Published October 31, 2013
They came from Spanish-speaking countries seeking a better life in America and in so doing learned how to articulate their faith in biblically sound, easy-to-grasp methods. That was the backstory to the first graduating class of New Jerusalem Bible Institute in an historic ceremony held at the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center.
Publio Sance, director/dean/instructor of the Norcross-based institute, extolled those points and the sacrifice and dedication of the dozen students who proudly accepted their diplomas in the hour-long ceremony on Oct. 19. Sance is pastor of Nueva Jerusalem Baptist Church in Norcross, which hosts the institute.
Fifty family members and friends gathered at the GBC headquarters building to honor the students who hailed from Mexico, San Salvador, and Guatemala. It was an afternoon of snapping photos and sharing in the journey toward theological pursuit.
Suyapa Munoz of Norcross, formerly of Honduras, was the valedictorian in the class of a dozen students. She and her classmates received the Basic Diploma in Christian Ministry, which they received after completion of 30 credit hours of classwork and exams.
GBC state missionary Frank Nuckolls, who oversees the Institute as part of the Georgia Baptist continuing education ministry, noted that most of the students are first-generation immigrants who will soon begin work on the advanced diploma.
Guatemalan Abdiel Reyes and San Salvador native Lorena A. Hernandez de Parras shared similar views on why they wanted to pursue the coursework.
De Parras said she wanted “a better spiritual life and learn how to share more faith with friends and family more effectively. I want to see more people come to Christ.”
The Institute is one of several continuing education venues sponsored by the Convention. The network offers classwork among the Vietnamese, African-American, and prison populations as well as in associations. The ministry is coordinated through the Association Missions, Disaster Relief, and Missions Mobilization Ministries office of the GBC.
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