Instituto Biblico do Alto Rio Negro is comprised of people from 22 different Indian tribes. The seminary was first found in April, 1995, and later inaugurated on March 21, 1997. The purpose of establishing a seminary was to fulfill Missionary Kim's Kingdom-sized dream of bringing the Gospel to all the Indian tribes across the Rio Negro area.
The motivation behind the establishment of Rio Negro's Seminary in 1997 was as followed:
1. Brazilian missionaries in the area, such as the New Tribes Mission and Missao ALEM, for years made efforts to establish a Biblical Institute to train future indigenous ministers and leaders, but they were unable to obtain permission from their headquarters. When Missionary Kim first came to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira in February of 1995, the present missionary groups requested that Missionary Kim carry out the grand project of establishing a seminary.
2. The Rio Negro River Valley is three times the size of its neighboring northern and southern areas, and is circumscribed by waterways instead of land mass. There are at least 80 spots along the Rio Negro where deadly river rapids and massive waterfalls pose a great threat to anyone who pass by. Missionary work in this area is dangerous, and as a result, becomes difficult for foreign missionaries to gain access deep into the Rain Forest in search of Indian Tribes. Additionally, the government's refusal to grant Brazilian visas to foreign missionaries has led to a shortage of foreign missionaries in the Amazon region.
With seventeen tribes left to be evangelized, along with a shortage of foreign missionaries, it has become necessary to educate and train the Indigenous people to become competent pastors and missionaries.
3. Due to the mix of Christianity and indigenous religious practices, human poisoning and perverse sexual sins still continued among five different tribal groups who were originally ministered by the New Tribes Mission. Because of the absence of seminary-educated Indian Spiritual leaders, the Indian converts lacked proper spiritual guidance. Although their churches had adopted the fundamental beliefs and practices of Christianity, they lacked the fruits of spiritual regeneration and maturity. The best way to rectify this predicament was to re-introduce the Gospel to them, edifying the church and encouraging the spiritual well-being of its members. For these reasons, it was necessary to establish a seminary like the Biblical Institute to train leaders who can now ground themselves firmly in Christian doctrine.
With financial help from Senior Pastor Sam Hwan Kim at Myung Sang Church, and Senior Pastor Myung Chul Moon at Dong Yang Mission Church from Sao Paulo, an 800 by 2000 meter property was purchased in April of 1995. This location was deemed perfect since it was somewhat isolated from the village of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, and away from the national European-mixed Brazilians. At the same time, the property was surrounded by rainforests where students can utilize the space to maintain their Indian lifestyle, such as farming and ranching.
After the land was purchased in May of 1995, the Brazilian missionaries held weekly prayer meetings and also began to transform the once useless land into a viable groundwork for construction. As the missionaries were praying and laboring, they agreed to donate the Seminary to the Indian brothers and sisters once they attain enough Spiritual leadership and wisdom.
The official name decided for the Seminary is "Instituto Biblico do Alto Rio Negro."
Among the numerous resident missionaries and supporting members, eight standing directors were chosen as administrators of the Seminary. Among the eight standing directors, four were native Brazilians and the other four were Brazilian-citizens or Brazilian-resident Korean missionaries. The four Korean trustees included Missionary Cheol Ki Kim, his wife Woon Seok Kim, and two Korean pastors from Sao Paulo. The committee was formed to preserve and protect the legal paperwork involved in the Seminary's property rights. It was decided that a native Brazilian missionary should be the chief director of the board and a Korean missionary be the vice chief director. The purpose for this arrangement was to administer the Seminary in accordance to the local customs and social codes.
With the seminary constructed, a cooperative relationship naturally ensued among the missionaries in the area. This collaboration proved efficient, utilizing more human resource while minimizing excess use of funds. It served as a wonderful living testimony of love and humility in the Body of Christ for the people of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira.
