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World Bible Institute is under the direction of the eldership of the McDonough church of Christ in McDonough, Georgia.
Overview of World Bible Institute Retreat
It has been said that if you want to get something done, give the job to a busy person. If that sounds somewhat ironic, experience still proves it to be true. Busy people are accustomed to dates and deadlines and working overtime to stay on-top of things. One more chore just seems to blend right in with their other jobs and gets processed generally in a timely and methodical manner. Who is this person? You guessed it right—a woman. Her name is Janet Wilson and she is not only the McDonough church secretary but she is now also the bursar for WBI.
Janet became the new bursar right before the WBI retreat during the last weekend of August. Coordinating her efforts with President David Hamrick, Janet made all of the arrangements for the lodging, feeding, and other logistics for the visitors and participants of the WBI retreat at Stone Mountain, Georgia. I am certain that all of the WBI staff and the others who visited are very appreciative of all of the hard work Janet did in making our stay such an enjoyable one.
At the heart of all of this preparation was the opportunity afforded for all of the WBI staff to report on our particular efforts to the McDonough congregation, the elders, and to one another. The ancient church in Antioch set this precedent upon the conclusion of Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey, as recorded by Luke, in Acts 14:27: “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” Every healthy and growing endeavor requires information and communication. There needs to be some think-time or brainstorming as well.
Packing a lot in one Saturday, each of the WBI staff members were able to report about his particular area of work. As the founder and original director of WBI as well as the preacher and one of the elders of the McDonough church, J. J. Turner encouraged everyone to continue in our one primary focus – to reach the lost through training faithful men to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).
David Hamrick organized the schedule of speakers and gave each of the staff members only about 20 minutes—not enough time for men who are also preachers! Needless to say, there was very little “free” time after the last report. We all agreed that we probably need more time at next year’s retreat to give our reports but also to include more time for discussion. Nevertheless, we were all able to accomplish much with the time we were given.
Pat McIntosh, academic dean and head of graduate studies as well as the on-line program gave us an update on the state of those currently studying at WBI. He also gave a brief report of the WBI extension in Cape Town, South Africa. For a fraction of the cost of attending one of our brotherhood institutions, a person can pursue an associate’s (60 hours – 20 courses), bachelor’s (120 hours – 40 courses), or master’s (36 hours – 10 courses + practicum) degree in biblical studies on-line at WBI. For preachers who are limited in funds and do not live close to a Bible college or preacher-training school, the WBI on-line program is a great way to pursue their dream of a Bible education.
In the absence of our Far East coordinator, Edwin Bacani who was unable to attend due to health reasons, I gave a report on the second graduation of the Restoration Bible College and the school’s current efforts in Baguio City, Philippines. In addition, I also explained the purpose of a brief trip to Hong Kong and the potential of beginning a new extension program in that city. Following me, a report was given concerning technology and marketing by Justin Imel. The importance of staying on the cutting edge of technology in communicating WBI’s works will be a continuing challenge as the world pushes in this direction. Plans for updates in our web page, publication efforts, social media, and other means of information are being pursued.
To further help us in this area, David Hamrick presented a professional grade twelve-minute video in an effort to promote the work of WBI. Plans are to mass-produce this video and place it in the hands of elders and interested Christians to inform the Lord’s church across our land of the efforts and great success of the WBI extension program.
After a lunch break everyone reconvened for the afternoon session beginning with an encouragement from J. J. Turner concerning the WBI Press. The need for biblically-sound, easy-to-read, and practical Bible lesson material is a great need in the Lord’s church today. This is another area of service WBI can provide for our brotherhood. Several staff members are already involved in writing for this publication.
After brother Turner’s presentation, I gave an overview of the efforts of the WBI extension program with highlights on the newer extensions in the Philippines, Ukraine and Costa Rica. Our greatest need in some of these extensions is in the form of men who are willing to serve as coordinators. Coordinators are a great assistance in helping WBI oversee and stay informed about what is happening in each of the extension schools.
