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A Note from Don Lough, Jr.
I am amazed by all God has done through Word of Life Bible Institute over the past 50 years. By His grace, thousands of students have deepened their faith and received training as ambassadors for JesusChrist. In turn, these students have embraced their responsibility to reach this generation with the gospel, and hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted worldwide. The Bible Institute now consists of sixteen campuses across the globe, and it is humbling to see God still igniting our students’ hearts to study the Word, live it out in community, and then go forth as proclaimers of the gospel. As Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!” From the very beginning, our focus has not merely been to provide students with an education. Instead, the Bible Institute is about preparing students for a lifetime of effective service to the Lord. Our approach finds its roots in Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra prepared himself by studying the Scriptures. He fleshed it out in a practical way, and he then shared it with others. What a model! As we celebrate God’s faithfulness on this 50th anniversary, we are deeply grateful for your prayers, support, and friendship over many years. I pray that this special edition of The Experience will prompt your heart to rejoice over all that God has done and continues to do today. To Him be the glory!
50 Years of Student Life Change
Editor-in-Chief & Copywriter – Bree Hayden Designer – Teresa Stursberg Director of Alumni Relations – Mike Bush Alumni Relations – Ken Hayden Alumni Project Manager – Rebecca Berga
The Experience is a publication of Word of Life. We want to build a community where you can find longtime friends, share testimonies of what God has been doing, encourage others with stories of change, and learn how you, too, can be involved with the mission of Word of Life.©Copyright 2021 — Word of Life Fellowship. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission. The perspectives of the author(s) in this magazine do not necessarily represent the perspectives of Word of Life Bible Institute and/or Word of Life Fellowship.
In His Service,
Don Lough, Jr. ‘84 Chancellor, Word of Life Bible Institute
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A Note from the Chancellor, Don Lough, Jr. Pottersville, NY 1971
1971-1974 1975-1979 1980-1984 1985-1989 1990-1994 1995-1999 2000-2004 2005-2009 2010-2014 2015-2020 2021 and Looking Forward
International Spotlight: Canada International Spotlight: Brazil International Spotlight: Mexico/Hungary International Spotlight: Jeju/Uganda Remembering Harry and Millie Bollback Remembering Dr. Donald Hubbard
Notable Alumni Hudson, FL 2021 Pottersville, NY 2021 A Note from President and CEO, Don Lough, Jr. A Note from Bible Institute President, Roger Peace, Jr.
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P OT T E R SV I L L E , N Y
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1970 Paul Brownbeck becomes Executive Dean of Word of Life Bible Institute
“In order to know the will of God, you must first know the Word of God.”
1969 Harry Bollback
becomes Co-Director of Word of Life Fellowship
1940 Jack Wyrtzen becomes Director of Word of Life Fellowship
– Jack Wyrtzen
When Word of Life Bible Institute opened in September 1970, no one could have foreseen the incredible impact this tiny school in the Adirondacks would have on the world.
That first year, Jack and Harry were expecting 50 students – instead, 73 arrived! Since that first incredible surprise, the Lord has continued to exceed our expectations at WOLBI.
During those formative years, a precedent of excellence was set. Students attended the Bible Institute to learn a profound working knowledge of the Word of God, how to live a disciplined life, and how to influence others’ lives for the Lord. This curriculum included rigorous classes, campus service
assignments, a variety of ministries students were expected to participate in, and high standards of cleanliness and dress. All these things were implemented to foster growth in young Christians as they left the Bible Institute and became Christian leaders around the world.
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I loved being a member of the WOLBI Choir and getting to travel. It was amazing to participate when Don Wyrtzen directed the Choir in a performance of his
Jack’s quote, “Never look at someone for what they are – but for what they can be when Christ gets ahold of their life,” has stuck with me throughout my life. Randy Tate ’73
musical, “The Good Life.” Cynthia (Channon ’72) Rydelnik
Despite setbacks, such as the loss of the kitchen, dining hall, and dorm over the kitchen (all empty) due to a gas explosion during the third year of operations, staff and students at WOLBI continued to trust the Lord and seek new ways to serve Him – and God richly blessed their faith. Activities and ministries those first few years included Snowcamp and summer camps, a chorale, basketball team, yearbook team, the implementation of Bible Clubs, weekend ministries, student council, and more.
In 1974, the “World Famous Word of Life Collegians” were born, inspiring a legacy of musical ministry that has continued throughout the last 50 years.
Did You Know? When the Bible Institute began, dinners were served family-style, and church dress was required!
Fire destroyed the kitchen, dining hall, and dorm over the kitchen
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Working in Perth Bible Church every weekend made me want to be a youth pastor – I now work with students at a Christian school, where I invest in lives through teaching and coaching soccer. Robert Earll ’75
1974 Stu Page becomes Executive Dean of Word of Life Bible Institute
It’s no secret that Harry Bollback was musically gifted in an incredible way, and he was always looking for new ways to use his gifts for God.
In 1976, he had a dream that seemed a little outlandish – but Jack Wyrtzen had been encouraging him to write more music, so Harry set out to do so. That dreamand Jack’s encouragement became Let Freedom Ring , a celebration of America’s 200th anniversary and the forerunner to an integral part of the Bible Institute – productions.
