at SBC.
I’ve also done a lot of Christian Education consultation and training with churches.
The other thing that I’ve enjoyed and done quite a fair bit of is leading Bible Study trips to Israel. It began with assisting Dr Poulson and when he couldn’t do it he encouraged me to do it on my own. I was hoping to do more when I “retyre”, but alas the pandemic. That will have to wait but I hope I won’t be too old.
Leading the Bible study trip to Israel in Dec 2019 before the pandemic hit. Hear what some of the members have learnt during the trip in this video.
2. In the 19 years at SBC (and the 45 years in ministry), what were some lessons that you've learnt? What are some joys and also struggles?
a. The first thing I would say is: I am glad I know my call. It’s that call that has sustained me that many years. I’ve many times wanted to quit but that call was what kept me going.
b. An old retired pastor in 1976 told me to always put myself as a servant so that I would not be disappointed when people treated me that way. Whatever size church I serve, he said, I will have that many bosses, so if I see myself as a servant I won’t be disappointed.
c. FAT: Faithful, Available, Teachable are lessons that I’ve learned over the years that have kept me disciplined. I’ve learned that faithfulness is not related to any positions or titles but just doing what the Lord places before you. People everywhere are hurting, and being available with time to hear them is what they need. Being teachable is what helps me grow in the Lord. I learn from God’s Word, books, lectures, seniors and also children.
d. The greatest joy is when I see lives changed in the people I’ve been working with. Conversely, the greatest sadness is when the ones I’ve worked with turned back to their old ways.
e. In ministry, it’s sad but I’ve encountered back stabbing from fellow workers. Strange that we talk and teach love and unity but it’s not always experienced. Those were the times when I’ve wanted to “walk away” but God would always remind me of my call.
f. One of the things that bugs me in ministry, is to see how new people coming into any position would want to undo the old and make a “legacy” for themselves by doing something completely different. I’ve always wondered “if it’s not spoilt why fix it?” A legacy is something you leave from who you are.
Being faithful, available and teachable—Siang serving in various ministries through the years: (clockwise from top left) teaching junior church; helping out with registration for a Christmas event; preaching at a Mother's Day function in 1977; and most recently conducting SBC classes online via Zoom.
3. What are some things that you've learnt/experienced about God over the years?
a. God is with me, God is still with me, and God is always with me.
b. 2 Cor 12:9. To depend on God’s strength in my weakness. As a broken vessel, I need Him every single hour.
c. I’ve a plaque that read: “God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him.” I’ve tried to follow this and found it so true.
4. Could you also share with us about some plans for the future?
I would sure love to but I’m still waiting. For a start I’ll be doing some adjunct teaching. Singapore Bible College has asked me to help them with some Pastoral Care work, and programme advising. I’ll continue to teach the Tuesday Meet God Mid-Week class. Haha, everyone tells me to take the first few months easy and “enjoy” retirement. But honestly, the future is more scary now than 45 years ago when I was young and you could say bashful.
(Top) With the pastoral care groups in SBC. (Bottom) Tuesday's Meet God Mid-Week class (which will be resuming online on 6 July).
5. How can the church pray for you? Are there ways that we can also support you practically?
a. I’ve seen enough that when a person leaves a very busy life a lot of things changed—physical and mental health are affected. I don’t want that to happen to me. Pray I’ll learn to balance myself well. Pray for some time to “smell the roses” which I hadn’t time in the past.
b. Strangely I’ve always found it very difficult to talk about the practical support openly like this. I’ve always left that to God to move hearts, and have certainly seen that the last 45 years. I’m not opposed to sharing when people approach me individually. Not so paiseh.
c. I need much support in my caring for Mrs Poulson.
[If you would like to find out more about how you can support Siang, you can contact her at email@example.com]
(L) Cruising with Dr & Mrs Poulson 3 months before Dr Poulson’s homegoing in 2017. (R) With Mrs Poulson in 2021.
But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. (Ps 52:8, NASB)