Meet Our Partners in Mission:
The Dabneys are RCA Missionaries serving in Tirana, Albania where Jack works at several Pastor training schools: he’s chaplain and professor at the Center for Christian Leadership (CCL), and he also teaches at Albanian Bible Institute and Evangelical Theological College. Susan works with Roma (gypsy) people, a very poor and isolated group in Albania. She also meets with students and staff from CCL, inmates at one of Tirana’s women’s prisons, patients and their families at Mother Theresa Hospital, and unmarried missionary women.
Ministry: Latin American Leadership Development
Location: Latin America
Partner: Latin American Christian Ministries
What Need Is God Showing Us? To train leaders for Protestant churches in Latin America–which have experienced explosive growth over the past decade–hundreds of small, struggling Bible schools and seminaries have sprung up. These schools need teachers; few Latin American pastors have adequate theological training to be instructors at this level. Even fewer have doctorates because of the prohibitive cost of doctoral-level studies at North American and European schools.
What Is God Telling Us to Do? The RCA wants to help prepare evangelical and ecumenical scholars who in turn will develop a new generation of pastoral and missionary leaders for churches in Latin America.
How Are We Doing What God Is Asking? To do this the RCA helped create the Latin American Leadership Development Program (PRODOLA). This program draws from a network of Latin American scholars, churches, and educational institutions to provide Ph.D.-level education in Spanish and Portuguese at sites throughout Latin America. Theological education through this program is significantly less expensive than comparable training in the U.S. or Europe. However, in Latin America salaries are very low for pastors, Bible school and seminary professors, and other Christian ministers. Almost all the students in this leadership development program need financial assistance to complete their studies.
Who Is Our Partner? In 2000, author and Fuller Theological Seminary professor Pablo Deiros of Argentina and RCA missionary Chuck Van Engen, who is a School of World Mission professor at Fuller, shared their concerns about training leaders for churches in Latin America. In consultation with colleagues and with much prayer, Latin American Christian Ministries was born. In 2001 this nonprofit organization brought together in Miami, Florida, 35 Latin American Protestant professors from 12 countries. They represented 23 denominations, mission agencies, and theological institutions. It is through their vision that the Latin American Leadership Development Program has taken shape.
Up Close and Personal The president of Latin American Christian Ministries, Chuck Van Engen, is the son of RCA missionaries. He grew up in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the Mexican state of Chiapas, where he later returned with his wife, Jean, to administer a theological education program in cooperation with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. Both Chuck and Jean are graduates of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Chuck holds a master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and a doctorate degree from the Free University of Amsterdam. He has taught at seminaries in the U.S., Denmark, Korea, and India, and in many Latin American countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
Jackson County Ministries
Jackson County Ministries (JCM) carries on an active program of evangelism and service–particularly to the people of Jackson County, Kentucky, but also to the residents of the wider Appalachian region.
JCM places a strong emphasis on service to youth: The CLAY (Christian Living Activities for Youth) program reaches out to young people who are having problems at home or at school. JCM facilities are also used by Barnabas Home, Inc., which provides residential youth treatment services for twenty-two boys through a contractual arrangement with the state of Kentucky. Annville Christian Academy, a private grade school for children in kindergarten through grade seven, also uses JCM’s facilities. JCM serves young people through its summer Bible camp, Camp JCM (Jesus Christ Magnified).
JCM provides programs to meet specific needs: A volunteer work camp benefits visiting volunteers as well as individuals in need of assistance. UNITE is a task force that works to clean up the drug problem in Jackson County.
3AJC (Appalachian Alternative Agriculture of Jackson County Inc.) helps farm families improve their quality of life. Farmers work together to get a profitable return for farm products so they can make a living in ways other than growing tobacco.
Two used clothing stores sell twelve to fifteen truckloads of donated clothing and household items each year.
A gym ministry in the recently renovated JCM gymnasium is utilized by children and adults of all ages.
Family Ministries holds workshops on nutrition and marriage enrichment to help improve family life in the community.
The Rockford Rescue Mission shares hope and help in Jesus’ name to move people from homelessness and despair toward personal and spiritual wholeness. Core Values
- Living for the Glory of God
- Respecting Human Dignity and Immortality
- Proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
- Modeling Compassionate Generosity
- Partnering with the Church and Community
- Serving with Integrity and Excellence
- Rejoicing in Lives Changed by God