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Blessed Obedience

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By Joey Amezquita

I was born in Villa Palmeras (Shanghai), Santurce, a barrio in Puerto Rico, the second of four children. Like many housing projects, it is mired with social problems associated with chronic, multigenerational poverty.

Breaking Free from Poverty 

Wanting a better life for his family, my dad joined the U.S. Army. (As citizens of the United States, Puerto Ricans have participated in every major U.S. military engagement since 1899.) This afforded us a much safer, middle-class lifestyle than we would have had if we had stayed in Villa Palmeras, but we moved a lot. My dad’s first orders were to Maryland. From there we would move to Fort Lewis in Washington state; then to Long Island, New York; then Fort Dix, New Jersey; and then to the Strassburg Kaserne base in Idar-Oberstein, a city in southwest Germany. 

I loved Germany. Even though I was only nine years old when we moved there in December of 1984, I remember how breathtakingly beautiful it was. Instead of living in the barracks, we lived in a gorgeous, four-story house. We would play outside in the snow and run throughout the house’s secret passages that former occupants had used to hide Jews. 

After twelve years of service to his country, my dad decided to leave the military in 1987 and relocate our family to Florida. Leaving Germany was tough. I was eleven years old and had to leave behind a strong core group of friends. 

We would play outside in the snow and run throughout the house’s secret passages that former occupants had used to hide Jews. 

I started working in law enforcement at the ripe old age of 19! Even though I was somewhat of a “class clown” growing up and a ringleader for good or mischief among my siblings and friends, my dream had always been to become a police officer to help the community. At that time my dad was working in probation and parole, and he and my high school sweetheart, Christina, encouraged me to pursue my dream.  

I was employed August 15, 1995, as a corrections officer by the Polk Correctional Institution, a state prison for men located in Polk City, Florida. The inmates assigned to Polk Correctional Institution were male and had been sentenced for a period of anywhere from one year and a day up to a lifetime. The inmates at the work camp where I worked had less than five years left on their sentences before they would be allowed to go home.  

Since I resided in Brandon, Florida, an hour away from the Polk Correctional Institution, I decided to transfer to the Orient Road Jail with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, and on November 3, 1997, I began my new assignment working the night shift at the Orient Road Jail. In January of 2000, I transferred to Morgan Street Jail and continued working on the night shift. Morgan Street housed federal inmates and approximately 50 county jail inmates.

Breaking Free from Sin 

In June of 2001 my life changed forever. Although my dad was a loving father, he did not have a relationship with Jesus and had not modeled a godly lifestyle for me. I had been raised knowing there was a God, but I was missing a relationship with Him. I had a fear of dying and of the unknown.  

Christina invited me to special services at a church called Tabernacle of the Faith of Tampa (Tabernaculo La Fe de Tampa). Two weeks earlier, her co-worker, Kathy, had invited Christina to the church and unbeknownst to me, Christina had given her life to Jesus Christ. She now had eternal life.  

I agreed to attend the service and found myself setting foot into Tabernaculo La Fe. As I sat down in the pew and listened to Pastor Tejara preach, I felt as if he were looking right at me. When Pastor Tejara said that I was a sinner and hell bound, that if I were to die that day, I would be separated from God forever and spend the rest of eternity tormented in hell, I was so scared. I did not want to go to hell forever.  

At that moment, Pastor Tejara asked anyone in the audience who wanted to give their heart and life to Jesus to raise their hands. I was nervous but also felt a peace I had never experienced before come over me. I raised my hand, repented of my sins, and accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior. Christina and I were the first people in our families to give our hearts to the Lord. I bought my first Bible and started reading God’s Word and attending Bible study with Christina.  

 When I would get an assignment, I would pray on the way, asking the Lord to send His angels down and to help me be slow to speak and slow to anger and to give me supernatural peace.

Christina and I had been together since April of 1994, and the Holy Spirit began to deal with us about getting married. My good friend and co-worker Ed, who was a Christian, encouraged us to go to the courthouse and get married out of obedience to God’s Word. We made the decision not to wait any longer, and on February 22, 2002, Christina and I went downtown to the courthouse in Tampa and got married. This was the second most important decision in my life.  

