Wednesday 1 April 2020

An ICS Update from Ron Kuipers

Dear Friends,

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has suddenly, and perhaps, permanently altered our everyday reality. For example, I am writing this letter as I work from my home, and am not sure when I will be able to return to the office. Like many other organizations, the ICS campus has effectively closed for the time being, so that we can follow instructions from public health officials to practice social distancing.

As you no doubt experienced, this situation has been evolving rapidly, and in the middle of a busy semester we at ICS have had to react suddenly and rapidly to this emerging health crisis by adopting measures like suspending in-person seminars and replacing them with remote-access delivery modes like video teleconferencing. Our faculty and staff are also figuring out how best to continue to work together during this time of social isolation.

While it hasn’t been easy, I am very proud of the resilience and flexibility the ICS community has demonstrated during this difficult time. Classes have continued with minimal disruption, and administrative staff have remained diligent in the performance of their assigned duties. While we miss each other’s company and the camaraderie we enjoy working in the same space together, we remain in good spirits as we continue to pursue the mission in Christian higher education that our Lord has entrusted to us.

In the days ahead, ICS leadership will be tasked with making many difficult decisions, and so we ask that you, the support community that undergirds ICS, pray for us. Pray that God’s wisdom will bless our deliberations, and that we may rise to the challenge of this moment with a spirit of innovation and creativity that enables us to recognize new possibilities for advancing God’s Kingdom that is ever in our midst.

Over these past weeks we have seen the impact that both the stress of uncertainty and the loss of social connections can have on us, and on the people we love, but we’ve also seen the power of community. Our staying physically apart for this moment in time is simultaneously an incredible act of social solidarity and an expression of love for the vulnerable. This fact alone gives me hope that together we will continue to bear each other’s burdens in the challenging days ahead.

As a supporter of ICS, I finally want to thank you for the continued trust you place in us, and it is my prayer that we continue to earn your trust through the difficult period we are only now just entering. So much remains unknown, and this creates anxiety. The only balm for this anxiety is trust. Through the trust we place in our Maker that even now he is leading us on the way we should go, and the trust we place in each other as we together strive to discern that direction, we gain the confidence to proceed step by step to build a strong bridge to a new reality.
I wish you all blessing, health, and peace. Be well, my friends!

Important Notice: During the next few months, our communications via regular mail will be severely limited due to the social-distancing policies in place across Canada. Given this reality, we ask that you help us get this communication, and others to follow, into the hands of those ICS supporters in your immediate community who rely on regular mail to get information from us. As you are able and comfortable, please share ICS email communications with them, and encourage them to send us along any email addresses at which we can contact them.

To our faithful donors: If you have recently mailed in a donation and have not received a response from us, please don’t worry! We are temporarily unable to access incoming mail due to the lockdown at the university buildings but are working to resolve this situation as soon as possible–all the while protecting the health and safety of our staff. We deeply apologize for this inconvenience and ask for your continued prayers as we devise a contingency plan for mail-in donations.

In the meantime, if you would like to make a donation, the best way to do this is to go to our “Donate” page on the ICS website and make a donation online through CanadaHelps. If you’re in the U.S., you can similarly make an online donation through the Friends of ICS website.

Thank you so much for your continued support!

Prayer Letter: April 2020

Wednesday, April 1 - Friday, April 3:

Once a month, the administrative staff of ICS gather together in one room to update one another and to provide support where needed on the various projects that everyone is involved in. This Wednesday is our April meeting day, and instead of meeting in one room, ICS will have its first virtual meeting via Zoom. Pray that as we gather together online we will experience the same support and camaraderie with one another that we have when we are together in person.

Just like last year, ICS will be holding this month its spring retreat for staff, faculty, and students -- but with a big twist! Gideon Strauss and Elizabet Aras have been hard (and creatively!) at work making a virtual spring retreat a reality. We’re grateful for their efforts and ask for prayers for their continued strength and inspiration in their work. We pray that this important culminating event in the school year will be uplifting and hope-filled as we build community and reflect on the various lessons, insights, and blessings in the past academic year.

During these trying times, we request your prayers for our Junior Members June, Abbi, and Theoren as they journey back home for the summer months. We pray in a special way for their health and safety in the journey, and for a joyous reunion with their families and loved ones.

Monday, April 6 - Friday, April 10:

We are requesting prayer at this time for one of our Junior Members, Julia de Boer, who is 35 weeks pregnant with her first child, immunocompromised via pregnancy, and has a history of respiratory illnesses. Thankfully, her husband, Sankalp, can work from home, and they remain fully sealed off from the world, likely for 4-6 weeks until baby arrives and some time afterwards. However, this state of emergency because of COVID-19 has created huge uncertainties and anxiety for them, especially as they contemplate the prospect of delivering in hospital in the midst of a pandemic, with little access to family or friends. Please pray that their isolation will be effective in keeping Julia healthy, that their little son will arrive just when he ought to, and that she will be able to deliver safely and without fear in hospital

This is Holy Week -- the most joyous time in the Christian calendar. It is a time of celebration beyond hope, because with Easter, hope is made real. Christ’s resurrection heralds the final triumph of life over death. Let’s pray together that despite the limitations of gathering together to celebrate, the Easter message of new life and hope will bring joy and wonder to our hearts.

Monday, April 13 - Friday, April 17:

As this semester’s classes wind down, please pray for our faculty as they continue to provide the teaching and mentoring to our Junior Members in these dramatically different conditions. We pray that the remote teaching will face as little disruption as possible, and that mentoring relationships can still lead to the flourishing of ideas and furthering of projects for our Junior Members.

We ask for prayer for the staff and faculty as we wrestle with the many decisions that need to be made regarding the scheduling of events that normally take place April through June, and into the fall semester. There are so many unknowns in the current environment that planning becomes an ever-changing activity, so we pray for insight to know how to make these decisions wisely.

Monday, April 20 - Friday, April 24:

Professor Emeritus, Hendrik Hart, has been receiving chemotherapy for his cancer during these past few months. The COVID-19 outbreak has required a review of Henk’s available options to either continue treatment or put it on pause. Both options have significant risks, but he has chosen to pause treatment for now, and will be carefully and frequently monitored by those who care for him at this time. Please pray for continued wisdom for the medical staff and for protection and peace of mind for Henk as he navigates these uncertain times.

The Finance Committee, along with the Leadership Team, are hard at work this month on the coming year’s budget. Please pray for them in their deliberations, that they might be granted insight, wisdom, and hope as they make stewardship decisions for the 2020-2021 budget year in the midst of a financial environment that is largely unpredictable, volatile, and constantly changing.

It is with sadness that we announce that ICS is cancelling Convocation 2020 as a result of COVID-19’s limitation on social gatherings. We will greatly miss the opportunity to gather with our community to honour our students and to celebrate with one another at this important annual event. We pray that over these next months that we will find grace and peace in the knowledge that God is ever present with us.

Monday, April 27 - Thursday, April 30:

We ask for prayer for our administrative staff as they continue to navigate the complexities of doing their work remotely. They need wisdom to determine the best ways to keep the information flowing to prevent the feeling of isolation and being siloed in the projects they are working on. As well, please pray for God’s hand of protection on each one that they will continue to be healthy and experience his peace and comfort during this unsettling time

We give thanks for our Junior Members who are such an important part of our community and have been a real blessing during this difficult time. We pray for them as they wind up their course papers over the next few weeks and try to make plans for their summer work and studies in the coming year. We pray for them that they might experience peace and comfort, and that they might continue to find many inspiring, exciting, and varied opportunities to explore their respective work and research interests.