Seme Studies during Covid-19

Seme is in his first year of his Theology degree in Cape Town. He is in lockdown during this time due to Covid-19. Lockdown in South Africa started with 5 weeks of not being able to leave your home unless needing essential services such as medical care and food, but these rules are gradually decreasing to allow exercise outside the house and more businesses to be able to be able to open. However, there are still a lot of restrictions put in place about the number of people able to meet at one place, and people are encouraged to still not leave their residence if they do not need to. Masks need to be warn outside your place of residence at all times. Seme answers some questions about how his life has adjusted during this time.

How are you currently feeling; a. physically b. spiritually c. emotionally

First, I thank God that I am okay and physically healthy. The lockdown has kept me indoors without doing my usual exercise like playing soccer and running 5 kilometres in the evening hours. I created an alternative way for doing exercise by dancing to my Gospel music and doing push-ups every evening to make me sweat and stay healthy. Even though in the beginning it was quite challenging, I am now used to it. It has become part of my life at least to do it once or twice every day. My sincere thanks to Darien and Vanessa (from CORE) for providing an immune booster for me.

 Secondly, concerning my Spiritual life, I am progressing in the knowledge and the Love of God and His Word. I have realised that nothing is better for me than spending time with God in Prayers and reflecting on his Divine Word, especially during this Pandemic. I also thank God for Pastor Simon Clegg of St. Barnabas Church in Wynberg who sends daily devotional prayers to me.  I am glad that Pastor Simon preaches every Sunday then he uploads the sermon on YouTube for us to access.  We also meet on Zoom every Saturday for Bible Study.   

Thirdly, I am emotionally stressed sometimes but not in regards to my studies. I am stressed about the situation of my family members at home and also the Church where I come from. The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused a lot of disappointment and disorganisation to people’s lives. My brother’s family and my sister are daily wage labourers in Juba, but since most of the activities were stopped due to the spread of the virus, they are no longer able to work and they hardly get food to eat.

I also lost my stepmother, Mama Cecilia Kwaje, in April and we lost the Pastor in charge of our Parish, Rev. Simon Minjo Stephen in May. I worked under his leadership as a Parish Secretary for two years. So, his death was a huge blow to me.

Why do you think that God in His sovereignty would allow this pandemic to happen?

The question about the sovereignty of God is frequently asked by many, including believers. The truth is, God’s Sovereignty is imminent, and it is unquestionable. God has spoken through the prophet Isaiah that “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isa. 55:8). In the next verse is even clearer when He says “For as the Heaven is higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9).

What Christians should understand is that God does what pleases Him and He is in control of every situation. All things happen according to His plan.  I would agree with John Piper in his podcast episode entitled “Coronavirus and Jesus” that the question about “suffering and the need of the answers may not be handled well under pressure, but we have to go back to the root of understanding the attributes of God and apply them rightly” (2020, n.p). 

 Besides, Christians should notice that we are living in the last days of which our Lord Jesus predicted what should happen before His second coming. I would prefer how Mark in his Gospel put it, “For nation shall rise against nation, and a Kingdom against Kingdom; and there shall be earthquakes in divers places and there shall be famine and troubles: these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mk. 13:8). However, a careful reader should spot out this verse as the fulfilment to the prediction that Jesus made 2000 years ago. More surprisingly, it is the beginning of the sorrows. Therefore, we should trust in God’s sovereignty and abundant love for his chosen ones.

Have you felt secure and safe with your current accommodation and meals set up?

Yes, I am staying in a secure and safe place. I thank God for such a privilege given to me.  We have been moved to a different residence where all students live in self-contained rooms. It is our duty to keep our own room clean including the bathroom and toilet.  The meal timetable has not changed, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner. I give thanks to the Western Province Caterers for risking cooking for the students even during the lockdown, and many thanks to God for keeping them safe and healthy.

GWC has continued with online lectures. Tell us about the new “lockdown” study and assessment set up?

Since the College shifted to online lectures it has both advantages and disadvantages. First, the disadvantages are as follows; 

  • Students missed the physical lectures in the classroom as usual.
  •  No time to interact with the Lecturers and the students which slow the process of learning.
  •  Some of the lecturers are not able to make Zoom lectures, but they ask the students to read the lecture notes and then ask questions where they did not understand, which has been challenging. 
  • Wi-Fi is another challenge to the students during lectures time. Sometimes students were unable to log in or lost connection during lectures, but this problem has been solved as the college did an internet upgrade in May. 
  • Writing tests and exams online is tricky especially the open book exams which I haven’t done it before. But thank God that I am managing.

However, the advantages are:

  • Being introduced to online studies and online sources to do the assignment is a good experience. It has improved my computer skills since the submission of assignments and exams are done on google classroom. 
  •  I have learnt to do the Greek Vocab test every Monday on Kahoot which has been exciting.
  • Our Lectures run as usual. We haven’t missed lectures, fellowship groups and words of encouragement from the faculty members.

What does a normal day for you look like now?

To be honest, I would say that in this crisis of lockdown nothing has affected my daily routine. As I have mentioned before that, my studies are going on well, the meal timetable is the same as usual and my accommodation is terrific.  I am grateful to God and the people behind me.

 How are you feeling about the fact that you cannot return home until the end of the year?

I am not disappointed to spend my mid-year holidays here in Cape Town. I actually decided not to go home the semester before this pandemic. When I was home last year, I told my stepfather and my Pastor that I will see them in December 2020 God willing and now that is what will happen as the situation does not allow people to move. Thank God for the prophecy.

Do you think the virus will affect your degree negatively?

I think it is a difficult question to answer, but only God knows what will happen.  As far as my eyes can see, and the hope that I have in God, this pandemic will not affect my degree. If there is support for me to continue with the studies whether online on in class, there is a possibility to finish my degree successfully.

What would say to the supporters from the other parts of the world?

I know that my words of thanks are not enough to express my happiness and gratitude to everyone who is supporting me, but I will say thousands of thanks to my supporters. To me, it is just a wow! I don’t know what to say to all of you, but God knows how much I am delighted in my heart for the support that you are giving to enables me to study in this College. 

What is your prayer at this time?

I am praying for God’s protection upon my life, my colleagues and our lecturers that God will keep them safe. 

I am also praying for my supporters within Africa and from overseas that God will protect them, their families, and their businesses.

Every day I pray that God would draw people to know him in this difficult time and stop the spread of coronavirus across the globe. I am in prayer for successful studies of my BTh, and God willing to proceeds to postgraduate studies.