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Sebring Church Plans Bible Institute

Jun 28, 2004

Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, under the leadership of Associate Pastor Bruce Barlow, had a fun weekend hosting Dr. Randy Smith this past weekend.

Smith, who is well-known as a Bible teacher and expert in Israel (he lived there a number of years), taught sessions on the Gospels and did a two-hour seminar on Leviticus Sunday evening.

Smith, 42, has an undergraduate degree in biblical studies, an M.A. in Near East Archaeology, and his Ph.D. in Comparative Religion was done at a Hebrew university in Israel, where he trained in the rabbinic tradition and specialized in the historic relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

He is respected as one of the foremost Bible teachers in the Middle East and is in demand by both the Israeli and the Palestinian ministries of Tourism as a professor of biblical history for their certified guide courses.

One of Smith’s more interesting accomplishments is the building of a Wilderness Tabernacle replica at Kibbutz Almog in the Judean Desert, near Jericho. The Tabernacle opened to visitors on October 13, 2000, and was the product of five years of research, planning, design and construction. It is a full-scale (1:1) walk-through replica of the moveable worship sanctuary built by the ancient Hebrews during their Exodus journey.

Smith, who is also pastor of the Grace Brethren Church in Sebring, Florida, over lunch Sunday also revealed plans to open a concentrated one-year Bible institute program entitled “Great Commission Bible Institute.”

A ministry of the Sebring church, the institute will lead about 20-25 students each year through an intensive Bible study program, ministry linked to Urban Hope in Philadelphia, inclusion of a mission trip, and work in a local church, with the Sebring church being the first and primary platform for student ministry.

Smith said a businessman has donated a downtown Sebring hotel, built in 1927, for the purpose of housing the institute and its students, and the building is currently undergoing renovations.

Smith’s Global Vision Outreach website at is currently undergoing revision, but more information on his ministry is available on his Christian Travel Study Programs website.