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LACC

Latin America Resource
and Training Center
 

2005 Bible School Graduation Report
By Rod and Sherry Boyd

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses

entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others
.”  

—2 Timothy 2:1-2

2005 Bible School GraduationsThere is no event that better typifies our call to “raise up Christian leaders” than the Bible school graduations that we participate in each year.  Graduation represents an important stage in “qualifying” ministers of the gospel.  We spend a minimum of 1,600 hours equipping these choice servants. It is an investment—“entrusting” to reliable men what Paul describes as the treasure of ministering the gospel of Christ. The Bible schools are the fountain of ministry in Panama.  There are now more than 1,500 credentialed ministers. In order to receive the two higher credentials—license to preach and ordination—recipients must be Bible school graduates.

2005 Bible School GraduationsThe 2005 Bible School Graduation Tour was especially meaningful. There were four year-end graduations held throughout the country, in Panama City, Chitre, David and Puerto Armuelles. A total of 84 graduated with a two-year or four-year degree. Six graduated with a 5th year advanced degree. There will be at least two additional graduations at the beginning of next year where several more will graduate.  We have a total of 500 students attending 11 Bible School and extensions. In addition, classes are held in 12 annex locations—usually local churches in remote areas or in the outskirts of the city. And all of these schools in a country that half the size of Washington State in both land area and population.

2005 Bible School GraduationsOne especially rewarding experience was to see Ernesto Bissett graduate. Ernesto is the janitor for the Central Bible School and for our Resource and Advisory Center. We have watched Ernesto's ministry develop in his church. And now he's graduated with an advanced degree! Another thing: Ernesto is quite tall... and I'm not. See if you can pick him in the photo to the right.

We were privileged to have Howard and Margie Cummings as our special speakers. The Cummings left their pastorate of 28 years at Aurora First Assembly of God (Colorado) a few years ago to work full time in Global Mandate, a ministry dedicated to serve missionaries and missions. Pastor Cummings challenged the graduates to remember the motive of their call to ministry, to remember the message that they preach and to remember that God will never forget his messengers.  His humor and stories were a hit. I shall miss not being able to interpret for him.

2005 Bible School GraduationsMinistry is not easy in Panama. The vast majority of pastors must work a secular job to support their family.  Discouragement is commonplace. Pastor Cummings’ message will serve as an anchor point for years to come! Pastor Cummings was able to participate in giving out diplomas and “turning tassels.”  After the ceremony the authorities laid hands on the graduates and prayed for each one.  Then family members came to congratulate the graduates, often bringing them flowers or a gift… a small reward for a huge commitment of time and energy.

Bible school in Panama is very different from what our young people experience in the United States. There are three main differences.

  • First, we have almost no dorm facilities. The vast majority attend classes in the evening or Saturdays.  This is because nearly all work to support themselves.

  • The second main difference is age; the average age of our students is around 35! These are seasoned men and women, even some seniors, who sense the call of God on their lives.

  • 2005 Bible School GraduationsA third difference is that education is decentralized. We have to make education accessible to all areas of the country.  Students cannot afford to move their families to attend a regional school.  We must take the school to them.

Please pray for these graduates! Pray that they would be obedient to the call of God on their lives. Pray that the Lord would provide for their families so that they can be effective in their ministry. Please pray for us as we provide assistance to not only Panama’s Bible schools, but to more than 900 in the 20 Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Join us as we raise up Christian leaders in Panama and beyond!

2005 Bible School Graduations