Update 2- March 18th 2020
Dear Soul Edge Parents, Families and friends,
Thank you all for your prayer and words of encouragement over these last few days as we have been facing the rapid changes regarding international borders, flights and weighing the implications of these on the Soul Edge program.
Today, I called an emergency meeting with our Soul Edge directors, knowing that we would have to make some directional decisions quickly. Let me outline the outcome of that meeting and then explain the main reasons for the decisions that we have made.
It is with the greatest sadness that we have decided to officially end the Soul Edge program effective immediately, both for Canada and New Zealand. The primary reason being that because of the rapidly changing conditions of both flight availability and borders beginning to close, we cannot, with confidence, say that students would be able to get back home at the end of the course in June. Because of this, we feel that it would be wise to act now and take the opportunity for students to return home should they wish to do so.
In the last 48 hours, some critical developments have informed our decision as directors. We hoped to be able to continue with the mission for both teams, but Vanuatu has now closed its board to foreigners and the Pelican Narrows Chief and Band Council have asked us not to bring a team to them at this time. Soul Edge New Zealand, as most of you know, has the possibility to continue the local ministry. However, for Canada, we feel that not being able to go to Pelican Narrows means that we can not offer the level of mission experience that serves the team and those we minister to well.
Both Herbert, Canada and Christchurch NZ remain to be a good context for the students with limited chance to be exposed to the virus, but because of the quickly changing situation with international travel, we feel it is best to advise students to return home. Therefore, for both courses, we are finishing the official Soul Edge program immediately and are beginning debrief as we await flight finalization. At this point, we are not setting an exact date for students to depart as it is flight dependent, however we will be working with your son/daughter so that we can see students booked onto flights together.
(Specific information for teams released here).
I want to reassure everyone that if for some reason in the coming days students are not able to get flights home, we will ensure they are cared for and looked after until they are able to travel home.
In all the years of running Soul Edge this has been the most difficult leadership decision that we have had to make. It is disappointing to know that they are not able to have the full Soul Edge experience, but we know that these are unprecedented times. I am so thankful that the students have been able to receive the benefit of going through the whole training phase. They truly are an amazing bunch of you men and women who I am certain will live as world changers.
Please know that we consider it such a privilege and joy to have had this time with your Sons and Daughters. The next few days will be a time of grief for our leaders and the students. (There were many tears when we told them the decision.) I am thankful that I know Jesus will be near to them with his felt presence and that the days remain will be blessed with an incredible richness.
We look forward to being in contact with you all over these coming days as we sort out flight options.
May his peace and joy abound,
Josh Erb & The Soul Edge International Leadership Team