FAITHFUL MEN TRAINING FAITHFUL MEN:
THE MINISTRY OF EBENEZER BIBLE COLLEGE (INSTITUTO PRÁCTICO EBENEZER)
Ebenezer Bible College (called Instituto Práctico Ebenezer in Spanish) was founded in 1969 by Leonardo Mercado, the father of Dr. Dick Mercado (international representative and former General Director of MGM International, also a ministry founded by Leonardo Mercado). The college is located in the city center of Hermosillo, which is the capital of the Mexican state of Sonora. The purpose of the institution continues to be to train men and women for full-time vocational local-church ministry.
Graduates of “IPE,” as many people affectionately call the college, serve across the Republic of Mexico as well as in different countries–and not just Spanish-speaking countries. Currently, formers students serve in Mexico, the United States, Spain, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Ghana. Although the young people within Mexico’s borders comprise the primary constituency of students, many have come from the United States to prepare themselves to reach Hispanics in America. With approximately fifty-three million Hispanics in the United States, several U.S.-born Hispanics have traveled to Hermosillo (primarily from California and Arizona) to train and then return to the States to minister in what is the second largest country of residing Hispanics. Recently, a graduate of Ebenezer Bible College obtained a religious visa to minister in a heavily Hispanic-populated area of Colorado. The college leadership recognizes that the Lord is calling Mexicans to take the Gospel message not only to those in their own country, but also to the uttermost parts of the world.
The training at Ebenezer Bible College is theological as well as practical, with II Timothy 2:2 as the college’s philosophy of training. Just as the Apostle Paul trained Timothy theologically as well as ministerially, taking young Timothy along with him as he ministered, the faculty train men and women in the classroom and then provide them opportunities weekly to put into practice what they learned in the classroom. Many of the teachers are pastors, and as students serve in a local church during their training, they see their professors practicing what they preach from the lectern.
Ebenezer Bible College offers a four-year Bible college curriculum, and various degrees. Those who stay for four years earn one of two degrees, with options to advance in their ministerial training. Those who complete a doctrinal thesis in their fourth year and have taken two years of Greek have the option of completing a twelve-month internship to acquire a licenciatura, which is Mexico’s professional degree (a degree that is somewhere between an American undergraduate degree and a master’s degree). For those who are already in the ministry, the college offers a Master of Ministry program to provide further ministerial training to graduates as well as pastors who wish to sharpen their ministerial axe.
Ebenezer Bible College endeavors to model a cycle of missionary ministry with the goal of developing leaders among those to whom they minister. The majority of the more than twenty full-time and adjunct college staff, professors, and leadership are Mexicans. Only a few American families (three, at the most) minister at the college. The college plans to strengthen Mexican leadership in the near future by implementing an online master’s degree to equip further the Mexican teachers. The master’s program also has the potential to equip pastors throughout Mexico, and provide a pattern for leadership development in other Latin American countries.
Ebenezer Bible College’s website provides further information about the college, and can be accessed at www.institutoebenezer.net. Ron Cochran is the director of the college. The college is a ministry of MGM International (www.mgmi.org), with Dr. David Shumate as General Director.
This article’s author is Dan Wokaty, who has served at the college since 2001.