Dear Praying Friends,

Our hearts are filled with joy for answers to prayer!And our hearts are burdened with dramatic new challenges!
To paraphrase Dickens: it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
Graduation - May 30, 2020 marked the first ever virtual graduation program of IGSL.Of the 96 students graduating (from 12 countries), 74 were able to attend their commencement ceremonies while sitting in front of their computer screens. Some were still in their dorm rooms or apartments on campus, others were off campus in their homes, and still others were in quarantine facilities around Asia (see story below).It was a day of mixed emotions.
Jan and I rejoiced with four couples from our mentoring groups that finished their degrees and PIM certificates. They return home as the national director of theYoung Life ministry in Bangladesh, as the academic dean of a Bible school in Indonesia, as a city director of Athletes in Action in India, and as a church planter among Muslims in Pakistan. We love these families! It was especially tough not to be able to hug them or take pictures with them. Saying goodbye to IGSL graduates we have come to love is always hard. But this was harder.
Despite the awkwardness 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. We rejoiced in the stories of students' transformed lives. As we send them out into the harvest fields of Asia, we know good things are coming, even if we can't see ahead. We continue to put our hope in the Lord of the Harvest who knows exactly where to place each of His workers and how to care for them.
Homeward Bound - After careful consideration, on May 8 the IGSL Board asked us to get 206 students and family members safely home to 16 countries in Asia and every corner of the Philippines - no small task in the midst of border closings and airport shutdowns! And it was a hard message to deliver to students: "We're sorry, but you'll have to leave."

Our "Homeward Bound Team" (HBT) immediately started securing quarantine certification for students; contacting embassies; and finding repatriation flights, charter flights, and seats on commercial flights. Each destination has different policies and confusing requirements. 
Heart-felt Good-byes at the IGSL Gate
The HBT asked us to pray for "a thousand miracles." Nine weeks later, 143 are safely home and 63 are still in process. We continue praying! A charter flight to Vietnam recently fell through disappointing 22 students/children. We have not yet found a way to get families back to the Congo, China, and Mongolia. 
Yet "miracles" are coming - from generous donors purchasing tickets, to kind hearted government officials going out of their way to help, to last minute travel document deliveries at the airport. Students have been tested for Covid-19 upon arrival in their cities, and so far, all have been found virus-free. We praise God for keeping every person on our campus healthy and safe! 
Bangladeshi students and families at their airport arrival
IGSL Everywhere - Despite the challenges, we look forward with hope to the coming academic year 2020-2021. IGSL's core strength has been our community of international families living and learning together through classes, mentoring groups and ministry teams. But now our school will be exclusively online for the next year.

God is asking us to make a huge pivot. Our mission and vision have not changed but our understanding of how to develop leaders is going through pruning and reshaping. We are working hard to seize this opportunity to see increased impact around the world for God's glory.
Not only are we adding online teaching skills to our toolboxes, but we are increasing our focus on understanding the specific contexts of our students. We see 2020-2021 as a learning year preparing for our future. Soon IGSL training will be accessible to more students than ever before throughout Asia and the world! This means exploring new strategies to scale our training both residentially and online. We are also exploring how to better partner with other organizations for increased life transformation and increasedGreat Commission impact!
Please pray for . . .
  • Students traveling home - Government requirements for families returning to their country vary widely. Some families only spend one day in a government quarantine facility with meals provided, all paid for by the government. Other families are required to stay 21 days in a quarantine hotel at their own expense! One family, after fully packing to leave, was turned back in the middle of the night from the Manila airport. Inaccurate information from the Bureau of Immigration caused the heartbreaking confusion. So please pray!

  • Provisions - even when students are able to find a way back into their home countries, they still face huge challenges including safety from the virus, finding a new place to live, and economies wrecked by lockdowns. Most of our students are pastors and ministry workers. With churches and ministries closed down during these past months, their income has disappeared. Continuing students also need to find stable internet connections for starting their studies again in mid-August.

  • Our house - We were recently notified by our landlord that the house we have rented for 16 years (and so love) is being put on the market for sale. The message was clear: "I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave." Groan! Prospective buyers are coming by to look at it. As you can imagine, this is not the time we want to think about looking for a new place to rent. Our relationship with our kind and gracious landlord is wonderful. She and her husband live in the US, are retired, and need the money from the sale. If God wants us to move, we will trust Him for a new place . . . just like our students are doing.
We feel weakness knowing our inability to control our circumstances.We feel strength knowing God's hand ultimately controls our circumstances. 
He can make the "worst of times" into "the best of times."
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28 NIV)
We are so grateful for your faithful and prayerful involvement with us! Thank You!
Steve & Jan

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