ISCF alive and kicking
(This is a statement issued by the Inter-Schools Christian Fellowship.)
The article appearing in The Gleaner of April 27, 2016 headlined 'ISCF is dying' does not represent the current state of the movement. We respect the perspectives and opinions expressed in the article, but present the facts that would have given a more accurate picture of the Inter-Schools Christian Fellowship (ISCF) in the schools today.
The ISCF is an inter-denominational Christian organisation that started in 1948. It is the secondary/high-school arm of Students Christian Fellowship and Scripture Union (SCFSU), which also includes the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, the tertiary arm of the movement.
It is a student-led, teacher/staff-facilitated movement with a strong focus on discipleship and leadership. The organisation currently has a presence in approximately 200 high and junior high school, as well as 25 universities and colleges across Jamaica. The vast majority of these groups are active. However, some are struggling, while a few are inactive.
ISCF groups meet weekly in the schools, where they participate in a range of activities that they plan, under the guidance of a staff adviser approved by the school's administration. The movement gives support to the local groups through its team of staff workers who provide training, mentorship of leaders, advice in programme planning, conduct Bible studies and coordination skills with other groups and national activities.
Members of the ISCF are encouraged to contribute to the life of the school by participating fully in programmes organised by the institution and serve in areas of leadership. In many schools, members of the ISCF are recognised for their leadership abilities and serve as head boys and head girls, as prefects and Student Council leaders. Many have gone on to become outstanding leaders in their professions and in the society.
The movement also has a full calendar of national activities aimed at strengthening fellowship among students, promoting Christian values, developing leaders and providing avenues of expressions for students. These include the Annual Student Rally, which earlier this year saw more than 600 students meeting for a day of fellowship, worship, discussion and competitions. It also includes an Annual Leadership Conference for high-school students, held in December each year, with participation from an average of 93 student leaders from across the island.
While the movement continues to make a positive impact on the lives of students in schools, we recognise that there is much more work to be done. But - like most such organisations - the ISCF is severely constrained by resource challenges that limit our ability to recruit and deploy the number of staff needed to support and grow the work. In fact, the increased workloads of teachers make it difficult for many who would want to serve as staff advisers to do so effectively.
As a ministry to students, the ISCF operates in a complex and dynamic environment. Today's students function in a demanding and competitive environment that provides little space for spiritual and moral engagement. They are bombarded with messages and influences that are counter to the values promoted by Christianity and many have serious personal struggles, made more difficult by the breakdown in values and morality in the wider society.
The ISCF is one of the entities helping them to deal with some of the challenges that they face and to develop sound values and positive life skills in a peer-to-peer environment.
The movement acknowledges with gratitude the contribution of the hundreds of volunteers who serve on committees, as staff advisers, mentors, financial contributors, as well as the many who pray for the students and support the ministry in a variety of ways. The ISCF continues to benefit from the support of its partners in ministry, especially churches and other para-church organisations.
It is a movement that is courageously facing the challenges of seeking to effectively reach and develop students with sound character and strong Christian values in a difficult and sometimes hostile environment. ISCF continues to make progress in this endeavour and is appealing to those who have benefited from its work, and those who share in its mission, to partner with the movement to ensure its continued growth and viability.
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