IBAC 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 that pastoral/leadership training was a real and felt need in Nicaragua. The initial vision for Hope was to “Influence the influencers and involve the people of Hope.” 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 through long-term relationships.
The first course started in the Chinandega/Corinto area of Nicaragua in 2001 as a partnership between Hope EFC and the local pastors’ council. As pastors and leaders in that first location worked through the curriculum, they shared the learning opportunity with others. The number of active IBAC locations grew as more pastors’ councils around Nicaragua heard about the ministry. In 2011, Jim and Melanie Wilson moved to Costa Rica to more actively develop the network of training sites. In 2014, there were 14 locations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
As of 2018, IBAC has 23 active locations (in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Bolivia) and 6 locations that have finished the cycle of 15 courses. Twenty-one churches in the United States and in Central America serve as sponsor churches for these active locations. Two ReachGlobal missionary staff couples serve full-time with IBAC alongside a growing international network of pastors, leaders, and translators.
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