The International Christian College of Manila (ICCM) in the Philippines is a residential college with students attending from isolated areas, rural and urban settings, as well as the Manila region. There are 70 students enrolled, aged 16-22 years. Julia, a fourth-year student said that she enjoys studying at ICCM because of her “friends, my classmates, the bonding moments, the learning. Not only knowledge, but what should we do in our daily lives.”
The college offers a BA Theology with four streams of courses – Ministry, Mission, Music or Education. The most popular is Education, as it gives the graduating student opportunities to work as a teacher. Approximately 1040 Churches of Christ congregations in the Philippines do not have the capacity to pay pastors a full-time wage, so they are always looking for external employment, and teaching fits well with pastoral ministry. The college is accredited by the government which allows students to apply for teaching positions and work for government agencies.
Gina Reyes, Academic Dean, says, “One of the missions of ICCM is to train students to be in the churches.” Joshua is a third-year student at ICCM and travels four to six hours to support a church congregation. “It is quite challenging for me to handle because they didn’t have a pastor for almost two years, so the members have been stagnant or weak because they don’t have a preacher to support them in their life as a Christian.” Joshua says, “There are so many churches that need help.”
The leadership demonstrated by the ICCM faculty is encouraging. There is a sound governance structure and a strong sense of what is possible in the future. Craig Brown, GMP’s International Church Partnerships Director, shared how the college has navigated COVID. “The college had many – reasonable – expectations of 2020. They thought, for example, that they would continue training young men and women face-to-face to be pastors and teachers. That didn’t happen. ICCM were, of course, disappointed by this and switched to online learning as best they could; this, too, was difficult, as many students were not in locations where they could access the internet.” Despite these unexpected challenges, both the staff and students are showing resilience.
CJ, a student, says of the online study experience, “I push myself to be productive…I enjoy reading and online learning has helped me to improve my skills and comprehension at home.”
Craig is positive about ICCM’s partnership with GMP: “One of the unexpected benefits from 2020 was the connection that we were able to form remotely with ICCM. We have learned so much about each other.” Rick Garcia, President of ICCM also said, “This school or college is not just an ordinary school, but it is a school for the future leaders of the church. We are grateful that GMP is one of our partners and praying that it is a lifetime partnership.”
There are good stories from students about their experience of ICCM and their dreams for the future. John graduated in 2018 and said, “I’m doing my current ministry. I’m doing good stuff because of the help of ICCM. I am who I am because of them.” He gives thanks to his professors and teachers. Arthur Santigo, Board Chairman of ICCM, says of the future, “We want to dream and dream big, because we want growth for the college.”
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