Following my presentation, Don Wilson—Janet’s husband and our coordinator for two extension schools in the Micronesian islands in the Pacific gave a presentation of those works. Don works as a mechanic for Delta Airlines in Atlanta and is a seasoned traveler having made several trips to the Pacific region and other places around the world. He has worked with Scott Shanahan, the director of the Micronesian schools on the islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae. Scott and his family have recently left Micronesia and are now serving as missionaries in Ireland. In his place, Wayne and Kristi Parker have moved to the islands to resume that work.
Our newest staff member to WBI—Rafael Barrantes accompanied by his wife Katia, gave a presentation on the new extension planned to open in Coronado, Costa Rica in January of 2018. Planning to serve as the new director, Rafael had just returned from a month’s visit to Costa Rica to make preparations and recruit students for the new preacher training program. Beginning locally at first, our prayers are that the Costa Rica Bible Institute (CRBI) will serve as a sound preacher training school eventually serving all of Central America and beyond. Currently, Rafael is searching for congregations and individual Christians who are willing to contribute financially to help this extension school begin by January’s start date. Monthly commitments or one-time amounts are currently needed. If you can help make arrangements for brother Rafael to come and tell more about this new extension, please call or text him at (731) 267-3287 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following Rafael’s report, Janet gave a brief financial update on her new added role as WBI bursar. Good documentation and keeping receipts will continue to be stressed to keep WBI’s financial side shipshape. Immediately after Janet’s update, Roland Cumbee gave a report of the stateside extension program particularly in Augusta, Georgia where he has served to train men for over ten years. Besides J. J. Turner, brother Roland is the most senior member of WBI. The stateside program is a 10-course short-term week-end program designed to benefit interested individuals in local congregations with biblical courses. These hours of credit may be applied to pursue further studies at WBI.
Although not a stranger to WBI, Gage Coldwater was invited to attend the WBI retreat to explain his work with The Manna Project, “a mission work…to feed the world both spiritually and physically.” Gage has already greatly assisted some of our African extensions. “One of the main goals of the Manna Project is to train preachers in developing countries to be self-supporting through improved agriculture” (The Manna Project, a tract provided by the Vidor Church of Christ, Vidor, TX). Gage’s keen knowledge and contagious enthusiasm gave us all new ideas and great motivation to help boost the extension program. Although our goal of missions is to create self-supporting, self-ruling, and self-propagating schools, I am personally excited about how his methods can eventually help raise our extension schools to a much higher level of self-sufficiency. We not only teach men how to “fish for souls” but we can also help teach them how to farm more efficiently for their family’s survival. We are anticipating many good things for the future from Gage’s help.
Near the end David Hamrick gave an overview of the entire WBI program and recognized each person’s contribution to the success of this good work. David’s leadership is to be commended as he is continuing to grow the WBI program from the ground-up. Invited also to the WBI retreat were Al and Tamsie Earls. Professionally, Al is the Assistant District Attorney for the Madison County Court system, and Tamsie is a teacher at Jackson Christian School. Al is a keen Bible student and excellent Bible teacher. Both of them have been active in missions and an encourager of many local church works. We were all happy to have them with us as they consider how they might assist WBI.
Finally, Roosevelt Harris and J. J. Turner, McDonough’s elders spoke words of wisdom and encouragement to all who attended the retreat. The McDonough congregation is one hundred percent behind the efforts of WBI. Not only did the congregation host and finance the WBI retreat, they are also solid supporters of the entire program on a regular basis.
In the following Sunday morning Bible class hour, David Hamrick and I were asked to give the congregation an updated report highlighting some of the events of WBI. Both David and I spoke primarily about the extension program particularly some of the newer schools as well as the newer efforts to promote the program to reach a wider audience of potential supporters. It is normally not difficult to enlist new supporters once they understand the scope of influence and effectiveness the extension schools have in the training of preachers and the subsequent salvation of many lost souls. Following the Bible class period, the church engaged in New Testament worship with Pat McIntosh delivering the lesson for the hour.