God honored and blessed our obedience to get married. When I started reading the Bible, the Word of God came alive and I felt such excitement, joy, peace, and fulfillment. I had never really loved to read before, but now I couldn’t wait to read God’s Word. I loved it so much. The Bible is the blueprint for life. Everything is in the Word of God: advice on finances, marriage, children, depression, sin, prophets, and godly living.  

The more I read God’s Word, the more my faith increased. I no longer had a fear of the unknown and dying. I had an awesome supernatural peace and joy. I would pray before going into work. Often I would go into a cell with 30 inmates who had been convicted of murder and other violent crimes, and a peace would come over me.  

Once one of the inmates, trying to intimidate me, asked, “If the door were to ‘accidentally’ close behind you and you were stuck in here with us, would you be scared?” 

I boldly replied, “No, I would not be scared because I have an angel assigned to me and God will protect me and not let any harm come to me.” I quoted Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper” (NASB 1994). I told the inmate I didn’t have to physically fight him because God will fight all my battles. I let him know that I fear God not man, finished the cell search, and exited the cell.

Breaking Free of Barrenness 

I started applying what I was learning from the Bible into my everyday life with my marriage as well as with my job. It was awesome. Years ago the doctors had told Christina she could not have children. Nonetheless, in 2003 my wife gave me great news: she was pregnant! We were overjoyed! I believe the Lord blessed us with this miracle by allowing her to have children because we were in right standing with God. 

Christina and Joey Amezquita with their children: Jayla (far left), Julia (second from left, and Justin (far right).

About this time, I was reading 2 Kings 22:1 and learned about this young eight-year-old king named Josiah. King Josiah, whose name means “the Lord will support you,” was one of the very few kings in the Old Testament that did what God asked him to do without hesitating. I love his story, so I wanted to name my son Josiah. However, my wife wanted Josiah to be his middle name, not his first name. Well, my mamma didn’t raise no fool, so we named our son Justin Josiah. (Happy wife, happy life!) In December of 2005 the Lord blessed us with a beautiful little girl we named Jayla. In February of 2009 the Lord blessed us with another beautiful girl we named Julia. 

My wife used to worry about me, but I said, “Don’t worry; just pray,” and she did. She prayed for His protection over me. I prayed as well. When I would get an assignment, I would pray on the way, asking the Lord to send His angels down and to help me be slow to speak and slow to anger and to give me supernatural peace. I would come into a situation with the authority of God, and inmates could sense I was a Christian. One inmate from Cuba told me he knew I was going to be a pastor someday.  

In 2003 the Morgan Street Jail closed, so I started working in the Falkenburg Road Jail Housing Unit 11. I am a “people person,” and the more I started reading the Bible the more I realized how easy it was to proclaim the Gospel (the Good News) to the inmates in the pods even though I had to be creative in my approach.

Breaking Free to Fruitfulness 

Policy did not allow us to hold hands and pray with the inmates, but the inmates were allowed to have a Bible. I would have a few of them come up to my desk and open their Bibles to John 3:3-18, the passage about being born again and receiving eternal life. Then I would have the inmates turn to Ephesians 2:8, where it says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – not by works, so that no one can boast” and also Romans 10:9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I wanted them to experience the written Word of God. One time there were five inmates around my desk with their Bibles open. I then proceeded to do an altar call right there in the pod, and all five inmates gave their lives to Christ. Praise God! I encouraged them to continue to read the Word of God and to sign up for non-denominational church services. 

My family came to faith in Christ as well. In 2002, Christina and I were blessed to lead her younger sister Zenia to the Lord, who transformed her from a shy, young girl into a young woman who unashamedly uses her amazing talents to lead worship. In 2005 I had the privilege of witnessing my dad give his life to Christ at a men’s Promise Keepers crusade. My mother was a little more hesitant, not sure if my dad’s conversion was sincere. But in 2007, as she battled stage four breast cancer, she accepted Christ as her Savior as well. In fact, she would experience dreams and visions from God. She had a dream about Hurricane Maria before it devastated the northeastern Caribbean in 2017. She asked the Lord to keep it from happening, but He told her it had to happen because His people had turned away from Him. My mother also led other family members to the Lord.  

