High demand for Toba Bible study in Argentina

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Damián Díaz, Carlos Aurelio, José Oyanguren and Feliciano Flores celebrate during the Toba Bible Institute’s first graduating ceremony in December 2009.

J. J. CASTELLI, Argentina (Mennonite Mission Network) – Expectant students gathered around open Bibles on March 20 when a new branch of the Instituto Bíblico Toba (Toba Bible Institute) in Argentina’s Chaco Province began classes in Espinillo, 70 kilometers north of Castelli.

The need for another location grew out of the excitement generated last December, when 35 students graduated from Instituto Bíblico Toba’s first three-year program in Castelli. In April, a second group of students will begin classes in Castelli. The student groups meet in churches.

“Learning together is a great experience,” said José Luis Oyanguren, who leads the Bible Institute’s teaching team. “We are encouraged by many who are eagerly waiting to begin the coming year’s studies.”

Instituto Bíblico Toba graduates named some of the benefits they gained from studying together:

· Learning with and from each other knit us, as members of various denominations into a more cohesive body of Christ.

· Studying in our mother tongue helps us rediscover our identity and our value in the sight of God.

· Knowing more about the “hidden” parts of God’s word helped us better teach our own congregations.

Alfonsina and José Luis Oyanguren and their three children are members of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Argentina (Argentine Mennonite Church) from Buenos Aires province. They became Mennonite Mission Network International Partnership Associates working with the Mennonite team in the Chaco in 2004.

In addition to teaching at the Bible school and participating in indigenous church life, the Oyangurens continue to invest considerable energy in perfecting their Toba language skills and deepening their understanding of Toba cultural values.

“What is important is to maintain a learning spirit and an appreciation for the indigenous worldview, for in this we communicate the good news,” José Luis Oyanguren said.

Oyanguren, along with two Toba teachers, was chosen by the Chaco Province Department of Education to write a Toba grammar curriculum and train bilingual (Toba/Spanish) teachers in the Castelli area.

Contributed by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen MMN Mennonite Mission Network Stories