It is an honour and a joy to be writing to you as the inaugural Dean of Nisibis College. My role is to be in charge of the academic life of the college, and I am keyed to taking the College forward. It is the start of the twenty first century and the Assyrian Church of the East is stepping up into it with confidence in God and expectation of good things to come for all people through the people of God in the church. We will be educating the priests, deacons, and teachers of the future. But we are open to anyone who wants to advance in the truths of the faith and the marvellous apostolic tradition of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East.
It’s an honour and a joy, because while I may be in the second half of life now, in my youth I lived and worked in Jerusalem. I lived in Bethany for several years. I learnt Arabic (but not Aramaic). I hitch-hiked from Istanbul to Dogubayazit and walked over the border into Iran. I spoke Arabic in Antioch with the locals. I didn’t get to Iraq, and somehow I by-passed Nisibis itself, but I was in the area. I was in Tarsus where St. Paul came from. I was in Cappadocia. I walked on the shore of the Black Sea. In short, I am not ignorant of what seemed then like the East, but today we would call the Middle East. I have been settled in Australia since 1987 and my wife is from China and I have been to China many times during the years of our marriage and I am aware of Christianity in China and of the Assyrian church’s historic role in spreading the gospel in that land. It is a land that needs to hear the Gospel anew as well.
I am conscious then of the importance of Nisibis College as a global institution. At the behest of the Patriarch the college has stepped out of the Middle East for the first time since the fourth century to meet the needs of a new age and I feel placed by God in this new role, to build the College and start to take it forward in Jesus’ name.
Matthew Del Nevo