The DMin students were the first to arrive, then new master and doctoral students continued with modules: ‛Critical Thinking, Academic Research and Writing’, ‛Interpretations: Bible, Theology and Society’ and ‛Faith and Reason’. Students emphasised three aspects of what they experienced: international climate, academic challenge and Christian fellowship.
Students from Ghana, Croatia, Canada, USA and Cuba, and certainly from Holland, confirm the continuity of the international dimension of this learning community. A Croatian Filip Grujic summarised:
The first weeks of IBTS instensive lectures at Amsterdam were full of challenging study in the atmosphere if international fellowship. It was an enriching experience to explore important theological topics in the context of wider perspective of colleagues coming from three different continents.
A special event, underlining the acadmic quality of IBTSC, was the graduation of Jon Hardin with the PhD degree. The promotion took place at the aula of the Free University Amsterdam. (More on this in a later post).
As is characteristic of IBTSC, worship is an integral part of research and study. The students described the fellowship and common prayers as uplifting. Mary Pokuaa from Ghana:
I am impressed with the environment, the receptive nature of professors and the entire IBTSC community. This is an opportunity to gain knowledge and to reflect on my faith and ministry.
Another student from Ghana, Kofi Owusu-Ansah, added:
I recommend this programme for all Christians seeking higher level education. This helps to put you on the cutting edge in ministry.
First time in the IBTSC history a student from Cuba, Adianes Villalonga, has joined the student body. She taught us all to pray ‛in a Cuban way’ – feeling the presence of God and ourselves, and being thankful for the gift of life – and she commented:
It is an open door to a source of knowledge, wisdom and prayer. Professors encourage me to study hard if I want to be useful in my country, and my fellow-students make me experience the intercultural Baptist challenge. And I always feel serenity during our time of prayer.
Ray Harms-Wiebe from Canada seconded that:
The perspectives of the international faculty and students have already enriched my spiritual journey and I look forward to the coming years with anticipation.
Not being a native speaker of English, and while writing this blog entry, I checked some of the words. Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains that one meaning of ‛launch’ is ‛to put a boat or ship on the water’. New IBTSC academic year is launched… I find this symbolism surprisingly fitting.