Contemplative Companions Spiritual Director Training Program (CCSDTP)is a one year foundational program at the preliminary level, on which related topical units can be built on as continuing development in spiritual direction ministry in subsequent years with less intensity and frequency. No practitioner in spiritual direction can ever claimed to be qualified by virtue of a paper qualification. Both as a science and an art form, proficiency and acumen in spiritual direction grow with practical wisdom, and an insatiable quest for learning that is invigorated by God’s redeeming Love for His children. However, the unique distinction for spiritual direction lies not so much in the intellectual knowledge, skills and professional experience, but in the spiritual directors’ personal knowledge of God and self by living an authentic Christian life. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the Spiritual Director working through human agency to bring God’s beloved children back to Christ. Therefore, CCSDTP is designed upon the following theological assumptions to create a forum for the Holy Spirit to call His people to this ministry, and for the people of God to discern and confirm God’s call in an unfolding process through CCSDTP.
This Spiritual Direction Training Program is our grateful response to the following 3 key Kingdom concerns that our Lord Jesus has laid on our hearts. The ethos is contemplative and inclusive of all Christian faith traditions, gleaning from each the distinct richness of their spirituality. It is through the Church (not any particular denomination) that the ‘manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms… In Christ & through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom & confidence (Eph 3:10-12).
3 Key Kingdom Concerns:
1. 1 Cor 4:15 – The dearth of spiritual fathers and mothers is as true in our Malaysian Church as in the Corinthian Church. It is particularly relevant and pertinent in our local context, where the majority is first generation Christians.
2. Col 1:28 – Our passionate desire is to present God’s children matured in Christ.
3. Isa 43:6-7 – Our prayerful intention is to bring God’s beloved sons and daughters from the wilderness of the world back home to our true dignity and destiny in Christ to live only for God’s Glory through the Holy Spirit.
Expectations from the Curriculum:
1. To nurture a generation of spiritual fathers and mothers in the Lord who live a cruciform life, so as to engage in the redemptive work of maturing everyone fully in Christ (Col 1:28).
2. To examine and critically reflect on the theological assumptions that undergird our Christian faith and character formation in our church life, in order to stay true to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that is:
- Incarnational and encompasses every aspect of life on earth
- Holistic and impacts our whole humanity (body-soul-spirit) with Isa 61 as a Manifesto of the Kingdom of God
- Relational and is firmly rooted in the Trinitarian community of Love, Grace and Truth
3. To provide a contemplative process of pedagogy that facilitates an intellectual knowledge and understanding of Christian faith and theology into an experiential encounter with our living God.
- Well integrated mature Christians who
have a personal and open relationship with God
have relational interpersonal skills
have been under spiritual direction
have experiences in care of souls
have a felt sense of God’s call to the spiritual direction ministry
have the gift and calling in spiritual direction as affirmed by a spiritual director
have adequate self-knowledge and understanding
There are 5 Modules of residential courses that begin on a Sunday night and end on Friday evening. The only exception is the first Module which is an eight-day guided silent retreat. Each Module is preceded with pre-Modular preparatory assignments, and is followed through with post-Modular integrative assignments to continue the disciplines of attending to the inner work of God’s Grace. Cultivating and maintaining a posture of listening and discerning heart is crucial and foundational to the effectiveness of spiritual direction.
Within each Module, the mornings are given to formational teaching as occasions for prayer exercises to reflect on the why, how, when, where and so what of personal formation and faith journey. The intention is to allow the Holy Spirit of Truth to highlight for each person to recognize where he or she has come from, and where he or she is going in fulfilling their dignity and destiny in Christ. The afternoons are on parallel track to acquire the skill sets of spiritual direction.
Each Module is designed as a building block for subsequent Module to build on to create a sequential dynamic that strengthens what has been learnt, and also to broaden the scope of learning. This is to ensure that the whole CCSDTP hangs together as a complete foundational program because of its inter-relationality.
The following are the 5 Modules:
Module 1: 8-Day Guided Silent Retreat – Discerning God in My Life Journey
Dr Voon Choon Khing
Module 2: Spiritual Formation
Dr Voon Choon Khing
Module 3: Soul Care/Spiritual Direction
Sr Elizabeth Lim, RGS
Module 4: Christian Spirituality
Rev Peggy Seow
Module 5: Religious Experience
Dr Alex Tang
The 3-Month Inter-Modular periods are for pre- and post-Modules assignments, which includes personal spiritual direction, group formation, specific spiritual disciplines (daily lectio divina, Examen and journaling), readings and written assignments.
