Bible Institute Meets Need in Far West Texas
Written by Stephanie Heading, TEXAN Correspondent
ODESSA—Growing up in East Texas, Jared Wellman was surrounded by multiple institutes for continuing education.
“When I moved to West Texas, two things became evident to me,” said Wellman, who became pastor of Mission Dorado Baptist Church in Odessa earlier this year. “First, people were starving for Bible education, and second, there wasn’t any local Bible education. Sure, the church teaches the Bible, but people were searching for something likened to a college. When you hear the word ‘Bible study’ in church today, it usually means a small group which is more applicative than educational.”
Out of this void, Mission Dorado Baptist Institute (MDBI) was born.
“I wanted to provide a place that offered real, deep, and authentic Bible education,” Wellman said. “We held people accountable through weekly reading and quizzes, among other things. I handed out a syllabus on the first day so that the class knew what to expect.”
MDBI opened its doors in the church facilities this fall. One course was offered for the first semester. “The Lord had already spoken to me some time ago to do a study on Heaven and this seemed like the perfect time,” Wellman noted. “It is a subject that is not talked about too often and people are interested in it.”
With the support of the church, MDBI held a registration night so people could sign up for the course, “A Biblical Survey of Heaven,” and purchase the textbook.
“The response was overwhelming,” he said. “We had 114 people register.”
Participants included church members and non-members. One student, Lucy Smith, traveled from San Angelo, about two hours away. “This just shows the thirst for rich Bible study with accountability,” Wellman said.
The desire for Bible study and an interest in the subject matter led Smith to enroll, she explained. Smith formerly worked in Midland as a licensed counselor, but moved to San Angelo after retirement. Following the death of her husband earlier this year, Smith decided to go back to her counseling work in Midland two days a week. One of her clients mentioned MDBI and its upcoming first semester class on Heaven.
“If it hadn’t been for this client, I wouldn’t have known about it,” Smith said. “If anyone mentions institutes and learning, I’m there.” Smith has to stay over an extra night in Midland, but she said the sacrifice is worth it.
“I’ve progressed with learning on the Heaven topic,” she said. The death of her husband made the study of Heaven very important to her, she noted. “I’ve found comfort there.”
Gayle Dobbs, a member of Mission Dorado Baptist Church, said she also found comfort and peace through her studies at MDBI. “I’ve always envisioned Heaven as a celestial choir,” Dobbs said. “Frankly, I don’t sing well and I was just thrilled to know that we are going to be busy and have a full life in Heaven. Every day is going to be fabulous.”
“Because the first course concerned a topic that many have not ever studied, we have seen some large steps made in people’s understanding of the Bible,” Wellman said. “My goal was to show people that the Bible is the very best book that a person can read who wants to know about Heaven. I think people’s eyes have been opened to the hope we have of being a resurrected people, with our resurrected King, in a resurrected world.”
With one semester completed, Wellman said he is looking toward the future of MDBI. In the short term, he is planning two classes for the second semester, one on apologetics and the other on Islam. “My hope is that the excitement continues to press on as we tackle other topics in the semesters to come.”
Wellman added: “My ultimate hope and vision for the MDBI is that we can become a solidified Southern Baptist educational organization for those who are interested in studying the Bible in West Texas. Only the Lord knows what he is going to do with the MDBI, but it has been an incredible journey so far.”
For more information about Mission Dorado Bible Institute, visit missiondorado.com and click on the “ministries” tab and then “Bible Institute.”