I have the privilege of providing leadership to the Spanish Masters of Divinity at Seminario Wesley at Indiana Wesleyan University. I often think back to recall how the journey began. I remember the first call from the vice-president, Dr. Wayne Schmidt (I will share that story at some other point). I remember my first visit on campus, first week on the team, first Spanish cohort…and many other ‘firsts’ in the program.
During the first phase of our program we focused on launching the first Spanish MDiv program in the United States available primarily available online.
- Since we set out to respond to the needs of the Hispanic church, we did not translate our praxis-focused curriculum. We chose to contextualize. Together with a group of scholars, church and lay leaders from different Latino backgrounds we followed rigid criteria to determine to include and add to the curriculum for the Spanish MDiv.
- With the help of so many departments within IWU we established the operational infrastructure necessary to recruit and process Spanish speaking students. This required the translation of many documents, a contextualization of the processes, and staffing those areas with Latino staff who not only speak the language but also understand the cultural differences. This involved the admissions office, the financial aid team, student services, the library and everything else in between. Truly a group endeavor.
- A true launching is not a launching unless it involves students and the adjunct faculty to teach the courses. And we set off to recruit our first pilot cohorts and adjuncts that would assist in the contextualization process. In 2014 our first two cohorts will graduate with their MDiv! Praise be to God!
And so we enter our 2nd phase. During this stage we focus on (a) student recruitment, (b) marketing, (c) funding for scholarships & program sustainability, and (d) partnership development.
In August 2013 we launched our first Iberoamerican cohort in Bogota, Colombia with 17 students. Gloria a Dios… In September we were in Chia, Colombia. I’ve just returned from the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico where I held three informational meetings casting vision about our mission to be world changer. This week Moses Avila from the Admissions team is in the Dominican Republic, and will have the only opportunity to speak with the president of that nation about Seminario Wesley. In the next few weeks we will have informational meetings in Mexico and we return again to Bogota and add Medellin, Colombia.
We are grateful by the many doors God is opening in Latin America for our presence to be known. I must however confess it is a bit overwhelming. These are nations experiencing immense Church growth. They are also countries experiencing great turmoil in terms of violence and economic crisis. More than ever I am convinced there is a need for a praxis-oriented curriculum like ours to help pastors be the agents of change in their countries.
In my prayers I ask God for strategies to respond to the many needs not only in Iberoamerica and the United States but throughout the world. In the face of the needs and the crisis of the Latino church we appear so small and helpless. Particularly in the past two weeks I’ve come to the Lord with so many questions: What are we going to do God? How do we help these countries progress? Will the violence ever stop? If the church is growing in numbers than what do they need to be the agents of change to take back their communities? Overwhelming, overwhelming, overwhelming…
And then I hear the spoken word found in 2 Kings 4. The widow tells Elisha, her husband, a prophet on his team is dead and he left a debt that has to be paid. The payment to cancel the debt is her children who will be slaves if she cannot come up with the money. In verse 2 Elisha asks two questions: How can I help? and What do you have? [¿Qué tienes?]And those are the questions I hear from God.
What do you have? ¿Qué Tienes? My response: El Seminario Wesley ofrece un CURICULO MISIONAL que capacita PENSANTES PRACTICOS dentro de un AMBIENTE ESPIRITUAL utilizando METODOS RELEVANTES. What I have for these countries is a missional curriculum that equips practical thinkers in a spiritual atmosphere using relevant methods.
How can you help? God please use this program to impact the life of pastors that will change their countries and influence the world. Brothers and sisters can you please pray for our program and help share what God is doing through us?
Perhaps you have also been called to a challenge that appears larger than life. ¿Qué es lo que tienes? Estas en mis oraciones. You are in my prayers!