by Lisa Tramontana
Phillip Juban’s outlook on life changed a bit in 2011. That’s when he first got involved with the Mexican Indian Training Center in Cordoba, Vera Cruz, Mexico. For four years now, he has put his time and energy, his heart and soul into many of MITC’s projects, helping the less fortunate and spreading the word of God along the way.
MITC was founded in 1956 as an outreach of Broadmoor Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge. Through its Bible school, mission churches and medical missions, MITC offers pastoral training to locals, who become ministers and bring others to Christ.
Juban, president of Juban Insurance Group, says he is touched by the people he has met through MITC. “We get so wrapped up in our own world that we don’t see all the hurt and pain out there,” he said. “We forget that there are people starving for the word of God. During my visits, I’ve been surprised to see people who are so happy with so little. They say, ‘We have Jesus Christ, our Lord with us. How could we not be happy?’”
MITC’s Bible School offers a formal education for those who desire to become ministers and establish Christian churches in rural areas. Tuition is free thanks to charitable contributions from donors. “The premise is to train locals who can spread the gospel more effectively than Americans can,” Juban said. “Often, outsiders are just not as effective as those who understand the culture and traditions of the people they are trying to reach.”
The school offers a 4-year program for full-time students who live on campus and take classes from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday. For three hours a day, students work on the school grounds learning skills such as animal husbandry, gardening, carpentry, music, cooking and building maintenance. These skills ensure that the ministers are self-supporting when they complete the program. For those who already have families or full-time jobs, the school offers a Saturday program.
The final year of both programs features on-the-job training as a full-time missionary at one of MITC’s mission churches. The school encourages a strong personal relationship between the staff and students. For this reason, they not only spend time together in class, but they also work together, live together, share meals and interact socially.
Juban has become personally involved in establishing an addiction center on the grounds of one of the local churches. When his friend Tom Harrison of Shreveport told him about the need to provide treatment for those suffering alcohol and substance abuse, Juban was anxious to help. He agreed to spearhead fundraising efforts for the project and in a short time, raised the money to begin building the center.
“Here in the states, if someone has an addiction problem, they have places to go for recovery. But in Mexico, such facilities are almost nonexistent,” Juban said. “And even if they could find a proper facility, most could not afford the expense.”
Thanks to the generosity of donors, patients in MITC’s service area will now receive treatment that is Christian based and free of charge. “The Lord answered our prayers,” Juban said. “I will be forever grateful to those who stepped up and provided those funds. We had to rely on volunteers to build the center, and it has taken almost two years to complete, but it should be open by the end of the year.”
Health and medicine
Medical missions are a crucial element of MITC, and churches from all over the U.S. routinely send teams of doctors, nurses and assistants to provide a variety of medical services and health screenings. These events often draw large crowds of villagers who would otherwise not have access to medical care. Many travel long distances to receive care. The biggest needs are for eye surgery, OB/GYN services and general surgery.
Added to this list is general dentistry, a medical mission that Juban took a personal interest in a year ago. He approached his son Michael Juban about making a trip to MITC and providing free dental care for people (children especially) who had never before seen a dentist. Michael was happy to participate and contacted two colleagues who made the trip with him last November — Dr. Joe Yale of Denham Springs, and Dr. Cody Cowen from Shreveport.
“The three were friends in dental school and decided this would be a good way to serve the Lord through their profession,” Juban said. “The work they did last year was amazing. They worked long days and in the few days they were here, saw about 600 patients. They are also tremendous witnesses. They make sure the patients understand that they are doing the Lord’s work spreading the gospel of Christ.”
The group will make their second trip later this month.
MITC also organizes a one-week summer camp for youth each year, staffed by students from the Bible School. It’s a chance for campers to combine faith and fun in a Christian environment, learn leadership skills, and be exposed to future ministry opportunities.
There are many ways to get involved with MITC projects, Juban said, including Bible conferences, music conferences, and evangelistic crusades. He encourages others to visit the website at MITCenter.org to learn more.