Starting a Bible college reproduces and multiplies your ministry. It is a practical way to train men as Paul instructed in 1 Timothy 2:2. I believe Bible colleges are vital. The word college is defined as “an institution of higher learning.” A Bible college is a college in the truest sense because students learn about the highest principles from the highest source.
Perhaps some missionaries think, “I could never start a Bible college.” Maybe you’re happy that you were able to finish Bible college yourself! Let me encourage you to consider it at some point in your work on the mission field.
It is certainly difficult to start a Bible college, but there are some advantages to starting one on the foreign field compared to starting one in the United States. Here are some thoughts on starting a Bible college on the mission field:
1. As an American Missionary, Especially in a Poor Country, People Will Probably Look to You for Leadership
While a missionary should realize there are men native to that country who are as qualified or more to start a Bible college, you should not automatically neglect the opportunity you have. You should also remember that if you try to rely on the fact that people look up to you as an American, you may soon find that even though you are able to start a school you may have trouble operating it over the long haul.
2. Bible Colleges Are Vital to the Lord’s Work
Most missionaries would not be going to the foreign field if someone had not sacrificed to start a Bible college. I am thinking of a good missionary that started a Bible college in a certain country and then stopped because it was so time consuming. After several years he made a wise decision to start again, after realizing the long-term benefit to the Lord’s work that a Bible college can be.
3. You Can Have a Good College That Is Tailored to the Unique Needs of Your Field
You may not have a background in education, either as a major in college or by experience, but you can still have a good school. I did a lot of planning during deputation, especially in the area of curriculum. The curriculum was adapted to this country and the type of ministry we expected our graduates to have.
For example, young people in the Philippines, for the most part, cannot afford textbooks. Most pastors here will never have a large library. We have a course on how to study the Bible with a minimum number of reference books. Most pastors in the Philippines do not have commentaries, so the men are taught to study and preach without them.
Another thing I noticed on my survey trip to the Philippines was that the majority of churches were small. They were located in small villages so they would never become very large. In a village you might have 500 or 1,000 people total within walking distance of the church. A good-sized church might average 80-100 in attendance. The churches were too small to have assistant pastors, so I decided to train all the men to start churches. Since the pastors would be leading every aspect in the church we required a lot of credits in music and practical ministry.
What I am getting at is you need to look at your situation and plan according to your long-range goals. You can start a Bible college and succeed. Spend a lot of time thinking and planning. Plod along and keep at it. You can do it if God wants you to.