PANDA TRAINER AND SHEPHERD
JOYCE CHAN - VICE PRESIDENT ACADEMIC AND PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY
My daughter and I watched an IMAX movie, “Pandas,” over the summer. The movie was a story about a Chinese scientist that was learning from an American scientist about how to help captive bred pandas regain their natural ability to survive and thrive in the wild forest. The Chinese scientist worked toward preserving Pandas from extinction. However, the pandas she bred in the lab do not have skills to survive in the natural environment because they essentially grow up in the “greenhouse.” Even their mother is not able to teach them because she was born in the lab as well. The Chinese scientist sought help from an American scientist who specializes in helping bears go back to their natural habitat. He said that there is no trick that helps bears develop skills necessary to survive in their natural habitat. The 1 key to success: building trusting relationship with the pandas or bears and lead them step by step in becoming independence.
After months of training accompanied by 2 young scientist-trainers 24/7, the panda was finally released back into the wild to learn how to conquer challenges on her own. The American scientist thought that he could finally take a break and headed home to his family. However, he quickly received notification from the panda’s GPS that she has not had moved which worried him. Feeling desperate to help, he immediately took a flight back to China. After extensive searching, they found the panda stuck on top of a tree on the verge of dehydration and suffering from serious injuries. The Chinese scientist who was afraid of heights confronted his fear and climbed to the top of the tree to feed the panda with honey and medicine. When I saw how the two people cared so deeply about the panda, I was moved into tears.
Watching this movie helped me to visualize the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:11-16)
People study at seminary for various reasons and have different goals in terms of ministry. As we begin a new year of study, it is good for us to refocus on the primary call Jesus has for us, his disciples. “Ministry is all about relationships” - these words from my own seminary professor still remain in my mind. We may think to ourselves that we want to accomplish great things for God, but let’s be careful to invest our time and energy in the right things. Christian Ministry at its heart is not about running programs or growing an organization. It’s about nurturing the lives of people whom God has entrusted to us. These people are our congregations, our children, our family members, our community, our students… the list goes on. Jesus is calling us to love those whom He loves and to serve those whom He serves. Ultimately, we are called to lay down our lives for our sheep just as our shepherd has laid down His life for us. We can do that if we follow our good shepherd, being always attentive to His voice.
May we follow our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, closer each day as we seek to be equip to serve Him and His people.
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ABOUT THE FACULTY
Dr. Joyce Chan is Carey’s VP Academic, Associate Professor of Church History, and Director of the ReGeneration Program. Joyce has a deep sense of calling toward nurturing and formative ministries expressed within the framework of congregational and institutional life. She holds a strong conviction in the priesthood of all believers and theological education for the whole people of God. To that end, she started the Chinese ministries program at Carey in 2004 to empower and equip Chinese immigrant Christians and their second generation leaders. Her most recent publications include: Rediscover the Fading Memories: Early Chinese Canadian Christian History (2013) and William Dean and the First Chinese Study Bible (2014). Joyce and her husband Benny are parents to Clement and Victoria. Joyce loves painting, calligraphy and music.
Get in touch with Joyce: firstname.lastname@example.org