Summer 2023 Update from IBC President Jason Koppen

July 1st marked 15 years of being employed by the Indian Bible College and on July 5th, I turned 50. As I look back at the last decade-and-a-half at IBC (and five decades on this earth), I am amazed at all God has done, and how much has changed. The old joke says that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. But a third certainty should also be mentioned: change!

Everything, but for the character of God, changes.

My oldest child now has her driver’s license. After 12 years of Sarah homeschooling the kids, they are now all registered for private Christian school next year; Sarah is both sad and elated. Sarah will be finishing her bachelor’s degree with the ultimate goal of completing a master’s! Last year’s fires and floods greatly revolutionized the landscape of our property, some of which we are just now able to manage.

Everything, but for the character of God, changes.

Martha Gushee and I worked on the IBC newsletter together for 14 years, but she is stepping back from some her responsibilities and transitioning to partial retirement. So I am now working with the new Director of Communications, Irish Noble. Clint Ross has been my “right hand” for 15 years; after a three-year transition to a new ministry, Clint is no longer on the staff. We are still working out how to accommodate for this transition.

Everything, but for the character of God, changes.

IBC has become transformational to its core, added ministry Core Values, undergone three campus expansions, achieved accreditation, survived a pandemic (without closing the campus), added entrepreneurial enterprises, and seen staff and faculty come and go.

Everything, but for the character of God, changes.

My interactions with many of you who receive this letter have made it clear that you are also facing the changes and transitions of life: aging (and the corresponding limitations), loss of loved ones (spouses, even), and changes to family dynamics are all challenging many of you.

Our Lord is a sure and stable foundation in times of transition and change. Psalm 90:2 declares “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

In this ever-changing world, may you be encouraged by these words from the conclusion to the senior thesis of Navajo graduating senior (and new staff member) Kelly Johnson (pictured above):

I have looked at the mountains and the valleys which He has used to transform me through the working of the Holy Spirit. As I worked my way through the valleys these past couple of months, I read a quote by C.S. Lewis in the beginning of the year which deeply resonated with me “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” At times, God didn’t make sense. I didn’t understand anything He was doing. But I knew and trusted He works all things together for good. (Rom. 8:28). I am filled with a spirit of humility and even somberness as my time at IBC, as a student, closes…but also hope! Hope for my people that they will know Jesus as a father, a healer and redeemer…hope for my family that they will one day fully know Him…a confidence that I am equipped to continue to reach others for Him…

IBC has just completed its 64th school year! What a blessing to have such longevity! The graduating class (pictured above) was one of the largest in several years. The work the Lord has done in each of these students’ lives is remarkable.

If you haven’t watched the commencement ceremony (and the powerful graduate testimonies which starts at 31:40), I encourage you to do so here.

As always, this school year was filled with victories and challenges. Here are a few of the major points—and some prayer requests to go with them:

  • A few staff and most of the students spent a week ministering on two reservations in South Dakota (picture from Pine Ridge above). This trip (called the Ministry Immersion Trip) is held every year at the end of March. Despite significant weather and vehicle challenges, the student body had an amazing 11 days of ministry and personal growth.
  • We were thrilled to have campus housing almost full again! COVID was really hard on IBC’s enrollment, and a full campus is a more effective campus. Would you pray that we could reach our recruitment goal of 15 new students in the fall?
  • Due to neighbors being unwilling to sell, we engaged in renting a nearby home to accommodate the student body growth. There are six homes adjacent to campus we hope to buy; would you pray with us for these homeowners to be willing to sell to us?
  • IBC staff were heartbroken to see three students leave in the Spring semester—all under unfortunate circumstances. Please pray with us for these precious people.
  • We praise God that IBC continues to add more quality staff and faculty. Our one glaring need is for an Academic Dean. I’ll be covering that role again (for the fourth time) this coming year. Please pray for the Lord to raise up a person to lead the academic department for years to come.
  • IBC only had two week-long work teams this summer, when we normally have 6-8! We are preparing for a recruiting campaign for more local volunteers. Please pray for the Lord to provide more local and out-of-town

  • Sarah and I spent the first two weeks of June in Israel with three Navajo students/staff (pictured above). What a blessing this time was—and we’re already making plans to go back next year! You can see a photo journal of the trip here. The reports from the other two trips (to Uganda and France) have also been very positive.
Jason & Sarah on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem at sunset

Over the years I’ve used this letter to introduce several staff who were beginning the support-raising process. Having a missionary-funded staff is one of the main ways we keep tuition costs low so students can graduate debt free. This year, we have FOUR staff beginning their support-raising process! You can use this link to read about these new staff members, and also donate to them, should the Lord lead you to do so. Thank you for prayerfully considering how Our Master would guide you.

The Koppen Family is incredibly grateful for all those who walk alongside us and IBC. Thank you for making an eternal difference for Native peoples!

Jason, Sarah, Abby, Lizzy, Angie, and David