We are able to proclaim the Gospel to many defendants and have led several of them to repent of their sins and accept Christ into their hearts.

Today I am one of two bailiffs working in the courthouse in the misdemeanor division. My partner, Deputy Wright, is also a strong Christian, a woman of faith. Every morning before we start morning court, we pray God’s blood of protection over the courthouse and the staff. We make sure to set a godly atmosphere in the courtroom. We are able to proclaim the Gospel to many defendants and have led several of them to repent of their sins and accept Christ into their hearts. I am thankful to God that He used my 26 years of working in law enforcement/corrections to share the Gospel. 

In September of 2019, Christina’s sister Zenia and her husband, Carlos, began attending a Bible study led by Calbert and Beverly Mark, pastors of Open Bible Prayer Chapel in Wesley Chapel. The study so powerfully energized Zenia’s faith and that of her husband that they told my wife and me we had to come check it out. The Marks took our faith to another level. Soon our whole family, including my mother-in-law, Carmen, and Christina’s other sister, Yaritza, were attending the study. Christina’s friend Kathy started coming as well! Now Christina and I are planning to make another change in our lives, as I work toward becoming a licensed minister with Open Bible.  

Calbert and Beverly Mark are native Trinidadians. Sent out from Trinidad as missionaries more than 27 years ago, the Marks established twelve pioneer works in Venezuela and were instrumental in planting churches in Trinidad and Colombia. Calbert still serves as the field director for Open Bible Churches in Venezuela. I was amazed that God would send a Trinidadian couple serving as missionaries in Venezuela to Wesley Chapel, Florida, to pour into our family, but He did just that!

About the Author

Having worked in law enforcement for 26 years, Joey Amezquita is a bailiff for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department in Tampa, Florida. He is a committed member and Sunday School teacher at Open Bible Prayer Chapel in Wesley Chapel, Florida, pastored by Calbert Mark. Joey and his wife, Christina, have three children. 

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Walker’s House of Hope

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In 2017, my husband Dyecol and I were asked to be the interim pastors of Word of Life Open Bible Church in Lehigh Acres, Florida. Little did we know that our two weeks as interim pastors would turn into seven years and counting. After accepting the call to be the permanent pastors, we moved to Lehigh in September, right after Hurricane Ivan had hit. There was no electricity in the city, and it felt like we were moving into darkness and chaos. I didn’t realize we were also moving into the rest of our lives.

Taneasha and all her kids, enjoying the sunshine

Dyecol and I had never had children together. Shortly after our move to Lehigh, we saw a billboard for an adoption agency. Dyecol went to the agency’s office for more information, and it wasn’t long before we were taking a class on adoption. The instructor of the class emphasized how much greater our chances would be to adopt through fostering, and pretty soon we got our first call to foster a three-year-old girl named Isabella. I will never forget seeing that scared little girl walk through our doorway. I scooped her up in my arms, she laid her head on my shoulder, and my future was sealed.

We’d had Isabella for only a month when we got a call for a second little girl, Maria. Maria’s sister Ruby would join her a few months later, and not long after Ruby, we got a call for a fourth child, our first newborn. This baby was only six days old and had been born addicted to drugs. We were told her parents didn’t want her, and we became excited that this baby might become ours. We attached, weaned her off drugs, and she began to thrive. It was then that her biological father decided that he wanted her. As difficult as this was, it was further complicated by the fact that our hopes of adopting the other girls fell through around the same time. We were shattered. This taste of parenthood had convinced me that I wanted to be a mom again, but fostering was too difficult. I told myself, “Never ever again!” Until I got the next call.

Sometimes God walks you through a process of loss and then He dumps blessing on you when you least expect it.

“Ms. Walker, I have a little girl for you….”

“I don’t know, we’re taking a break.”

“Ms. Walker, I’m telling you, you’re going to want this little girl.”

(Deep Breath.) “Okay.”

