2011 is a special anniversary year for Joy Bible Institute. The JBI property was purchased in 1979 and the first building to be built was the chapel which was dedicated in Sept. 1979. The other buildings quickly followed and the school opened its doors to students in March 1981. Twelve students began their studies that year and seven of them graduated in 1983. Missionaries Ron Killingbeck and Wayne and Jean Guge, both served as principal and teachers during the first two years of the school’s existence.
Two months ago, in a faculty meeting, I reminded everyone that this was the 30th anniversary year of the school and it would be nice to plan a special celebration at graduation. The idea caught on and though we had very little finance or time, everyone was excited and got busy planning!
The first major decision was to rent a tent and have the graduation ceremony on campus. We normally have graduation at a local church because our school chapel is much too small for such events. Next, we contacted former missionaries who had served at JBI and asked for old photos. Immediately, letters and photos started arriving and everyone got excited! The end of August is regional church conference time so word was sent to all the island conferences that JBI was inviting alumni back for graduation on Oct. 30, 2011.
Here are some photos of the special day:
In the photo to the right (pictured left to right) are: Pastor & Mrs. Robert Laumai, honored for 30 years of service to the school. Pastor Robert came to JBI in 1979 and helped build all of the first buildings. He remained to serve as a teacher and then later as maintenance and grounds manager. His wife, Edna, served as school cook. They retired from JBI in 2009. Pastor & Mrs. Tom Ierongen, were also honored as they served on the first school faculty when JBI opened in 1981. They went on to pioneer churches in Vila and on the island of Tanna. Pastor & Mrs. Youen Atnelo, were honored for their 23 years of teaching ministry to the school. Pastor Youen is currently the General Supt. of the Assemblies of God Vanuatu and pastors Evangel temple in Port Vila. Pastor Willie Naias served as campus staff and cook when JBI opened in 1981, with his wife Mary (not pictured). Their son Philip Naias was just a toddler then and today he is a pastor and a JBI faculty member. Also pictured are current JBI principal, J. Gary & Lori Ellison.
We would have never been able to host such an event if it had not been for the help of so many friends. Local churches donated food, Women’s Ministries groups from four villages came to cook and served a delicious buffet meal to over 500 people. A big thank you to everyone who helped make the day a most memorable graduation and anniversary celebration. Thank you also to all the former faculty and students who came and celebrated with us!