Let Freedom Ring was a wonderful success, and over the years, it was performed in major theaters across the United States, including Madison Square Garden. The production was also professionally recorded and aired on over 50 television stations. Since then, Word of Life productions have seen hundreds of thousands of responses to the gospel message, and generations of Bible Institute students have ministered through them.
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I’ll never forget climbing out of the South America dorm window and onto the roof with my friends... and having Miss Newton, the Dean
of Women, spot us! Deborah (Sanville ’79) Fanus
The Collegians first went on the Let Freedom Ring tour in 1976, and throughout the late ‘70s, other groups of students traveled toManhattan, Perth, Glens Falls and many other cities for weekend ministry.
Events at WOLBI included Hobo Night, Thanksgiving dinner, and, of course, the Sweetheart Banquet.
During those years, the Bible Institute formed a broom-hockey team, a cheerleading team, a volleyball team and a pep band.
Did You Know? There was an unexpected addition to WOLBI in 1975… an aerobics program!
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I loved walking through campus as the snow started to fall and listening to Christine Wyrtzen’s songs on the loudspeaker. (Yes, there was a campus-wide PA system back in the day!) Karen (Fry ’80) Singer
1980 saw the inception of our Open Air Evangelism program, which featured two teams that went out to witness on alternating weekends. Church ministry also expanded to encompass nearly 20 churches. In 1981, WOLBI began its second-year program, then called the School of Youth Ministries (SYM), which focused on the application of Bible knowledge to practical life and ministry. Second year has continued to be a huge blessing to students in the years since its inception. In 1983, the Bible Institute had its first excursion to Israel. Over the years, the Israel trip has become a treasured part of the Bible Institute experience for those who attend. Our main tenets, “Know, Grow, Show,” were introduced in 1984. These tenets stand firm today, and are put into application with our practical “Study, Life, Ministry” model. The early ‘80s brought quite a bit of change to the world... and the Bible Institute, as well!
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I loved Open Air Campaigns (now Open Air Evangelism) with Ray Namie, the Director of Evangelism, and doing my summer ministry in the Philippines. My time at WOLBI was one of the best years of my life. I treasure that year! Connie (Delp ’82) Landis
Sports, including a ping-pong tournament and women’s softball, continued to be a big part of WOLBI’s campus life and ministry during the early ‘80s.
Did You Know? WOLBI didn’t only
have Spring and Fall students… there were also March students!
Did You Know? WOLBI opened its first laundromat on campus in 1981.
11 The Experience
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WOLBI was no doubt one of the best years of my life, and the love and hunger I have for the Word of God was deeply planted in my heart there. Wesley Yerkes ’86
In 1985, a variety of ministries came into play at the Bible Institute. Two new ministry clubs – the Jugglers for Jesus and the King’s Kung Fuist and Karate for Christ Team – were among those created. The goal of these clubs was to give students the opportunity to use their unique skills in ministry and to draw unbelievers to hear the gospel. In these ways, ministry adapted to the times. 1985 also saw the inception of WOLBI’s Prison Ministry (which expanded to include a Prison Basketball Ministry in 1987) and the expansion of both church and youth ministry teams. One of the youth ministry teams that grew at the end of the ‘80s was Adirondack Outreach, which consisted of three teams that traveled to small local churches and ran Bible clubs. The late ‘80s also saw a Boy Scout ministry and an overnight ministry to a homeless mission in Albany.
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My year at WOLBI was very instrumental in my burden for missions. Missions Conference 1988 was when “my plans” changed to “His plans!” Penny (Crabb ’88) Laterza
I’ll never forget – during prayer, the preacher asked for someone to confess their sin so we could get snow for Snowcamp... and then he thanked whoever did, because it started snowing during his prayer! Melissa Lamborn ’89
Students participated in Word of Life’s overnight evangelistic event, Superbowl (now called Reverb), for the first time in 1987.
13 The Experience
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My sister was diagnosed with cancer right before I started my first year. In October of ‘90, she got pneumonia and almost died. The support I got from all my fellow classmates was overwhelming. On a side note: She is doing great and has been cancer free for over 25 years. Karen (Johnston ’90 & ’91) McCaslin
1991 George Theis becomes Executive Director of Word of Life Fellowship
WOLBI Hockey Team
1990 was the 50th anniversary of Word of Life Fellowship.
The class of 1990 was large, and several new ministries, such as Children’s Bible Fellowship and our Spanish Ministry, came into play – which was fitting, because 1990 was the 50th anniversary of Word of Life Fellowship. Celebration of this milestone included the construction of Hungary dorm (now Hungary Hall), the largest dorm built up until that point at WOLBI. George Theis became the Executive Director of Word of Life in 1991, as Jack stepped back to allow younger men to step up into leadership positions. That same year brought the inception of our hockey team, which was a fun addition to our sports ministries, but it also saw the loss of one of our dorms – Recife – to fire. In 1992, the Bible Institute hosted its first Founder’s Week. The goal of Founder’s Week (now Founder’s Bible Conference) was – and is – to help students catch the vision and see the hearts of the generations before them. The conference also provides valuable insight into our history as a youth ministry. Jack Wyrtzen was a huge proponent and said, “It is the responsibility of each generation to reach their generation for Christ.” WOLBI is still centered on that principle, and we want to continue to pass that focus on to each class of Bible Institute students!
