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From Mule Farm to University

From Mule Farm to University

MARCH 15, 2021    |    2.5 MINUTE READ
BURNIS H. BUSHONG, RETIRED GLOBAL WORKER & HQ STAFF


Location is an important element of any ministry. In order to reach a target group, the right location can be a deciding factor of success. When global worker Meredythe Scheflen decided to tackle a new project for providing Christian education to Bolivian residents, it seemed at first that the ideal location wouldn’t be available. But through a series of events, God proved that He had, in fact, led her to the right place; she simply had to wait on His timing. This article first appeared in The Best of the Story by Burnis H. Bushong and has been adapted to this blog.

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV)

In the summer of 1978, while visiting the campus of her alma mater, Asbury College, Meredythe Scheflen was recounting to the president, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, how in Bolivia they could now offer Christian education from first grade through high school, plus Bible institute and seminary training. Meredythe had been deeply involved in the founding of each of these institutions. Almost jokingly, she said to Dr. Kinlaw, “The only thing we don’t have now is a university.” Dr. Kinlaw hesitated a few moments and then asked, “Well, why not establish a university?”

a photo of Meredythe Scheflen during the 1960's

Returning to Bolivia, Meredythe brainstormed with the missionaries of World Gospel Mission, as well as with those of other organizations. They felt it to be a real possibility and began working. World Gospel Mission gave permission for the project to proceed if a new campus could be found and if other missionary groups could help with the sponsorship. More than a half-dozen organizations pledged support. Through a series of miracles (see one example here), temporary accreditation was granted, along with permission to start classes. The high school campus was used for night classes. Soon, nearly five hundred students from the Santa Cruz area were enrolled. A campus site was urgently needed.

A photo of students in a classroom

The search for a property centered upon a plot of land at the edge of Santa Cruz—a city of nearly one million people. The site was being used to raise mules, and the owners didn’t want to sell. On a visit to the States, Meredythe was visiting with former college classmates in Georgia. A pastor inquired if perhaps she knew anything about a mule farm in Bolivia. His church had helped a man buy this property. What a coincidence; it was the same property! The Lord had reserved the land for a special purpose. Before returning to Bolivia, Meredythe requested everyone to pray that they would be able to purchase this “reserved” piece of land.

A photo of a mule

Eventually, the owners did agree to sell a major portion of the farm. Meredythe soon discovered the land would be even more desirable than originally thought. The city planners had plotted this area as a portion of a new outer-belt throughway, and a major cloverleaf would border the proposed campus. They also had already zoned the land as exclusively for educational or medical purposes. It was an ideal location for the university and its nursing school. God’s planning was perfect! The mule farm was soon converted into the campus of Bolivian Evangelical University, the first evangelical university in Spanish-speaking South America.

ACTION STEP

PRAY: Are you unsure how you can answer God’s call on your life? Do you have obstacles in front of you that seem impossible to move or get around? Discuss the situation with God. Pour out your heart and your concerns to Him, seeking His infinite wisdom and guidance. He will help you through.


Author Bio: Burnis H. Bushong served with his wife, Thelma, first on the Texas/Mexico Border, then in Honduras and Bolivia, and finally as a Vice President at the WGM headquarters in Marion, Indiana, for a total of nearly fifty years. He served as field director of multiple ministry locations and authored several books during his lifetime, contributing both to the impact of World Gospel Mission and the preservation of its history. Burnis went to be with the Lord on May 17, 2020.

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