The Class of 2021, represented by a total of 94 graduates, have been conferred their degrees during the AIIAS 105th Graduation Ceremonies, which was held on May 14-16, 2021. Due to the government restrictions imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19, AIIAS opted to push through with the grand event virtually.
Changing Lives as Living Vessels of Truth
The celebrations began on Friday evening with the consecration and dedication service led by Drs. Samuel and Prema Gaikwad, professors from the education department and the graduating class’ sponsors.
“Accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior makes a great difference…. Just as he converted water into wine, if we commit ourselves to him, he can transform us into his likeness. Surely with Jesus in our lives, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and our experiences of life are changed or refined,” says Samuel Gaikwad. “The graduating class members believe that they are being called to serve and inspired to go. But the journey is not going to be free of trouble.”
Representatives from the graduating class demonstrated how their former lives, consisting of old lifestyles, beliefs, habits and behaviors, have been changed as they have experienced a Christlike life through AIIAS and that they have become new vessels of truth that are ready to serve the world and change the lives of those that need it.
“AIIAS has indeed made a difference in the lives of the graduating class members. That is the blessing of being part of AIIAS with friendly people, God-fearing faculty, uplifting spiritual atmosphere, God-first initiatives, diverse cultures and harmony and service orientation. They are inspired to go out in the world and serve, that is serving the Lord through serving humanity” concluded the Gaikwads.
Equipped for Mission, Ready to Serve
Southern Asia-Pacific Division President Saw Samuel’s consecration message on Sabbath morning reminded the class of their chosen theme “called to serve, inspired to go”. He instilled the class with five principles on how to serve in God’s calling.
Samuel expounded on two keywords from the theme—serve and calling. “It is not about you. It is about God,” he says. “Be reminded that when it comes to serving God and his people, you have to keep in mind that life is not about finding yourself. It is about discovering who God created you to be.” The graduates were also reminded of the books of Timothy 1 and 2:
1 Timothy: Know your master. Know your mission. Know your moment. Know your ministry
2 Timothy: How Timothy could remain faithful as he was called to serve and inspired to go.
“Be sure that you are created by God with a plan for a specific purpose. Have the assurance that God has created and called you to make a difference. Having this assurance will enable you to discover more of yours and God each day. Wisdom and understanding you need on your journey and strength and faith and trust that you need from God”
How Far Would You Go?
In his commencement address on Sunday, Dr. Siroj Sorajakool, president of the Asia-Pacific International University in Thailand, gave a challenge to the graduates recognizing how far they would be willing to go after being granted the passion to pursue calling and the courage to go the distance.
“You realize nothing matters at all because you have fulfilled the calling that you have been called today. That you know you have gone the distance…,” encouraged Sorajakool. “God will grant you the passion to pursue your calling and that God will give you the courage to go the distance.”
A total of 94 graduates representing 39 countries were granted and conferred degrees. Twelve out of the 13 world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were represented along with students from the China field and Middle East and North Africa regions. The Seminary produced 50 graduates while the Graduate School had 44.
Despite experiencing a unique and challenging year, the Class of 2021 have persevered in their studies. They were honored to receive their degrees and be recognized virtually through the priceless support of their professors, families, friends, and sponsors. AIIAS prays for the new alumni who are now prepared and equipped for God’s service, wherever they are called to go.