The Asuncion Bible Academy began classes March 11, 2013 to train faithful brethren how to preach, teach, and become better servants in the Lord's kingdom. It is a work of the Avenida Sacramento Iglesia de Cristo in Paraguay, South America. Brethren recognized the need to equip others to teach in the Paraguayan languages-- Spanish and Guarani (an Indian dialect). Although anyone can learn and speak Guarani, only a native Paraguayan Guarani really knows how to communicate with another Paraguayan.
For this reason, the church in Asuncion begin working with the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver in March 2012 to plant and develop more congregations in Paraguay. The school has five full-time students. One student also studies parttime, and several members regularly attend various classes.
Paraguay, a country of more than 7,000,000 people, only has two congregations of the Lord’s church. The fields are truly “white unto harvest,” so we are praying that God will use the Asuncion Bible Academy as one of His tools for evangelizing the lost in this part of the world.
The Sacramento Avenue congregation has 90 members. It was planted in 2003 by missionaries from Freed-Hardeman University. Since then, the original team has recruited several new missionaries as replacements to carry on the work. God has blessed the congregation with continual growth through various evangelistic efforts--door-knocking campaigns, special seminars, and teaching English using the Bible. As the brethren continue to mature spiritually, their hope is to appoint elders. They also plan to support their first national missionary and plant another congregation in a nearby suburb of Asuncion.
Troy Spradlin, missionary to Paraguay since February 2010 and graduate of the Southwest School of Bible Studies in Austin, Texas, is the Director of the Academy. Troy is a native Texan and is working toward his Master's Degree in Bible from Bear Valley. He and his wife, Andrea, are sponsored by the Margaret Street Church in Milton, FL. They have made a commitment to the work for seven years. Before moving to South America, they were active members at the Palm Beach Lakes congregation in West Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach Lakes is also the stateside financial administrator for the Asuncion Bible Academy.
To learn more about the work, please visit the mission team's website www.paraguaymission.com
In the last ten years, I have made ten trips into Spanish speaking countries of the Central/South American continent to teach God’s word in the Extension Schools of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. I have taught in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. Paraguay is my latest destination.
The trip itself was a “trying” experience. Thursday, June 6, I tried to fly from Dallas to Mi- ami and then directly to Asuncion. Engine trouble developed, and the plane left three hours late. Therefore, I missed my connection and had to overnight in Miami. Friday, June 7, I tried once again to fly to Asuncion. Once again, another plane developed engine trouble. To make a long story short, I tried for the third time late Saturday night, June 8, and finally arrived in Asuncion Sunday morning June 9. I had traveled half way around the world frequently in less time!
However, once I arrived, everything was great! I worshipped with the Sacramento Avenue church in Asuncion Sunday morning. I was originally scheduled to preach but arrived too late. Josh Blackmer preached an excellent lesson. His powerpoint presentation greatly aided my comprehension of Spanish. Therefore, I saved my lesson for Wednesday evening. .
I began class Monday morning with five students. This number of students is really a good beginning since the country only has two congregations. The class is conducted in the Sacramento Avenue building. I taught eight hours a day since my return flight was Friday morning. Classes are interrupted by a student chapel which meets everyday at 9:15 AM. I did not know that I was scheduled to speak but used a favorite sermon from the past. This is why a preacher had advised me to always be prepared with a spare sermon.
I was assigned to teach the Godhead, La Deidad. In January I had previously taught the same course in India. With the help of Google Translator and Pablo Arista, I translated my English notes into Spanish so the students would have the course in their own language. Pablo, a Christian at Bridgewood in Fort Worth, has begun a Spanish ministry where we attend. Pablo has asked me to teach the same course in Spanish at Bridgewood. I solicit your prayers for this endeavor.
I followed the natural order of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with a test after each section. I endeavored to show the relationship of Deity, the Trinity, both their unity and distinction. I wanted the students to understand that the Godhead is the foundation of our faith. Without the unified work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there could be no cross, no hope and no salvation. The apostle Paul establishes this truth in Eph. 4:1-6
In addition to the in-class tests, the students did a research paper the following week as a research assignment. Once the assignments were completed, Troy Spradlin, the Director, sent me both the last tests and research paper as attachments. I have learned enough Spanish to read and grade the assignments, relieving the local teachers of that task.
With my usual good fortune, I established a good relationship with Enrique, Paulo, Karen, William and Ramon. Somehow, the students were able to adjust to my eccentricity. It was a thrill to observe their interest in class, eat with them and watch them play a form of two-man soccer (football) popular in Paraguay. I am scheduled to teach 2 Corinthians in Asuncion about the same time in 2014.
All three American missionaries were gone shortly after I arrived, making me wonder if they had heard about me before! Actually, Perry Hardin, who communicated with me before my arrival, was already home on furlough. Josh Blackmer, who picked me up at the airport, left the day after I arrived, and Troy Spradlin, the Director, returned from furlough on Tuesday. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Troy, who is in his fourth year as a missionary in Paraguay.
The church and the school are in very capable hands. First and most important, they are in the Lord’s hands. Second, the native Paraguayans and the American brethren are working tirelessly and harmoniously together to teach the lost and build up the church in the country of Paraguay.
WHAT OTHER ARE SAYING ABOUT SARAH’S BOOK: “THE DRAMA OF REDEMPTION”
“Sarah, you are giving me a lot of in-depth knowledge to pass on to my 1st and 2nd grade class, and I am only in chapter 6!” Karla Sparks, preacher’s wife at White Rock church of Christ, Dallas.
“I’m using this in my 4th through 6th grade Wednesday evening class. We just finished Chapter 3, and the children love it!” Pam Harris, teacher and deacon’s wife at Bridgewood in Fort Worth, where we attend.
“I just started reading your book a few days ago, and I couldn’t stop. I am so happy to find this tool to help teachers be better channels of Biblical information.” Debbie Bumbalough, Christian Woman and Gospel Advocate, Nashville, TX.
“Sarah helps our students know God, not just about God. She gives effective tools, ideas and even specific words to say, so that even young children can learn to trace the purpose of God all the way from “before the beginning”... She uses the greater portion of the book to teach us the deeper meaning in the stories we’re accustomed to telling—Jacob’s ladder, blood sacrifices, holy days, or even priestly garments. If you teach the Old Testament, you need this book. If you teach the New Testament, you need this book... Even if you are not a teacher, you need to read this book for your own spiritual growth. In each of the 20 chapters, I learned something I had not considered before.” Sandi Smith, teacher in Wives’ Program at the Brown Trail School of Preaching.
“I wanted to let you know that Dan Morrow from the Mesquite Church of Christ enjoyed the section of your book on Abraham and Isaac. The camp purchased a copy of your book for each of the teachers. Dan did exactly what you intended for teachers to do. He studied the material, thought it was clear and well-reasoned and then presented it to a group of 4th – 5th graders in a clear and easy to understand manner.” Jon McKenzie, youth director for the Bridgewood Church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX
ORDER INFORMATION FOR THE DRAMA OF REDEMPTION
The book in its second printing, now through Hopkins Publishing. You can order it from Gospel Advocate or other Christian book stores and on-line outlets for $15.
You can also order it from us at the same price.
To read Gary’s full report and see included pictures, please click here.