By Dr. Joyce Porcadilla-Rubia
It has been a little over a month since school year 2020-2021 started here at the General Baptist Bible College. We opened this new school year with the theme, “In gratitude, we bow down Before Christ.” Our theme verse is found in Psalm 138:2 (NASB): “I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your loving kindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.”
This school year has been a very challenging journey. By and through the sustaining grace of our Abba Father, we have been able to make it through a day at a time.
The new normal of teaching and learning has posed a lot of adjustments. Since face to face classes have been prohibited by the government, everything is distance learning. We have put in place a blended learning approach, which involves online and offline modalities. For those who have reliable internet access, they opted for online learning. We have made use of Google Classroom.
On the other hand, for those with no internet connection or have very limited connectivity, we print learning packets. Every week, parents come to pick up the learning packets.
We have used all sorts of communication platforms to keep in touch with our students and parents: text, call, email, Facebook Messenger, group chats, video calls/chats, and Google Meet.
It is also challenging with our college students, since most of them rely on mobile phones and free data on Facebook. All the modules are sent to them via Facebook Messenger. Their activities, quizzes, and exams are written on notebooks and the students take photos of their answers and send the images back to their teachers.
Many of our college students are from rural areas where internet connectivity is a problem. Most of them need to travel to find signal to download their weekly lessons and activities.
We are busier than ever because our learning packets have been made from scratch. In the basic education department, the students have textbooks so the learning packets are supplemental.
However, for our college students, we have to put all the content in their modules since they do not have access to our library or have their own textbooks.
We also need to produce our own instructional videos. Teachers are not used to teaching in front of a camera. This has added pressure to their work.
Our campus has been transformed to cater to all the production needs, as well as accommodating health protocols.
The covered court is the main internet hub. This is where our teachers work on their learning packets, since our classrooms do not have Wi-Fi. The weekly distribution of packets is done from this location as well. Classrooms are used for audio recording of lessons.
All the printing is done manually in the library. Video recording and filming of instructional videos and virtual lessons is done in the periodicals area. The editing of videos is also done in the library.
The non-teaching staff had to step up and learn the technology of video production. Some administrative staff has helped in the checking and editing of learning packets for quality control. Our school nurse has become our entrance gatekeeper, as she takes the temperature of all those entering. Our security officer is stationed at the exit gate.
We cannot afford to hire additional maintenance personnel, so faculty and staff have to help in the cleaning of the campus. We have set aside a day each week for the faculty and staff to do maintenance work.
Chapel services are done virtually. Thank you to our brethren stateside who have helped us in this area. On a positive note, not only can our students watch our chapel services online, but the entire household can watch it with our students.
Thank you to our generous donors and sponsors who helped us buy laptops for our teachers. We were also able to buy additional printers. This has been a great help as we have limited equipment.
Financially, it has been a struggle, too, as we only have 430 students in both the college and basic education departments. We normally have over 600 students. We are still grateful that God has blessed us with this number of students, and through your generosity our doors are kept open to continue the ministry He has entrusted to GBBC. God has been so gracious to help us in making ends meet each day.
Please continue to pray with and for us. On the afternoon that I am writing this, a parent came to withdraw his child because he has been laid off from work and could no longer afford to pay for his child’s tuition. This week three students who were enrolled withdrew for the same financial reasons.
Please pray for our parents and their daily provision for their families. Likewise, our students need our prayers as they adjust to homeschooling, and include our faculty and staff in your prayers, too. Please pray for protection, provision, good health, patience, strength, knowledge, wisdom, joy, and peace.
This is our current reality. This is our new normal. Despite the changes and the struggles we endure each day, God is faithful and His mercies are new every morning. He is sovereign. He is in control of everything. We are thankful that He is in charge. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are grateful that for the past 55 years of GBBC’s existence, God has never abandoned us, and He continues to use people like you to partner with us to help carry the burden. For that, we bow down before Christ with gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts for what He has done and continues to do and for who He is in our lives.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and continued financial support. We would not have been able to continue the ministry here and our doors would have been shut by now if not for your partnership with us. To God be all the glory!