Rescue mission

New Classroom Space Prompts Rescue Mission to Begin In-Depth Study for the Public | New

The Norfolk rescue mission is charting new territory.

On Thursday, September 1, the organization will open its doors to members of the public who want to dive deeper into theology as it begins offering the Rescue Bible Institute.

The Reverend Will Perrigan, director of the rescue mission, said the hourly classes one evening a week for 12 weeks will offer a deeper insight into Bible studies than an adult Sunday School class or scholarships in small groups could provide.

“There’s value in small groups and value in Sunday school,” Perrigan said. “There is also value in a formal Christian education – to study theology and church history and things of that nature.”

The idea to start the Rescue Bible Institute came after long conversations between Perrigan and the Reverend Justin Fisher, director of men’s ministry at the mission, about the lack of Bible colleges in the area.

“We used to have Nebraska Christian College. Omaha used to have Grace, but with both now gone, the area is really pretty thin,” Perrigan said. “We in no way propose to be a Bible university. It’s a big effort, but we wanted to start something.

The opportunity to start the class presented itself as the mission completed renovations to part of its brick building at 107 N. Ninth St.

Several years ago, Perrigan said, the brick building on the mission’s campus housed the organization’s clothing room, the space where donated clothing and accessories are inventoried and displayed for guests or members of the community in need.

“Anyone staying at the mission can use the clothing room at any time. They just come and ask the staff. We can bring them there to shop,” Perrigan said. “If anyone in the community has a need, the only requirement is that they come to a chapel service any night at 5:30 p.m. The pastor on duty signs the slip he attended. From that slip alone, they can get help in the clothing room, with furniture, household items, and groceries.

But a roofing construction accident resulted in extensive damage to the mission’s brick building when it was flooded during a rainstorm. This forced the mission to move the clothing room to a much smaller space in another building on its campus, Perrigan said.

“It was supposed to be in this building for a year,” Perrigan said of a structure just up the street. “But he probably stayed for five or seven years.”

Recently, the mission was able to return the clothing room to its original location, meaning the temporary space could be redone for a new purpose.

“I wanted to reclaim this space to turn it into a classroom,” Perrigan said.

Earlier this year, the mission launched a pilot version of the Rescue Bible Institute, inviting all interested staff and family members to classes once a week. Perrigan said they expected to have four or five interests expressed; a total of 12 registered for the first semester.

“There was an obligation of presence. There were articles to write, books to read,” Perrigan said. “We wanted it to operate as if it were a Bible college without any formal Bible college accreditation.”

Following the success of the experimental semester, Perrigan said, they decided to open the classes up to members of the public who want to engage in more in-depth Bible studies.

They plan to contact various pastors and Sunday School superintendents in the area to see if anyone in their churches might be interested in participating, Perrigan added.

The theology course will be based on ‘Biblical Doctrine’, a book by John MacArthur, and will focus on church history, starting from AD 500 and ending with AD 1500, said Perrigan.

Participants will need to purchase books and materials, and a small fee will be charged. Investing in the class, Perrigan said, will help ensure that only those who are serious about the course enroll.

Space is limited, but anyone interested in registering can call the mission and request a registration form. The course will run from Thursday 1 September to Thursday 17 November.

“It’s really a different angle for rescue ministry because it’s not ministry to mission guests,” Perrigan said. “But we recognize that we have space, we have teachers, we have materials and we offer some of them under the New Life Discipleship program to the men and women who stay here, but why not offer some of the same types of courses to the community? You don’t have to struggle with a drug addiction or just get out of jail to take a theology course.