May 30, 2020 marked the first virtual graduation program of IGSL as 74 students attended their commencement ceremonies while sitting in front of their computer screens. Some were still in their dorm rooms on campus, others were in their own homes, and others were in quarantine facilities around Asia. It was a day of mixed emotions. One professor said to the students, “This is not how your years of study should have ended. We couldn’t hug you, shake hands or take pictures with you.” Another commented, “Saying goodbye to IGSL graduates we have come to love is always hard. But this was harder.”
This was certainly not how we had imagined the commencement program, but there was a definite sense of excitement in the air. We celebrated the faithfulness of God who saw all of us through the school year, and we rejoiced at seeing these graduates finish well. As we send them out, we know good things are coming, even when we can’t see them yet. We will continue to put our hope in the One who knows exactly what He is doing.
UPDATE FROM HOMEWARD BOUND TEAM
On May 8, we were tasked with getting 219 students and family members safely home to 16 countries in Asia and every corner of the Philippines, from Sagada to Zamboanga. We started contacting embassies, finding flights, and getting quarantine certification for our students. Each destination has different policies and confusing requirements. Seven weeks later, 114 are safely home and 105 are still in process. Each group has required many miracles—from generous donors purchasing tickets to kind-hearted government officials helping with requirements. They were tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in their cities, and all have been found COVID-free. We are grateful to God for keeping every person on our campus healthy and safe. Please pray with us for the remaining groups waiting for flights, especially those from China, Cambodia and Congo.
UPDATE FROM THE CAMPUS
In this time of scarcity, we’re trusting in a God of abundance who is not limited by the current circumstances. Despite the current situation, we look forward with hope to the upcoming academic year 2020-2021. Our mission and vision are not changing. But our understanding of that mission and vision has gone through a pruning for deeper growth and commitment. Our people have a mind to work – not to protect the institution of IGSL, but to see increased impact towards our mission and vision for God’s glory.
Faculty are becoming learners in new ways so they can teach more effectively than ever before. They are not just adding online teaching skills to their teaching toolboxes, but they are being stretched to become better educators and mentors than ever before, as their energies are focusing on students and their contexts like never before.
We are casting the vision that 2020-2021 is our practice for the future. While we adapt to the needs of the moment, the real exercise of faith is directed towards IGSL’s impact beyond 2021. We need to catalyze a future where IGSL is accessible to more students than ever before, throughout Asia and the world.
It’s hard to think expansion in lean times and maybe even unwise in some situations. But we believe IGSL has opportunities to significantly broaden and deepen its reach. To that end we’re exploring many strategies to scale our training residentially and online and positioning ourselves to partner with others for increased life transformation and Great Commission impact.