April 13th, 2017
When Dr. Harley Swiggum authored the Bethel Bible Series, he said the series’ simple overview of the Old and New testaments gives readers a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
“My feeling is that anyone seriously confronted with Jesus of Nazareth is going to be transformed in the way he or she thinks about everything,” Swiggum said. “You cannot be confronted with the Christ of the Scriptures without being changed.”
Swiggum believed there were no shortcuts to understanding the biblical message.
“The Bethel Series was written to enhance the student’s understanding of the Christian faith,” he said. “The basic concept of a simple overview under disciplined training is timeless.”
The series is designed for anyone who wants to gain a deeper, more meaningful and life-transforming understanding of God’s Word. It has proven its efficiency over the years, enrolling more than a million people in print in one of several international languages. But as a part of MACU’s mission to “Dream Bigger” and “Do Greater,” university leaders envisioned an opportunity to globally train future Bethel teachers.
Five years ago, MACU first offered digital delivery of the Bethel Series in English. Now, thanks to two generous donors, the online series is offered entirely in Spanish, expanding its reach to students across the globe.
One of those donors, Philos Enterprises, became aware of MACU’s global Bible teaching series and felt the university’s desire to expand online resources as a fit in their overall mission.
They also saw the opportunity to honor one of their own board members, Dr. Donna Thomas, a former MACU Board of Trustees for whom the Thomas School of International Studies (TSIS) was named. In addition, Philos leaders felt moved to recognize the excellent leadership that Dr. Paula Quinn, a previous Chair of the MACU Board of Trustees, provided to the organization.
“We saw this as an opportunity to essentially create Bible colleges or institutes throughout the Spanish-speaking world,” said Philos President and Treasurer Hugh Peters. “As students complete the Bethel courses, they will then be able to implement a training phase within the various congregations they attend.”
Through Philos’ gracious giving, MACU had been given the funds to translate President Dr. John Fozard’s teaching notes and accompanying videos into Spanish, as well as scholarship dollars for up to 40 semesters — or 480 hours of college credit or personal enlightenment.
MACU also received a generous gift from the Jasco Giving Hope Foundation, allowing the Bethel Series to offer more scholarships to students living in countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Ecuador. Jasco, a longtime supporter of MACU and its students, has a passion for offering business degrees and certificates to individuals in the Americas.
Dr. Steve Trice, who founded Jasco in 1975, previously served as the U.S. director for Christian Business Men’s Connection (CBMC), a group built for Christian businessmen with chapters across the world. Four men with ties to CBMC — Edgar Medina, Feliope Castillo, Dr. Miguel Reyna and Marcos Agustín — signed up for the first Spanish cohort, which began Feb. 27.
Agustín and his wife, Vivian, came to Oklahoma from Guatemala to pursue their studies. “The Lord brought us to this program,” said Vivian Agustín. “Through our pastor, God gave us the specific order to come to Oklahoma. We had none of this planned, but God did. It was a step of faith and obedience for us. We did not know where we were going to live, what church we were going to serve or how we were going to support ourselves.” What they knew was that God would provide for them — and provide He did, connecting the Agustíns to MACU and the Bethel Series.
This training turned out to be an answer to prayers for the couple, who had longed to do ministry in the marketplace as well as in local congregations within Guatemala.
“We are convinced that the more knowledge we have of the Word, the more useful we will be in the work,” said Vivian Agustín. “The obstacle we encountered as we tried to continue our studies has been time. Some friends suggested that we study at a seminary or continue with college — and that is something we would love — but with two small children, that is very difficult.”
That’s why the couple described the Bethel Series in Spanish as a Godsend.
“It’s a gift from God,” Marcos Agustín said. “Being able to study the Word of God from the perspective of Hebrew thought is impressive.”
Moreover, he said, the convenience of the online delivery means the Agustíns can study from the comfort of their own home and at the time they decide, making for an achievable goal.
“To have all of this knowledge not only within our reach but also in our language helps us continue our dream of graduating and serving the Lord in a greater capacity,” Marcos Agustín said. “We are so thankful to MACU for providing this opportunity to the Hispanic people.”
After earning their teacher certification from Bethel, the Agustíns plan to return to Guatemala. There, they will take their discipleship training and use what they learned to create more followers of Christ in their home country.
More Bethel Series groups — in both English and Spanish — will begin this fall. For more information or to enroll today, visit bethelonline.macu.edu.
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