Our case worker brought over this ten-year-old little girl with big old grandma glasses, fuzzy hair, and the cutest smile. That little girl walked into our lives, and she has changed us forever. Her name is Anna-Tae Walker, and she became our first adopted daughter. Two months later, we were introduced to our daughter Heavenly. We loved her from the moment we saw her. Sometimes you just know. I said to my husband, “She’s not leaving.” True to my word, Heavenly AND her brother Joshua became ours through adoption.

Anna-Tae, the Walkers’ first adopted daughter

Sometimes God walks you through a process of loss and then He dumps blessing on you when you least expect it. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t have the first little girls we tried to adopt, but God said no. He knew who our kids were.

Despite my having three adopted children, I continued to take new placements. My first experiences fostering almost broke me, but as I continued to say “yes” to each new child, God reinforced my heart with His strength. Instead of shrinking with each loss, my heart grows bigger as I watch family reunifications. God has gifted me with the capacity to love and to lose.

One night as I was lying on my bed, the Lord gave me a word: “Walker’s House of Hope.” I told my husband, “This is what we’re going to name the house where we raise the children God brings to us.” We started praying, “Lord, if you give us a bigger house we will take more children.” At that time, we had seven children in a three-bedroom house. It wasn’t long before the Lord provided us with a four-bedroom house.

God has gifted me with the capacity to love and to lose.

I got the call almost immediately: “Ms. Walker, we have a sibling group of three.”

“You know I have seven children, right?”

“Yes, Ms. Walker, but you were born for this.”

Immediately the voice of the Lord came to me, reminding me of my prayer. He had given me a bigger house; I was obligated to fulfill my promise. So, we ran out and bought another bunk bed.

The sign hanging on the Walkers’ door

Today, we have ten children: three adopted and seven fostered. Every day after school, I hear ten voices at once, beautiful chaos. Each time I say aloud, “I have ten children,” I can’t believe it – not because it’s too much, but because it feels comfortable. When I dream about the future, I see myself with even more children, running around a big property and coming in to eat dinner around our huge kitchen table. I have found my calling, and I am believing for God to gift us with the house that’s as big as my heart.

I had a sign made that hangs in our current home: “Walker’s House of Hope.” When I look at it, I say to God, “This is not it. But this is it for now.”

Seven years ago, we moved to a city that was in chaos and darkness. Today, we live in a home of chaos and light. And as I look around my busy kitchen table, I have never been more excited about the rest of my life.

About the Author

Taneasha Walker

Taneasha Walker is currently co-pastoring Word of Life Open Bible Church in Lehigh Acres, Florida, with her husband Dyecol. She serves on the Southeast Regional Board as an At- Large member. Taneasha has gained experience in every area of ministry, using this knowledge to effectively care for the local church body as well as the children that have been entrusted to her. She is passionate about prayer, utilizing it in every endeavor. In her free time, Taneasha’s hobbies include reading, singing, and traveling. 

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A Finely Woven Tapestry: Seventy Years in Trinidad and Tobago  

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In 2024 Open Bible Standard Churches of Trinidad and Tobago (OBSCTT) commemorates its platinum anniversary: seventy years of faith, strength, and community. Symbolically, Trinidad and Tobago’s Open Bible story unfolds as a finely woven tapestry, blending diverse threads and vibrant and intricate patterns to form a beautiful piece of art. For seven decades, God has woven OBSCTT’s narrative, skillfully blending elements like missionaries, innovative outreach, powerful prayer, unified discipleship, embrace of revival, and the vibrant people of Trinidad and Tobago. Each thread, even if seeming inconsequential, plays a distinctive role in contributing to the magnificent tapestry of their journey. 

Situated in the South Caribbean Sea, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago boasts a rich cultural and religious diversity reflecting African, Indian, European, Chinese, and other influences. Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and indigenous beliefs are all practiced there. Despite Trinidad and Tobago’s small geographical footprint and population of just 1.4 million, Open Bible’s influence has left a significant impact both nationally and globally, contributing to Trinidad and Tobago’s social, civic, and healthcare realms (the founding of the Acropolis Medical Centre being a primary example). OBSCTT boasts nearly one hundred churches, numerous kindergartens, a private high school, INSTE, and a Bible college with three campuses.   

