A funny thing happened on the way to Facebook today…MTS called. A lot of things have changed. Two days after a friend asked me how my studies were going and explaining to him just why I didn’t see any possibility of returning to MTS, I just might be returning to study after all.
You see, ever since the heart attacks, I’ve been struggling just to survive and figure out how to live and function with a severely damaged heart. Going back to work has been challenge enough, but adding two graduate classes at a time to my schedule and all the stress of late, nearly-sleepless nights reading, studying, and writing papers just doesn’t fit into what I’m capable of doing. So, over months of sporadic thinking I had come up with a list of reasons why I couldn’t study any longer, and I also had developed a list of some conditions that would have to be met in order for me to ever consider resuming my studies.
1). The MDiv at 90 hours is just too much for me at this point in life, all things considered. I don’t really need or have a passion to learn Greek and Hebrew (though I completed 9 hours of Greek already). It just isn’t all that practical or necessary for the kinds of ministry I do, and the learning of a difficult language, while I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Spanish language, is just too much for me. I’m not at an age and life situation where earning an MDiv is all that practical. I mostly got into it because it was the only accredited, online seminary masters program in existence when I started it. I needed more Bible learning/training and this was the unique vehicle available to gain that. If I were to resume online studies, it would need to be for a masters that doesn’t include biblical languages and is for a much more modest number of hours, say in the mid-30s. (I’ve completed 24 hours including the Greek.) I would also need for most of my earned credits to transfer to this other, previously non-existent online masters degree.
2). I can’t afford the studies with one son in college and another just a couple years away. The Timothy Scholarship is only available to those who enroll and maintain 15 credit hours per year. I have to have that matching scholarship in which I only need to pay 1/3 of the tuition, or I simply can’t continue. Thus, I would need for the Timothy Scholarship to be offered even though I only took say 12 hours a year instead of 15 hours.
3). I can’t manage two classes at once any longer. I could probably handle one class at a time, but the MDiv program requires 2 classes at a time in order to finish within the allowed number of years to get it done, and the biblical language studies require a 2nd class to overlap since they stretch those Greek and Hebrew classes out over a longer time. Any resumed studies would have to be such that I only take one class at a time, which means, 2 classes per semester or 4 classes per year, which means 12 hours a year.
So, that’s my list of non-negotiable requirements to make it work. As far as I knew, this was an unlikely, if not impossible, set of requests.
And then today the GSA (graduate student advocate) calls me and says, they’re offering a new online master’s this fall, starting in late August.
- The Master of Arts in Biblical Studies is only 36 hours.
- Out of my 24 credit hours earned, 15 of them can be applied to this degree (the 9 Greek hours are useless and Greek to them too I guess!). So, I only lack 21 hours (i.e. 7 classes).
- The Timothy Scholarship has been changed so that only 6 hours per semester or 12 per year are required in order to receive it. To get 12 hours per year, I only need to take one class at a time.
- The courses I lack for this new online masters are basic Bible and spiritual formation courses. Perfect. That’s what I really need and want.
So…I’m not sure what there is to pray about at this point. I’d already prayed that all of these things would have to happen before I could consider resuming studies. It’s more about praying that God stops me from going back in at this point. I honestly can’t see a good reason why I shouldn’t. It is the desire of my heart…battered though it is.
So, maybe you can pray with me that I’ll continue to understand the Lord’s will in this matter, but perhaps we can start praying for the finances as well. I will need some help to take these courses. They’re now up a little to $410 per credit hour or $1,230 per class.
I’ll have to re-apply for the scholarship which is a formality and to set it up with my home church in WV as well. This also means that I’ll need donors for 1/3 of that amount times two (for two classes this fall semester). All that to say, I’ll need $820 given through my church for this year’s fall semester and again for next year’s spring semester. I’ll have to come up with the rest of those funds unless anyone wants to help me with my portion as well which would be greatly appreciated too.
There’s also a relatively new fee from Faithlife which is the author of the Logos software I purchased for the MDiv and is required for this masters as well. Now there is Logos Live! which allows access to many expensive resources for a hefty subscription fee of $300 per semester. Unfortunately, it’s a requirement to get it, and so that’s another $1,200 that will be added to this semester if paid to Moody which would cover the 4 semesters/2 years of expected studies. There may be a payment plan available if I go directly through Faithlife for this, but I don’t know if it costs more on such a plan, and I don’t know if it is charged each semester or simply is measured out over a few extra months. Stuff to find out.
Wow. I’m really excited about the prospect of being able to resume seminary studies and being able to earn a degree that is practical and in-line with my needs and desires for learning. I think I can do it. It seems manageable.
Pray about it with me. I’ve still got some time to decide. Pray for the finances too. It’ll be a chunk of change to get through this, but to my knowledge, our eternal Provider has not run out of resources. Trusting.