ITL Graduation and 2nd Annual Lectureship: Final Report

For photos of this trip, please visit:

Guatemala City, Guatemala – April 5, 2011 – Friday morning, April 1 was our first full day in Guatemala City.  Late last night the last of the visitors for the weekend’s activities arrived.  We all assembled in the lobby of the Holiday Inn where we were staying to begin the day’s excursion to see some sights.  Around 9:30 we learned that there were some mechanical problems with one of the vans, but the mechanic was on the scene.  We finally were able to leave a little before noon.  This excursion included all of the visitors (about 15 or so) and the students and their families, so we needed two 15-passenger vans and a couple of extra cars.  There were about 40 of us, in total.

First, we headed downtown to see the National Palace and the Catholic Cathedral.  After taking a tour of the palace, we crossed the street for some lunch.  Most of the group ate at Wendy’s (Bob Turner and I went around the corner to Pizza Hut).  After lunch the decision was made, due to the late start, to skip going out to Antigua and to remain in the city center and visit the market where more souvenir items could be found (later I learned that those who stayed until Tuesday were going to visit Antigua).  We began with an unguided tour of the Catholic cathedral and then headed off to the market.  The day ended with dinner at the home of Hiwatthia Jones (“hermano Hi”) and Byron Benítez and a tour (for those who were visiting for the first time) of the ITL campus next door.  We returned to the hotel around 10:00 p.m.

Saturday morning, April 2 saw the beginning of the 2nd Annual Lectureship of ITL.  Bob Turner, director of extensions of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, led off with a keynote address entitled “What Does the Bible Say about Authority?”  Byron Benítez served as translator.  Let me say here that throughout the lectureship, brethren Conrad Pinder and Abraham Alata did a fine job translating the lessons since there were so many who did not speak Spanish.  Conrad also translated the keynotes and my lesson into English.  After the break, the group divided into classes; the classes offered were: “What Does the Bible Say about Discipline in the Church?” by Denton Landon; “What Does the Bible Say about Lying” by Raúl Duran; and “What Does the Bible Say about Supporting the Preacher?” by Nicolás Chiquival.  I would add here that Denton Landon had to leave immediately following his class to travel to the Ukraine to teach classes in Bear Valley’s extension there the next two weeks.  After the classes, everyone returned to the main meeting room where Francisco Rada delivered a keynote address on the subject “What Does the Bible Say about Division?”  This lesson was followed by lunch which was provided.  I do not know the number of the attendees, but the main room was packed; the lectureship was very well attended.

In the afternoon we began with another keynote address from Bob Turner on the subject “What Does the Bible Say about Commandments Versus Opinions?”  His lesson was followed by another period of classes which included a class for ladies only:  “What Does the Bible Say about the Role of the Woman in the Home?” by sister Silvia de Castellanos; and a class for the men, “What Does the Bible Say about the Role of the Man in the Home?” by brother Alexander Castellanos.

After this class, several of us went to the hall where the graduation would take place tomorrow and rehearsed for that event.  By the time we returned to the location of the lectureship, dinner had been served (although plates were prepared for us) and brother Francisco Rada was already delivering his keynote address “What Does the Bible Say about Who is My Brother?”  That lesson was followed up by Bob Turner’s final keynote address “What Does the Bible Say about the Rapture?”  Once again we returned to the hotel around 10:30 p.m.

Sunday morning began early with our group leaving the hotel around 8:00 a.m. as we had the day before.  The custom of the Linda Vista church of Christ, who was hosting this event, is to have the worship service first and the Bible Classes afterward.  So, we enjoyed a worship service of several hundred brethren which included Francisco Rada’s final lesson “What Does the Bible Say about the Holy Spirit?”  After worship, there were three classes for the adults.  Sister Silvia de Castellanos taught another class for the ladies entitled “What Does the Bible Say about the Role of the Woman in the Church?”  Two classes from which the men could choose included a class by Guillermo Poz entitled “What Does the Bible Say about Social Justice?” and my class “What Does the Bible Say about My Commitment to the Local Church?” 

After the classes, the entire group made its way to the hall where the graduation would take place.  Large buses had been rented to transport the entire group.  We estimated the number of those who attended the graduation was somewhere around 400.  The ceremony was done very well; it was truly a very special moment for the graduates.  Seven graduated from the full time program and three graduated from the Saturday program, which has lasted for three years. 

I want to take this opportunity to say that I am very proud of the work these men and women have done over the years it has taken them to complete the program.  This is not an easy program and many of them acknowledged a desire at one point or another to give up and quit, but these did not.  They have worked hard and while they have already been a great asset to the church, I know their contributions to the Lord’s work will be great indeed.  I also want to commend the job that Hiwatthia “Hi” Jones and Byron Benítez, along with brethren Anibal Ramírez and Darvin Alvarez, did in making this weekend’s activities so successful.  Many others, too numerous to name, also contributed.  I am so very appreciative of their work and pray God’s richest blessings on them all.  As with the graduates of the school in Danlí, Honduras, I felt (and feel) somewhat saddened in the realization that the next time I teach a class at ITL, these students won’t be there.  Our parting at dinner Sunday evening was bittersweet, but I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully in their new works, but if not, then I plan to see them on the other side.

God bless you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest in this work and for your help and support in allowing me to be a part of it.

Donnie Bates

For photos of this trip, please visit:


Posted on April 5, 2011 .