The primary goal for the Rio Negro's Seminary was to erect a Biblical Institute where Indian Christians can be educated and trained to become ministers. The second goal was to provide theology and general courses to ministry candidates, to give them the opportunity to become certified Spiritual leaders for their tribal villages. The third goal was to re-educate and re-train local church ministers. The fourth goal was to send seminary graduates as missionaries to Indian tribes of unreached regions, and to eventually erect local churches. The last goal of Rio Negro Seminary, Missionary Kim hopes, is to have seminary students translate the Bible and other teaching materials into their own languages.
The Rio Negro's Seminary is a non-denominational seminary because of Missionary Kim's desire to cultivate ministers who are solely focused on teaching the Word of God without any affiliation to denominational values. These ministers, as a result, would also be able to unify churches that had already been established. Donhyukgyodan, which was erected in June 29, 2000, is the united Indians biblical church of Rio Negro,
The seminary decided to use the doctrinal tenets of New Tribes Mission, a ministry that was already working in the area. New Tribes Mission was the premier tribal denomination of the Indians, and many of the Indians had received the Gospel through its missionaries. Thus, adopting its doctrine was a way to promote unity among various churches.
Beginning in the early 1980s, Brazilian nationals from several different denominations began to influence the indigenous churches by distributing food and clothing to them. As a sign of gratitude,,the Indian churches changed their denominations to that of their benefactors. Soon enough, the Brazilian nationals succeeded in changing many of the traditions, customs and politics of the Indian churches. As a consequence of this trend, denominational tension
grew between the Brazilian-influenced churches and the more indigenous churches.
To help avoid the same kind of problem (which had brought so much unwarranted suffering and dissensions), the Rio Negro's Seminary was declared a non-denominational seminary.
Under the auspices of Siloam Church in Los Angeles with Senior Pastor Chang Hoon Cho, the seminary construction was launched in November 1996. A building with four 10m X 20m classrooms was to be built first. Student dormitories (6m by 9m rooms) were then constructed with a contractor to complete its final stages. Another spacious dormitory and two missionary lodges were created in the second phase of construction. This phase was carried out not by contractors, but by collaborating missionaries with the leading director included.
Every morning, Missionary Kim's wife would pick up the missionary workers and the construction tools, and drop them off at the Seminary. Transportation was also provided for seminary professors who taught two to three classes daily.The seminary was finally complete. The end result was a main building, chapel, cafeteria and kitchen, three dormitories, four lodges for missionaries and guests, and several outdoor lecture rooms.
On March 21, 1997, the Instituto Biblico do Alto Rio Negro inaugurated its first freshmen class of 12 from the Tribes of Baniwa, Bare, and Werekena.
Every year, the Rio Negro Seminary admits ten new students, bringing the student body to 40 members (10 students per class). When students' families are included, the count comes to about 70 residents on campus. Due to insufficient funds and limited availability for dormitories, the class size remains small year after year, for now.
The academic year for the students at Rio Negro Seminary is as follows:
The spring semester begins early March and finishes the end of June. The students get their two-month summer vacation thereafter. They then come back for the fall semester, which begins early August and finishes the end of November. When the school term comes to a close, the seniors graduate while others receive a three-month vacation. Each semester lasts four months with a short break in mid-July and first few days of December. The students must accumulate at least 6.0 credits in order to graduate a 3.5 year academic term.
The academic level required of our seminary students is equivalent to fourth to sixth graders in Korea. Portuguese is taught freshman and sophomore year as a basic requirement. These classes are taught with constant repetition, which appears to be the most effective way for students to learn Portuguese. We use the Today's Bible (Na Liguagem de Hoje) for theology courses, which is the easiest translation to understand.
The daily agendas for students are:
Early morning the students attend a mandatory morning service from 6:00AM to 7:00AM. The service begins with praise and a sermon, which lasts until 6:20AM. From 6:20AM to 6:40AM, there is a personal prayer time, and from 6:40AM to 7:00AM there is an intercessory prayer time.
