For Such a Time, 2

12 April 2021

One year ago, the world was forced to shut down. A mysterious disease labelled COVID-19 was quickly ravaging the planet. They labelled it a pandemic. Life, as we knew it, ground to a halt and quarantines were imposed.

The virus showed no partiality. Even schools were ordered to close. From the youngest children to adults in graduate school, all students were banned from entering a physical classroom, and teachers could no longer interact with their students face-to-face. Many panicked. How could they educate their students? How would they be able to continue? Some schools recognized that their only choice was to shift to an online environment if they wanted to continue to teach their students. Many people viewed the transition to online learning with skepticism and considered it an inferior means of education, but they recognized it was the only option.

Though our world was stunned and plans for 2020 were crumbling, our sovereign God was still seated on his throne. He had prepared his people for the challenges that were ahead. Over the last several years, he had directed the staff at Horizon Education Network to engage in a series of intensive training sessions with seminaries around the world on the subject of effective online teaching and learning. In his perfect timing, the last session finished just before the world shut down, and the staff who led that session landed back home the very day that North America began to quarantine.

Using the tools they had been given and trusting in God for the wisdom needed in this situation, many of our education partners began to transition successfully to online learning. The dean of one of our partner schools told us that their school was being forced to migrate all their courses online. The school had hoped that they could resume residential classes by January 2021. The government allowed them to reopen but added, “unless it is absolutely necessary, we encourage you not to have residential classes.”

So what happened? The school did not falter. Since embracing online learning, they have added five fully online MA programs in Counseling, Religion, Apologetics, Theological Librarianship and Creative Arts and Worship. They will also be launching a fully online DMin program. Enrollment predictions for their residential programs next year are uncertain as the situation is still in flux while interest in their fully online program has increased. After several months of conducting their programs fully online, the dean reported that “this is effective as the regular classroom as far as learning is concerned. Nobody complains that they are learning less. They actually say they are learning more.”

This seminary was prepared for such a time as COVID-19 partially due to Horizon’s tools and training and because of their commitment to implement online training after God closed the door on residential learning last year. They did not take a step backward during the pandemic and decided not to wait for things to “go back to normal.” They are moving ahead and advancing in the great work of training men and women to be effective leaders in the kingdom of God.