My Faith Capital

Interestingly enough, I’m a PhD student studying the role of faith in international students’ experience. This is an interesting fact because, in addition to my research, I am having to hold up a mirror of self-examination to recognise the faith at work in my own life too.

Ever since starting my PhD in September, I have been on a spiral journey, learning to handle the enormous challenge of independent research, and the responsibilities which follow. This has opened a window of opportunity for personal development, as I am confronted with academic concerns of the highest level. Because of this, I have faced many moments when I begin to wonder how I got here in the first place, or how I hope to confront my new responsibilities; and other times I go through moments of inadequacy. These struggles definitely take their toll on me and make me feel discouraged sometimes.

Nevertheless, I have always had something substantial in me that does not let inadequacy have the last say; something that always carves out a confidence and assurance of hope – and that’s my faith in Christ Jesus and his word. It is worth noting how adaptable faith is, to circumstance. As a 17-year-old international student who arrived in a strange country, with a real background of academic poverty, my challenge then was focused on: how I was going rise above my history of poor academic performance, among gifted students of about 60 countries whom I found myself surrounded by. My faith saw me through that, and seven years later, I find myself relying on that old faith while facing a new challenge.

My faith has been shaped with me over the years. It has proved to be useful as a coping mechanism, which has progressed with time and situation. I have faulted and experienced moments of fear and anxiety, because of the demands of my current position as a PhD student. I had two public presentations of my PhD research in April, and before each, I faced internal conflicts of insufficiency. On both occasions, I turned back to my faith through prayer and bible study. I held onto the bible verses: Habakkuk 3:18-19 and Romans 1:17. I can make a testimony that my faith adapted to see me through both presentations and other responsibilities of mine.

As I go on with my research, I recognise that, the Faith Capital surely is a significant enabler, worthy of personal consideration and use.

The ‘what if’ factor

Powerful moment in history, is now. 
The 'what if' factor is the lifesaver
I wish to write on,
in a humble attempt to express
its power and influence 
in everyday affairs.

Powerful moment in history, is now,
as I step out to interact with those
I attempt to avoid but cannot do without.
What if, I was wrong to avoid them in the first place? 
I now contemplate as I am shown
something too magnificent to express in words,
by those I attempted to avoid.

By Emmanuel Johnson

The nature of days

These days,
I see things take a turn here
and another there.
The straight path which once was 
creates ever-forming interlinks
I now try to make sense of.
I am conflicted.
My observation of its nature keeps me 
perplexed, as I see same and others 
hide beneath the same mask.
In the final analysis,
I realise a dedication
to get to the root of this,
and prevailing situations,
which obstruct my search,
as I continually seek meaning.

By Emmanuel Johnson

Being a PhD Student – My Experience 5 Months In

I’m a PhD student at Coventry University Centre for Global Learning: Education and Attainment, exploring Identity and Belonging, and the role of Faith in International Students’ Study. My experience at the start entailed developing better time-management, and familiarising myself with a higher standard of writing and knowledge expected at PhD level.

From a social viewpoint, the journey has been quite isolating. Socially, the University campus no longer looks like it did in the past. I find this experience new because, although I’m on a campus I am very familiar with, my focus has shifted onto a phase much higher than ever. For the first time academically, I have no ‘classmates’. This of course typifies the nature and essence of independent study. I have often compared my PhD to the idea of a marriage, and I would say to myself: ‘I’m married to my PhD and I’m more than willing to make it work!’. This, unexpectedly has boosted my motivation and drive to push on with a stronger sense of fervency and urgency.

I am currently writing my literature review. Sometimes I feel completely blank mentally; falter in will and struggle to maintain focus or generate ideas. At those times, I step out of my office and head to Holy Trinity Church which is nearby. As I’m a religious man, I sit down to pray, meditate and contemplate on matters close to my heart. Or, I take a walk around the University campus, take a seat; observe and pay close attention to my surroundings. This helps me greatly and refreshes my mind for the work ahead!

I try to achieve balance. I have discovered the need for it, whilst going through tons of readings very frequently. I participate in non-academic activities like social hangouts with friends, walks to the park, film watching and consumption, and involvement in social events.

I am glad to be here and cannot imagine doing anything else. That’s it for now, I have to get back to my literature review!

The path of the just

Faithful and trustworthy saying, 
resounded in me,
speeding past the tunnels of time 
to find me right where I am. 
Faithful and trustworthy saying, 
ingrained in me,
with all majestic hope and expectation 
from the ones who love me dearly, 
with all their heart and might,
that one day, maybe
just maybe,
it shall turn out
to be my saving grace.
How faithful,
how trustworthy,
is the path of the shining light, 
ever true,
that shines brighter and brighter, 
unto the perfect day.
Abide by it, my child.

By Emmanuel Johnson

Colours

The blend is right,
caught midway through emotions. 
Lay hold of the flash
in all its beauty and radiance.
Its textures so soothing,
feeling so warming.
A beauty to behold,
a comforter in despair.
And now, the rhythm is right,
the passage is clear.
All of God's children shall
vibe in harmony.

By Emmanuel Johnson

Letter to I Am

Father of the heavenly lights,
I begin sincerely on a note of piety;
expressing my gratitude for these
situations and beings I find myself
surrounded by everyday.
I realise the soothing embrace of your grace upon my face 
everyday, and as I let your light soak in me, I acknowledge your 
tender loving-kindness on the inside and out.
Purify my heart as I yonder on, these uncertain days, upholding 
the very hope you have planted in my soul.
I ask that you abide with me, and grant me
the grace to live as you have instructed.
So help me, giver of all things good.
Amen.

By Emmanuel Johnson

States of isolation

Acquainted with you again;
truly, you are no new companion
because I have shared moments of reason, laughter and sadness 
with you for many, many years.
But now, called into question by this new state,
I ask myself more truthfully:
can I recognise you any longer?
You seem very different this time around.
The state I find myself misleads;
I work reasonably to find a way around it.
But as I get to witness more states around,
I realise ever-static banalities
which shaped past encounters and meanings.
Now I find that very interesting.

By Emmanuel Johnson

States of fantasy

The surreal state;
an alternate rendition of how things could be right now. 
Some I see, vastly different,
others, fairly similar to
the current state.
Oh the day shall come when I shall
grab that piece to behold,
for every time I have sat to conceive of utopia.
The new state
I contemplate,
amidst its grandeur,
frightens me, as I attempt to bring it to being.
Living my fair share of states humbly,
brings to mind, continuously, that,
despite my fear, this and this surely
is what I genuinely desire.

By Emmanuel Johnson