One hundred and fifty-one members of the 104th graduating class of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies were conferred their respective degrees in business, education, public health, and religion on March 6-8, 2020.

Faith is not in man. Faith is in God.

During the commencement service on Sunday, Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Director of Education for the Seventh-day Adventist world church challenged the graduates to commit everything to God—their hopes, passions, and plans—in faith.

“When you get down the road and you face difficulty, remember to turn to God. He will not disappoint. Draw on what you have learned and gained here at AIIAS… You need to do your part as you leave here to be punctual, be professional, to give your best effort,” urged Beardsley-Hardy.

Relating the story of an early challenge to her faith, Beardsley-Hardy encouraged the graduates not to give up and give in to challenges, disappointments, and problems but to keep their eyes fixed on God.

Changing the world by changing people

The consecration service on Friday evening focused on urging the graduates to allow God to readjust their vision as they become missionaries, visionaries, and revolutionaries for God’s kingdom. The address focused on the story of Ferdinand and Ana Stahl, early Seventh-day Adventist missionaries who not only shared the gospel but took practical social action to help people in their mission field to find justice for their plight and attain better, healthier, lives.

“Please remember that the world needs visionaries. Tonight, you are called to readjust your vision, use and adapt your knowledge and your skills in order to meet the needs of the people you are called to serve. Aim high and dream big. Follow in the master’s footsteps as you build hospitals and bring healing as you open churches and make disciples, as you organize schools and offer education” said Alina Dumitrescu, director of the English Center at AIIAS.

“Remember that the world needs revolutionaries. You are called to speak for those without a voice. You are called to stand up for the disenfranchised and for the oppressed. You are called to help people to rediscover their dignity and honor, and you are called to change the world by changing people.” said Cristian Dumitrescu, professor of intercultural studies, mission, and research at the AIIAS Seminary.

The graduates responded by dedicating and consecrating their lives, talents, resources and influence to the hands of God by laying symbolic items of their abilities at the foot of a wooden cross.

Leaders as servants and stewards

The baccalaureate service speaker, Francisco Gayoba, former AIIAS faculty member and President of the Adventist University of the Philippines in Silang, Cavite connected his message to the motto of the graduating class: “Purposed for excellence, ready for service”. He appealed to the graduates to go with faith in Christian service, excellence, and obedience to God’s purposes.

“Leadership and service are not about ourselves. It’s about the God who called you and gave you gifts. There is no place in Christian service for a sense of being self-sufficient—that I am what I am, I will be what I will be because of who I am and what I have worked for. For a Christian and in Christian service, there’s always that consciousness that we are merely recipients and stewards of the opportunities to which God has called us.” said Gayoba.

He challenged the graduates by saying, “Leaders lead, but they do this by knowing that they are leading on others’ behalf. Leaders, no matter their title, are servants, plain and simple. AIIAS trained you to be servants, whatever your position will be.”

AIIAS alumni grow yet again

AIIAS warmly congratulates the graduates for their success in completing another achievement in their academic journey.

“If you travel the world and interact with Seventh-day Adventist communities, you will become aware of an impressive list of notable people who have graduated from AIIAS. I am certain that many of this year’s graduates will also fulfill the mission by taking up leadership in service for God,” said President Ginger Ketting-Weller in her welcome remarks.

Likewise, the graduates were welcomed to the growing number of more than 3,500 alumni of the institution.

“From now on you will be members of a community of proud alumni. This is both a privilege and a responsibility,” stated Bruce Sumendap, administrator for public relations at AIIAS. “As you look back at your experience at AIIAS, please do so with gratitude and with a realization that you can make a difference by your God-given potentials. Stay engaged, stay connected to one another and to your alma mater, no matter where you are in the world,” he continued.

Out of 151 graduates, 96 were candidates from the seminary and 55 candidates were from the graduate school. The graduates came from 37 countries, representing all 13 world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of the 151 graduates, 76 graduated from the home campus programs, 68 from the distance learning center programs, and seven from AIIAS Online.

AIIAS is a graduate-level institution that offers master’s and doctorate degrees in four main areas: Business, Education, Public Health, and Religion. It is operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters.

By: Sharnie Love Zamora

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