SEANBC was part of the dream that began when the Southeast Asia Field was created in August 1991. Consisting of the five nations of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the Southeast Asia Field is the home of 230 million people, consisting of 400 languages and people groups. Once a “hot spot” on the world scene, today this part of the world continues to offer challenges and opportunities to those who are creative enough to capitalize on its emerging global markets and resources. The Church of the Nazarene began preaching the holiness message through Southeast Asia—in Myanmar (1984), in Thailand (1989), in Cambodia (1992), in Vietnam (1994).
In 1996, it was apparent that the SEA Field needed training facilities to meet the educational needs of the field. Southeast Asia Nazarene Bible College (SEANBC) was finally approved to serve as the “umbrella” school for the entire five-nation field. However, SEANBC was not permitted to build a traditional campus as a base. Thus, from the very beginning SEANBC was compelled to look to an extension center education format for what was needed to prepare ministers for ordination and to offer quality Christian education to youth. SEANBC also had to employ creative and varied methods of training in the educational centers as the church developed.
The SEANBC administrative center was established in Bangkok (1996) with supporting national hub throughout each country on the field. Extension classes are taught both in extension centers. While much of the outside resources are poured into providing teachers for the hub centers, SEANBC is developing the “teach/re-teach” concept for the extension centers (2Tim 2:2).
SEANBC has employed a number of teaching methods in its nearly two decades of existence. While the Yangon program began as a residential campus (in 1997) and Northern Thailand followed the residential pattern most other classes were offered as one-week, 30-hour “intensives.” Night classes have worked in Bangkok, enabling students with other jobs to attend after work hours. Block courses or back-to-back intensive classes are other options that have helped accomplish the task. In the process, SEANBC has utilized professors from other nations for certificate, diploma and bachelor degree programs, as well as those from within the countries on the SEA field.
Early Development: From the beginning, SEANBC worked together with districts to provide lay and ministerial leaders. The Myanmar center began teaching the first batch of students from 1991 and produced its first graduates from 1994, Cambodia followed beginning its education in 1994. In Bangkok the first graduation was in 2001. In Vietnam, the program began in 2007 and the first group graduated in 2014. Although the residential program was not the focus of SEANBC, God allowed resources to provide residential a campus both in Yangon (Myanmar) and in MaeTaeng (Northern Thailand) when the Bangkok program moved to the new building facility in 2004. The MaeTaeng program closed temporarily in 2011 due to lack of students and reopened as a non-residential program primarily to educate Lahu speaking leaders in 2016.
Recognition of the Course of Study: The first recognition documents were prepared by Dr. Mike McCarty and Rev. Kent Pelton In 2005. They worked hard to prepare the paperwork necessary to meet the International Course of Study Accreditation Committee (ICOSAC) requirements for recognition. Dr. Galloway, from Nazarene Theological Seminary, came to help and spent many long hours to make sure things were in order. ICOSAC recongnition finally came in 2006 and is valid for ten years. SEANBC is currently undertaking renewal of the recognition. In addition, SEANBC began preparing to receive accreditation from Asia Theological Association (ATA).
Former SEANBC Administrators and Teachers: From the beginning, God raised leaders for SEANBC. Rev. Richard Knox was the first director (1996 – 2000). Dr. Daniel Saengwichai, a graduate of Asbury Seminary, was the first national administrator, serving as the assistant to the director. Dr. Michael P. McCarty (2000 – 2004) succeeded Rev. Knox while he was working as Field Director in 2000. Rev. Kent Pelton (2004 – 2012) became full time chancellor, serving two consecutive terms. The fourth chancellor was Rev. David Phillips (2012 – 2015), who also served as Field Strategy Coordinator (FSC) for the SEA field. He appointed Rev. Ro Ding Liana, a Mizo speaking Myanmar national, to serve as the first academic dean of the school (2015-2016).
Expansion: On August 11, 2015, the Board of Regents unanimously voted Dr. DongHwan (Bill) Kwon as the fifth chancellor of SEANBC. The Board of Regents also decided to create a SEANBC administration office on the third floor of Bangkok First Church of the Nazarene to supervise the operations in each center. The dedication was held January 28, 2016 on location.
The administration and BOR members formulated Vision 2020 with a new vision. A result of this time together was the new vision statement, “Committed to be the leading innovative ministerial education provider for Southeast Asian people.” Vision 2020 also includes rapid expansion which includes 20 extension centers with 600 students by 2020.
The vision 2020 plan has been actively adopted by each centers. Since 2015, The Myanmar center (coordinator: Rev. Lal Pek Mawia) began expanding its territories. The Mon state extension center was initiated by the local leadership, next the Tahan center, Mon center, and then the Bangkok center followed. In 2016, three new centers are scheduled to open: Karen 13 miles, Letpancheong center, and Zohmum center. Thailand re-christened SEANBC education in 2016. The Northern Thailand district partnered with SEANBC and reopened the extension center in MaeTaeng in May 2016. The same month the first class was held at the Bangkok First Church of the Nazarene and SEANBC administration center. Leadership envisions opening a new centers to educate lay and ministerial leaders in the Northeastern part of Thailand soon. The Northern Myanmar program plans to have its first graduation in 2017. Classes began anew in Cambodia in 2012 in Siem Reap. Cambodia now holds classes in two extension centers, Kampong Thom and Battambang, to serve the rapidly growing church in country.
SEANBC was established to train lay and ministerial leaders with multi-national, multi-language and multi-level educational approach. SEANBC is truly committed to being the “leading innovative ministerial education provider in Southeast Asia.”