What’s a Boodle Fight?
What’s a Boodle Fight?
It’s been about a year since I (Brian) joined the executive leadership team at IGSL and became the Director of Leadership Development and Human Resources. This role has meant that I oversee the development and care of not just the fifty or so IGSL full-time faculty, but also the fifty employees who help administrate the school. I was nervous at first because this is a more extensive cross-cultural leadership experience than working with most of the faculty here, but these people have really endeared themselves to us in our time here and especially the last year.
These are some amazing people and servants of the Lord. Seven are bi-vocational pastors and all of them participate in our ministry week outreaches alongside the faculty and students. It’s an incredible blessing to have mechanics, gardeners, construction workers, administrative assistants, registrars and IT workers who not only support IGSL through their daily service but who live out the IGSL vision of helping fulfill the Great Commission through disciple-making in their communities.
We’re highlighting this great group above because they are a part of our ministry and yours! It’s our privilege to steward their gifts and abilities while also providing spiritual development, care, and professional development. This is an investment in them that touches IGSL as well as the many churches they are helping lead and ministering to in Quezon City, Manila.
In the last six months over half of our staff have shifted in their roles or taken on very new job descriptions as a result of our reorganization. Please pray for them as they learn on the job and continue to grow with us as co-laborers in the gospel.
Also pray for me and my team – that we would shepherd them wisely and help each of them, along with the faculty, to maximize their unique contributions to IGSL’s vision. And please pray that we would care for them well and provide quality leadership to help our faculty and staff partner well cross-culturally.
We have an amazing team of almost 100 faculty and school staff that serve the students of IGSL together. It’s a great picture of the body of Christ in that we all have different roles, but when we all do our parts with the motivation of honoring Christ above all the results are beautiful and God shines through. As God leads, please pray with us for our employees and their families – they are a huge part of our school’s impact!
Brian & Christine
Last weekend we took our kids out of school for a day to join the IGSL retreat. This is the one time of the year that all the families of faculty, school employees, and students all gather out of the city for a weekend of refreshment, fun, and Bible teaching. This year’s theme was “More of Him, Less of Me” and centered on the John the Baptist narratives with Jesus.
The kids had a great time in the pool. My highlight was playing cricket with the South Asian students (an annual tradition!). And Christine loved getting a lot of extra time to connect with students without having to worry about traffic. We had some great conversations and it always is a highlight.
KK and her good faculty friends from Tonga and the Philippines had a great time as you can see 🙂
What does the Great Commission have to do with bras? Well – I’m sure one could have an interesting discussion about that, but in this story it involves a bra factory!
Every faculty member at IGSL coaches a student-led field ministry team that does grass roots ministry of evangelism and discipleship every week. The team this school year has been a group that has been pioneering a ministry among over 300 workers at a bra factory. The owner is a Christian and goes to church with one of our alumni Victor. They started to dream and to help launch this ministry, IGSL assigned a student team as well.
The team this year below includes students from Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines. I’ve been coaching this team and helping them strategize and plan for their ministry efforts. It’s a challenge since the non-international students don’t speak Tagalog and the workers are low English, but the team is faithfully building relationships and building trust with the students as they lead a weekly gathering where testimonies are shared and Biblical life skills are being taught as a vehicle for deeper conversation with individuals after.
Some have come to Christ, but most are nominal Catholic or belong to various pseudo-Christian cults that are quite prominent in the Philippines. However, after a year of faithful sowing, they are poised to take significant steps towards getting discipleship going within the factory. In June, a retreat has been planned with 15-20 Christians that have been surfaced from this year’s efforts, where they can be given basic evangelism and discipleship training to join in the next step of the outreach strategy.
This is just one of the environments in which our students are learning to have ministries. The Philippines allow for more open doors than most other places so we’re grateful because it allows for great training moments. Pray for Victor, Aaron, and the team as they continue their ministry at the bra factory and that they would see trained disciplers raised up from within the ranks of the workers.
They have wisely taken it slow for the sake of trust building, but the doors are opening for much more in the coming months. Please pray also for the ownership that is passionate and motivated to see their 300 employees come to Christ and for the two hundred other students involved in other weekly ministry opportunities as well – pray that these experiences provide a foundation of lifelong ministry and impact.
And pray for the success of the bra business as well, because as long as they are doing well, there are a lot of employees that are learning about Jesus Christ. So yes – bras are furthering the Great Commission! 🙂
Brian & Christine
A few weeks ago our family expanded. We got a dog – a 7 month old cocker spaniel and our kids named her Oreo, because she’s all black with a white stripe down her stomach.
I thought we might be in trouble when my wife suggested we go to the pet market (yes – it was essentially a market/bizarre of dozens of pet shops) a few hours after sending off my dad to the airport after he came for a short visit. Our kids were a wreck…now we have a puppy 🙂
Oreo has been great though for the family and despite typically puppy stress, it’s amazing how much love and affection dogs can bring out.