For the intercessory prayer sessions, a list of three topics is posted daily on a blackboard. Attendance for morning services is mandatory for both students and faculty/staff members. Three tardies equal one absence, and three absences during the course of the semester result in an automatic expulsion from the school. Although morning services were new and unfamiliar to the natives, Missionary Kim believed that dedicating the first hours of the day to God was a vital spiritual discipline.
There are four hour classes in the morning from 8:00AM to 12:00AM, as customary to the Brazilian school system from elementary to the university level.
In the afternoon, from 2:00PM to 5:00PM, each student is assigned a work labor for the day, which includes farming (particularly bananas, mandioke, and lemons), ranching chickens and turkeys, and building maintenance. Instead of tuition, the Rio Negro Seminary requires students to participate in communal labor. It is a necessary component to running Rio Negro Seminary.
In the evening, from 7:30PM to 9:30PM, there is a mandatory self-study session. In this portion, students are required to go to the library where they can either read the Bible or study materials they received in class.
On Saturday mornings, the whole student body take part in music lessons (mostly acoustic guitar), and in the afternoon, are allowed a break until bedtime. On Sunday, everyone attends morning and evening
The Rio Negro's Seminary management expenses:
Rio Negro Seminary functions to this day because of continued mission offerings from members of each church listed above.
Due to the financial constraints of our Indian brothers and sisters in the seminary, the native church members and their families frequently contribute hwaringya, a staple crop in their community. Students also participate in mandatory labor work Monday through Friday as compensation for their tuition.
Supplies for class, such as writing utensils, notebooks, textbooks, backpacks, etc. are provided.
We undertake another project at Rio Negro Seminary: twice-a-year invitation of deacons, elders, and teenagers from Indian villages to take part in a week-long conference in theology. The seminary is also part of a joint ministry with the United Indian Church of Rio Negro (Convencao Igreja Biblica Unida Indigina do Rio Negro).
Supporting leaders, deacons, and elders from Indian churches are invited as guest students for eight days to learn the Word of God. The first eight-day session takes place the first week of July, and the second session takes place last week of October. It is noteworthy to mention that many of our participants risk their lives traveling for days (up to 15 days) along the Rio Negro River to attend this program.
Two seminars from the Seminary's general curriculum are offered each day.
Listed below is the agenda for the short-term mission students:
6:00AM - 7:00AM Early morning service
7:00AM - 8:00AM Breakfast
8:00AM - 12:00PM Morning class
2:00PM - 6:00PM Afternoon class
6:00PM - 7:00PM Dinner
7:30PM - 10:00PM Revival Service.
The primary reason for the conference was to first and foremost expand the Biblical knowledge and understanding of deacons and elders secluded in their villages, who may not otherwise get the chance to be educated by professors or ministers. Secondly, through constant fellowship with seminary students and alumni, the participants may discover ministry opportunities for themselves. Lastly, on a practical level, it is easier for seminary students to travel back home with participating elders or deacons from their tribe. Since the seminary's erection in 1997, there were a total of 19 successful travels, twice a year.
Teenagers from Indian villages are also invited to the Seminary for 8 days, with free lodging. They attend a "Conference for Moral Living" while their parents attend the leadership program. The seminar for teenagers begins the first Thursday of July and ends the following Thursday. The agenda includes worship service, Bible study, music lessons, sports, and etc. The agenda for "Conference for Moral Living" is as follows:
6:00AM - 7:00AM Early morning service
7:00AM - 8:00AM Breakfast
8:00AM - 10:00AM Bible study
10:30AM - 12:00PM Tae Kwon Do class
2:00PM - 4:00PM Guitar/Piano lesson
4:30PM - 6:00PM Soccer/Volleyball
6:00PM - 7:00PM Dinner
7:30PM - 10:00PM Revival service
The reason why the seminary invites teenagers from Indian villages is to instill in them a Godly lifestyle by sharing the Gospel at an age when they are most impressionable, and are therefore easily swayed by Brazilian culture that may lead them astray from Christ. The other reason is to encourage Christian teenagers to attend seminary once they graduate from high school