President’s Message

May 1, 2024

Dear Faithful Supporters of CWTS,

Warm greetings in the Lord! May the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Luke Tsai, President of Christian Witness Theological Seminary (基督工人神學院, CWTS). I am writing to introduce you to our seminary and share with you the opportunities God has given us to train up future leaders of the church and missionaries around the world.

CWTS was established in 1973 by the late Rev. Moses Yu (于力工牧師) to raise up godly, dedicated ministers (“workers”) for the Chinese church. As the only ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accredited Chinese seminary in the Bay Area, CWTS differentiates itself from other Chinese seminaries by providing rigorous and quality training in Bible/theology, ministry skills and, most importantly, spiritual formation. The seminary has recognized the importance of spiritual life development since its founding. We have consistently devoted a vast amount of resources and attention to ensure every student makes significant progress towards Christlikeness during their studies. Our focus on spiritual formation is among the strongest across all seminaries. I have provided our seminary brochure for more information about our school.

We currently have over 250 students around the world, enrolled in masters and doctoral level studies. Our alumni have served or are currently serving in most Chinese churches in the Bay Area. In the last four years alone, our graduates began ministering in forty different Chinese churches and Christian organizations in the Bay Area. Praise the Lord!

The 2020 global pandemic brought both opportunities, challenges and concerns. First, one of the most exciting opportunities is the ability to train “workers” (“工人”) all over the world, especially places where quality theological education is inaccessible. Through the internet, we are now able to raise up workers in restricted areas such as Russia and China, and parts of the US where no Chinese seminaries exist. In the last two years, we have already started to admit students from these areas, who otherwise would not have opportunities to receive proper training. As the word continues to spread, we believe this number will increase significantly in the coming years, so that we can reach the billions of souls in these restricted areas.

Second, through the internet we are now able to provide much needed training to existing and future Chinese missionaries around the world. Most of these missionaries (numbering in the thousands) went to the field out of their passion for evangelism but have not received formal training. We are planning to offer a new flexible and “stackable” training program for them starting in 2025, so that these missionaries can be trained towards effective ministry in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and self-care. (Self-care is critically needed among missionaries to reduce burnout and heal from discouragement and frustration.)

Third, as churches continue to grow and re-emerge from the pandemic, it is becoming clear that congregation aging (教會老化) and the lack of well-trained workers are two of the most pressing challenges. Churches desperately need younger pastors to attract and shepherd young professionals. We frequently receive pastoral position job posts these few years. Thanks be to God, in addition to the increase of online students, we also received a record number of international student enrollment, students who came physically to our San Jose campus. Most of these students are young (in their 20s and 30s) but have already had many years of full-time ministry experience. Once trained, we will be able to supply the Bay Area with much sought- after young and spirited ministers, who will one day become leaders or planters of churches.

However, the popularity of online theological education brings about one significant concern—how do we ensure the spiritual formation of online students? Most online students in many seminaries can obtain their degrees simply by finishing their courses, without needing to go through a rigorous life transformation process. Churches are at risk of being led by ministers who are spiritually immature and weak, bringing more harm than good to the church. To address this concern, our online programs have been carefully designed to ensure proper spiritual formation of online students. As well, for most of our online classes, our instructors hold Q&A sessions with our students live through Zoom several times a semester. These interactions bolster teacher-student relationships and allow teachers to care for students’ specific needs.

These new opportunities also brought new challenges and needs for the seminary. First, most of the online international students are unable to afford the US tuition rate. As a result, a large amount of scholarships have to be issued to them. Second, the increase of students calls for us to hire additional faculty members. Many of our existing faculty members have been carrying loads beyond the maximum. Third, currently, our existing dormitory space is filled to capacity and additional space is urgently needed. Fourth, our current campus, an old building, puts great restrictions on our ability to conduct hybrid modes of instruction (i.e., in-person and online simultaneous instruction). The campus also has a number of other major limitations, such as size being too small, low ceiling, lack of outdoor space, and poor layout. The long term vision is to acquire a larger and newer building to meet the current needs and facilitate future growth of the seminary.

The following table outlines the funds we need to raise:

  1. Student Scholarships/Tuition Discounts
    50 students @ 10 credit hours per year @ $250 per credit hour
    Total: $125,000/year
  2. Additional Two Faculty Hirings
    Salary with benefits: $160-200k/year (depending on levels and experience)
  3. Campus and Dormitory Upgrade and Upkeep
    • Existing dormitory kitchen and bathroom replacement: $50,000
    • Campus classroom renovation for hybrid education: $180,000
    • Campus AV system replacement: $50,000
    • Campus HVAC replacement: $100,000
    • Total: $380,000
  4. Dorm Addition
    We are currently (May 2024) selling a condo and purchasing a larger property that will house at least 10 additional students and family members. The amount we need to raise is around $1,400,000.
  5. Campus Expansion/Purchase
    We are in the process of planning a campus expansion to secure the needs of the seminary as we continue to grow. Our existing campus was converted from an old office building that has significant constraints (such as low ceiling and rigid layout) that greatly restrict our teaching, activities and events. We hope to build or acquire a campus that has the following specifications:
    • Size 25,000-30,000 sq ft
    • High ceiling (~20+ft)
    • Flexible layout (for classrooms, offices, auditorium, library, etc.)
    • At least 50 parking spaces

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and get to know more about CWTS. If you have additional questions, I am happy to correspond with you through email or meet with you in person or over Zoom. Thank you for recognizing the importance of seminary training. This ministry is especially valuable because it carries a multiplicative effect—every “worker” we raise up will be able to strengthen several churches and disciple hundreds and even thousands of believers. As the return of the Lord draws near, it is imperative that we capture all these opportunities so that we can do our best to rescue souls in the last day!

May the Lord be with you every moment and fill your cup with His blessings until it overflows.

Blessings in Christ,

Dr. Luke Tsai signature

Luke Tsai
President, CWTS

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