Open Bible church members worship together as they celebrate their 70th anniversary

From its beginnings in 1956 under missionaries Kaare and Jean Wilhelmsen, OBSCTT had an emphasis on global outreach. Beginning their outreach in the neighboring country of Grenada in 1971, the churches in Trinidad and Tobago continually expanded their reach, eventually planting churches in South America, North America, Africa, and Europe. Trinidad and Tobago is also the home of Global Missions’ School of Global Leadership (SGL). The founding fathers and mothers of OBSCTT were full of missionary zeal and implanted this passion into the DNA of the churches. Today, it is a vital part of their identity.   

From the first missionaries, the Wilhelmsens, to the present-day Lumbard family, thirty-eight Open Bible missionaries have served on the islands. These missionaries laid a robust foundation and equipped capable local leaders. Today, the relationship of local leaders with Open Bible’s Global Missions is a uniquely collaborative partnership. This collaboration and sense of unity was part of the foundation set by the missionaries from the very beginning. Dr. Don Bryan and his wife Ruth were missionaries in the founding days of Open Bible in Trinidad and Tobago (1956-1970). Dr. Bryan spoke of how togetherness was key to Open Bible’s success in Trinidad. Through prayer, the churches and missionaries worked together as a team “so the devil couldn’t divide us.”  

Prayer was a unifying and foundational value in the churches. In particular, the Thursday morning Mountain Movers’ prayer meetings at the San Fernando church echoed Acts 19:11: “God did extraordinary miracles…” (NIV). Miracles were the norm, transforming lives as blind eyes were opened and demons cast out. Powerful proclamation of the gospel and God’s evident presence often led to entire families committing their lives to Christ, bringing explosive growth. Seventy years later, the powers of darkness persist but continue to be confronted in prayer services in many churches.  

4800 Open Bible church members march the streets of San Fernando to commemmorate 70 years

Recognizing the value Trinidadians placed on education, missionaries perceived a Kingdom opportunity and established Open Bible High School (OBHS) in 1967, emphasizing both academics and spiritual development to a student body from diverse faiths. At one time OBHS’s enrollment was the largest in the history of private schools on the island.  

Open Bible Institute of Trinidad (OBIT), founded in 1956, continues to train Christian leaders for pastoral, missions, and evangelism ministries. It incorporates theological and uniquely practical training that is an engine for outreach and discipleship. In the early days, student teams went to outlying areas each Thursday to practice the skills they learned in Bible school. There they held outdoor meetings, connected with and discipled Mountain Movers attendees, gathered others and started Sunday schools, and baptized new converts. Their “practice” ministry began birthing new churches, and five of the first six OBSCTT churches were started by the students while still in school!  

Church members of all ages march together with joy

Just as there are many Open Bible missionaries woven into the OBSCTT tapestry, so Trinidad and Tobago is woven into the tapestries of the missionaries themselves, leaving an indelible mark on their lives. It wasn’t just the great food found on the islands that made an impression! More significantly, it was the relationships they formed there that shaped the missionaries. Many of the following missionaries have joined the “great cloud of witnesses,” but others share some of their stories (click HERE to see video interview clips): Kaare and Jean Wilhelmsen, Minnie Bruns, Don and Ruth Bryan, A.E. and Ginny Mitchell, Margaret Crandall, Dora Turner, William and Donna Whitlow, Robert and Wanda Moon, Ed and Betty Wood, Weldon and Rosetta Davis, Melvin and Barbara Kelderman, Tom and Helen Clark, Clayton and Suzanne Crymes, Leona Janzen (Venditti), John and Nadine Simmons, Phil and Priscilla Newell, Dan and Mardell LeLaCheur, Harvey and Alys Klapstein, Grant and Miriam Sickles, and Mike and Pamela Lumbard. 

