For Spanish-speaking students seeking a bachelor of arts degree, a new initiative at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College makes earning a degree easier.
Using video conferencing software, online live-taught classes in Spanish are now available at NOBTS and Leavell College to serve students regardless of where they live and serve. The delivery system allows students to interact with the class in “real time” while providing students the option to view recorded lectures at their convenience.
Fabio Castellanos, director of the Spanish distance education program, said the initiative is unique.
"For years there has been a gap in theological education in Spanish,” Castellanos said. “Several institutions offer basic education at the certificate level and then jump to the master's degree in theological studies. NOBTS is a pioneer in providing an answer to this need with the Associate in Christian Ministry and Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry programs."
For many years, Leavell College has offered an in-person Spanish undergraduate program, but with the video conferencing delivery system NOLA2U FLEX opportunity and flexibility come together.
Castellanos sees it as a way to move the Gospel forward.
“Every Christian trained to read, interpret, and handle correctly the word of God, or trained to provide biblical comfort to those in need, or skilled to plant, lead, or revitalize a church, is an opportunity to contribute to the Kingdom of God,” Castellanos said.
The need for accredited, accessible theological education taught in Spanish is something Castellanos has experienced personally.
Castellanos came to New Orleans six years ago from Colombia seeking the academic and ministerial preparation that was unavailable in his country. Though he could not speak English at the time, Castellanos enrolled and today is a Ph.D. candidate.
“Everyone who knows the Hispanic community knows of its warmth, joy, and great passion to serve God, but the absence of academic and ministerial preparation has been a constant,” Castellanos said. “God has inspired the leadership of NOBTS and Leavell College to respond to this great need of this growing community by launching the most solid, carefully crafted, and affordable theological training in Spanish.”
As director, Castellanos recruits and advises students, shepherds students through the application process, enlists qualified faculty to teach, and oversees quality course offerings in Spanish.
NOBTS and Leavell College offer classes taught in Spanish from the certificate level up through the master of theological studies degree.
“Now, from anywhere and at any time, whoever wants to be prepared for the ministry or the academy in Spanish has two solid allies in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College,” Castellanos said.
The initiative comes at a time when the Hispanic population in the United States is expanding and the opportunity to share the Gospel is increasing, Castellanos noted. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, the Hispanic population is “the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority.”
“NOBTS and Leavell College are looking to the future, and working in the present,” Castellanos said. “May God bless our work for Him.”
Cory Barnes, associate vice president of distance learning said NOBTS’ mission transcends preparing students in the English language.
"We are preparing students to walk with Christ, proclaim his truth, and fulfill his mission and we are thrilled that God allows us to work toward this mission in our Korean and Spanish programs as well as in our English programs."
For additional information about the program, visit www.nobts.edu/spanish-programs.