IBAC, or “Institutos Bíblicos de América Central,” was founded in 1998 by Dr. Jim Wilson as a ministry to mobilize the U.S. Church to reach the nations and to equip our international brothers and sisters in Christ to rightly handle the word of truth through a network of Bible Institutes where mobile-modular theological education is made available to pastors and church leaders throughout Central America.
A Bible Institute is a Mobile-Modular equipping center, or regional location, where pastors and church leaders can receive biblically based, theological and pastoral training/education. These Bible Institutes are conducted over a period of 7-8 years in each location to teach 15 intensive courses. This ministry is accomplished in strategic partnership with sponsor churches who “adopt” a regional location for the duration of the Bible Institute.
Many pastors or church leaders in developing nations have not had the opportunity to receive more than a grade school or high school education. The passion of IBAC is to equip them with high-level, biblically faithful education and ministry training, free-of-charge. The way we do this is by partnering with sponsor churches and hosting semi-annual “Bible Institutes” for these pastors and church leaders. Each session of a Bible Institute is designed to run for four days, Monday through Thursday, from 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM. This schedule allows the pastors to be back in their homes through the week and in their churches for the weekend. Many of the pastors are bi-vocational, so pursuing a full-time theological education in their country would be difficult for them, even if the opportunity were available. In most locations it is not even possible as there are no seminaries or Bible schools providing an equivalent education. Having semi-annual institutes that are shorter in length makes it easier for the bi-vocational pastors and church leaders to receive a theological education and maintain an income for their families.
The Bible Institute ministry is an opportunity for local churches to equip pastors and church leaders in Latin America through a long-term commitment and relationship with a geographical region in Latin America. The broad purposes of the ministry are to provide biblical, theological, and pastoral training to Latin American pastors/leaders who are in desperate need of such training, but who have little to no access to such training, and to mobilize and encourage the local church in the United States to deploy personnel and financial resources with the intention of giving the U.S. church a significant opportunity to be purposefully engaged in advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
This ministry began in the fall of 1998 when Dr. Jim Wilson, then pastor of Hope Evangelical Free Church in Madison, Alabama, mobilized a team people from the church to investigate opportunities for long-term ministry in Nicaragua. Following research and prayer, it was clear to the leaders of Hope Church that pastoral/leadership training was a need in Nicaragua. The initial vision for Hope was to INFLUENCE THE INFLUENCERS and INVOLVE HOPE CHURCH PEOPLE. This strategic initiative was intended to have maximum impact by targeting leaders, who would then be better equipped to equip their people. There was also a significant positive benefit for the local church in that this ministry would provide opportunities for individuals to deploy their gifts in a cross-cultural setting as well as providing the church with an on-going ministry in a focused location. The underlying foundation for this long-term focus is the development of trust and relationships.
Through discussions with pastors in the Chinandega/Corinto area of Nicaragua, plans were made to begin the first course in 2001. A six-year commitment between Hope Church and the local pastors council was forged and the ministry began. God blessed the work of the initial Bible Institute and the work has spread throughout Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
The details of the implementation of the Bible Institute ministry has been modified and improved over the years. The current concept is to bring biblical/theological/pastoral training to a specific location and over the course of 7 years to teach 14-15 courses.
The curriculum used for the Bible Institutes has been primarily developed by Dr. Jim Wilson (ThM., 1986; DMin., 2001 – Dallas Theological Seminary). English speaking instructors are provided with a copy of the course material and the Spanish students are provided with a mirror copy of the material in Spanish. Keynote/Powerpoint are used as visual and learning aids. The material is intended to provide instructors with sufficient direction so that instructors are not left guessing as to where to begin, but there is also an expectation that instructors will personalize the material.
A course is taught over the course of a week and each day usually begins at 8:30 am and continues until 2:30 or 3:00 pm. Short breaks are taken between sessions and there is a one hour break for lunch. Teaching teams (usually 3-5 persons) divide the sessions among themselves well ahead of the trip in order to prepare for their teaching assignments. Teaching Team training (overview of the course, session-walk throughs, question and answer, resourcing, etc.) is available through Skype and correspondence with Jim Wilson.
The cost of a trip usually ranges between $1,500 and $1,800 per person. This cost includes: air-fare, translators, hotel accommodations, vehicle rental, fuel cost, food. Funds for transporting and feeding pastors are also raised – but that is a separate cost and creative options for raising these funds is available from Jim Wilson.
Click here for a list of Bible Institute courses.
As mentioned above, one of the values of this ministry is to INVOLVE and MOBILIZE people from local churches. Scripture tells us that the Spirit gifts the Body with a wide variety of gifts and passions. Not all are gifted to teach and not all are called to teach. But there is a vast need for other ministry skills. In order to utilize and mobilize people with a wide variety of gifts, other ministry venues are encouraged. These ministries then work in conjunction with the Bible Institute. Some are listed here, but this is by no means an exhaustive list – the vision, passion, gifting, of the local church, as well as the specific needs and opportunities in a particular area will determine what additional ministries are developed.