The most vibrant and prominent threads in the tapestry God is weaving for Open Bible Standard Churches of Trinidad and Tobago are the nationals themselves. The 2 Timothy 2:2 principle of entrusting the work to others who will pass it on to others has been a key to continued growth and expansion. The names are too many to share, but here are just a few of the local ministers who have led with distinction over the years: Revs. Dr. Benjamin Agard, Charles and Charmaine Alexis, Keith Armoogan, Desmond Austin, Carlyle Chankersingh, Munroe Cox, Vicram Hajaree, Leroy Haynes, Dr. Andy and Ann Marie Homer, Benjamin Hunte, Calbert Mark, Romaish Mohan, Raule Reid, Cecil and Debbie Quamina, Errol Ramdass, Fitzroy Griffith, Jr., and Junior Yuille.  

Rev. Dr. Benjamin Agard, National Elder-Director of OBSCTT, credits the preaching of the gospel of Christ and Him crucified – from the earliest of days until now – as a key to numerical and spiritual growth throughout OBSCTT’s history. The focus on the cross remains central to their identity. Minister Ann Marie Homer summed it up this way: “Just the fact that you can walk into any Open Bible church on a Sunday morning and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached in truth is a major accomplishment. We have not shifted.” 

Seventy years later, in this celebration of their platinum jubilee, we join with Open Bible Standard Churches of Trinidad and Tobago to look back at the tapestry God has woven through them and to celebrate His good work. Today, OBSCTT’s story reaches not only the islands of Trinidad and Tobago but extends to the uttermost parts of the world. As it says in Psalm 2:8, “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (NIV). Such an incredible inheritance and a rich legacy – we can only imagine what God will do next! 

About the Author

Tammy Swailes

Tammy Swailes is passionate about cross-cultural Christian education, so working with INSTE Global Bible College to disciple and equip leaders throughout Europe and beyond is a great fit! Tammy has lived in Europe since 1999 – first in Hungary and now Ukraine. Before that, she was in Japan, as well as Spokane, Washington. She now serves as INSTE regional director in Europe, assisting INSTE programs in five languages. Tammy has her undergraduate degrees in both Missions and Christian Education, and a MA in Intercultural Studies. Photography, good coffee, multi-cultural experiences, and the family’s Yorkie are some of Tammy’s favorite things. 

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UN TAPIZ FINAMENTE TEJIDO:  La Biblia Abierta de Trinidad y Tobago celebra setenta años de ministerio

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Las Iglesias Estándar de la Biblia Abierta de Trinidad y Tobago (OBSCTT, por sus siglas en inglés) conmemoran en 2024 su aniversario de platino: Setenta años de fe, fortaleza y comunidad. La historia de la Biblia Abierta de Trinidad y Tobago se desarrolla simbólicamente como un tapiz finamente tejido, en el que se mezclan diversos hilos y patrones vibrantes y complejos para formar una hermosa obra de arte. Durante siete décadas, Dios ha tejido la historia de OBSCTT, mezclando hábilmente elementos como los misioneros, el alcance innovador, la oración poderosa, un discipulado unificado, la acogida del avivamiento y el pueblo vibrante de Trinidad y Tobago. Cada hilo, aunque parezca insignificante, desempeña un papel distintivo que contribuye al magnífico tapiz de su trayectoria. 

La República de Trinidad y Tobago, ubicada en el Mar Caribe Sur, cuenta con una rica diversidad cultural y religiosa que refleja influencias africanas, indias, europeas, chinas y de otros lugares. Allí se practican creencias cristianas, hindúes, musulmanas e indígenas. A pesar de la pequeña extensión geográfica de Trinidad y Tobago y de su población de tan sólo un millón cuatrocientos mil habitantes, la influencia de la Biblia Abierta ha dejado un impacto significativo tanto a nivel nacional como mundial, al contribuir a los ámbitos social, cívico y al de la asistencia médica de Trinidad y Tobago (un ejemplo fundamental es la fundación del Centro Médico Acrópolis). La OBSCTT cuenta con casi cien iglesias, numerosas guarderías, un colegio secundario privado, INSTE, y un instituto bíblico con tres sedes.     

