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Christian Ministerial Academy

April 1, 2022 | by: Tony Sanelli | 0 comments

New Christian Ministerial Academy Launches in Costa Rica

New Christian Ministerial Academy Costa Rica

Over the last five years our congregation has been ministering to two churches in Costa Rica by equipping them with our own discipleship materials, counsel, work projects, and financial support.

Pastor Edier Urbina is church planting in Liberia, Guanacaste, which is on the north pacific coast and pastor Francisco Bustos serves in Hijuito, an eastern suburb of the capital city of San Jose.

They are approximately 5 hours apart by car. One of our mutual objectives has been the establishment of a local Bible institute somewhat akin to Grace School of Theology and Ministry which was located on our own campus for many years.

In the last two years a third pastor and longtime friend of both Edier and Francisco has joined the effort to see the establishment of an institute. Jaime Rivera pastors a Baptist church located in San Ramon of Alajuela, which is located about 1 hour west of San Jose. These three pastors, in addition to myself, currently comprise the board of the Bible institute.

After two years of prayerful planning and preparation the first pilot class for the institute was held during our own mission emphasis week on March 4-5. The institute
has been named Academia Ministerial Cristiana (AMC) or the Christian Ministerial Academy of Costa Rica. It is designed to assist churches with the development of ministry leaders and future pastors.

Tony-NewAMC is structured around six intensive modules per year resulting in a two-year Bible certificate. Each module consists of 3 weeks of preparation, a two-day in person lecture series during week 4, followed by 3 more weeks to complete assignments. I had the privilege of teaching the Bible Study Skills course as our first subject. There were 17 students in attendance.

This modular system is an experiment the pastors hope will prove to be suitable for their context. Because none of the facilities of the three churches are capable of housing the academy, the first class met in an expansive converted colonial home on two acres, which is rented out by a ministry called the Brook Ministry based out of Texas.

This facility is in the town of Atenas which is about 1 hour west of metro San Jose. The Brook ministry provided meals and sleeping accommodations for up to 10 people. The remaining students either returned to San Ramon or slept at a nearby Christian Camp known as Camp Brittany. The location and facility proved to be very convenient but does not appear to be a permanent long-term solution.

One of the many challenges we face in the establishment of AMC, in addition to lacking a permanent suitable location, is student access to the necessary materials, such as books and other study tools, along with the necessary technology. Not everyone has a laptop, and you can’t simply buy books on Amazon and have them on your porch in 2-3 days. To help remedy this situation we are in the process of establishing a student learning center in each of the supporting churches. These learning centers will include computers, Bible study software and resource books.

Presently we have delivered the computers but are awaiting the purchase of software and delivery of the books. This will be followed by training in the use of the software. These centers will enable the most serious students to have ready access to study material and promote interaction with the pastoral staff of each congregation. The centers will also prove to be helpful to the pastors and current teachers of each church.

Near term goals for AMC include the translation of class syllabi, addition of professors, development of a website and an academic software platform for the administration of the school. Long term goals include outreach to more churches, the formation of a formal legal entity akin to a non-profit corporation in the U.S. and combining one conference with a module each year to promote the academy to the broader church. This format has proven effective in Spain and our hope is that it will as well in Costa Rica.

The planning and establishment of AMC has taken a good portion of my time in the past year and will continue to do so in the near term. We covet your prayers for all the goals mentioned above and for any necessary travel on my part and especially for the growth of the student body of AMC. We will keep GBC informed regarding the progress of AMC and any other needs and ministry opportunities with the local churches in Costa Rica.

Tony Sanelli is Pastor/Teacher at Grace Bible Church