Believer's Bridge

The Beginning ~
In October 2007, Bill went back to Peru at the invitation of Mike Riggs, a missionary with Chelsea Bible Church, to visit the Andes of Peru and teach on Creation to the Quechua.  Our family had previously come back from a church mission trip in the summer of 2007 to Lima, Peru, also where Mike Riggs worked.

During that October trip, Bill heard the story of how the Shining Path had terrorized the mountainous regions of Peru, specifically Andahuaylas where he was visiting.  The Shining Path started out as a communist group which eventually turned to terrorism.  They operated from 1980-1992, but now work as drug smugglers.

You can read more about them here.

He heard first hand from one of the pastors who had been stoned and left for dead how he managed to walk/crawl back to a village where he was able to recover.  He was one of the few who survived.  Many pastors and political leaders had been killed and now there were over 1200 churches with about only 80 trained pastors left.  They asked him to send Mike to help teach and train those who were filling in as pastors but had no training, chosen only because they knew how to read.

The Call~
Through a series of events, including searching for an evangelical mission organization that was already working in Andahuaylas, Bill came home and asked me, "How would you like to start a mission organization?"  Used to unusual comments, I calmly replied back, "Well, it's a good thing I was a missionary kid." 

As it turned out, there had been missionaries in those parts before the Shining Path came through.  But the mission organizations pulled all their missionaries out when the terrorism began and none had gone back.  In fact, the organizations Bill talked to said they would never send missionaries back or thought it would be an interesting prospect and could probably put together a plan they could implement in 5-10 years. 

Needless to say, the urgency and plea of the nationals touched the hearts of Bill and Mike, and God put the rest into motion.

Video explaining Peru and Shining Path.

Video about a man who translated the Bible into Quechua, but who was also martyred.  Some narration/images may not be appropriate for small children.

The Why~
SO, Believer's Bridge was started so the Riggs' could have a mission organization that would take care of all the details that a missionary needs when they are on the mission field.  We do not claim to know everything about running a mission organization, nor are we ignorant of how missions works.  In fact, we are amazed at the events and training we went through prior to 2007.

Bill graduated with a BS in International Business in 1996.  Hm, no coincidence there.  Many of the jobs he had involved working with other overseas businesses, including travel to those countries. 

I (Becky) was born to missionary parents in Brazil and lived most of my childhood and adolescence there.  Missionary living is nothing new to me.
My mom at the "feira" in Brazil.

Missions in general has been something Bill and I have been involved with ever since we knew each other, including a mission trip to Mexico while in college.  Bill initiated and planned several mission trips to Latin America, including the 2007 trip to Lima, Peru I mentioned at the beginning.  We went through 3 mission classes while attending Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale from 2002-2003.  I worked in the mission's department while in college.  The list goes on and on, all prior to the events that culminated in the start of Believer's Bridge.

The How~
Since we stepped through the trap door God had planned for us, the events that followed (and are still continuing) have amazed us, humbled us, tried us, empowered us, and continue to strengthen us.  When we first started, Bill was working a full-time job but we realized in 2010 that we would need to transition into the ministry full-time. 

Funny how God works.  We began the process of raising support, hoping to raise enough for Bill to quit his regular job at some time in the future.  Little did we know that it would be the near future.  A week after returning from a mission trip to Belem, Brazil in July 2010, Bill was let go.  Panic set in, but we prayed and felt this was yet another of God's ways to turn our full attention to the ministry. 

It has been very hard to receive support from churches, even though we have visited several.  What we have found is that families and individuals are coming on board and partnering with us financially.  And where we have lacked, either God has brought the money (Robert found $700 by the side of the road 2 days before one of our trips), or someone has written a large check, or God provided what was needed (printer providing extra ink for 700+ invitations.) 

Our RV (behind the car) we will have traveled in for over a year's worth by the end of 2011.

The Organization~
As of 2011 we have one USA missionary family, and two nationals working with us.  There are several others who volunteer and a few who are considering working with us full-time.  We are starting to partner with churches and individuals to help supply teachers for both our institutes and seminary.

The institute is probably best described as a series of classes taught for one week at a time every other month for 12 months, with 2 extra months (2 extra weeks) for anyone that missed a class or two.  The institute is held at any church at the recommendations of our missionaries.  These churches are in the remote areas surrounding the city of Andahuaylas.  That church has to 1) have dorms 2) have a kitchen 3) and bathrooms all to the Quechua standards, not American.  Students who can qualify have to be recommended/approved by their pastor.

Video of Mike Riggs presenting our first Quechua Bible Institute.

At the end of the course, they receive a certificate.  Basic foundations of the Bible are taught with the intent of not teaching a denomination, but what the Bible teaches.  We are not planting churches, but discipling pastors and others with a better understanding of the Bible. 

It may seem odd to teach only every other month and for one week.  But we are not working in a developed area.  The people survive off the land and are very poor and can not take a lot of time off.   Most do not own a car and will walk for days to get to the institute.  But their hunger to learn has been overwhelming.  We were told to only expect 15 or less to sign up.  Our first institute had over 150 applicants!

The seminary is similar to an overseas university.  Students get their degree by getting the amount of credits necessary for that degree.  Classes are held on Saturdays for 5 hours.  It is currently accredited through the IEP (Iglesia Evangelica Peruana - Evangelical Church of Peru) and MINT Seminary in Miami.  We are working toward becoming self-accredited by Peruvian standards so eventually it will be able to run on its own.

There is only one seminary right now (2011) which is in the city of Andahuaylas, where it is more developed.  We have been asked by the IEP to open two more seminaries.  One in the state of Ayacucho (where the Shining Path started) and one in another state. 

Seminary celebration.  About 5 denominations were present.

We are always looking for teachers, either for the institutes or seminary.  Anyone wishing to teach at the seminary must have a comparable degree to the level they wish to teach.  For example, to teach a Bachelor's degree, you must have a Bachelor degree, Master's, a Master's degree, and so on.  Anyone wishing to teach at the institute should have at least an Associates degree in Bible, etc. and experience teaching a Bible study, Sunday School class, or similar.  Being able to speak Spanish is best since the institutes are in Quechua speaking areas and have to be translated from Spanish.  Translating from English to Spanish to Quechua becomes time-consuming and eats up the actual learning time, and very likely the accuracy of the message. 

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