August 2017 Newsletter
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to each of you. We were blessed to be able to celebrate John and Rebecca’s wedding in St. John’s last month. It was difficult to say good-bye, but we have now returned to South Africa and have resumed life here. We would like to thank each of you who have been praying for us. We also express our deep gratitude for every gift that was given to support our ministry. Finally, we give thanks to God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17).
Ministry Update from the Bible Institute of South Africa
I had to hit the ground running. The day after we landed I chaired a two day faculty retreat. We discussed ongoing policy issues but spent most of our time brainstorming changes for our current programmes and how they fit together, as well as dreaming about possible new programmes. I know many people were praying for these meetings, and I know that God heard your prayers as our time was very productive and left me feeling excited about the future.
The next week marked the beginning of the new semester, my second at the Bible Institute. The previous semester saw many changes:
- I began by focusing on people, spending time getting to know our staff members, identifying needs, and implementing some organizational changes. We now have a new registrar and a full-time administrator for the Christian Leadership Programme.
- I also designed and implemented a new computer system (affectionately known as “B:SIS” – BISA’s Student Information System) to handle our academic administrative needs. The new system now tracks new student applications, registration and enrolment for our active students, class lists, student directories, grades, transcripts, and everything else our lecturers, registrar and administrators need. Just a few weeks ago I moved the system from a local server into “the cloud,” where I’m hoping I can make it available to other Bible colleges (I’ve already had interest from schools in Zambia and Namibia).
- I helped to organize the final submission of documents related to our accreditation (we are still waiting for a response – please continue to pray!).
- In recognition of the deficiency of resources available to our distance students in particular, we increased our library holdings tenfold by subscribing to EBSCOhost, an online repository of electronic books, journals, and other academic resources. This was an expensive but necessary investment for our students.
My next priority is to implement a new Learning Management System at BISA. This is of great importance as the demand for distance and online learning far exceeds that for our residential programme. A quality online learning platform will help us to reach even more students in Cape Town, in all South Africa and southern Africa, and even to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:8!). This week I gave a presentation to BISA’s board of directors requesting that we hire an online curriculum specialist. The project was approved and the position is being advertised. I have already identified an excellent candidate and hope to fill the position by the end of this month. Just a few days ago I was speaking to an educational consultant who has done some work for BISA recently. He is currently completing a PhD in e-learning and expressed an interest in helping with this project. If things continue to go well then we should be able to hold to an aggressive timeline for implementing the new system by the start of next year.
Here are our prayer requests for this month:
- Pray that God will provide the finances to support recent projects such as EBSCOhost for our library and the new online Learning Management System.
- After much prayer and consideration Anna has decided to study at BISA. A degree from BISA will enable Anna to continue on the path of becoming a primary school teacher. Please pray for her as she adjusts to a new programme of study and also as this is her first time in the classroom after years of homeschooling followed by distance learning at Memorial University.
- Pray for health and strength so that we can continue to serve God well here in Cape Town.
- Pray for John and Rebecca as they adjust to married life together.
- Pray that God will provide for the $10,000 deficit in our ministry account.
Blessings in Christ,
Tim & Kristina Churchill