COVID-19 Impact on VSI Client Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our world in ways we never could have imagined. Newsfeeds around the globe flash story after story of tragic losses of lives and livelihoods, overburdened medical and technological systems, business closures and transportation shutdowns, unemployment and food insecurity, mental health struggles and unyielding uncertainty.

Educational disruptions worldwide have not only complicated students’ abilities to learn, conduct research, and graduate on time, but also threatened schools’ abilities to pay faculty and staff, care for students stranded on campus, and reopen in the future.

In parts of the Majority World, where economic woes may be accompanied by social instability and political oppression, theological education was in crisis even before the pandemic. Through the Vital SustainAbility Initiative (VSI), ScholarLeaders has been working with influential theological schools in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe to strengthen strategic plans for long-term sustainability and missional focus. The pandemic has only highlighted the importance of this work, as well as the ongoing need for flexibility, adaptivity, and resilience.

After meeting with seven seminary leaders in Nigeria this March, our VSI teams had to suspend upcoming travel to India and Brazil due to global lockdowns. In the meantime, technology has enabled us to stay in touch with school leaders and to join them in prayer. Though separated by geographical distance, time zone differences, and coronavirus restrictions, we remain united by the Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ.

In recent weeks, we have listened to school leaders describe the pandemic’s impact on their students, faculty, staff, and institutional survival. As we share reports from our VSI cohorts in India, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Eastern Europe, we invite you to join us in prayer with and for these theological schools and their leaders as they face unprecedented challenges.

Photo: March 2020 VSI Meeting with Seminary Leaders in Northern Nigeria.

Prayer Community

Jean Musavuli from the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is the second biggest (by area) in Africa and potentially a very rich country, has gone through many troubles since its independence from Belgian colonial powers on 30 June 1960. Analysts have shown that the number one cause of the country’s troubles is its natural resources, which attract the attention of nations vying for a share in the wealth, thus keeping the Congolese people in extreme poverty and ongoing conflict.

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Prayer Community

Emmanuel Ndikumana from Burundi

When I started the journey in 2014, Burundi’s prospects were very good. Researching on reconciliation promised a huge contribution to the healing of the nation. In 2015, however, another violent political crisis erupted that seriously affected not the nature or orientation of my research, but the way I was going to collect data. Fear, suspicion, mistrust, etc. replaced the openness, and freedom of speech and movement people had been enjoying for the previous ten years. The accusations, counter-accusations, and the policing of speech and movement put my research on hold for a significant amount of time.

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Prayer Community

Andry Randrianasolo from Madagascar

The primary ongoing challenge faced by the Lutheran Church of Madagascar is the fight against syncretism within the Church. Although Christians come to church on Sundays, there are some who continue to visit witchdoctors, seeking help from ancestors on the other days. This is exactly why pastors need to be equipped with skills and tools in the field of Intercultural Studies to help them identify the problem, study the situation, and provide discipleship and teaching according to people’s needs.

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Prayer Community

Daniel Dama from Benin

The Benin government has approved my arts and culture ministry for peacebuilding: Africa Sings. This phase comes after the registration of the organization and it is a crucial step. I am also delighted to inform you that Africa Sings was recently featured in the official journal of the Benin government.

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Prayer Community

Serge-Armand Yao in Côte d’Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, there are more than 60 ethnic groups, divided into four linguistic groups. From 1999 to 2011, Côte d’Ivoire has experienced deep sociopolitical crises as a result of ethnic tensions, sectarianism, and nationalistic and sometimes xenophobic behavior. Unfortunately, Christians in general and Evangelical Protestants in particular have contributed to these growing tensions.

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Prayer Community

Emmanuel Mukeshimana from Rwanda

Pray for peace in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and Eastern Democratic Republic). This region has been the territory of unending conflicts. Pray that people in East Africa will be able to move freely and that refugees will be able to return home.

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Prayer Community

David Kasali in the Democratic Republic of Congo

We ask for your intercession on behalf of Beni. Our town has been brutally attacked twice in six days. The armed group that has been killing civilians in the Beni territory since 2014 has made incursions into the town of Beni and into our neighboring town of Oicha, killing over 75 of the most vulnerable inhabitants over the last three weeks. On November 24, one of the members of our contractor’s construction crew, the son of one of our campus guards, was killed in his neighborhood near our main campus.

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