One of my colleagues at BTI started out his professional life as a farmer. Another ran a sign-writing business. A third, worked for the Prime Minister. I pumped petrol to pay my way through university and then worked in the tax department after I graduated. Others in the BTI team have, at one time or another, worked in museums, hospices, schools; in private practice, for District Health Boards, and wananga; as pastors, teachers, and clinical psychologists. They or their parents come from Wales, China, Japan, America, England, Australia, Samoa, Malaysia. Several are tangata whenua. We all have our stories.
And we share a common story, too. We all work for BTI and, each in our own way, help transform the lives of Aotearoa New Zealand’s future social workers, counsellors, and teachers.
BTI will end this year in good heart. Decisions made by many wise people over the last three decades set us up well to navigate our way through this Covid-19 year. We have always delivered distance education well and we did so especially in 2020. We knew we had good people and this year we saw that, together, they make a great team. We taught over 400 students, by Zoom, mostly, but also through practicums and placements, conversation and prayer, persistence and courage.
Of course, it has been a year with unparalleled challenges. Working from home was okay for some but for lots of others – those with small children, elderly parents, who lived alone, who were prone to anxiety, who thrived on connecting with people in person – it was pretty unbearable. For our students, practicums and block courses were disrupted not just once, but twice by lockdowns. Our graduands missed being capped as we cancelled not just once, but twice, our 2020 graduation ceremonies. We felt their sorrow and carried it ourselves.
What also unites the BTI team’s story is that we all follow Jesus. Some met Jesus fifty years ago and others only recently. And there’s no way – no way! – we could have done it without the gracious hand of God upon us. We made it. We got through it all. We are older, tireder, greyer. We don’t know what 2021 will bring. We hope for better things. We pray for healing for the world. We look forward to the new beginnings that come with a new year. And we will continue to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. Because we know that He is the Way – yes way! – and so we will walk in it. Please join us.
And may you know, as we do, the joy of this season – Christ moving into the neighbourhood – and the promise it brings and the path where it leads: there, on the cross, where he was crushed with our iniquities and there, at the rolled away stone, where Christ triumphs over the grave, vanquishes the last enemy, is risen indeed, and makes all things new.
Ngā mihi nui,
Dr Andrew Butcher, CEO and Dean