So now that the Bible Garden is finished what is next?
Well, if you have read our book, the Village on the Hill, you will have realised that there is a third part to the development of the site which we feel God is leading us to focus on next. From the outset of this development project we have always felt that we needed to be preparing the site for the ministry of the future. As you probably know, every summer we hold camps for children and youth (Campsonshine Portugal) on site, where we have to set up tents which serve as accommodation for all those who attend. Apart from tents in the Algarve being extremely hot to sleep in, every year we spend weeks setting up all the necessary equipment to run the camps, which is very expensive and a very time consuming exercise. We felt that in the long term, tents are not the solution for this developing camp ministry and that it would be much more practical if we could house the children and young people in dorms with bunk beds instead of tents. The idea was that we would try and raise sufficient funds to purchase modular buildings that stack on top of each other just north of the chapel which would serve as dorms for the summer camps and also for other uses throughout the winter months when they were not being used for camps.
Over the past couple of years we have been seeking God's guidance as to what this “other winter ministry” could be, and over the past year or so God has been challenging us about setting up a theological training college for young adults here on site. We have been challenged by the incredible spiritual need across this land of Portugal. According to the Portuguese Evangelical Alliance, out of a population of 11 million people living in Portugal only 46,000 are Evangelical. That equates to 0.4 % of the population! The spiritual needs of this country are staggering but we believe that God is doing something new in Portugal and IECA has a part to play in making Christ known here in the Algarve and beyond. We have been challenged by the fact that there are no Bible schools in the south of Portugal where people can prepare for ministry. So, over the past couple of years, we have begun to put things in place with the view to starting a theological and practical ministry training course for those God is presently calling to be His ambassadors to the land of Portugal in the days to come.
What type of course would we offer and who would do the teaching?
The main thrust of our course would have to set a careful balance between giving students the necessary tools in regards to Biblical Studies along with the opportunity for training in practical ministry. We want our students to get to know God in a deep and meaningful way while at the same time keeping them passionate about winning people for Jesus. Part of the course will involve listening to lectures on various subjects with exams on each topic. At the same time students will be encouraged to develop their spiritual gifts through linking in with various international and Portuguese churches all over the Algarve and getting involved in local outreach and various ministries going on in these churches already. We hope to provide self catering accommodation for the students on the ground floor of the modular building (which will be used in the summer as dorms for Campsonshine) and two lecture halls which will be on the first floor of the new modular building (which we hope to place to the north side of the Chapel opposite the toilets.)
The lessons will be taught by visiting lecturers who will give one or two weeks of their time to teach on a particular subject. We have already made a lot of contacts with many well know Bible teachers who are very excited about the idea and have committed themselves to come and be part of this Bible School vision. We want to provide accommodation for the visiting lecturers in the guest house which we plan to divide into two smaller self contained apartments with work When will we begin?
The plan is to launch the Bible School in September 2020 and our vision is to begin with 20 full time students. We would like to make the course as cost effective as possible without cutting back on quality. For many young people, the cost of theological training makes it very difficult to prepare properly for ministry. We don't want this venture to be about making money but primarily about sending out workers into God’s harvest field who are equipped and empowered to fulfil their calling.
How much will it cost?
Here at IECA we believe that God is leading us into this new type of ministry and are looking to the Lord to supply all the financial and practical needs that we have for this vision to become a reality. At the moment through the generosity of God’s people we have managed to raise a total of 69,000 EUR for the purchase of the modular building but we still need another 70,000 EUR before we can go ahead and purchase the modules. As we have done with all the other projects up to now, we have decided that we will not go down the route of trying to secure bank loans for this project, but will wait on the Lord to supply the need before moving forward. Over and above the amount we need to buy the modular building we are also looking to the Lord to supply the needs for setting up the ministry of the Bible School itself such as purchasing tables and chairs along with bunk beds and self catering equipment. There are a lot of preparations needed in terms of advertising and administration costs of getting all this off the ground. We also need to do the renovations necessary to the Guest house which we estimate will be in the region of 20,000 EUR. All in all we are looking to the Lord to supply a total of 140,000 EUR by the end of this year so that we can launch this ministry in September 2020.
We would ask you to pray for this venture that God will prepare and provide not only the funding for this to become a reality, but also the spiritual direction for the type of Bible School the Lord would have us begin here in the Algarve.
If you feel that you would like to get involved by giving a one off gift towards this project or regular giving towards this ministry please contact our Treasurer and Church Administrator Isabel Ferreira on +351 917 089 652 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org beginning in September 2019.
UK taxpayers wishing to give towards the Bible School can donate through the UK charity Jonthree Trust Limited, 27-29 Gordon Street, Belfast, BT1 2LG, UK, which enables the charity, on our behalf, to reclaim tax on donations (currently at the rate of 25p for every pound donated) at no additional cost to the taxpayer. For more information, contact Isabel Ferreira or email@example.com, phone number +44 2890 322047
Donations made by Portuguese taxpayers are also tax deductible (contact Isabel Ferreira for details)
Donations by bank transfer:
Bank: Millennium BCP
Branch: Avenida, Loulé
Account holder: Igreja Evangélica Internacional do Algarve
NIB: 0033 000000 1162 2084 205
IBAN: PT50 0033 0000 0011622084205
(BIC/SWIFT: BCOMPTP) (IMPORTANT)
For any gift designated specifically for IECA Bible School either through Jonthree Trust or directly into church account please make sure you state that it is designated to IECA Bible School on any transfer.