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Kuna Bible School Starts Classes
By Rod Boyd

Nineteen Kuna Indians gathered on May 19th and 20th for the first class of the Kuna Bible School on the island of Playon Chico in the San Blas Islands. Four different islands were represented in the group—Playon Chico, Nargana, Rio Tigre and Tulipe. Those from the other islands traveled as much as five hours by canoe in order to reach Playon Chico.

Kuna Bible School classThe new Bible school received approval from the national Bible school office in February. All nineteen students were required to complete two pre-institute courses before enrolling. The program is different from the other Panama Bible schools in that the students take one course each month instead of six at a time. The students receive their text and course orientation. They are required to meet in small groups on their individual islands eight times, 1-1/2 hours each session. Before arriving to each session they must read the assigned portion of their text and complete their assignments. The island facilitator, normally the pastor of the church, receives the homework and leads the small group session. At the end of the four weeks, the students gather together for 12 hours of lecture by the professor in a two-day intensive conference, where they turn-in their homework and take their tests at the end of each unit of study.

Kuna Bible School classCarlos Guardia, director of the new Bible school, is the only person who lives in the San Blas Islands region who is qualified to teach. Therefore, guest professors are invited to participate. Steve Alsup, missionary in Costa Rica and former missionary to Panama, taught the first course on Old Testament Survey. Steve is Sherry’s brother. Steve worked with Carlos for many years strengthening the Kuna work in the San Blas Islands. Carlos will be teaching in June. I will be teaching Bible Theology in July.
Steve and I left from Panama City Monday at 6 AM and arrived at Playon Chico at 6:45. After a time of fellowship, we convened class with a devotional at 10:30. It is difficult to express the atmosphere. I don’t think any of us could believe what was happening. It was too good to be true! By the end of the first day, after five hours of lecture and an early start to the day, everyone was exhausted. Yet, that evening we had a Bible school organizational meeting in the church with all of the students and many of the members of the congregation. Business was conducted; officers were elected. We had to maintain a balance between meeting the requirements of the national Bible school office and helping the Kuna feel that this Bible school was theirs. At the end of the meeting everyone left satisfied and excited.

The second day was longer yet—seven hours of class. At the end of the last test, we distributed the textbooks for the next course on prayer and worship. Carlos gave a brief introduction. Since I was there, I introduced the course they would be studying in July on Bible theology. That evening we had a special service. I had the privilege of preaching. Using Joshua’s experience I challenged the students and members of the congregation to recognize the call of God on their lives, to defeat the obstacles that stand in the way, to depend upon the resources that God has available and to be obedient in fulfilling His call. After an extended altar time, everyone left the service committed to following the call of God.

The next morning Steve and I returned to Panama City convinced that this is God’s time for the Kuna. Please pray for the Kuna Bible School. Pray specifically for the students. They are not accustomed to the formal training they are receiving. They are open to God’s call on their life, but many do not understand it. Our desire is that God would call many to establish new works on the other islands.