This article was originally written in Spanish, translated into English by Andres Castillo.
When you hear stories like these, there is nothing to do but start to thank God for our moments of personal dissatisfaction. Those same moments where one feels incomplete in a mission upon returning home, despite fulfilling plans and even receiving recognition from external voices. Each minute forms a whirlpool of frustration of its own, but it also becomes a moment of creativity, designed by God Himself to make way for something new.
Marco Güete returned to Kansas from Canada feeling similarly after attending a camp organized by the Mennonite church of Canada for Spanish and English speakers alike. Marco was on a mission to give workshops in Spanish on Anabaptist history and radical reform. Marco arrived at the site, laid out his material, and dictated his class. But in the course of it all, he felt that the class had not equally reached all the students. It was dictated in an academic language that was out of reach of many of the Hispanic students who didn’t have the theoretical basis to understand him.
From this dissatisfaction and a long flight, an idea was born: a biblical institute designed for people of any academic level. It would simultaneously serve those who could barely read or write and people who already had a couple of diplomas.
Marco arrived at his home determined to turn his fantasy into reality. A little while later he invited a group of pastors to a lecture hall in Kansas City. There, in the summer of 1986, after kneading and turning the idea over the fire a few times, the IBA (Anabaptist Bible Institute) was born.
At first the IBA had to borrow material from other institutions, but after a while they began to write their own books. Marco recalls especially the first two books that were written, the first on the History of the Radical Reformation and the second, two volumes, called Walking Through the Old Testament. The books were written by experts in the field, historians and theologians, but they still had the tendency to use technical language that was not easily understandable by all students. Marco set to work and tried to turn the texts into easy-to-understand teaching materials. In the end, he succeeded.
Marco Güete was director of the IBA for the first 14 years of its existence. When he stepped down, it had 12 centers, more than 80 students, 12 tutors, and almost all original material. The IBA became a biblical institute that visited churches, opening centers in the same communities where students graduated. Because of this, some conferences adopted the IBA as their pastoral accreditation program. The IBA helped churches in preparing its leaders, in preserving an Anabaptist missionary and theological identity, and in helping to strengthen the church in general. Five years ago Marco returned to leadership of the IBA and now invests his efforts in giving continuity and growth to the institute. The church in general thanks God for the blessing that is the IBA.
This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)