What is brotherhood? One definition I came across is, “the feeling of kinship with and closeness to a group of people or all people.” I would like to venture to say that brotherhood is necessary in seminary and generally, in life. As a second year student at Westminster Theological Seminary, brotherhood is something that didn’t come at the snap of a finger. Just because I wanted it, I couldn’t get it. I had to toil for it, I had to struggle for it.
During my first semester at Westminster Theological Seminary, I was alone, I was in solitude, not because I wanted to, but because of the given circumstances. Everyone was so… busy. It should be better communicated as, BUSY! Busy doesn’t even begin to describe the life of the seminary student. Classes, ministry, internships, family life, and personal endeavors are just the brink of explaining the life of a seminarian and his/her involvement. I had all this going on. Alone. And so did everyone else as I slowly learned later on.
I needed brotherhood. I needed accountability. I needed people in my life that I could vent to, to talk about church with, to encourage and to get encouraged, to share life. I made it a goal to fill this void in my first semester during this new transition. And then, I found them or better yet, God brought them.
We started out by being classmates in a few classes and then it blossomed into becoming roommates. A good gang of four. It didn’t come easy though, to emphasize some more. I made it intentional to the three of them that I needed them through these next few years and the years to come after graduation and that they also, needed me for the very reasons that I listed. For life.
Some of the questions and conversations that were shared between the four of us was: “Who is going to understand our pains? Our joys? Our problems? And our triumphs? If church is about community and being united as one body, why does it seem like seminary is excluded from that unity? Is the Christian life a solo life or are we supposed to do life together?” It resulted the same for all four of us and that result was that we needed each other through this and for this journey called life and specifically, through seminary.
We banded together and we bonded together since. This involves the paramount things like praying for one another, studying together, talking theology with one another, sharing hurts and burdens, and critically thinking about how we serve our respective church ministries. And on the other hand, the feeble things such as cooking and eating together, watching comedy videos, playing basketball, and sitting around loathing.
These brothers were necessary for me because without them I can’t pray for someone that’s not there and vice versa. I can’t study and talk theology with another being. I can’t share a meal with a person that isn’t there. I can’t play basketball by myself. But, I could sit around and loathe by myself (but that wouldn’t be fun).
The growth in multiple aspects of my life that occurred correlates with these three brothers. They effected every inch of my life since those conversations. The way I approached going to classes changed. I was excited to go to class, not just to learn, but to be learning with others that I know I can go to when I can’t wrap my head around Cornelius Van Til’s, “Common Grace.” My service to the church changed as I had a better grasp on how to handle counseling the youth because I had extensive talks with these brothers for nights about one child that was digging a deep hole. My life with my fiancee grew to become more fruitful and hopefully more pleasing to the Lord because they guarded me, they taught me, they encouraged me.
This is all because God placed these brothers in my life and because I ventured out to find them. So, for those that are in seminary or thinking about seminary, think about the brothers or sisters that you will need and be prayerful because it doesn’t come easy.
By Charles Chung. Charles is a Westminster Theological Seminary M. Div. student from Brooklyn, NY and a youth director at Sheep’s Gate Presbyterian Church in Havertown, PA.