Welcome to our continuing profile series of the alumni of DTS-Houston. This month we are highlighting the life and ministry of our sister, Paula Tong. Paula graduated from DTS in 2002 with a Master of Arts in Theology. Since that time, she has lived, worked, and ministered in Houston.
“My life verse is Isaiah 61:1-3. It captures the essence of my calling. Also, it is a reminder that God can take the twists and turns of my life to bring good and display His splendor.” – Paula Tong
I got to know Paula through our Returned Global Workers home group, where she has been a consistent presence since we began meeting together several years ago. She is a natural prayer warrior with a keen and sensitive spirit that is quick to recognize the needs of others.
As you read my interview with this amazing woman, you will see God’s handiwork in her life and ministry. She is a blessing to the body of Christ.
From Taiwan to Texas
Paula was born in Taipei, Taiwan. Her family moved to Houston when she was two years old. Although she did not grow up in a Christian family, her parents allowed a church’s bus ministry in their neighborhood to take her and her two older brothers to church. Through this ministry, their exposure to the gospel was influential in leading her to Christ when she was eight years old.
As the nosy little sister, I liked to go into my brothers’ rooms to see what I could mess with! My oldest brother had a plaque of John 3:16 hanging on his wall. One day I saw the plaque on the wall and read it. I simply took it to heart, believed, and put my faith in Christ. The power of God’s Word is amazing!
Paula began studying at DTS in 1994 while still a student at Baylor University. She graduated from Baylor in 1995 with two undergraduate degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She continued her seminary studies until completing her degree in 2002. God’s calling on her life led her to North Africa, where she served for two years. After this two-year interlude serving in global missions, she returned to Houston, where she continues to live, work, and minister.
When did you know that DTS was in your future?
My journey to Dallas Theological Seminary began when I was part of The Navigators ministry while a student at Baylor University. I absolutely loved evangelism and discipleship and realized that this was my calling. My Navigator staff representative strongly encouraged me to go to DTS for further equipping. This gave me the courage to pursue my theological training.
What was your favorite class?
The highlight of my studies at DTS was my Greek and Hebrew classes. I have an affinity for languages, and these classes gave me a deeper understanding of the Word of God. I know people thought I was crazy because of my love for the original languages. Still, I remember when I began to read the Gospel of John in Greek for the first time; it was like my understanding of Scripture went from black & white to technicolor! It was amazing!
Who was your favorite professor?
One of my favorite professors was Christy Sullivan. She was an outstanding communicator with a deep love for the Word and her students. She equipped and empowered us in biblical communication, even though we were all nervous wrecks in the class! Her inspiration helped me discover my gift in teaching, which I will always be grateful for.
How have you used your degree in your life and ministry?
My ThM degree equipped me to do church planting overseas and to train leaders. I was on a church-planting team for almost two years in North Africa. Then the Lord brought me back to the United States and back into my nursing career. Currently, I am involved in a ministry to train and equip women leaders in the Middle East and North Africa. I have also used my knowledge and training to disciple and mentor young women, share the Gospel with my co-workers, and to teach young adults. Ministry is a way of life for me.
What is the most significant influence DTS has had on your life and ministry?
I credit my time at DTS for giving me an excellent biblical and theological foundation for my faith. I learned to think critically about things through the lens of my DTS training. My education continues to impact how I evaluate things and make decisions today.
Paula Tong is an example of how God uses our gifts and skills in harmony with our theological training to serve the Lord at home and abroad. She is a testament to the unique ways graduates of DTS can utilize their degree to honor God’s calling for their lives.
How is God integrating your gifts and skills with your theological training from DTS? We would love to hear from you.
Shirley Ralston (MACE, 2008) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. She is a writer, teacher, and pastor’s research team member at Houston’s First Baptist Church. After several years living in the Middle East and the South Pacific, she and her husband Jeff now reside in Houston, working together on the Missionary Care Team at HFBC. You can find her here: Facebook, Twitter, and www.texpatfaith.com.