Palm Beach Atlantic’s School of Ministry has launched the University’s first degree in the Spanish language.
The Bachelor of Arts in global leadership (Licenciatura en Liderazgo Global), led by Dr. Ryan Gladwin, is an online, interdisciplinary degree that creatively combines organizational leadership, ministry and intercultural studies.
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Dr. Bernie Cueto, vice president for spiritual development and a Cuban-American, teaches in the program. PBA can offer an excellent education in the heart-language of Spanish speakers thanks to “great leadership and God’s help,” Cueto said.
“This is a historic moment for Palm Beach Atlantic University,” Cueto said. “The essence of a Christian liberal arts education is to interact with all of God’s world from a Christian perspective. Not only are we teaching that, but we are doing this with our global leadership program.”
PBA opted to offer an interdisciplinary degree, rather than a ministry degree, to best serve the needs of church leaders in both the United States and Latin America. In the Latin American context, leaders that work in ministry need to have an additional vocation to support themselves financially. The global leadership and intercultural studies’ tracks will allow them to find work in the business, non-profit and international development sectors.
“Consequently, the desire of this program is to empower individuals to be leaders, not only in the church, but also in the business and non-profit sectors to impact society at large,” Gladwin said.
There is a pressing need for an accredited ministry program in the region, Gladwin said. The global leadership program brings a solution, widening the opportunity for Latin-Americans to receive a quality education in ministry.
Classes began Aug. 25, with nine students from Florida, Colombia and Ecuador. The University has formed partnerships with Seminario Bíblico Alianza de Colombia of the Colombian Christian Missionary Alliance, the Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano of Mennonite Church USA, and Emmanuel Academies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Naples.
Luis Giovanny Castillo Mindineros, a father of three, is from a rural part of Colombia that is in the middle of armed conflict. As a boy, he traveled to a nearby town for his education, where he eventually became the first person on his mother’s side of the family to begin a collegiate education. At the age of 21, while in college, he put his faith in Christ.
Currently, he serves as director of the south region for the Christian Alliance Church and a member of its national board in Colombia.
“PBA is an opportunity to continue advancing in my studies, and it is a dream come true,” he said. “Thanks to this opportunity, I become the first son of my land to enter an American university, for ministry and work. What I do is the manifestation of the grace of my savior.”
Diego Fernando Bolivar runs the information technology department of the Colombian CMA and serves as a volunteer pastor in Zarzal Valle, Colombia.
“The global leadership program is a valuable tool that provides me with key knowledge to perform better leadership in both technical and ministerial areas,” Bolivar said. “This program encourages me in growth of character and continuous training in the context where I work.”
The Chatlos Foundation, a private, philanthropic foundation, awarded PBA’s program a $10,000 grant. The University will use the grant to provide student scholarships as it grows partnerships throughout South Florida and Latin America in 2021-22.
Another student, 27-year-old Yuheni Andrea Jimenez Ortega, is a bi-vocational missionary in Colombia with her husband, Michael Marin. PBA represents an answer to their prayers for an opportunity to continue studies that will help them in their service to Jesus, she said.
“Training in global leadership is valuable for its biblical-theological content and the formation of leaders who see the world through the eyes of God,” Jimenez Ortega wrote.
Maritza* is a missionary of the Colombian Christian Alliance Church, with seven years of experience in the field. In addition to various other ministry and missions roles, she is part of a Latin American network that informs, trains and connects the church to the Pashtun people in Central Asia.
“I am very happy to be part of the PBA community and the global leadership program,” she said. “God has allowed us to grow academically and professionally, to understand His will and participate in the extension of His kingdom.”
*Last name withheld to protect identity for security reasons.
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Photo 1: Dr. Bernie Cueto, vice president for spiritual development, teaches in the global leadership program.
Photo 2: Dr. Ryan Gladwin is director of the global leadership program.