Faith Story by Alvin Auh

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Four years ago, God led me to start my PhD journey. God led the way by ensuring that I got a full scholarship which was awarded to me after only applying for it once – most of my colleagues had to try multiple times. What grace!

Everything was going well; I passed through all the hurdles, publishing journals and completing my whole thesis by the third year. Then the problems started. To complete a PhD, one has to pass something called a Viva Voce which is akin to defending your work. During the mock run, I realized that there were some examiners who did not agree with my work. Thankfully, my supervisor assured me that all would be fine, and after making the necessary corrections, I submitted my work and awaited for my final Viva voce. At this point that I received news that my external examiner had passed away months before my Viva. Not a problem, I thought, God is with me, and I’ll be alright. On the day of my Viva, my supervisor could not attend as he had a death in his family. Still, I believed that God is with me.

During my viva, I felt I was roasted and thrown to the lions. I had hoped that God would protect me from the lions. Instead, I was devoured (metaphorically of course). It was then decided that I did not deserve a pass, and I had to re-do 80% of my work. I was asked to re-collect my data during the height of the coronavirus season. At this point that I started to question where God might have been. Perhaps it was a mistake and perhaps, He never intended for me to do my PhD at all? But I soldiered on, and then submitted my work.

Two months ago, I was told that a meeting was going to be held, and there was a chance that I could fail. Failure would mean having to repay 3 years’ worth of fees, and a penalty, to the government. Failure would also mean that my sponsor may take legal action against me or the university. Either way, I would stand to lose relationships and future opportunities.

Last week, the grim phone call came, and I was asked to meet my supervisor, because of some “bad news”. I went and waited nervously. He came in and then told me that it was just a little prank, and I had actually passed! In fact, it was a miracle because it was the Dean who actually proposed that I be given that result. My supervisor went on to point out that he did not have high hopes earlier, and to see this pass was a miracle in itself.

God came through in such a miraculous way. I guess God may not have been early for me, but He was definitely on time!