Recife dorm destroyed by fire
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God radically changed my life at WOLBI. I spent my teen years in foster care and lived on the streets for a couple
Did You Know? Holding hands at WOLBI was perfectly okay… if you were at the roller skating rink!
months before coming to WOLBI. It was a BIG
transition! I spent the first half of the year being the campus rebel, and the last half being utterly transformed. How can I encapsulate all that in a single memory? Micah (Robitille ’94) Munroe
In 1993, all parts of the ministry worked together to hold Eternity One Million, a celebration of Jack’s 90th birthday and a huge gospel event in New York City. 2,000 young people from around the country joined Bible Institute students as they distributed over 235,000 tracts and shared the gospel one-on-one nearly 7,000 times. 690 professions of salvation were made during that one week, and during 1993, across the globe, one million professions of faith were made!
Smaller drama teams were incorporated into WOLBI ministries during the early ‘90s, and provided an incredible way to share the gospel with those who would never listen to a traditional church service or longer production.
15 The Experience
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The guys lining up outside of Colombia Dorm on Friday after class to store tablet arms in preparation for Snowcamp.
During the mid to late ‘90s, new children’s ministries – like Christopher Churchmouse (a children’s ministry based on a book series written by Word of Life missionary Barbara Davoll), Puppet Ministry, Release Time (an after-school ministry at Schroon Lake Central School) and the Xtreme Team (a skate ministry) – encouraged students to think outside the box in order to minister to a new generation. New opportunities were created for Bible Institute graduates – such as Impact, a music and service team, and the Internship & Discipleship Program (IDP), which allowed graduates to further their hands-on ministry experience at Word of Life while still attaining their undergraduate degree.
1996 Impact Team (above)
Did You Know? Even though the Florida Bible Institute campus opened in 1997-1998, the first group of students to study there was the second year class (known then as S.Y.M.) in 1993!
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My time at WOLBI was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. It put me on a trajectory I haven’t departed from – one that’s only resulted in greater joy and fruitfulness in my life. I praise God almost every day for my two years at the Bible Institute and pray regularly for WOL’s global flourishing. Tim Raymond ’98
1999 Joe Jordan becomes Executive Director of Word of Life Fellowship
In 1997, Word of Life Bible Institute became accredited through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
Prior to its inception as a Bible Institute campus, our Hudson location functioned as a Bible Conference and Resort Center and Youth Camp (now The Coast). These ministries are now a vibrant part of student life at the Florida Bible Institute campus. Rich Andrews, an alumnus and longtime staff member at Word of Life, serves as the Vice President and Director of Word of Life Florida. The campus provides an incredible experience for its students, who study the same classes under the same first-rate professors as their counterparts in New York. The Florida BI campus also has a unique set of ministries and activities that students can participate in. Attendance in Florida averages about 150 students per year, many of whom continue their studies in second year at our New York campus. In 1997, we opened a second U.S. Bible Institute campus in Hudson, Florida.
17 The Experience
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at WOLBI! Not only did he bring
2002 Sights and Sounds of Christmas (below)
us together, but He called us both into full-time ministry. Greg ’00 and Kara (Blackledge ’00) Daley
The early 2000s brought about some incredible new opportunities for Word of Life students, including opportunities for the Collegians to travel to the Florida Bible Institute and study alongside the students there while performing one of Word of Life’s most beloved productions, Sights and Sounds of Christmas.
At Word of Life Florida, classes grew and new ministries developed throughout the early 2000s; our New York campus also hosted new ministries both on and off campus. In 2001, construction began on the Jack Wyrtzen Center (now The Wyrtzen Center) on our New York campus, where first year students would study in a more academic environment. The construction of The Wyrtzen Center also allowed the second year students to move into Council Hall from the Pottersville Headquarters building (no longer owned by Word of Life). The Wyrtzen Center opened for classes in the fall of 2004. In 2001, the George Theis Assembly Center (now the Theis Assembly Center), a state-of-the-art classroom environment, was built on our Florida campus. The Theis Assembly Center is an incredible blessing to both the Bible Institute and camps.
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2004 Ric Garland becomes Executive Dean of Word of Life Bible Institute
Focus on missions at the Bible Institute became even more pronounced in the early 2000s, marked by the formation of ministries such as Sports International and Missions Reality. Sports International began in 2000, and allowed the Huskies to use their God-given talents to share the gospel with young people overseas. Missions Reality, a short missions trip designed for second year students to put their biblical studies into practice, was implemented in 2004. These two trips remain a crucial part of the Bible Institute program to this day.
Did You Know? Before second year students studied at the Pottersville Headquarters, they studied at the Word of Life Campground (now The Pines)?
Did You Know? From 2000-2008, one of the summer ministry options for WOLBI students was Word of Life’s West Coast Camp!
