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Five Graduate from Kuna Bible School
By Rod Bod

Kuna graduatesIt was a dream come true! Five Kuna Indians received the pre-ministerial degree from the Kuna Bible School at a ceremony held on the Island of Nargana the first week of July. The General Council requires this degree for all licensed ministers. The Bible school opened in May 1997 and has offered one class each month during the school year, which runs from March through November. Each earned the required 54 credits for the degree and are now eligible to go on for their ministerial degree that qualifies them for ordination. Ten others received the pre-institute certificate. Trip to a nearby island for "pipa fria"

A special dinner was held for those attending the service, including 20 from the nearby island of Rio Tigre. The service had an impact on this community as many non-believers attending and heard the gospel. Others listened at the windows and doorways.

After the dinner we took four of the five graduates on a “graduation” trip to a nearby-uninhabited island—one of their favorite “picnic” spots. We harvested a few green coconuts called “pipa.” The rich liquid inside is a special treat.

Benigno and EnelisPastor Benigno Gonzalez and his wife Enelis were two of the five graduates. They pastor on the Island of Nargana. The community leaders or chiefs—called the “Sahila”—closed the Assembly of God church on the island almost one year ago as a result of a violation of Kuna tradition by a new believer in the church (see When Church Collides with Culture). The church has had to meet in small groups and hold services on the neighbor island “Corazon de Jesus” (Heart of Jesus), connected by a bridge.

Nargana "sahila"Our delegation was able to meet with the three Sahila from Nargana and two from Corazon both before and after the graduation service. All five leaders attended the ceremony and a special dinner following. We preached a clear salvation message and were able to explain once again that the church is a benefit to the community. They were very receptive and have promised to represent the church at the Kuna General Assembly that will begin on July 28th. All 48 Kuna villages will be represented at this meeting.

Please join us in praying for the Kuna Bible School. Pray for the five graduates as they continue their studies. The next level of the program is much more difficult and will require some travel to Panama City. Pray for the other 12 students in the pre-ministerial program. Pray for Pastor Benigno and the church on Nargana. Pray that the General Assembly meeting the end of this month will reopen the church on Nargana.