It was a great relief to me (Brian) that we have finally concluded our 18-month process of organizational restructuring. I helped spearhead this process and early on we decided we could choose band-aids or surgery. We chose surgery to position ourselves for the next decade of ministry opportunities. It was painful at times (70% of us have new job descriptions!), but we’re already starting to see the fruit.
The next step now that we have the foundations of organizational culture and structure is curriculum revision in view of our vision. It’s been long overdue given the rise of students from South Asian countries and given how much the world has changed in the last 10 years since the last curriculum was designed.
Last week we had Dr. Perry Shaw from Arab Baptist Theological Seminary visit us and do 4 days of curriculum training. This will be an ongoing project for our faculty team over the next year but it’s critical to our future Great Commission effectiveness throughout Asia. Please pray for this as you pray for us and IGSL this year!
This week I (Brian) experienced one of the highs that come with doing the ministry. A young couple from Northern Vietnam in their 2nd year of studies asked me to start meeting with them to play for their church planting strategy after they graduate in one more year. I asked them to share with me some of their vision. They told me, “In our region of Vietnam there are 32 unreached people groups in high security and high persecution areas. We want to reach all of them. We want them to be able to read the Bible in their own dialects and be released from their spiritual blindness and captivity. This is the vision God has given us.”
We spent the next couple hours talking through how they can begin planning for their future research, strategy, and partnerships they will need for the vision to be realized. They told me, “We are nobodies in the Church and we don’t really know where to start, but we know that because God has called us that He will provide what we need.”
Now the reality is – this husband and wife team are a couple of the sharpest minds out of all our students, but they are as pure in heart as they are smart! They have asked me to meet with them every couple of months prior to their graduation so please pray that God gives them clarity and focus as they move forward in faith. These types of connections with these types of students are why we are here and are truly the highs of being at IGSL!
Unfortunately, our last month at IGSL has been full of sadness, grieving, and disappointments. Here’s a few of we and some of our community have been facing this past month as you pray for us and IGSL….
In God’s wisdom – each is in a small group with other parents who have lost children unexpectedly. There’s an Indian family we shared about a couple years ago that God is using to bring comfort to them now. But for many in South and SE Asia, events like this bring out old worldview assumptions driven by karma and echoes of animism. Please pray we disciple people well as they process pain and tragedy through a Christian worldview.
We love them and it’s so hard for them to return to their churches in Nepal without a degree because of cultural expectations and shame. But God has done so much and the experience has taken them into a deeper experience of their identity in Christ than they ever would have experienced otherwise. We are so proud of them, but it is a great sadness to send them home. We are meeting with them as well right now to prepare them as much as we can for their future ministry of church planting among mountain peoples in the shadows of Mt. Everest.
Ministry is full of highs and lows, but God is good and faithful. Please pray for IGSL as we go through some of these lows right now together and that God continues to raise up men and women after his own heart to reach the nations. Thank you for journeying with us and supporting us through these highs and lows as we all follow God’s leading together!
Brian & Christine
Our family did our annual family year in review reflection time last night (see above). It’s become a tradition for us to reflect together on the highlights and lowlights of the year through drawing. It’s a time to practice thankfulness to the Lord for the good and hard of the year. 2016 was not a graceful or smooth year for our family. Between Brian’s new role, PhD studies, and losing our carpool for the kids – it has been a physically and emotionally demanding year. It was a great encouragement to see God’s hand in some many things.
And you made our year in review! We took some special time as a family to pray for you and your family. We could not sustain our life or ministry here without the generous giving and faithful prayer of people like you. It was a good way to help our children understand the great privilege of being sent to Asia by you among others.
We took some time to name our biggest challenges in 2016 and thank God for how He was at work through them and also shared some of our worries going into 2017 and prayed for them too. With kids – it’s amazing what you learn when you create the space. Here’s some of what was shared.
KK shared many highlights, but one of the things she shared as pictured below is that the hardest thing about her year was being separated from Colin and Morgan all day during school. She misses being together with everyone now that she’s in kindergarten all day.
Colin’s biggest struggle of 2016 was finding it hard to balance social groups – he wants to be friends and spent time with everyone and finds it hard to choose who to spend time with at times. That’s about right for him.
Morgan expressed how much she’s been stretched by a particularly challenging person in her grade at school and how it’s helped her grow. She also expressed anxiety about going on her 6th-grade outdoor education trip in 6 weeks, where she will be climbing a volcano with her class and roughing it outside.
2016 wasn’t our favorite year as a family, but we see God’s hand at work in each person’s life and in our family as a whole. We were taken deeper in our character and spiritually through the challenges faced. Thank you for your prayers and support of us as a family and our ministry. We are consistently mindful of how important you are to us and to our ministry here and how wonderful it is that God brings people together to accomplish His purposes.
Thank you so much and Happy New Year!