The global pandemic has put many overseas missionaries in isolated conditions - they are unable to travel or go back to their home countries. Frontline missionaries, who are enrolled in Olivet University's Master of Divinity program, found hope and support in the trying times through the Spiritual Formation online course.
"As I am stuck at home, I could spend more time listening to lectures, pondering on the meaning of the text in relation to my context. I treasure the time that we can meet in the live chat, conversing with my classmates face to face every week. Though we are far away physically, our hearts are knitted together in the word of God during the 10-week course," a missionary in South Africa said.
Students from all over the world shared their reflections on the discussion board after listening to one of the lectures titled "Jesus Christ Overcoming the Temptations".
"Falling in the temptations of Satan, believing Satan's words and distrusting the Lord's word and love for us, bring destruction and chaos to our lives. There will be no end to our suffering as sin brings eternal death," wrote Dora Channer, a minister in the United Kingdom.
"Being a leader is a position with big responsibility. Even in the little things, we should be pure before God. I was really pierced by the message and the temptations Jesus overcame. Especially about putting God at the center made me think whether I live to glorify myself or to glorify God," German minister Laura Valdix responded.
"Today's lecture really touched me honestly because it reminded me of a lot of things that have been happening to my life and ministry. After I listened to the lecture, I was encouraged that ministers need spiritual wisdom to recognize what spirit is working in my ministry and God's People because Satan always disguises himself like no destruction might come after one thing happened," an African student Gasto Musonda serving in a local church in Zambia shared in the discussion board.Another student Deborah Chan in the United States sent her prayers through the discussion board, "Amen! The apostle is a good example for every christian in our ministries. I can feel you are inspired by this lesson with a pure heart from God. Pray for your study and your ministry!"
Dr. Rachael Mak, professor of Spiritual Formation, was encouraged to see students engaging actively on the discussion board. Students are not just there to fulfill a course requirement but are truly immersing themselves in the word of God and their ministries.
"Students open their hearts and share sincerely - even with those they have never met personally before. I could feel the Holy Spirit is at work in our online classroom!" Mak said.
The online discussion board is open for the entire duration of the course. Unlike live discussions that are instantaneous, students can choose to engage any posting at any time from many different perspectives, allowing deeper conversations.
"For frontline missionaries, the profound conversations with God with fellow online students gave them strength to continue doing their work. The pandemic has costed countless lives and beloved ones in the world, but it also transformed the landscape of many things, online Christian education is one of those," Mak concluded.