2020 Edmund Evanson
Writer • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
On Campus 2019–2020 ∙ GradDipCS ’20
I’m a 23-year-old aspiring creative (fiction) writer—and a lover of almost all things film- and literature-related. A former newspaper intern, I hope to one day publish novels and poems of my own that are informed by Christian thought but aimed at a mainstream audience. I am an only child, enjoy hot and spicy Indian food, and grew up in a very happy environment.
Why I support Regent today:
My dad always told me that two of the best years of his life were spent at Regent. Now that I’ve studied at Regent, he no longer needs to explain why. By making a small contribution that helps people who under normal circumstances might not be able to come to Regent, I’m paving the way for a wider range of individuals to have their own “best years.”
More From Edmund
There are no dwellings more tantalizing than the fiction bookstore, the motion-picture cinema, the musical theatre, and any one of the multiple mouth-watering Indian banana-leaf restaurants a little way away from my home in Kuala Lumpur. So, yes, home is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
One of my so-called claims to fame is that I represent the fifth generation down from the gentleman credited as the founding missionary pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malaysia, to which the bulk of my relatives continue to belong. Personally, however, I’ve always been part of the brethren assemblies, having been born in the same community I’m associated with today. I was baptized there as a teenager and was involved in creative ministries there right up until I came to Regent. My happy upbringing in a devout Christian home has paved the way for me to be what I am today. Although I was always surrounded by all things Christian, I always felt I was given enough room to not become legalistic.
There are three of us in the family: me, Mom (Suzie), and Dad (Julius). In 2002, my dad decided to temporarily cease full-time work in order to pursue theological studies at Regent College—something he’d dreamt of doing since his time as an undergraduate, 15 years earlier. So, the three of us travelled from Kuala Lumpur to live in Vancouver for two years. We lived a brief walk away from Regent, and I completed grades 1 and 2 at the nearby University Hill Elementary School.
Since we returned to Malaysia, my father has continued to work in banking, like he did before we came to Regent. He continues to be actively involved in Christian marketplace ministries, spearheading a Christian work at his organisation. Alongside this, he serves on the board of a local Christian bookstore, is a leader of the local brethren assembly we attend, and preaches regularly in various cross-denominational settings. His focus is mainly on Christian education, although he does his fair share of pastoral counselling and so forth. And while he completed his DipCS in 2005, he’s continued his studies ever since. In fact, he finished his MATS this year—we got to graduate together!
My very prayerful mother is the real force behind my father’s and my ministries. My mom formerly taught world geography and English at two different secondary schools in Malaysia, but she left teaching to become a homemaker when I was three. After that she had one full-time student to devote her entire attention to!
How I got to Regent:
I came to Regent almost fresh out of university, having completed my undergraduate degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University (Malaysia campus) in May 2018. I would have gone over to Regent to begin my on-campus courses sooner, but my family and I had already made plans to join a local church group on a trip to the Holy Land (Israel, Jordan, and Egypt) for a couple of weeks. The trip itself was quite enjoyable (with the boiling hot Middle Eastern sun being the only dent in an otherwise most eye-opening trip). Before we went on that trip, I had completed one Regent course via online distance education: New Testament Foundations with Dr. Rikk Watts and Dr. Joshua Coutts. That course gave me a chance to interact with several course-mates, a few of whom I would later meet on-campus. In between, I was writing numerous film reviews for a local English-language newspaper in Malaysia, as well as doing my own book-reading, film-viewing, and story-writing.
I decided to enroll at Regent because I wanted to deepen my understanding of Christian theology in order to intelligently steep my creative writing projects in the fullest use of the Christian imagination. I hope to follow in the footsteps of the likes of John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis. This is, of course, an extremely tall order—but one is allowed to dream.
Most important Regent lessons:
I learned that the answers (truths, if you will) don’t come so easily. Apologetics—which has interested me a great deal—has its place, but it doesn’t necessarily make the sort of spiritual impact that becomes as defining as soul-searching discovery. The Bible, although absolute of itself, is more full of grey areas than I remember being taught in Sunday School. The godly characters themselves are far from perfect or idealized heroes. Further, even good theologians don’t fully agree with each other, but have certain differing perspectives (think Augustine and Jerome, Bernard and Abelard, Luther and Erasmus). I’ve learned to be content with knowing that God is always present and at work, and that even if a so-called “hero” sins, we must still learn from them and never inadvertently undermine the holy Word of God.
