Our Guatemalan Board of Directors for the churches had a meeting in June. One of the points that we discussed was how to find a more workable way to make our Bible Institute function better. We have not had any students for a couple of years. Our schedule in the past was every Saturday for 10 months out of the year and there was 3 years of study; so it was a very strong commitment on the part of the students. Even though costs were minimal; only covering fees for books and photocopies, they still had their transportation costs to come back and forth every week. Most of the people in the mountain villages have the need to go work in other areas to earn cash money. The big season that people leave to work is during coffee harvest, which is from December to March. For most, this is the only way that they have cash money in hand. Other than that, they survive off of the crops that they plant.
A Bible training center is very important. It is the way to prepare future pastors and to keep us able to open up new areas and develop more churches. We had a long talk about our options. Many missions do a week of intensive training every 3 months, as a live in time of studying. We did the calculations and found that 4 weeks per year with 40 hours of study (8 hours a day Monday through Friday) give the same amount of hours as coming every Saturday for half a day for 10 months. Besides their 8 hours of study, they will have time to interact with the teachers and other students outside of the classroom. We have lots of beds at the ministry center. We would have to cover the cost of their food but could keep that minimal and encourage the church that the student is coming out of to help support them plus cover some of it through the church missions.
This type of schedule would be intense but could be very workable for a number of reasons. It would allow the students to be able to leave for periods to work, to support their families, especially those who are married with children. It would allow us to have a visiting speaker come in from either Guatemala or the US and pour into the students for a short timeframe of one week. The students would still have books to read and some assignments to complete in-between their week training periods.
We are going to bring this up at the next monthly pastors’ meeting and try to get the pastors to motivate people in their congregations that have potential leadership capabilities and a heart to be involved in ministry. We hope to be able to start this schedule in January. I have 3-4 North Americans who have expressed interest to come down and participate in providing these classes. Pray for the Lord to touch the hearts of the students that He wants to be involved in preparing to work in fulltime ministry.