19 The Experience
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By the mid-2000s, students were taking part in ministry across the United States through Local Church Ministries (now Word of Life Youth Ministries) and around the world.
Music ministries – always an important part of Bible Institute history – grew to include more ensembles, a larger pep band, ladies’ and men’s trios and quartets, and, of course, the Collegians continued their ministry across the U.S. A new Easter production, Jesus: Behold the Man , premiered in 2006, and proved to be an incredible evangelistic tool.
2006 Uganda Trip
Also in 2006, 90 Florida Bible Institute students traveled to Louisiana for three weeks to offer aid to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The students were able to make a profound physical and spiritual impact in Louisiana. The Florida Bible Institute now sends students to minister in foreign countries during spring break, providing physical and spiritual encouragement to those in need.
In 2007, the Ryrie Library and Study Center opened in New York. The library honors the memory of Dr. Charles Ryrie, an accomplished biblical scholar and adjunct professor at the Bible Institute. The Ryrie Library and Study Center provides students with a wealth of resources during their time at WOLBI. More ministries and sports, including a Crisis Pregnancy Center and a Cross Country Team, were added toward the end of the 2000s.
2006 Hurricane Katrina Trip
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One of my favorite memories from WOLBI is the week I spent counseling at The Ranch in between my first and second year. The Ranch needed extra help, so they flew in several camp counselors from Florida, including myself. During that time, I was able to prayerfully and seriously commit to attending second year. Laura Rodriguez ’09 & ‘10
I always say that first year taught me about my relationship with Christ, and second year taught me about my relationship with others through Christ. Word of Life will forever hold a special place in my heart. Amy (Hall ’05 & ’07) McConnell
Did You Know? In 2006, WOLBI hosted its own “Spiritual Survivor,” where teams had to rough it out in lean-tos and endure fierce competition for the chance to win $300!
Did You Know? The first year class of ‘06 had an interesting characteristic… four sets of twins!
21 The Experience
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2009 Mark Strout becomes Executive Dean of Word of Life Bible Institute
2011 Don Lough, Jr. becomes President and CEO of Word of Life Fellowship
In 2010, staff and students on both WOLBI campuses continued to look for new opportunities to invest in the communities around them.
In New York, this pursuit led to one of the most important parts of the fall semester at the Bible Institute – the Adirondack Marathon. This Boston Marathon qualifier now runs through campus every year and provides a highlight along the way for runners as hundreds of WOLBI students cheer them on to the finish line. In 2011, Don Lough, Jr. became the Executive Director of Word of Life and Chancellor of the Bible Institute. Under his leadership, Word of Life has seen many wonderful changes, including the update of our campuses, expansion into new countries, new evangelistic methods, and more. However, our commitment to proclaiming the undiluted gospel to the nations and our dedication to instilling foundational biblical knowledge and training into students’ lives remains the same.
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WOLBI was one of the best years of my life. During my first year, at Missions Conference, I felt the calling to be a missionary. It was the best realization and decision I’ve ever made. Carey Anne (Stone ’13 & ’14) Chessher
I remember wishing my time at Word of Life would never end. It was incredible living in such a small, tight-knit community of believers. There’s truly nothing like that experience! Tony Ferreira ’12 & ’13
I loved Snowcamp. Aside from counseling, it was fun to take part in the Snowboard Expo. I crashed almost every time. William Krembs ’14
We saw the loss of another dorm – the original Argentina, a lakeside dorm – in 2013. WOLBI built a beautiful new Argentina Hall in 2016 in order to better accommodate our growing student body.
2014 brought about the rebirth of Word of Life Productions with the creation of Magi , a Christmas production unlike any other. Our newest productions, Magi (2014) and All is Bright (2018), are designed to appeal to a modern audience through incredible use of drama, music and multimedia. We have seen numerous professions of faith since the inception of these tours!
23 The Experience
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2017 Roger L.
Every day at Word of Life was a blessing. Some days were more stretching than others, of course, but the growth was worth every challenge. Nathan Legault ’15
My favorite memory of WOLBI was Snowcamp and the feeling of community as everyone on campus worked for the common goal of serving the kids who came. Autumn Rees ’16
Peace, Jr. becomes President of Word of Life Bible Institute and Camps
During thesecondhalf of the2010s, students experienced a variety of new ministries and opportunities, such as Worship in the Adirondacks (a Christian music festival that featured artists like Sidewalk Prophets, Jeremy Camp and Jamie Grace), Pursuit Camp (Florida’s brand-new winter camp, which has been richly blessed by the Lord and has seen thousands of young people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ) and the Dunk Team, which utilizes acrobatic tricks to open kids’ hearts to the message and then shares the gospel with them. In 2017, Roger Peace, Jr. was appointed as President of the Bible Institute and Camps, and his vision for our campuses has excited and challenged both staff and students during his tenure. Roger’s desire is to “Make much of Jesus” by investing in the lives of students as they learn and grow both inside and outside the classroom. His love for the Lord, his continued investment in discipleship, and his commitment to excellence have made these past few years truly exceptional.
Did You Know? WOLBI NY averages about 72 inches of snowfall per year, and WOLBI FL averages about 51 inches of rainfall!
