Reflections on first year at IBC

Monday, 25th May 2020
Image: reflections-on-first-year-at-ibc

My name is Richard Donnan, I am a first year student at the Irish Baptist College and I’m studying the Preparation for Ministry Course. I am married to Janet and we have three grown-up children: Adam, Naomi and Ryan. I serve as elder at Millisle Baptist Church.

 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:17

On Friday 6th September 2019 after 30 years working in Ulster Bank I swapped my pass, laptop and phone for a Madlug backpack and headed off to commence full-time study at IBC the following Monday. It was a decision made over several years, but one that I firmly knew was God’s will for me and our family. Under the trusted guidance and support of friends and our church family, now was the right time to take this next step. The previous year I had attended the IBC evening class at Strandtown and the time there was another confirmation.

As we approach the end of year one, notwithstanding the unique circumstances in which the academic year has come to a close, I am so grateful to God for leading me on this path, for his faithfulness in sustaining me, and for the many blessings along the way.

There have been many highlights including:

The regular student and staff devotional and prayer times – these are the very core of college life. God has been so faithful in blessing us each time we study his word and pray together.

College evangelism teams – in my case this was partnering with the church in Ballymoney. This further developed relationships within the team as we sought to serve God alongside the local fellowship. We were made so welcome and learned so much from Pastor Joe Flanagan, Andy Dalrymple and the whole church in Ballymoney, as they faithfully reach out and share the gospel with the community in which he has placed them.

The breadth and depth of the teaching and access to quality resources – I have learned so much in the past 12 months, not just academically but more importantly spiritually. I have been reminded of how little I know and how much more I have to learn as I strive to be a better witness and disciple of Christ.

There has been so much to thank God for:

A loving and supportive family and local church who have encouraged and partnered in prayer each step of the way.

A first-class professional and pastoral leadership team at IBC. The teaching is of the highest quality. However, it is the pastoral concern, discipleship role-modelling and personal support of all the staff that makes studying at IBC truly unique.

My fellow students, my brothers and sisters in Christ. From the very first day our 1st year cohort bonded well and have sought to constantly build one another up. The welcome, encouragement, and sharing of experiences (and generous good-natured banter!) from the 2nd and 3rd years has been wonderful.

I cannot recommend IBC highly enough – whatever your circumstances there will be a course of study that will help you grow in your faith and further prepare you for God’s service. God willing in September I will be back again, Madlug bag at the ready, excited for what year two will have in store.

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