Susan An almost didn’t apply for the role of Dean of Women at Moore College – until God gave her a big nudge.
“I saw the role advertised and said to God, ‘If this is something you want me to consider, can you get one person to mention it?’,” Ms An says. “The very next day at work, someone brought it up and another person encouraged me to consider it… By the time I went to the interview, I had three more people approach me and encourage me. When people that I trust, who walk closely with the Lord, say something to me like this, I think, ‘Okay, God’s trying to tell me something!’”
Ms An, who previously served in women’s ministry at The Bridge Church, is the college’s third Dean of Women. The role was established in 2008 and the previous dean, Tara Stenhouse, held the position for 12 years.
Being able to walk alongside women as they learn is the highlight of the job for Ms An. “I love watching God at work,” she says.
“To see God really challenge [women] and shape and grow them, that’s what made me really excited about the role.”
As well as being available to female students, Ms An works alongside the Dean of Students, the Rev Paul Grimmond, to shape policies that look after all students’ wellbeing. She assists in group settings such as women’s chapel and chaplaincy groups and helps women know that college is a safe space.
“In the past couple of years, college has worked hard on domestic violence policies,” she says. “It’s now part of what we mention at orientation at the beginning of the year to students, just to make sure that women know that college is a safe place and they can bring themselves forward.”
Being back at college has been a surreal experience for Ms An, who graduated in 2015. However, she almost didn’t go into ministry at all. While others had told her she should consider it, she always thought it was for people who were better read and knew their Bible better. Her job as a speech pathologist also gave her the “illusion” that she was in control. However, after a couple of years she began to yearn for more, so she bought a one-way ticket to England with the plan to work and travel for a few years.
“As I was doing this, a thought dropped into my head, ‘You’re really set up well to go into ministry’,” she recalls. “In the eight weeks before I was meant to get on the plane, multiple people I’d never spoken to about ministry asked me if I had ever considered doing ministry. When I thought about it, I didn’t want to go to England – I wanted to do ministry!”
Her introduction to ministry taught her very quickly who was really in control. “Everything was in God’s hands – raising funds, running a Bible study group. It was such a big period of growth, learning that I wasn’t in control of my own life.”
Praying for what Satan doesn’t want
Ms An’s biggest prayer for female students is that college will be a positive experience. “They learn so much about God, but not just academic knowledge. I pray that what they learn about God will make them love and appreciate God, and grow their desire to follow him in all of their lives.
“Some of them will be tested in all sorts of ways here at college. We have to be realistic about that. When women come to college, and men too, they’re doing something Satan doesn’t want them to do – they’re growing in their love of God and being better leaders in the future.
“I’ve seen spiritual testing and temptation in awful ways. I don’t pray they will have a great time, but I pray that the experiences they have will refine them for whatever they need for future ministries. God doesn’t waste any opportunity. We don’t enjoy temptation or testing, but God has a use for that in the future.
“I also pray that when things get hard, they will pick up the phone and call me for help!”