GRADUATION

A few weeks ago, my family and I celebrated my graduation (2nd time) from Fuller Seminary, this time with a Doctor of Ministry degree I’ve been working on for 8 years.  It represents the end of a long academic journey full of many sleepless nights and a lot of hard work. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to be challenged, broadened, deepened, and sharpened through the experience.

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Joy, this is your day too!  You sacrificed so much in these 8 years of me studying on top of work.  I traveled for courses, research, and writing retreats and always had projects hanging over my head. This always meant more responsibility for you.  Thanks for making this possible with all your hard work and sacrifice!  In this photo, the stole I am wearing is Kente fabric from Ghana to delight my Ghanaian colleagues at IJM. Kente is the central metaphor for the Bible that I used in my doctoral project: The Justice Thread

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Fuller graduated over 600 students amid various programs with almost 4,000 people in attendance. It was fun to see each professor wearing the academic regalia from their alma matter.  Such a wonderous variety!

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I had the great honor and priveledge to be one of four student speakers at commencement, each of us interviewed as we received our diplomas. The four of us are pictured here with Mark and Janet Labberton. Mark is the President of Fuller Seminary and was my content reader (Academic supervisor/mentor) for my doctoral work and has a passion for biblical justice and has written some great books you should read such as “The Dangerous Act of Worship.”

You can watch my reflections in the video below…

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My son Peter giving me some love.

A brief slideshow from the commencement ceremony…

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The day before the commencement (which was for all programs in the entire seminary) was a much smaller “hooding ceremony” for Doctor of Ministry graduates.  I’ve included some photos from that below…

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The big moment: receiving my doctoral hood! I was touched that Mark Labberton (who was my content reader/supervisor) made it to the ceremony to put on my hood. He is the reason I was able to continue my DMin from Ghana. I am so grateful for his positive influence in my life.

It was so great to have a cheering section at the ceremony, just like they cheer me on in life.  My sisters and their families, my parents, and Joy’s Mom and sister all made it.  For my older sister, it was a long trek down from Sacramento.  Thanks everyone for coming!

 

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End of Financial Support

My dear supporters,

We have come to the end of our time of receiving mission support. I never thought I’d say this, but please don’t send UCC any more checks on our behalf!  UCC has graciously given us these months of transition support since we moved back from Ghana so that we can rest, debrief, re-acclimate to American life, finish my Doctor of Ministry at Fuller (hurray!), and interview with churches as I seek my next call. That transition period is drawing to a close.  Our last support check from UCC will cover July and there is already enough funds in the account to cover that.  Any further checks the church will receive will be used for UCC’s general fund, not for our support, so no trying to slip one more through!  🙂  While I have not yet accepted a new job, I have received several offers and I hope it will not be too much longer until God makes it clear where I am to serve next.

You have been so incredibly faithful in your giving these past two and a half years! Your generosity and partnership have made everything we have done possible!  THANK YOU!!!  I cannot tell you enough how much this has meant to us.

At the end of this road I remember with profound gratitude the first time I withdrew money in Ghana. I had just flown my wife, 3 young kids, and a dog to a country in West Africa I had never been to start a new life and ministry.  Everything was foreign to me, and a bit scary. I had all kinds of trouble getting my ATM card to work and so was having to borrow cash from a colleague to feed my family and pay taxis.  I just kept praying and fretting and feeling that I was “way out on a limb here.”  The first time my ATM card actually worked and Ghanaian Cedis came out of the machine, I cried. I just stood there and wept.

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As I wept, God drew to my mind your faces, the faces of people who gave their own money in the U.S. to join me in this work. You are the ones that put those Cedis into that ATM machine for me, so to speak. I still get teary when I think about it. I had felt so alone, with so much responsibility on my shoulders to make life work there for my family while I serve with IJM in Ghana, and then the Cedis popped out of the machine and it just proved to me that I wasn’t alone.  You were with me.  You were also with me in your prayers, your blog comments, your emails and questions.  Thank you.  Thank you so much. Thank you for believing with me in the mission of IJM, in the value of the children enslaved on Lake Volta, in a God who cares and rescues, and in the potential of our family to make a difference.  Thank you.  Thank you for continuing with me these past two and half years!

Now stop giving!

Or, if you want to keep giving, give in a different way!  You can give directly to IJM by becoming a freedom partner: https://www.ijm.org/give/freedom-partner.  If you do, I’d love to hear about it!

You can give to another missionary or ministry at your local church.

A third option: We also want to let you know of another opportunity to continue to be involved in the work in Ghana through us. Over our two years in Ghana, we developed relationships with multiple aftercare shelters (with IJM clients), a literacy center for impoverished children (where Joy volunteered), a ministry to street kids around our city (Accra). We know the people who run these ministries very well and we are keenly aware of glaring needs they each have.

We are setting up a fund under the umbrella of Aslan Child Rescue Ministries (www.aslanchildrescue.org), run by a friend named John Ramey, that can be used to help with critical needs in these ministries to Ghanaian children in need. All admin costs are donated by the Board of Directors, so 100% of donations goes straight to projects serving children in need. You’ll receive a tax deduction receipt at the end of the year.  We will continue to send updates about how these funds are used to make a difference in children’s lives. If you would like more information about this, please let us know.  You can give online by clicking here.  You can also mail checks to Aslan Child Rescue Ministries, 1110 Rudger Way, Sacramento, CA 95833 (with “Ghana” in the memo line).

Thank you once again for sticking with us in the long haul of this work God in Ghana!

Matt Robbins