Los miembros de la iglesia de la Biblia Abierta adoran juntos mientras celebran su 70 aniversario

Desde sus inicios en 1956, bajo la dirección de los misioneros Kaare y Jean Wilhelmsen, la OBSCTT hizo hincapié en el alcance global. Las iglesias de Trinidad y Tobago, que comenzaron su labor en el país vecino de Granada en 1971, fueron expandiendo su alcance en forma contínua hasta llegar a plantar iglesias en Sudamérica, Norteamérica, África y Europa. Trinidad y Tobago es también la sede de la Escuela de Liderazgo Global (SGL) de Misiones Globales. Los fundadores de la OBSCTT estaban llenos de celo misionero e implantaron esta pasión en el ADN de las iglesias. Hoy en día, es una parte vital de su identidad.   

Desde la familia Wilhelmsen, los primeros misioneros, hasta la actual familia Lumbard, treinta y ocho misioneros de la Biblia Abierta han servido en las islas. Estos misioneros fundaron una base sólida y equiparon a líderes locales competentes. Hoy en día, la relación entre los líderes locales con las Misiones Globales de la Biblia Abierta es una asociación de colaboración única. Esta colaboración y sentido de unidad fue parte de los cimientos establecidos por los misioneros desde el principio.  El Dr. Don Bryan y su esposa Ruth fueron misioneros en la época en que se fundó La Biblia Abierta en Trinidad y Tobago (1956-1970). El Dr. Bryan habló de cómo la unidad fue clave para el éxito de la Biblia Abierta en Trinidad. A través de la oración, las iglesias y los misioneros trabajaron juntos como un equipo «para que el diablo no pudiera dividirnos».  

La oración fue el valor unificador y cimentador de las iglesias. En especial, en la iglesia de San Fernando las reuniones de oración de los Movedores de Montañas de los jueves por la mañana hacían resonar las palabras de Hechos 19:11: «Dios hacía milagros extraordinarios…». (NVI). Los milagros fueron la norma, transformaron vidas al abrir los ojos de los ciegos y expulsar demonios.  La poderosa proclamación del Evangelio y la evidente presencia de Dios llevaron a menudo a familias enteras a entregar sus vidas a Cristo, lo que trajo consigo un crecimiento explosivo. Setenta años después, los poderes de las tinieblas persisten, pero siguen siendo confrontados en los servicios de oración de muchas iglesias. 

4800 miembros de la iglesia Biblia Abierta marchan por las calles de San Fernando para conmemorar 70 años

Los misioneros, reconociendo el valor que los trinitenses atribuían a la educación, vieron una oportunidad para el Reino y crearon en 1967 la Escuela Secundaria de la Biblia Abierta (OBHS, por sus siglas en inglés), que hacía hincapié en el desarrollo académico y espiritual de un alumnado de diversas religiones. Llegó un momento en que la matrícula de la OBHS era la mayor de la historia de las escuelas privadas de la isla.  

El Seminario de la Biblia Abierta de Trinidad (OBIT, por sus siglas en inglés), fundado en 1956, sigue formando a líderes cristianos para ministerios pastorales, misioneros y de evangelización. El seminario incorpora una formación teológica y práctica única que constituye un motor para la evangelización y el discipulado. En sus inicios, los equipos de estudiantes se desplazaban cada jueves a las zonas periféricas para poner en práctica lo aprendido en la escuela bíblica. Allí celebraron reuniones al aire libre, se pusieron en contacto e instruyeron a los asistentes de los Movedores de Montañas, reunieron a otros e iniciaron escuelas dominicales, y bautizaron a nuevos creyentes. Su «práctica» del ministerio comenzó a dar a luz nuevas iglesias, ¡y cinco de las primeras seis iglesias de la OBSCTT fueron fundadas por los propios estudiantes mientras aún estaban en la escuela!  

