J.D. and Rhonda Reed have served in Bolivia since July 2011. J.D is a regional consultant for Theological Education throughout Iberoamerica and the Caribbean. He is the administrative coordinator for the Masters of Theological Studies Latino/a Ministries Program (MTS) for Palmer Seminary of Eastern University. He works with IM partners and global servants to help train pastors and church leaders throughout the region. Rhonda is a nurse (BSN) who oversees the House of Hope (Proyectos Esperanza) in the cities of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
J.D. writes – “This never gets old!”
That was the thought that was running through my head last week as I was sitting on a plane flying to Campinas, Brazil, to join the second-year residency week for the Brazillian cohort. I was also there to take part in celebrating the first group as they had their local graduation celebration. A number of them made the trek north to Philadelphia last May to walk through the graduation ceremony for Eastern University, but this was the event that they were waiting for. This was the evening that their families, friends, and congregations could come together and recognize all of the hard work they had put into getting their Masters degrees. For two years, they have spent much of their free time in the study that surrounds this program. Whether reading, writing or interacting in forum groups, one thing is for certain, they are a tightly-knit bunch.
The evening was a glorious acknowledgment of their hard work and dedication to their studies. As I sat there and took it all in, a few things were quite evident to me. The first thing I was reminded of is the sheer amount of people that are involved in this program. From the professors and students to the families and churches, as well as the administration and the seminary itself, it truly takes a small army to make this program run. Are there bumps and bruises along the way? Sure, sometimes there are. However, that doesn’t diminish the hard work that everyone involved puts into the program. There are too many people to mention all of them here, but it is a combination of missionary support, administration, and faculty. God has blessed this program with all of the people that are working to make it happen. …
Then, I began to focus on the students and that is when I saw the best part. They were looking around at each other. They were smiling and passing looks of encouragement that were filled with two years of a shared journey to learn more about God and about each other. As each one passed across the stage, every other graduate was cheering them on. At that moment you saw more than congratulations in their eyes. They had become a community of faith. Even though they are spread across one of the ten largest countries in the world they were closer than they had ever been as they shared in the joy of the moment. No course can teach that. That level of community only comes with shared experiences that form bonds that will last for years to come. This wasn’t just a graduation ceremony, it was a family reunion.
Read J.D.’s full journal at https://internationalministries.org/empowering-mts-program-holds-first-graduation-in-brazil/