Core Team Members of CCSDTP
Dr Voon Choon Khing has found life to be an adventure with God ever since her conversion in 1966. From an early infantile perception of God’s call to nursing in UK, she gradually discovers that her varied stations in life, whether as a nurse, midwife, missionary, social worker, librarian, counselor, teacher, and spiritual director, are merely creative expressions of God’s primary call on her as God’s beloved. With a strong conviction that there is only one life to live, she is passionate about investing her life in eternity. Her pastoral-teaching ministry at the Seminari Theoloji Malaysia since 1986 in her multiple roles, has convinced her of the necessity for spiritual direction and retreat work as another integral means of holistic soul care. She is grateful for her husband Dr Chow Heap Yeong, a fellow pilgrim in this faith journey, desiring to grow together in God’s Delight, becoming conduits of God’s Love and Grace particularly in this later season of life. Choon Khing’s academic training includes Diploma in Theology (Lon Uni, UK), MA in Library & Information Studies (Lon Uni, UK), Intermediate Certificate in St Ignatius Spiritual Exercises (Cenacle Sisters, London), Master in Theology (Duke Uni, USA) and DMin in Spiritual Direction (Graduate Theological Foundation, USA), Certificate of Completion in Retreat Direction Summer Internship Program (St Ignatius Spirituality Centre, Guelph, Ontario). Her first book, Discerning God in Our Life: The Dance of Two Wills was published in March 2016 as part of STM series. Currently, she serves on the Malaysian Care Board with the roles of spiritual formation of MCare staff, and is a member of the PADERI (Pastoral Development & Renewal Initiative) working committee.
Dr Alex Tang is a Senior Consultant Paediatrician at the KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital, Johor Bahru and Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Clinical School, Monash University. Besides his several medical qualifications in paediatrics, Alex also holds M.Min (Malaysian Bible Seminary), a Cert. Spirituality (St Thomas Uni, Miami) and a PhD (Asia Graduate School of Theology Alliance on spiritual formation strategies in local congregations in Malaysia). Alex is the Founder and Director, Kairos Spiritual Formation Ministries in 1998 as a ministry for preaching and teaching about spiritual formation and transformation in churches, camps, retreats, seminars, conferences, and Bible seminaries. And in 2003, Alex started the Spiritual Formation Institute at the Holy Light Church, JB with the mission to nurture disciples of Jesus Christ with informed mind, hearts on fire and contemplative in action. Alex teaches practical theology and is an adjunct faculty at Malaysia Bible Seminary (MBS) and Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM); and East Asia School of Theology (EAST), Singapore. He is a preacher, speaker, spiritual director, social technocratic, and author of a number of books with his special interests in theology, philosophy, spiritual formation, Christian spirituality and biomedical ethics.
Rev Peggy Seow is an alumnus of STM (BD, 1989). After serving in the pastoral ministry with The Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) of the Methodist Church West Malaysia since graduation, Peggy read MA in Christian Spirituality in Loyola University, Chicago, 2009. Upon her return to Malaysia, she resumed her pastoral ministry as the Diaconal Minister (Director of Christian Education, Dec 1989 – Nov 1990). She remains a TRAC pastor though retired from active local pastoral ministry, in order to devote her time to spiritual direction and retreat works where her passion is.
Dr Chow Heap Yeong is a gynaecologist & obstetrician in private practice. Heap Yeong holds a MA in Missiological Study (Baptist Theological Seminary, Penang), and completed a three year spiritual direction training with the Jesuits Maranatha Retreat Ministry, PJ. Heap Yeong has always been an active and keen supporter of social NGOs, and is currently the President of the Family Planning Association, Negri Sembilan. Heap Yeong is also on the Council of Education of the Methodist Schools, and the local leadership of the Taman Ujong Methodist Church. Besides being part of Band of Brothers, a male spiritual formation group, Heap Yeong and his wife, Dr Voon work together in ministering spiritual direction for senior management staff in Malaysian CARE, bi-annual retreats for MCare staff, and retreats for church groups.
Contact us from our website www.contemplativecompanions.com