"Where there is water, there are Chinese." The Chinese diaspora reaches even the midst of Latin America where over one million Chinese populous have spread throughout its 27 nations. Yet the work of spreading the gospel to them has been delayed due to political, economic, and linguistic (Spanish) restrictions.
Currently, there are a total of three Chinese seminaries in Latin America, in Brazil, Panama, and Argentina respectively. For the Alliance Bible Seminary (ABS) in Panama, they were able to experience the miracle of buying the president's mansion for their campus.
Alliance Bible Seminary was established on February 13, 2000 in Panama. On December 31, 2004, the contract for the rented campus ended. Initially ABS hopes to extend the contract, yet no response was given. After prayer and discussions, the ABS board believed that a better campus needs to be found. Planning to buy the new campus, ABS has set 30 million dollar as their fundraising goal and also for renovations another 30 million dollars.
The Heavens are Higher than the Earth
ABS found a perfect location, the mansion of Panama's former president. There is the mansion itself plus the guard dormitory and another condo, and in addition were balconies, swimming pool, sauna room, and a huge 23 acres of open space. The market price of the real estate then was 750,000 dollars. Yet the owner was willing to reduce the price, and sold the place at half price to ABS. Although the reduction was a steal, the price was still beyond the budget of the board. Therefore ABS board asked the owner to reduce the price further, and surprisingly, the owner was willing to sell the property at one-third of the market price, yet he required them to complete the deal within three months. The ABS board first reserved the property with 60,000 dollars, and borrowed 190,000 from the bank to seal the deal. Yet, Panama, like many other Latin American countries, is a predominantly Catholic nation. The government restricts banks from confiscating churches or properties of religious organizations. Unfortunately, the bank rejected the application for the loan.
The Lord will Provide
The president of ABS Dr. Paul Theophilus said, "Recalling the situation, the problems we faced was just a test. God does not wish for us to be independent, but for us to bind in him on every matter. When we were facing difficulty then, we relied on God and sent out announcements calling for "emergency support." Like Abraham then who offered Isaac thinking that his son will die, who knew that God has prepared. We experienced the same Lord who provided as well. In California, many of our brothers and sisters gave donations to support us. One church was about to use its money to build new chapel, yet because the money was not needed urgently for them, the church was willing to loan 100,000 dollars at no interest. Another organization also loaned to ABS at no interest as well. And two more members helped us and loaned us 60,000 dollars. Eventually we were able to purchase the property at the appointed time."
In the beginning of this year, ABS successfully moved into the new campus, and changed the president's mansion into student dorm. They also changed the guard dorm into classrooms, cafeteria, library... In early March, a new school year begun and everything returned to its normal operations.
Dream Half Fulfilled
Dr. Theophilus said that ABS being able to buy the new campus is only the first half of the dream. The second half of the dream is to build on the new campus a two-story education center. Although the campus is nice, yet because the former president designed the place into the perfect vacation spot, to change into seminary use would need new equipments and furniture for the sanctuary, library, and at least four classrooms.
Dr. Theophilus continued, "Recalling past few months, we witnessed the miracle of how the Lord provided, bought the campus with the first set of offering, and met our goal before the end of March. Surprisingly, not long ago a member was moved by the Lord and donated 150,000 dollars for the second set of offering. So now until accomplishing our second goal, we still need 200,000 dollars. What we still lack, we hope to fundraise within this year, then plans and construction can be carried out beginning of next year."