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The discipleship aspect of the Bible Institute during our time spent studying at home was so impactful. I almost felt more spiritually connected to my classmates and discipler during that time than I did the rest of the year. The “Connected”
The transition to online college during COVID was hard, but the opportunity to live out my faith in my personal circle as I studied was awesome. It was really cool to see the fruit of God’s Word as a “doer,” not just a “learner” while at home. Sarah Smith ‘20 & ‘21
theme was so important. Gabby Hinkle ‘20 & ‘21
The NY campus underwent quite a bit of change during the end of the 2010s.
The Bollback Student Life Center opened in 2017, and added a larger dining hall, updated kitchen, more lounge space, the Bookstore Cafe, the Xavante Grill, and two small classrooms. The old dining hall was renovated and transformed into the Huskies Den, a recreational center for students. Since 2016, every dormitory south of Council Hall has been renovated, providing students with a more comfortable living space. Adirondack Hall, a new girls’ dorm, was completed in 2019. The Huskies Health and Athletic Center and the new Astroturf soccer field were completed in 2020, allowing us to now host basketball and soccer games on our campus. The HHAC was a huge blessing to our campus, as it also provided a much needed upgrade to our Campus Health Center.
The FL campus also experienced great change over the last few years, including a new student lounge in 2018.
Thanks to the pandemic, the 2019-2020 school year at WOLBI was completely different than any before. When COVID-19 struck the United States, the year’s theme – Connected – became more crucial than ever before, as restrictions fell into place, and students had to leave WOLBI and return home. The Lord blessed the Bible Institute as we moved all classes online, and our professors and faculty invested tirelessly into helping them make the adjustments needed. During Summer 2020, when students would normally be serving in camp, they instead ministered at home. However, the Lord used them in mighty ways as they served in different capacities around the world.
Did You Know? In 2019, the dishpitwashed26,232dishes… just during Snowcamp!
25 The Experience
2021 and Looking Forward
There’s no doubt about it – WOLBI has changed over the years, at least in appearance. We believe in growth, in adaptation, and in utilizing the newest and most relevant means of sharing the gospel. Because of our belief in these things, change is natural. However, as we stand firmly on the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can’t help but look back and see how far God has brought us – and we wonder and marvel at His goodness. We’re looking forward to finding out what He will do in the next 50 years at Word of Life Bible Institute. We do know this: We will continue to remain submitted to His will as a tool for His glory. We will continue to fearlessly share the gospel in all we do. We will continue to raise up the leaders of tomorrow, and we will continue to Hold Forth the Word of Life (Philippians 2:16).
“I believe it is the responsibility of every generation to reach their generation for Christ.”
– Jack Wyrtzen
• Council Hall Renovation (Projected Completion Winter/Spring 2022) • Wyrtzen Center: New Seating, Skyfold wall, bathrooms, carpet, and furniture (Projected Completion Fall 2021) • Korea Hall (Projected Completion Spring 2021) • Center Quad (Projected Completion Summer 2021) • Timber Walk (Projected Completion Summer 2021)
Korea Hall (right)
Artist's rendition of Timber Walk Project View from Welcome Center (looking north)
Artist's rendition of Timber Walk Project View from Courtyard (looking south)
Artist's rendition of Council Hall Renovation (above, below)
27 The Experience
Canada: Owen Sound and Sherbrooke
Owen Sound, Ontario Amy Speck
The Word of Life Bible Institute in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada was birthed out of a dream to extend our youth camping ministry and local church ministry into a place where young people could receive biblical training in Ontario. In 1984, Word of Life Canada acquired our beautiful 200- acre property on the Niagara Escarpment when it was purchased from another ministry. This became the site of the Word of Life Canada head office as well as week-long camps for teens and children in the summer and weekend camps in the winter. In 2002, the dream for an accredited Bible Institute in the province of Ontario became a reality when we welcomed our first Bible Institute class of 34 students to our campus. In the past 19 years, we have had the opportunity to train hundreds of young people in God’s Word, life and ministry. Students love the Owen Sound campus for its tight-knit, family-like atmosphere, beautiful rural location, completely updated and renovated campus, intentional discipleship with staff members, and the unique opportunity to be taught by a mix of resident professors and guest lecturers, all of whom specialize in various areas of Scripture and Theology. Students also get the chance to grow in their ministry experience as they serve one another during campus ministry and serve others during Snowcamp in the winter, youth camps in the summer, and in conjunction with various local church ministries.
Sherbrooke, Quebec Amélie Rodier
In 1992, Word of Life Canada was given a French Bible School and Camp in Sherbrooke, Quebec, by another ministry. This gift allowed Word of Life to fulfill a God-given dream of presenting francophone youth with the gospel of Jesus Christ and training them in ministry. In 1994, the first year of the actual Bible program, Mr. Ken Beach accepted the position of general director for the francophone ministry of WOL Canada in Quebec. Ken and his wife also accepted leadership of the Bible Institute, Sherbrooke’s French-English language school, the francophone Bible club ministry, and camps. In 2001, Mark Strout, who served as the Bible Institute director, became the general director after the Beach’s retirement. A few years later, in 2009, Martin Jalbert took up the mantle of director when Mark Strout was called to serve with Word of Life in New York. To this day, Martin and his team still passionately lead both the Bible Institute and Word of Life’s ministry in Quebec. God has blessed the ministry of Parole de Vie by allowing it to reach thousands of Quebecois young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ through French Bible Study programs, both winter and summer camps, Folies Lunaires (Reverbs), and many other incredible ministries – all of which are staffed by Bible Institute students. WOLBI Quebec’s influence is also felt in the far corners of the earth through the countless missionaries who went through the French language school and now serve around the globe.
