iFace COVID-19 Update
June 12, 2020
When the world is in turmoil, and we know we don’t know the future, we discover how we trust in God — for ourselves, and for those we love. Every day brings joy, even in trial, as God draws near to us, and we have more to offer one another in our need and distress than just ourselves, for God is with us.
Have you been
James Paternoster, iFace President
A spring full of disruptions leads into a summer of unknowns. Students planned to return overseas but can’t, and remain on campuses emptied of their American classmates. Graduates faced a recession and an unpredictable job market. Here are some of their experiences and reflections:
“I missed home dearly, and I have indeed vacillated between going home and staying here. I chose to continue staying on [an] empty campus mainly because…no matter how greatly the outside world is changing, I had to finish all my schoolwork strong. Bringing all my books for research and having classes with a 12-hour time difference in the midst of chaos was not realistic. Moreover, knowing I might not be able to enter into the U.S. again in August/September, especially when my graduate school plans were not finalized, I could not risk my current and future education.
The transition from in-person to online classes was not a particularly huge one for me. However, being in an empty campus was. During walks, I have become nostalgic and reminiscent of seeing people – classmates, professors, visitors – everywhere on campus. I missed physical company from friends…Meeting online was just not the same. The in-person interactions are something I hold dear and deem significant in my life, yet they had to be halted due to this global pandemic. It took time to digest and adjust.”
Isolation continues to be a struggle for others as well. A student wife said, “I am so thankful [we are having online] Table Talks at this time…makes me feel like I’m still alive, that I am not isolated, still connected with them…we can talk, share, [have] community.”
While meeting online is far from ideal, God has been generous and blessed these times together. “The sense of ‘family’ online is deepening as we pray, care, and share with each other over the phone, through little gifts left on people’s doorsteps, online conversations, classes, and Bible studies. We are bonding! That’s only God!”
The transition to ministry online also brings the potential of new opportunities in the summer. One staff team has started three new ways to connect with students during the summer: “Chat Times (phone call from a teacher once a week), Tea Times that consist of topical discussions in small groups, and continuing our Book Club with a new book for women. Some women are connecting in all three conversation possibilities!”
These connections are so important for students and families new to the US in normal circumstances, how much more so when the opportunities to meet people are severely limited. These relationships provide not only camaraderie but also support for those experiencing great uncertainty in this time. Friendship and connection are vital, but our friends still feel apprehension about the future, especially those who are facing graduation.
“I think COVID-19 might have a profound impact on my plan for the future. I was planning to work in the US for one year after I graduate…gaining some working experience and exploring the world a little more before I go back home…it’s so hard to find a job for everyone, and my foreign identity might make it even harder. As someone who is graduating this December, I think I had never faced this much uncertainty in my life.”
We praise God for his faithfulness, care, and for providing comfort to our international friends in the midst of this uncertainty.
“I was really grateful for so much care from dear friends and online gatherings. I have also learned that we humans may have good plans, but God always has His plans for us, better plans. It was through multiple prayer gatherings that I felt fellowship, joy, and assurance from the Lord. I then felt encouraged to face whatever that will come in my way in days to come.”
Please pray: (not updated)
- For students and others facing uncertain futures
- That bonding with the students would grow even stronger, and that new friendships will start during this unparalleled experience.
- That many hearts will earnestly seek the Lord during this time, and that His love will be felt through His children as well as His Word.
- For students far from home to find comfort and connection
Thank you again for all of your support!
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