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Training Brazilians for Ministry

Maranatha Bible School or SIBIMA

      (Seminário e Instituto Bíblico Maranata) 

has completely restructured the curriculum and courses offered to prepare men and women for ministry both in Brazil and beyond her borders. This new curriculum was launched in February 2011.  The old curriculum courses will still be offered through 2012 to facilitate graduation of those students who were nearing completion under the old curriculum.  We're looking to a break from teaching the first semester of 2013 in order to return to the US for a short furlough.

 A basic two-year course in Bible and theology can be studied on its own, but is also be the base of the 4 year Bachelors degree with four different emphases: Theological Education, Pastoral Ministry, Missiology, Biblical Exegesis. For the first time, starting in March 2011, SIBIMA has been offering a Post Graduate course in Biblical Theology, taught in three-day modules once each month for 18 months. A number of our own as well as some visiting professors, all with Master's or Doctorate degrees, will be involved in teaching this course.

SIBIMA also offers a number of courses for the edification of believers in our local churches:

  1. CALEB - One year of training for teachers or supervisors of Christian Education programs.
  2. Discipleship School - Dedicating just one night a week for 5 years, those not interested in a full course can survey theology, Bible books, and practical courses.
  3. Worship Team Training - Give your Saturday mornings for two years to get a certificate in Sacred Music for anyone on a church worship team. Music lessons in a variety of instruments are also offered during the week.
  4. Christ on the Campus - The last week of January each year is a concentrated course to strengthen believers in their faith and apologetics so they can be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within them on the secular college and university campus.  Jerry teaches Christian Ethics in this preparatory course.
  5. Biblical Counseling - Once a year in the second semester, pastors and Christian leaders have the opportunity to take one of four tracks in preparation of how to apply the Scriptures to life problems. This week-long module invites professors approved by the Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors which is in association with the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) in the US.  Since the first course in February of 2010, Lynda has been heavily involved in the planning for this course.  Since we will be in the US during the time of planning for the 2013 course, we need someone to take over her role.
SIBIMA  has been working in conjunction with Horizon International University to prepare the professors in Moodle enabling the school to offer distance education in the near future.  This will expand SIBIMA's to students in the interior or in other states all over Brazil.  There is only one other Bible school, one down in SP, on a par with SIBIMA in this field here in Brazil.

History

SIBIMA was started by missionaries of the Gospel Missionary Union (now known as Avante Ministries). They recognized that a Bible training school would help further the gospel ministry in Brazil's Northeast corner. In 1985, the Brazil Gospel Fellowship joined forces with the Bible School, thus providing enough teachers to begin granting a Bachelors degree.

Besides the base established with the two groups represented by the founding mission boards, several new men in leadership have come from Regular Baptist backgrounds and training institutions, thus broadening the co-operation in this venture of serious Biblical training for ministry. There are several other church movements which are also sending their young people to SIBIMA for training. It is very encouraging to see all these groups who take seriously the biblical and theological preparation necessary to adequately minister the Word.

Since 2004, SIBIMA's faculty has been made up of mostly Brazilian men and women. In 2006, the directorship of the school was handed over to Brazilian leaders that had been involved in its leadership and teaching for a number of years. Pastor Jenuan became the director and the school became completely indigenous as far as leadership and support. He has been suceeded by two other directors, the current director being Pr. João Alves, who was the Chairman of the Directory Board for a number of years before assuming this role. Though the first years were difficult financially, God has blessed and enabled the school to come through the fires of testing --- literally!

In the early morning of Dec. 24, 2007, fire broke out in downtown Fortaleza, in the building next to SIBIMA. As the day wore on, the consequences of that fire would change history for SIBIMA. The leadership had been talking of moving out of downtown for a number of years, so NOW God was propeling the school out of the center of town, as our building was condemned and had to be sold. The Faith Regular Baptist Church in town offered their buildings for the 2008 school year, but enrollment went down greatly, partially due to a more obscure location.

In late 2008, God graciously allowed the school to purchase a used building in a commercial and bank district in a central location of our huge metropolis. Our new location was much more visible, next door to the Child Evangelism headquarters and just a block from a major bus terminal to become a metro train/bus hub when the metro is finished, and along the side wall of a huge new shopping mall to be finished by 2014. Again God was gracious and allowed us to complete the remodel of the building enough that we could begin the 2009 school year just a month late.

The 2009 school year brought another challenge and change. Pastor Jenuan had resigned as director at the end of the 2008 school year. Pastor Adil, who had served as Dean of Students and taught a number of classes, agreed to take on the leadership of the school in a temporary status, alongside his main responsibility of pastoring a Regular Baptist Church.

In June of 2009, SIBIMA celebrated God's goodness over her 60 years of existence with special meetings. George and Ann Hicks of Avante, who have been involved in the school much of that time were honored with a special plaque for their dedicated and sacrificial service filling many different roles over the years.

God has continued to show His gracious provision for this school in many ways. He moved many individuals and churches to contribute so that the upstairs classrooms could be finished, to finish off a beautiful reception area, to enclose and air condition a small auditorium (occupancy 100) along one side of the building. God has provided several groups that rent a portion of our facilities at times when we aren't using them. These enabled us to finishing the 2010 school year with all bills paid, even though a number of students are still owing on their accounts.  The following year was a bit tougher, what with the loss of these rental incomes.  Now in 2012, we have prepared two rental storefronts on the front of our building, as well as a paid parking lot behind to help defray costs. Teachers and staff were moved to a volunteer basis second semester of 2011, to help get the finances back into the black.

As we look down the road into the future, we're sure that there will continue to be challenges, but right along with them will be the blessings that God promises for His people who are dedicated to His purposes and to furthering His kingdom. Certainly, this is SIBMA's main goal as each year our enrollment increases with new students coming to prepare themselves for some dimension of ministry in God's harvest field.  The new year of 2012 brought 50 new students and a total of just under 130 in all our courses.

Jerry and Lynda have had a relationship with SIBIMA since their daughter, Rachael, took a couple of classes there while still in high school at Fortaleza Academy. In 2002, Jerry was invited to teach in the area of Old Testament. Their move to Fortaleza also allowed Luke to live at home for his last two years of high school rather than board out while he also studied at the Academy.

Since coming to SIBIMA, Jerry has taught Introduction to the Old Testament, Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, Christian Ethics, Greek, Hebrew, and Theology of Missions, as well as filling in as librarian while the regular librarian was on furlough. In 2006, Jerry began teaching in the new missions major, with Lynda's help for some of the classes: Intro. to Missions, Missionary Life, Cross-cultural Evangelism and Discipleship. He has also more recently had opportunity to teach Biblical Theology in the post-graduate course as well as some theology and biblical analysis classes.