Kiem Kwa speaks, writes and teaches on issues of Christian engagement in the public square at East Asia School of Theology. Whether teaching in the classroom, sitting on a medical ethics panel, or welcoming students into her home, she seeks to be a relevant member of God’s kingdom.
Kiem and her husband Ivan (M.Div. ’06) live in multi-religious, multi-lingual Singapore, with more than 5 million people in an area of 715 sq. km. Comparatively, Jessamine County has about 50,000 people in 450 sq. km.
Their unique location provides the opportunity for lively, practical conversations around the issues of public theology, ethics and social justice. These topics have experienced an increased growth in interest within the past 10 years.
“I see God’s hand in preparing me to be His spokesperson in my context just for such a time as this,” Kiem said. “We have been holding conversations at home with a group of younger Christians as we all seek to find ways to live out the calling to be a city set on a hill, that is, in the public sphere.”
Kiem believes her time at Asbury Seminary developed foundational convictions for her current role and cultivated disciplines that have helped her navigate some of life’s trials. These convictions include living in, being shaped by and developing God’s story, actions and perspectives in the world, instead of being overwhelmed by the minutiae of everyday life and paperwork, while caring for aging parents.
“I have learned that hospitality is more than welcoming people into my house,” she said. “It means adopting an open, spacious posture and truly valuing, listening to and praying with others.”
Kiem’s students come from a variety of backgrounds, including China, the Phillipines, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Mongolia and Myanmar. Just as her students come from various ethnicities, so they also bring a variety of professional experiences.
“But, I always enjoy seeing the lightbulbs go on, as I facilitate the ‘aha!’ moments,” Kiem said.
In additon to teaching, Kiem also sits on several national level medical ethics committees as a Christian theologian. As part of an internal review board, she examines medical trials to ensure that human subjects are adequately protected. She also sits on a panel that examines the ethics of live donor transplant operations conducted in Singapore.
“Someone once said that music is the silence in between the notes,” Kiem said. “In my busy, noisy life, God’s melody plays in the quiet spaces. The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.”
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