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A Finely Woven Tapestry: Seventy Years in Trinidad and Tobago  

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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