Road to a Masters Program

Introduction

It is hard to believe that in a few short months, the Biblical Seminary of Colombia will be in a position to offer one of the few evangelical, accredited masters programs in theology on the Latin American continent.

After years and years of dreaming, we are now in the final stages of having our program approved by the Ministry of Education of Colombia.  And what a program it promises to be.

Program highlights

We will begin by offering a Masters of Biblical Exegesis (with a hope of expanding into other emphases) in partnership with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles.  The combination of Fuller’s world-class professors and significant on-line Bible and theology resources significantly increases the value of our program for our prospective students.

The program is mostly virtual by design in order to allow anyone on the Spanish-speaking continent to study without leaving their home.  In addition, there will be a core set of two-week intensive courses that will be taught in Medellín.  This is wonderful news for Gustavo as he can be an integral part of the masters faculty even from a distance.

Road to a PhD

The program has been specifically designed for anyone wishing to pursue advanced theological studies in an evangelical context.  Also, because the program’s focus is on languages and advanced exegesis, it is ideally suited to prepare students for eventual PhD studies (the next stage of our dreams here at the BSC).

Latin America desperately needs its own theologians, scholars, writers, professors and leaders who can provide direction and resources for the church and who can engage the broader culture with the gospel in a constructive and prophetic way.  The masters program is another step in preparing this new generation of leaders.

We ask for your prayers as we make our way through the arduous accreditation process.

Gearing up for a masters

Introduction

This week we held a special academic conference at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (SBC). It was special for two reasons:

1) It drew attention to Colombia’s displaced population (5 million since 1960) as a result of the country’s history of political violence (which is still ongoing).

2) It was a joint conference with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles and represented the first step toward creating an accredited masters program here at the BSC.

Gearing up for a masters

One of the other important reasons for this conference has to do with SBC’s plans to offer a masters program beginning in 2015. One of the accreditation requirements by the Colombian Ministry of Education for a masters program is that the interested faculties work together on a joint research project and present their findings within an academic setting.

The conference on displacement represents the fruit of a year-long investigation by the SBC and Fuller faculties and the first step in this all-important accreditation process.

Indeed, in all of the Latin American continent, there are only a handful of evangelical, accredited, masters programs. This is not a typo. While there may be many good theology programs in Latin America, without accreditation, a student cannot continue his studies in other theological institutions of higher learning without having to repeat their programs.

In addition, an important goal at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia is to develop theologians and scholars. We affirm this goal whether we speak of preparing pastors for the pulpit, lay leaders for the professional world, missionaries for cross-cultural work or professors to teach in a seminary.

A masters program is a HUGE step in that direction, affording interested undergraduate students an accesible avenue for further scholarship and even preparing some for doctoral studies.

A conference on displacement in Colombia

Introduction

This month we held a special academic conference at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia (SBC). It was special for two reasons:

1) It drew attention to Colombia’s displaced population (5 million since 1960) as a result of the country’s history of political violence (which is still ongoing).

2) It was a joint conference with Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles and represented the first step toward creating an accredited masters program here at the BSC.

A conference on displacement

Colombia ranks in the top 3 countries of the world with the highest internally displaced population. The latest statistics indicate that as many as 5 million people (8% of the population) have had to flee their homes as a result of the country’s historical and ongoing political violence.

The main cause of the displacement is the on-going civil war which has pitted leftist guerrilla forces against government-backed paramilitary groups. These armed groups and their conflict have cut a wide swath of violence, social terrorism, extortion, and human rights abuses across many rural parts of the country forcing its civilian populations (sometimes entire towns) to flee for their safety.

The displaced, who have unjustly and violently lost family, land and personal property typically arrive to the margins of large urban areas, where they lack adequate protection, employment, food, shelter and health care.

The academic conference brought together the disciplines of sociology, psychology and theology plus12 different speakers from both schools to raise awareness, to educate and to discuss the church’s response this multi-faceted and tragic issue affecting so many Colombians. Some of our own SBC students have been the victims of this displacement, so the discussion is not merely academic.

Leadership Seminar

What do you get when you cross a family weekend getaway in the country with a little bit of work to boot? Well you get a couple of dog bites and a leadership training seminar.

Recently, I had the privilege of being the guest speaker for a leadership retreat hosted by Global Transformation Ministries. GTM is a non-profit organization here in Medellín that is planting a church in the southeast section of the city. GTM invited all of their key leaders involved in forming the church to spend a weekend together for worship, praying, planning, relationship building and leadership training.

I spoke on four separate occasions about one of my favorite subjects, leadership. I basically had to condense my undergraduate level course down to a six hour workshop so I only covered the most important points: the primary importance of character, the three biggest moral challenges a leader must confront, leadership models based on the servant and the shepherd of antiquity, the absolute necessity of treating people like gold and lastly, conflict resolution.

The countryside was beautiful, 6 families were represented in the seminar, including mine. All of us were able to stay in one large country villa sharing meals and stories and I was able to invest in a new church plant’s leadership team. Except for the dog bites, the weekend was almost perfect!

 

Leadership seminary 2

Gustavo teaching at a leadership seminar.

Farallones 1

San Bernardo de Los Farrallones

Farallones 2

I think I’ll take my horse to get ice cream.

Leadership seminar 1

A new church plant benefitted greatly from thinking about different church leadership models.

 

Virtually Apocaliptic

The apocalypse is coming!  Well, it’s virtually coming, anyway.

This week I have the privilege of beginning to teach the Book of Revelation in a virtual class.  This poses at least two challenges for me.

One, it’s the Book of Revelation, OK?!!!  It’s not exactly your average Old Testament story, simple parable by Jesus or one of Paul’s situational epistles which I have the pleasure of unraveling.

Two, I will be teaching my second virtual class which has its own challenges of keeping students engaged and on target, designing homework and virtual tasks that fit the teaching platform and otherwise trying to overcome the “distance” created by not physically being in the same space with my students.

In terms of virtual classes, the Biblical Seminary of Colombia is currently developing on-line courses for their entire theology curriculum.   In a few short years, any Spanish speaker in Latin America or the world will be able to take advantage of this premier theological educational institution and its programs without having to relocate to Medellin.

This is huge for the future of our institution and for the future of theological education in Latin America.

GK preach at chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Sendek praying with Gustavo prior to Gustavo preaching the sermon at the college’s weekly chapel services.

By Gustavo Karakey

Making a Difference One Student at a Time

Introduction

The following 4 minute video features the Biblical Seminary of Colombia and an inspiring vignette on one of our graduates.

It was produced by Overseas Council International, a non-profit organization, which partners with majority world seminaries, bible institutes and theological institutions to advance leadership development worldwide.

A Note on Latin American Catholicism

Viewers should be aware that the video does contain a warranted critique of Marian veneration here in Colombia.

This Catholic practice, along with other popular religious or sometimes syncretistic expressions of faith does invite criticism from the evangelical church and separates Latin American Catholicism from its counterparts in North America or Europe.

Enjoy the video!

Training in the Bahamas

IntroductionTeaching New Testament survey in the Bahamas

Last month I had the privilege of teaching New Testament Survey in the Bahamas.

I know, I know! I hesitated posting a Facebook status or telling anyone where I was going to teach because I would invariably get, the “Oh, I see you are really suffering for Christ,” jokes.  To which I would reply, “Well, Bahamians need Christ too you know.” 🙂

The truth is that even though I was a bit spoiled (since my hosts put me up in one of those fancy all you can eat and drink resorts), I was pretty much intensely working most of the time I was there.  (No, seriously, I didn’t even have time to take in a windsurfing lesson!) Continue reading