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December 31, 2000: Saturday Night at The River

November 26, 2000: College athletes minstry emphasizes Holy Spirit

November 19, 2000: Bad weather doesn't dampen spirits of thousands at Detroit's Convoy of Hope

November 12, 2000: International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Church

October 29, 2000: Frontiersman way of life draws men, boys closer to Christ

September 17, 2000: Loving the unloved

September 10, 2000: Changing lives in a big way

August 13, 2000: Church planting fuels growth

July 30, 2000: Full Gospel New York Church targets 500,000 Koreans

July 16, 2000: Running the good race

July 9, 2000: Hispanic church thrives in border town

June 25, 2000: The hand of God

June 18, 2000: HonorBound: Raising an army of godly men

June 11, 2000: Illinois Christian radio stations deliver message of Christ to thousands

May 14, 2000: A/G foster families minister to children

April 30, 2000: Prison revival reaches beyond the fence

April 23, 2000: Harvest Sunday draws hundreds for water baptism

April 16, 2000: Chain reaction

April 9, 2000: One pastor's burden: reaching the 'white slums'

March 26, 2000: Cowboy church rounds up believers

March 19, 2000: Motorsports ministry: Winning souls at the track

March 12, 2000: A dream blooms in the desert

February 20, 2000: Romanian church prospers for 20 years

February 13, 2000: Ministry at a strategic academic crossroads

January 23, 2000: God's Navy

Changing lives in a big way

Latin American Bible Institute in San Antonio, Texas, is not the largest campus, even though most of the standard college basics are here — dorms, a cafeteria, a library, offices, faculty and students. But size is not deterring the Spirit of God from changing lives in a big way.

"Our spiritual emphasis this spring was a turning point for the school," spring 2000 graduate Carla Jimenez says. "The whole school feels it. God enlarged our vision regarding the school, ministry and our relationship with Him."

President James Plata says God did enlarge his vision. "All week, I witnessed God working with the students. God impressed upon me that we need a stronger emphasis on discipleship. I believe in what we are doing here at LABI, even more than before. I pray that our students become disciples first, then ministers."

In the concluding spiritual emphasis services, students ministered alongside evangelists and pastors to reach out to the community, praying for addicts who were delivered and with many hurting people who turned their lives over to Christ.

"God has done awesome things in my life," says student Noelia Balderas. "Everything He’s done here is life-changing."

"LABI is like a big family," says Christian Castro, a spring 2000 graduate from Brazil. "I didn’t have family here. The students and the faculty became my family. When I first came from Brazil, I had never worn a tie. I didn’t have any ties, but I needed to wear one. I told one friend. All of a sudden, I had 13 ties. Several of the guys each brought me one."

"Brother" and "Sister" is heard more often than any other greeting on campus. The student population of about 65 means most know everyone. Even if they don’t, they make it known that on this campus people are committed to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Many faculty and campus workers live on campus, opening their lives and ministry to students.

"Here, everybody knows what your life is, your background and what your dreams are. That makes a whole lot of difference," student Elizabeth Medina says.

Students get involved in each other’s lives and set high campus standards. Before classes begin, students voluntarily meet in the chapel for prayer and devotions. Tuesday is a day for prayer and fasting, and women from area churches join the campus prayer times. A student dress code is embraced. Chapel is a time to focus on God, emphasized by the women seated together and the men seated together. "That’s the students’ own thing," President Plata says.

This generation of LABI students is building on a spiritual heritage while making their own mark in the kingdom of God. The traveling choir is one group that reaches beyond the campus into churches and communities. "I’ll always remember what one of our former teachers told me when the choir visited his church," President Plata says. "He told me, ‘There is something about the students. The presence of the Lord is very real. Don’t allow that to be lost at LABI.’ That hit me as a great challenge."

Classes in both the English and Spanish tracks begin with prayer, and students lay hands on one another for needs to be answered.

LABI is nestled in a peaceful, unassuming setting. The graciousness of the students, the servant attitudes of faculty and administrators, and the rich spiritual life are uplifting.

Speaking from experience, Carla Jimenez says, "At LABI, your life is changed from the inside out."

Next fall LABI will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Testimonies from graduates serving God around the world will echo in the hearts of this generation of students.

— Melinda Booze


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