How Regent made a difference:
I have grown to better appreciate philosophy as a critical and fundamental (and, most of all, approachable) facet of understanding human life, functionality, and existence—even more so than science, though it, too, is important. Through the diverse expressions and intellectual stimulations of “faith seeking understanding” in Regent classrooms, I have been deeply encouraged to informally pursue more thematically substantial philosophical endeavours in my writings. I try to, at least. Philosophy, the Christian discovers, is happily engaged by biblical theology.
Additionally, I was never too fond of poetry while I was growing up—okay, I did take a course on Romantic Literature during my undergrad years, which I did thoroughly enjoy; however, I still preferred the artistic format of novels and short stories. But after listening to 2019’s Laing Lectures by Malcolm Guite (I had no idea who on earth he was at the time!) and perusing his sumptuous sonnets, I grew more and more appreciative of poetry. I even invested myself in writing ponderous haiku, senryū and free-verse poems. I’ve also been able to appreciate the Psalms more as intricate Hebraic poetry of both praise and lament unto God. For this, I must thank the good Dr. Iain Provan.
I also can’t go without mentioning something else I hold to be of prime importance: the Christian imagination (via art) inspires and enriches our understanding of theology and of God incarnate. I must thank the good Dr. Iwan Russell-Jones for instilling such an invaluable and encouraging insight into my artistic self. One could even say it stirred not but a few epiphanies within me!
The weekly chapel services were spiritually refreshing and warmly comforting. This was due not only to Corey Janz’s deeply thoughtful arrangement of worship, but also to the large gathering of my fellow brothers and sisters of the body of Christ, both those I know and those I don’t.
Regent’s “Taste of the World” and “Audible” events have been especially memorable for me. Like chapel, they share a close sense of fellowship in a diverse and creative Christian community. They helped establish communal and individual identity, and also helped showcase the distinctive (yet familial) output of God’s “fearfully and wonderfully made” Creation. Plus, it’s also fun and interesting to sensorially experience the surprising and strange things everyone has to contribute, both culinary and artistic in nature!
Indeed, in all of these, there is an amazing set of God-given talents and skills on full display to be recognized and commemorated!
My absolute best memory is being with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ—the sum total of the edifying and enriching chats, meet-ups, lunches, and dinners I had with my Regent friends. If there was one thing other than the lectures that I most enjoyed about my time at Regent, it was the supportive Christian friendships I formed with individuals from around the world.
Regent in three words:
Favourite place to study:
My comfy apartment next to Regent: more peace and quiet by myself, even in the heart of things. No external distractions … except perhaps for the panoramic northern mountains right outside my windows.
Favourite thing about Vancouver:
Definitely the relatively cool and dry weather, which is sweet relief for me, coming from a tropically humid climate where every month of the year is July.
It’s quite a tough pick, but I think I’ll have to give the top spot to Dr. Maxine Hancock and Dr. Arlette Zinck’s “Going the Distance: John Bunyan’s Depiction of the Christian Journey.” You could say I was most in my element during that course, having loved reading The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Only Regent people…
… are able to withhold batting an eyelid at mind-boggling Spring/Summer courses that correlate something entirely out in left field with a deeply nuanced piece of Christian theology.
1. When I was 11 to 13 years old, I dabbled (at a very amateurish level) in creating and programming—by my own design—two short sci-fi/action stop-motion animated films, and three crime-fighting-based 2D computer games (in both maze and platform genres).
2. I’m a big fan of multiple kinds of fiction across multimedia platforms (e.g. Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Calvin & Hobbes, and so forth) and enjoy civil, thoughtful and analytical discussions about them.
3. To say that I love cats would be quite the understatement. However, as I can’t own a cat for various reasons, I make up for it with several feline-related books, posters, figurines, and plushies.
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