As the Chinese saying goes, “Time flies: another autumn is upon us.” Looking back on 2020 thus far with all the unprecedented hardships, we give thanks to God because it is solely by His grace that our ministry has continued to make progress.
The raging coronavirus and its resulting economic turmoil have forced many ministries to grind to a halt. Not unscathed, SALT’s East Asia training was suspended for more than four months, reopening bit by bit at the end of May. During the first half of the year, we taught a mere three times which is 10% of what we typically achieve. Then in July things began to open up, transportation services gradually resumed, and our team hit the road again. From July to September, our national teachers taught more than three courses per month! One more big change is in the air for us: after being shut down for more than nine months, the effort to “team-write” the new course on the Book of James will resume in October. Praise God with us over these breakthroughs.
We are inspired by the hunger of our students for God’s Word. “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.” Psalm 19:7-9.
After a six-month hiatus, students were desperate for classes to resume. When they heard our courses had restarted, one student after another proposed “overtime” school to make up for lost time! The classroom atmosphere was energized with their enthusiasm. In response, we added an extra subject or two to the original curriculum. At the same time, we must bear in mind the constant threat of the next pandemic wave. The challenge for us is to help them catch up with all their course requirements.
Even more remarkable, not only have most of our East Asia sites reopened, but new sites have also been established. News that we had restarted our training began to spread. Over the past two months, our team investigated several potential new training partnerships. Finally, we confirmed two new sites at which to implement our Three-Year Certificate Course. Training already began in mid-September at one site. Students at the second site, all missionaries, hope to equip themselves through our courses to better preach the gospel to Muslims.
In these difficult days, God has continued to entrust us with His work, and has even opened up new opportunities for SALT. Though the road ahead is long, how can we stop now?