In 2020, Dr. Christine Joy Tan (陳純慈博士) began serving as the president of Grace Christian College (GCC), an established academic institution dedicated to providing high-quality Christ-centered education. For Tan, who was born in the Philippines but raised in America, her taking up the role was an answer to God’s strong call.
Tan is the granddaughter of Mrs. Julia Lee Tan (陳李錦英夫人), who founded Grace Christian High School (now Grace Christian College) in 1950. She is also the niece of Dr. James Lee Tan (陳宏濤博士), the former president and current board chairman of Grace Christian College.
From a very young age, Tan committed her life to the religious vocation by pursuing excellence in all paths revealed to her. As a result of her efforts, she was able to simultaneously pursue and achieve two earned doctoral degrees (PhDs) in Higher Education and in Bible Exposition. Previously, she graduated magna cum laude with double bachelor’s degrees in business administration (major in management information systems) and in history, as well as a minor in computer science. She also graduated magna cum laude with a Master of Theology degree with five concentrations.
Furthermore, Tan also actively organized and led pilgrimage tours to Europe and the Holy Land under the Paul Lee Tan Prophetic Ministries (PTPM), taught in various seminaries in both Asia and America, and pursued studies in the Mandarin language in Taiwan, among other notable activities.
All of these, according to Tan, were done for a greater purpose than herself. Devoted to providing the best she can to both the Chinoy and Filipino communities, Tan shared life advice and insights stemming from her role of being a Christian educator and leader.
1. Do everything wholeheartedly.
Having the passion to enjoy her days, Dr. Christine Tan lives her life by these words: “One life to live — make it count for eternity.”
“Personally, I am a Christian,” Tan explained. “For me, what makes life fulfilling is really just doing my best for Jesus Christ. And so that’s actually what I tried to do throughout my life, be it in academics or anything else: just doing my best for Jesus Christ, whether it’s seen by others on the outside, or it’s known by no one but myself.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to speak to all ages, from nursery-aged children to experienced adults, at Grace Christian College, and in other contexts. As an educator, I enjoy teaching the Bible. As an administrator here at Grace, it brings me joy that I am able to help provide and shape an environment where many Christian educators can work together to teach young people. Those are some of the joys I’ve had.”
Tan’s favorite Bible verse sums up her life philosophy: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
2. Be open to new experiences, and they will help lead the way to success.
Ever since she was a child growing up in the U.S., Dr. Christine Tan had always known that her calling from God was to return to Grace Christian ministries in the Philippines. Striving towards her goal, Tan took up studies in multiple fields and traveled extensively in pursuit of interests in language, education, and Bible training, among others.
According to Tan, all of these experiences are what make her the person she is today. “There was a lot of hard work involved,” Tan shared. “Looking back, every single thing that I studied or had work experience in, I’m using now in some way or another: My studies and background in history, liberal arts, business, management information systems, computer science, Bible and theology, education, teaching, research, leadership, travel — every single thing I studied or experienced… It’s useful to me now in some way or another.”
“When I returned to the Philippines in 2015, I came by faith to serve at Grace Christian College — because of God’s strong call — without knowing what position God would open for me. When I arrived, [then] School President Dr. James L. Tan offered me the position of Vice President of Curriculum Development and Christian Education,” Tan further recalled.
Dr. Christine Tan offers all of these experiences to God. “I think when we seek the Lord and seek His guidance and His will, He just honors us as we seek Him. In 1 Samuel 2:30, God said, ‘…for them that honor me, I will honor…’”
3. Ask for guidance, and accept advice.
Whenever Dr. Christine Tan faced troubles or doubts, she would do four things: pray, read the Bible, consult others for words of wisdom, and work hard.
“I pray a lot about every decision I make in life,” said Tan. “I also read the Bible. The Bible, in James 1:5, says, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally [generously], and upbraideth not [without reproach]; and it shall be given him.’ Also, in Proverbs 3:5-6: ‘Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’”
“In my personal major life decisions, I also seek the advice of my beloved parents, whom I greatly respect,” Tan continued. “In Ephesians 6:2-3: ‘Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.’”
“Praying, reading the Bible, and honoring my parents. Consulting with godly, wise, [and] mature people that the Lord has put around me. And of course, research and hard work are very important to me,” Tan concluded.
4. Express and love what you believe in.
Having always been devoted to God, Dr. Christine Tan shared some of her happiest and most enlightening memories: “At 17 years old, I was baptized in the Jordan River by my father, Rev. Dr. Paul Lee Tan (陳宏博博士). Actually, to be a Christian is trusting in Jesus Christ alone as your personal Savior from sin. Baptism is simply an outward expression of an inner faith; baptism is showing to the world that you’re a Christian. And it was such an honor to be baptized in the Jordan River.”
“On our tours, we actually go to Mount Sinai,” said Tan, speaking of another experience. “I think I’ve climbed Mount Sinai more than twenty times. It’s really magnificent. In the Bible, Mount Sinai is where Moses received the 10 commandments from God. We ride the camel up most of the mountain and walk the way down. And just to be in Israel — to walk where Jesus walked — it makes the Bible come alive!
“When we have PTPM tours, not only do we sightsee, but we read the Bible and explain what happened on that site in the Bible. It’s a great privilege and honor to not only go there but also to give the tour members a really good and meaningful spiritual experience there. We feel that for many, many Christians, it’s their once-in-a-lifetime wish to go to the Holy Land. So as much as possible, we try to make it fulfilling for them. And it’s just an honor to do that.”
Tan said, “From the bottom of my heart, I give all glory, honor, and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Whatever successes, accomplishments, results there are in my life, the credit belongs to the Lord. May all glory be to God alone.”
Now, during these troubling times, Dr. Christine Tan aims to continue her path in serving God and the community. As the president of Grace Christian College, Tan hopes to be able to nurture students to be God-honoring, wise, gracious, strong, and courageous people who can successfully meet the challenges and opportunities of the future that lie ahead.