The Quebec campus became an accredited WOLBI teaching site in 2015.
29 The Experience
Brazil: Atibaia, Recife, and Benevides
Atibaia Johnny Reimer
Christian life walk alongside each student throughout the year.
The student body consists of students from various regions in Brazil and from the English- and Spanish-speaking world. This provides wonderful cross- cultural fellowship and contributes to the growth of students and teachers alike. Ministry opportunities take place in the local church each weekend, and students participate in several missions trips during the school year. These ministries are an incredible part of life at the Recife Bible Institute and help to reinforce the Bible Institute’s three main pillars – ”Study, Life, and Ministry.” Benevides Gary Parker The Word of Life Benevides campus, located close to Belem, Brazil, was purchased in February of 1989. The property was an abandoned chicken ranch that was completely overgrown by the jungle. The focus of the ministry has been to reach the “river people” who live along the Amazon. There are over 33,000 communities without access to the gospel. Our strategy is to evangelize and disciple the youth from the urban centers of Brazil, train them to become pioneering missionaries in our four- year Missionary Training Institute, and then help coordinate our graduates, in conjunction with their home churches, as they plant churches where there are no churches. We currently have
Word of Life Brazil was founded in Atibaia in 1957 by Harry Bollback and Harold Reimer. During summer camp in those formative years, many young people were reached with the good news of the gospel and felt the Lord calling them to full-time ministry. However, these new believers desperately needed training. David and Mary-Ann Cox were challenged to found the first Bible Institute in Brazil, and, by God’s grace, it grew in both number and impact. Students at the Atibaia Bible Institute learn about God and His Word, how to serve Him, and they experience growth and development of their character through a variety of practical ministries. Many alumni of the Bible Institute have become pastors, missionaries and Christian educators in Brazil and across the globe. Today, WOLBI Atibaia receives around 80 students every year. Recife Ivan Correa The Word of Life Bible Institute campus in Recife, Brazil was founded in 1981 by George Theis. Since its inception, the goal of WOLBI Recife has been to teach students how to study, how to live, and how to minister to others. We understand that biblical knowledge and life application can’t be separated, which is why a group of disciplers who are passionate about living out the principles of the
Student Life, 1972
about 100 resident students in the Bible Institute, and we train about 200 leaders in our weekend leadership training classes. The students at the Benevides campus have a unique opportunity to take one of our four different course offerings. We have a one-year, accredited Bible Institute degree, a one-year missions emphasisdegree for thosestudentswho already have a theological background, a three-year missions program, or our four-year integrated program that allows students to graduate with an online, accredited university degree in addition to our missions program. The highlight of all our courses is the opportunity
students have to experience cross- cultural ministry in river communities, Indian tribes, urban areas, and other local church settings. All three WOLBI campuses in Brazil became accredited teaching sites in 2018.
Atibaia, Brazil Campus
31 The Experience
Mexico: Bernal Rafael Charpentier
Word of LifeMexico was started in 1983. Mexico is a country with more than 127 million inhabitants, which makes it the country with the largest number of Spanish speakers in the world. It also has a very young population; more than 70% are under 25 years of age. For these reasons – and because for many years the only Spanish-speaking Bible Institute was in Argentina – missionaries dreamed of opening a campus in Mexico. The Bible Institute is located on the Word of Life Mexico property, a 50-acre site in the town of Bernal. Its location is strategic because it is in the center of the country in the State of Querétaro, just three hours away from Mexico City, which is one of the largest capitals in the world. Facilities include a dining room with seating for up to 600, an auditorium with a capacity of 1,000 people, classrooms, apartments for married students, cabins to accommodate all our students, and sports areas. The current director of the Mexico Bible Institute is Rafael Charpentier.
Despite the pandemic, the Mexico Bible Institute has grown, and now has 30% more students than last year. Current students hail from 13 countries: USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bolivia, and Argentina. In 2018, the Bible Institute in Mexico became an accredited Word of Life teaching site, with two types of academic programs: an on-site program and an online program. Alumni of the Bible Institute in Mexico are being used by God in incredible ways in different ministries and countries around the world.