Miembros de la Iglesia de todas las edades marchan juntos con alegría

Al igual que hay muchos misioneros de la Biblia Abierta entretejidos en el tapiz de la OBSCTT, así Trinidad y Tobago está entretejida en los tapices de los propios misioneros, dejando una huella indeleble en sus vidas. No fue sólo la magnífica comida de las islas lo que les impresionó. Más importante aún, fueron las relaciones que entablaron allí las que dieron forma a los misioneros. Si bien muchos de los siguientes misioneros se han unido a la «gran nube de testigos», otros nos cuentan algunas de sus historias (haga clic en los enlaces para ver los vídeos de las entrevistas): Kaare y Jean Wilhelmsen, Minnie Bruns, Don y Ruth Bryan, A.E. y Ginny Mitchell, Margaret Crandall, Dora Turner, William y Donna Whitlow, Robert y Wanda Moon, Ed y Betty Wood, Weldon y Rosetta Davis, Melvin y Barbara Kelderman, Tom y Helen Clark, Clayton y Suzanne Crymes, Leona Janzen (Venditti), John y Nadine Simmons, Phil y Priscilla Newell, Dan y Mardell LeLaCheur, Harvey y Alys Klapstein, Grant y Miriam Sickles, y Mike y Pamela Lumbard. 

Los hilos más vibrantes y prominentes en el tapiz que Dios está tejiendo en las Iglesias de la Biblia Abierta de Trinidad y Tobago son los propios nacionales. El principio de 2 Timoteo 2:2 de encargar la obra a personas idóneas que la transmitirán a otros ha sido clave para el crecimiento y la expansión continuos. Son demasiados nombres para mencionarlos a todos, pero he aquí sólo algunos de los ministros locales que han dirigido con distinción a lo largo de los años: Reverendos Dr. Benjamín Agard, Charles y Charmaine Alexis, Keith Armoogan, Desmond Austin, Carlyle Chankersingh, Munroe Cox, Vicram Hajaree, Leroy Haynes, Dr. Andy y Ann Marie Homer, Benjamín Hunte, Calbert Mark, Romaish Mohan, Raule Reid, Cecil y Debbie Quamina, Errol Ramdass, Fitzroy Griffith, Jr. y Junior Yuille. 

El Rev. Dr. Benjamín Agard, Anciano-director nacional de la OBSCTT, da merito a la predicación, desde los primeros días hasta ahora, del evangelio de Cristo y de este crucificado, como la clave del crecimiento numérico y espiritual a lo largo de la historia de la OBSCTT. El enfoque del mensaje de la cruz sigue siendo fundamental para su identidad. La ministra Ann Marie Homer lo resumió así: «El solo hecho de que usted pueda entrar en cualquier iglesia de la Biblia Abierta un domingo por la mañana y escuchar el verdadero evangelio de Jesucristo predicado, constituye un gran logro. No nos hemos desviado». 

Setenta años después, en esta celebración de su jubileo de platino, nos unimos a las Iglesias Estándar de la Biblia Abierta de Trinidad y Tobago para mirar hacia atrás, al tapiz que Dios ha tejido a través de ellos y celebrar Su buena obra. Hoy, la historia de la OBSCTT no sólo llega a las islas de Trinidad y Tobago, sino que se extiende hasta los confines de la tierra. Como dice el Salmo 2:8: «Pídeme, y te daré por herencia las naciones, y como posesión tuya los confines de la tierra.» (RVR-60). Qué herencia tan increíble y qué legado tan rico: ¡sólo podemos imaginar lo que Dios hará a continuación! 

Sobre la autora

Tammy Swailes

¡Tammy Swailes es una apasionada de la educación cristiana multicultural, por lo que trabajar con el Seminario Bíblico Global INSTE para discipular y equipar a los líderes en toda Europa y más allá encaja a la perfección! Tammy ha vivido en Europa desde 1999 (primero en Hungría y ahora en Ucrania). Antes de eso, vivió en Japón, así como en Spokane, Washington. En la actualidad se desempeña como directora regional de INSTE en Europa, colaborando con los programas de INSTE en cinco idiomas. Tammy tiene una licenciatura en Misiones y otra en Educación Cristiana, y una maestría en Estudios Interculturales. Algunas de las cosas que más le gustan a Tammy son la fotografía, el buen café, las experiencias multiculturales y el perrito Yorkie de la familia.

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