The current global pandemic is moving everyone to a “new” normal. We all wonder: “Will everything return to the ‘normal’ we experienced before COVID-19?” At Global Initiative, we are adapting to this change. For years, we have conducted our trainings in-person. No delivery method can replace in-person interaction, both in groups and one-on-one. However, when face-to-face learning is not an option, we must adapt and make the necessary changes for the mission to move forward with strength and effectiveness.
After nearly twenty years of collaborative graduate level education with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), we offered training online for the first time. Our professors have readily adapted to this new venue for teaching. The online learning platform created opportunities for students to attend the training from locations around the world. As a matter of fact, one student from Albania and another from Thailand participated in these trainings. Twenty-five Assemblies of God missionaries also received training online through the GI trainings at AGTS!
During the AGTS Summer Institute for Islamic Studies, we taught four courses: (1) Engaging Islam: An Introduction, taught by Dr. Fred Farrokh, (2) Women in Islam, taught by Dr. Donna Krstulovich, (3) Christian-Muslim Theological Issues, taught by Dr. Jim Bennett, and (4) Islam in the U.S., taught by Dr. Tommy Hodum.
This pandemic has caused us to evaluate our international trainings as well. Our mission is to equip and inspire the church to reach Muslims in diverse locations globally. Some of these training venues are in large urban centers, while others take place in remote locations. What we have observed on our travels is that nearly everyone has a mobile phone—young and old alike!
Consequently, we are developing videos to provide training on various levels. Some of our training is geared for lay people and local pastors who are looking for ways to share the Good News of Jesus with Muslims in their communities. On the other hand, we are creating in-depth training on a Master’s and Doctoral level for missionaries, pastors, and evangelists. This includes locations such at AGTS, Asia Pacific Theological Seminary, Continental Theological Seminary, and other institutions of higher education around the world.
While Global Initiative has previously discussed the potential for online training, current circumstances necessitate that the ministry immediately transition to offering online training. We ask that you pray for us as we navigate these complex issues. Our team is asking the Lord for wisdom and His favor as we pursue this new endeavor.
Let me share with you just a few of the challenges we are facing:
The need for translation—this would require dubbing the teachings into local languages/dialects;
Live interaction through chat or video options—this crucial element depends on the strength of local internet connections and also faces the challenges of working over a variety of time zones; and
Coordinating with our local training affiliates—in the midst of COVID-19.
On the other hand, here are some amazing benefits we foresee:
Reduction in cost for students, as they would no longer need to travel to a particular location to receive the training. Students can access the training right where they live through their mobile phone or computer.
Secure access makes the trainings more readily available, especially in restricted access regions. Students can view courses/seminars privately.
Increase in the number of people who will be trained, equipped, and inspired to reach Muslims with the Good News about Jesus!
Paul gave the church in Rome a word of encouragement: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Let’s be reminded that God will turn this pandemic into something good for His kingdom purposes.
We are grateful for your continued partnership through your prayers and generosity!