In 1895, the daughter and son-in-law of the richest man in Hungary built a grand country estate in the rural village of Tóalmás. The castle featured marble columns, a stunning glass arboretum and even a grand staircase modeled after the national opera house in Paris. But storybook castles do not necessarily lead to storybook lives. After a short life focused on worldly gain, the owner lost her fortune, became addicted to morphine, and sold the castle in 1911. The new castle owners were one of Hungary’s most famous families. The castle became their private summer estate, which they enjoyed until WWII began in Europe, during which they fled. Hungary became a communist state, and the castle and property became a communist youth camp – and thus it remained for forty years. By 1989, communism was dying in the former Eastern Bloc, and this presented an opportunity for Word of Life. The then- communist government miraculously signed a ten-year lease allowing Word of Life to freely use a beautiful castle with all its contents, even including beds, kitchenware and school desks. The “price” of the lease was that Word of Life Hungary was Hungary: Tóalmás Alex Konya
required to yearly give a free week of camp to four hundred kids from Hungarian State homes for the next ten years!
Camp inHungary began in1990, andmore than thirty thousand campers have attended since then. The Bible Institute opened in 1994, with Dave James as the first director. The school has a one-year program with an option for a second year, and it became an official, accredited WOLBI teaching site in 2016. From the beginning, the school has been bilingual (Hungarian and English), originally in order to allow students from other Eastern Bloc countries who knew some English to study in Hungary. The bilingual nature of the Hungary Bible Institute has allowed over a thousand students from nearly every continent in the world to attend. Typically, the school has 60-80 students enrolled per year from 10-15 countries. In addition to their on- campus activities, students can do summer and short-term ministries in any of the eighteen countries in Europe where WOL is established.
WOLBI Hungary is currently directed by Richard Oliveira.
33 The Experience
Korea: Jeju Cody Towell
Word of Life Bible Institute was established on Jeju Island, South Korea, in 2010 by current director, Steve Nicholes. Steve and his wife, Rhonda, also founded an English-immersion Christian discipleship training program called Studying Youth Ministry in English (SYME) in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. SYME is a powerful tool for the gospel, and many graduates of the program attend the Bible Institute in Jeju in order to deepen their newly-sprouted faith. The Jeju Bible Institute allows students to study the Bible in English while living internationally, travel the world on missions and study trips, and experience hands- on ministry. Ministries include summer and winter camps in both Korean and English, a day-camp ministry event called Momentum, service assignments, a variety of events, and weekly services in both long-established and newly-planted churches. Since its inception, WOLBI Jeju has been an accredited Bible Institute teaching site, and it features a variety of unique opportunities for students. The year includes study trips to Thailand and Israel as well as optional trips (at an additional cost) to Turkey, Greece, and Italy, where students are guided through Paul’s missionary journeys by highly-experienced professors. Staff, faculty, and both resident and guest professors all seek to invest in each individual student on Jeju’s incredibly close-knit campus, which is located just outside the city, down the road from the beach, and at the foot of South Korea’s largest mountain. WOLBI Jeju can house up to 50 students, with a student body typically comprised of one-third American and Canadian students, one-third South Korean students, and one-third international students from various countries. Since its founding in 2010, nearly 300 students have graduated from WOLBI Jeju, and many are serving in churches both in Korea and abroad.
Africa: Uganda Bridget Kitimbo
Word of Life Uganda was founded in 2003 by Thomas and Faith Obunde. Shortly thereafter, Thomas and Faith started camps and Bible Club ministries, which have reached thousands of young people to date. In 2015, the Word of Life Africa Bible Institute (WOLABI) was birthed out of a need to prepare those young people to live a life of maximum effectiveness for the Lord, no matter where He places them. It is the desire of WOLABI’s faculty and staff to see young people dedicate themselves to studying God’s Word and yielding themselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in order that their lives may be molded into a useful instrument for the Lord’s service. WOLABI was licensed by the National Council of Higher Education as an Institution of Higher Learning in Uganda and was also granted accreditation as an official Word of Life teaching site through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) in 2014. From 2015-2018, the Bible Institute was under the leadership of David Kirabira, who eventually handed over office to Frank Birungi in 2019. Staff currently include two resident faculty and over 20 adjunct faculty who also teach at other Bible Institutes worldwide. The program is integrated with an eight-week ministry practicum that consists of three weeks of practical internship, three weeks of camp, one week of Gospel Productions Ministry and one week of Camp Leadership Training.
Over 125 alumni have graduated from WOLABI, and the current class consists of 20 students from Uganda, South Africa and Canada.
35 The Experience
Remembering Harry Bollback An Incredible Journey and the God Who Made It Possible
Jack Wyrtzen, and he began working alongside Jack and playing piano for Word of Life meetings and rallies.
