Rediscovering Faith and Purpose: Ronald Tse’s Journey from Physio to Theology
After resisting suggestions to study theology for a number of years, Ronald Tse is thoroughly enjoying his first year of the Traineeship program.
Ronald grew up in Hong Kong, in a Christian home with parents who modelled what it looks like to take your faith seriously.
While Ronald did consider himself a Christian as a teenager, when he moved to Australia at the age of 18 he left church for two years.
“I just felt like the world had a lot to offer, and I also felt like, ‘I think I’m doing okay now,’’ Ronald admits. “But during those two years I started to understand what emptiness feels like. And then just started wondering, ‘Does that mean that I’m leaving something that has been fulfilling me without me knowing?’”
During this period of time Ronald had completed a Direct Entry Course (DEC) at the University of Sydney, and started studying for a Bachelor of Physiotherapy. Some of the friends he made during that time challenged him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about God.
“I began to realise that God really speaks to me—it’s not just a knowledge-based relationship, but it’s an interpersonal relationship. Things started to change,” Ronald says.
He returned to church, and became heavily involved in ministry.
After graduating from university as a physiotherapist, the prospect of studying theology was often proposed to Ronald, but initially he chose to work as a physio instead.
“I was asked so many times about theology study,” Ronald shares. “I was quite actively denying it.”
Ronald explains that part of the reason he resisted studying theology was because he was so active in his local church.
“I was worried that if I started studying, I would probably need to offload a lot of my serving,” Ronald says. “It doesn’t quite make sense to me to let go of my serving to get equipped for further serving.”
Ronald had always intended to work as a clinic-based physiotherapist, but when he graduated from university the COVID lockdowns meant that no clinics were hiring. He started working in community service instead, which turned out to be a major turning point on his journey.
“I’m one of those people that really hate feeling like I’m not doing anything,” Ronald admits. “And to a certain extent, driving is basically that. So while driving from appointment to appointment, I started listening to podcasts, and after a while I discovered Tim Keller’s sermons.”
It wasn’t long before Ronald realised that he was enjoying the driving more than the physio.
“So that’s part of the turning point,” Ronald says. “But there were still a few things I was trying to work out with God—like I really wanted to try working in the private sector.”
A chiropractor friend of Ronald’s was in the process of establishing his own business and invited Ronald to work with him, so Ronald gave that a go. But he soon discovered that private practice wasn’t all he had expected it to be. Ronald no longer had the time to listen to so many sermons, and he felt uncomfortable with the sector’s obsession with money.
“In the end, the excuse I used with my friend was, ‘I really feel like I’m going to study theology soon,” Ronald laughs.
Ronald’s final resistance to studying theology was the fact he didn’t have permanent residence. At this point he had already been waiting three years. He began actively praying over it, and within three or four months it was completely sorted.
“Even until then, I was still kind of running away,” Ronald admits. “My wife Natalie was more ready than I was. She was like, ‘You know all these people have been asking you, and you know God has been prompting you, so what’s stopping you?’”
Ronald explained to his pastor that his hesitation around studying theology was due to his commitment to church ministry. That was when Ronald found out about the Traineeship, and it was only a few months from when he first heard about it to when he enrolled.
Ronald now spends two days a week studying at Christ College and three days a week involved in ministry with his local church, Chinese Presbyterian Church at Surrey Hills.
During Ronald’s very first days of classes he sent his wife Natalie a text message telling her that he felt he’d made the right decision.
“The lecturers are humble, but also really knowledgeable and really caring at the same time,” Ronald says.
Ronald was fairly nervous when he first started the Traineeship. He reads his Bible in Chinese, and up until that point he hadn’t prayed outloud in English more than three times.
“But when I asked questions, my lecturer didn’t dismiss them,” Ronald shares. “He actually encouraged those questions.”
The other thing Ronald finds refreshing at Christ College is the caring environment.
“Back in my physio days, every student was competitive. Christ College is so different. I love how we start the lectures with prayer,” Ronald says.
Ronald has great peace that God has led him exactly where he wants him for this season.
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