Friday, January 22, 2010

Rio Grande Bible Institute

During Summer 2009, I met the wonderful faculty and staff of the Rio Grande Bible Institute. They used our church facility to meet for their staff retreat. There was an instant connection, like they were members of my family. And my heart was blessed to observe their joy in action. They had a clear sense of purpose and a fired up passion for outreach and ministry to the Spanish-speaking world.

Recently, Russ received a call from Robert Crane, Director of Ministerial Advancement at the institute. He invited us to go to Edinburg, TX to visit the campus. Thursday we made the 50-minute trip. Yes--that close to home!

First we dined at the famous Echo hotel with Bob, along with the president of the institute, Dr. Larry Windle, his wife, and about 20 guests and staff from Bibleville. The hotel was like stepping back into the high society of yesteryear. And great food!

Bibleville is a Christian retirement center with some all-year-round residents as well as hosting hundreds of Winter Texans and locals at Bible conferences, music concerts, trips to Mexico and ministry opportunities. They have about 100 RV hook-ups and over 100 mobile homes available.

After lunch, we drove to the campus and had a lovely tour. The weather was 84 degrees (yes, in January!), and the landscaping was colorful, so it made for a good day. Felt like I was playing hooky or something.

The Bible Institute is a place where Spanish-speaking students can attend courses for training in Bible, theology and Christian education. The goal is to equip workers for the ministry.

The campus also houses a Missionary Language School, where missionaries preparing for the field can come to learn Spanish in a 10-month intensive study. They are often paired with a national from the region of Latin America where they will be ministering, to assure they learn the dialect and slang phrases of their region.

There is also a correspondence school and video ministry for distance learning. And Radio Esperanza reaches thousands of Spanish-speaking listeners in South TX, Mexico and beyond. They often receive 5,000 calls per month in response to radio programming, with requests for prayers and counseling.

The staff and faculty of the institute come from all over to serve the Lord here, and they are financially supported through churches and individuals. This is a true mission work.

Besides Bibleville, there is also a Winter Worker Program for retired friends who travel South to avoid cold weather. They agree to work a certain number of hours per week (I think it is 28 hours), in exchange for a free RV hook-up. But they get so much more. The fellowship alone is reward enough.

We saw retirees painting desks, doing maintenance, working on landscaping, and quilting blankets to take in to Mexico. It was clear this institute could not function without volunteerism and mission support.

I enjoyed the tour, and now have a better idea how to pray for Rio Grande Bible Institute. I'm sure they would appreciate your prayers as well.

You can learn more about it here:

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