Harry’s strong sense of patriotism led to his desire to serve his country, so after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. In WWII, he fought in the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa and was sent to China as part of a peacekeeping force before returning to the United States when the war ended. After returning home, Harry resumed serving with Word of Life. In 1946, he met the love of his life, Mildred “Millie” Winkler. Millie had also begun working for Word of Life, and she and Harry immediately hit it off. Harry and Millie were married for 72 years until her death, just six days before Harry. In 1949, Harry and Millie’s daughter, Linda, was born, and in 1950 Harry graduated from the Philadelphia School of the Bible. Later that year, the Bollbacks were accepted as missionaries with the South American Indian Mission, and in December they sailed from New York Harbor to share the gospel with unreached tribal people in Brazil. Harry and Millie’s son, Larry, was born in 1952, and later that year they were joined by one of Harry’s dearest friends, Harold Reimer, as they served in the interior of Brazil. After a furlough in 1955, during which Elizabeth, Harry and Millie’s third child, was born, the Bollbacks returned to Brazil this time to start the ministry of Word of Life camps. In Atibaia, Harry and Harold Reimer began a Word of Life Youth Camp, followed shortly by a Word of Life Inn for adults. In 1958, Harry and Millie’s youngest daughter, Suely, was born. After returning to the United States in 1969, Harry became the Co-Director of Word of Life and started the International Ministries outreach. His focus and passion for missions was unparalleled, and, under his leadership, Word of Life expanded into Germany, Argentina, the Philippines, Kenya, Australia, Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay, Portugal, Spain, and Colombia. He and Jack founded the Word of Life Inn and Conference Center (now Word of Life Lodge), and a Word of Life Bible Institute in Schroon Lake as well as a campus in Hudson, Florida. Harry also wrote and traveled with 13 incredible Gospel Productions, such as “Let Freedom Ring”, “Revelation”, “Daniel’’ and more. Thanks to the blessing of God and the humble service of a “simple kid from Brooklyn”, Word of Life is now in 81 countries around the world, and over one million people are reached with the life-changing gospel news through its ministries every year. Harry never lost sight of what was important to him- his God, his family, and the unreached people groups around the world. Even up into his last years, he spent as much time as he could with students from the Bible Institute, sharing his desire to see every nation reached for the gospel – always with a dash of Brooklyn humor and a whole lot of passion.
“I look back over my life and thank God every day for the way He has blessed Millie and me beyond measure. We know we have had bad days, but, honestly, we can’t remember them. They were part of the whole process that God was leading us through. We can say with great assurance that God has done the impossible with our lives.” Harry Bollback met Jesus at the age of 16 at Bible Camp, thanks to the influence of his Sunday School teacher. In December 1941, Harry met
Remembering Millie Bollback Service, Compassion, and a Helpmate in Action
Millie trusted Christ as her Savior through the influence of a dear childhood friend, and her life was forever changed. A few years later, she attended a youth camp in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. It was there Millie dedicated her life in service to the Lord, feeling especially led toward missions. From then on, she planned to go to Bible School to prepare to serve her Savior. After high school, a friend who was working at the Word of Life office in New York City told Millie about a job opening for a receptionist. After an interview, she was offered the position, and in January 1946, she began work at Word of Life. In March of 1946, Millie met Harry Bollback, who had been the pianist for Jack Wyrtzen before World War II started. When he returned from active duty in the Marine Corps, it didn’t take long for them to begin to get to know one another. The two got engaged in 1947, and after a year at separate Bible Schools (in order to better focus on their studies), they were married on June 12, 1948. Harry and Millie were married for 72 years. God called the Bollbacks to Brazil as missionaries, where they served with Word of Life from 1950 through 1969. Millie always made time for the people God brought into her life. Her special love for Christ and for others, as well as her heart for hospitality, were some of her greatest and most inspiring characteristics. After returning from Brazil, Millie served alongside Harry as he became Co-director of Word of Life with Jack Wyrtzen. Millie was dearly loved by those who knew her and by her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with whom she loved to spend time. When those near to Millie reflect upon her life, they’re drawn to three defining things about her character: her love for the Lord, her steadfast heart, and the warmth with which she welcomed friends, both new and old, into her home. It’s a joy to know she’s been welcomed Home with that same warmth and love.
Mildred “Millie” (Winkler) Bollback was born on September 29, 1927, to Milton and Dorothy Winkler in Bloomfield, NJ. She was the second daughter in a family of three girls, which included her older sister, Ruth, and her younger sister, Doris.
37 The Experience
Remembering Dr. Donald Hubbard Pastor, Missionary, and Friend of Word of Life
Dr. Donald Hubbard served as pastor of various churches, most notably as the Pastor of Berachah Church in Cheltenham, PA and Senior Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, where he was the radio voice of the “Calvary Hour” heard throughout the metropolitan New York area as well as in Africa over ELWA in Liberia. He was also Senior Pastor of Boca Raton Community Church, home to Bibletown Ministries, in Boca Raton, Florida. During his time as a local pastor, he believed God was calling him to minister at Bible Conferences, to teach in Bible Institutes and colleges, and to assist in equipping and training of pastors and church leaders across the United States and overseas to preach and teach the Gospel of Christ. Dr. Hubbard taught the book of Hebrews at Word of Life Bible Institute from 2003 to 2012 and spoke at many Word of Life Conferences from the 1980s through 2012. Dr. Hubbard, greatly interested in missions, stepped aside from the active pastorate to pursue God’s continual calling. He served on the boards of several large faith missions. His wider speaking ministry had taken him, and his wife, Joy, to over 80 countries as well as to numerous Bible Conferences. In his later years, his health caused him to give up travel and his mission ministry. He returned to his roots, filling the pulpit on a temporary basis for local churches. In Dr. Hubbard’s humility, no church or Bible Conference was too small for him to spread the Word of God. He spent his life reading and studying the Bible and was truly a man of God. We rejoice and are comforted in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father.
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