God made a very big world. At WBI, we know that we are only a few out of the body of Christ universally who have been given the challenge to take the good news to the world – for the gospel is for ALL! If you want to leverage your own effectiveness in world evangelism, we need you. If you are already supporting this work, may God bless you! Remember this: “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10). Thank you for supporting World Bible Institute. Together we are making a difference in the world.—Howell Ferguson
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Togo Bible College Hosts First Graduation
On Saturday, September 23rd the Togo Bible College graduated four students. The ceremony was very well attended. The facility was not big enough for the large number of people that showed up to express their support of the Bible College and her graduates. These four men have completed two years of study and are now equipped to give the rest of their life to the ministry of Christ. All four are now working full time with congregations in Togo.
In addition to the good news of graduation is the enrollment of 20 new preacher students. There are very few churches of Christ in the entire country of Togo. However, 29% claim to be Christian while 20% are Muslim. It is a small but growing country of less than 8 million people. Therefore, training 20 new preachers will have a major impact on the southern region of that small country.
Future plans include another preacher school centrally located in Atakpame. Research is being done to determine the cost of farm land in central Togo. Our plan is to establish production from a farm project before starting the school. This will enable us to have a school that is self-supported from the beginning. How can you help? We need funding to purchase land and establish a farm. There is a great market for Palm nut in Togo.
Together We Are Making a Difference!
Volta Bible College
I recently returned from teaching in the Volta Bible College in Ghana. It was a very productive trip. There were a number of reasons for my visit. The college was having its third graduation ceremony, hosting a lectureship and starting a Graduate Program. I came to establish that Graduate School and was blest to teach the first course; Introduction to Graduate Studies. Those students will earn their MBS degree. This will not only increase their Bible knowledge but will also qualify more men to become instructors in the College. We started with 12 students. I also hired a sister in Christ to serve as our librarian there. Her name is Godsway. She is the daughter of Sem Akumia our school Director. I taught her how to organize the library using the Dewey Decimal system. While she has a lot of work to do, it is best to start now while the library is small with only about 800 volumes. Thousands of books are being prepared for shipping in a few short months.
While I was teaching in the Bible College, Ben Fulks and some brethren from East Texas were conducting a campaign working with some of our students and teachers. They were able to baptize over 250 souls in just one week. God is good and the people of Ghana are eager to learn about Him.
Unfortunately, my trip was cut short as my daughter (Bailey) had to have emergency surgery. I immediately started my journey home upon hearing the news. She is home and recovering fine now. As a result, I missed speaking at the lectureship and graduation. However, I was able to finish teaching the Graduate course.
I was told that the lectureship was a success and the number of attendees for the graduation ceremony was over 500. The work in Ghana is going very well and the Volta Bible College is a big part of that. Thanks to brethren like you, who generously support our work, the church of Christ is now the fastest growing religious group in Ghana. God bless you for your help.—David Hamrick
Stateside Extension School Update
World Bible Institute Extension located in Augusta Georgia has been in existence for over seven years, and is serving the Central Savannah River (CSRA) communities, and especially Churches of Christ. The school is housed in the church of Christ facilities located at 1002 D’Antignac Street in August Georgia. There are approximately twenty congregations of the church of Christ in an eighty-mile radius, out of that number the school presently have students that are representing six of them. Since the inception of the school, God has blessed the local work with two students who were not members of the Body of Christ upon enrolling in WBI, to become members of the church a month or more after enrolling. Both are still active and faithful students in the word. In 2014 nine students were awarded their certificate and Associate Degree.
World Bible Institute is looking for congregations that are interested in providing a higher Bible based learning for members and their community. To set-up a school, contact the coordinator of Stateside Schools, Roland Cumbee, DCM at email@example.com, to discuss bringing a school into your area.
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Thank you for all you do and all you mean to the cause of Christ!