Florida Free Bible, Missionary & Work Training Center (BMW) is a tuition-free Bible School with a specialized focus in missions. Teen Missions International (TMI), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, opened the Bible School in 1988. The school is located at TMI’s world headquarters on Merritt Island in Florida with a goal of providing quality missionary training to those called to the mission field. By making it a work study program, they are able to provide the training for free!
Students from all over the country and around the world—Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, Hungary, Liberia, Malawi, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam—have attended BMW. It’s a wonderful opportunity to live and study with people from different parts of the world, and get a glimpse of life in other cultures.
Many BMW students go on to become teachers overseas — training future missionaries and pastors, and preparing them for ministry in their own countries and abroad. Graduates of BMW are currently serving in a number of ministries in places such as the Philippines, Cameroon, Honduras, Australia, South Africa, and the U.S.
BMW is not an accredited institution, but some graduated students have received credit for their class work at other Bible colleges. BMW’s three year program involves two years of academic and work training, followed by a one year internship in the field alongside seasoned long-term missionaries. A small student-to-teacher ratio allows teachers to give personal attention to the students.
Each student takes morning classes in speech, fund raising, medical missions, Biblical counseling, spiritual life, and a study in all of the books of the Bible. Every afternoon, each student trains in a specific department (computers, finance, graphics, mechanics, printshop, etc.) to learn organizational, secretarial and practical skills that will prove invaluable on the mission field. A minimum of two hours of study time is set aside each evening.
Extra training in lifeguarding, motorcycles, guitar lessons, gardening, maturity classes, and ministry outreaches give a well-rounded preparation for life and ministry overseas. Missionaries often face difficult situations on the mission field and BMW prepares its students to deal with many of those situations.
During the third and final year of missionary training, students choose an internship assignment in Florida or at one of TMI’s 20+ bases around the world. The BMW Training Center is underwritten by TMI so that those who attend and graduate can enter the mission field immediately with no education debts to pay off.
The BMW campus is situated on Merritt Island, about halfway down the Florida panhandle, bordering the Kennedy Space Center. Teen Missions has been blessed with 265 acres of woods and lakes that offer a beautiful opportunity for fun and fellowship, as well as peaceful alone time with the Lord amidst His creation.
BMW students enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, tennis, basketball, volleyball, exploring the Teen Missions jungle, going to the park down the road, or visiting nearby Cocoa Beach.
Currently 25 students are enrolled in the BMW program. Students live in air-conditioned dorm rooms on campus and eat their meals in the Conference Center dining room. A student lounge is provided for fellowship and games such as ping pong. For studies, a computer room is provided with high-speed internet (including WiFi), as well as a small reference library.
Students attend a morning chapel service on weekdays with TMI staff. Once a week the students meet for evening devotions. Second-year students are required to be involved in a local Christian church ministry—teaching Sunday school, working with youth, evangelism, etc.
It is expected that the conduct of each student will give evidence of Christian standards, honesty, morality, courtesy, and modesty. Classroom attire for girls is dresses/skirts (below knees), blouses (not sleeveless), dress shoes or dress sandals. Guys are required to wear dress shirts and ties, dress slacks and shoes. After the first term, couples are allowed to spend time together but only with a third party present.
TMI rents out their property as a Christian Retreat Center when it is not being used for missions programs. Income from the retreats helps to support the Florida Free BMW. Students are an important part of staffing for retreats – working in the kitchen, life guarding, etc. Students receive one week of vacation at the end of August, and two weeks over Christmas. They also get holiday time off on Good Friday and Thanksgiving weekend.
BMW seeks students who feel the Lord is definitely calling them to full-time Christian service in missions. The applicant must be a high school graduate or have the equivalent GED. Although the Bible school classes are taught at a college level, GPAs are not a determining factor for admission.
Applicants must first successfully complete a Teen Missions short term trip or summer of service prior to acceptance at BMW. (Examples of opportunities are listed at the end of this article.) Recommendation by team leaders is required. These programs do have an expense ranging from $2,000-$5,000 depending on the location. You can use your own savings or do car washes, garage sales, spaghetti dinners, go to businesses, friends and family, etc.
While attending BMW, students must not have any financial obligations. All outstanding loans or debts must be paid before coming to school. With limited free time and an emphasis on study, the schedule does not allow for student employment, not even part-time. Opportunities exist to do odd jobs on Saturday afternoons to earn spending money.
If a student fails to complete their three-year commitment, they are responsible to reimburse Teen Missions a $300 room and board fee for each month they attended the school.
Every staff member in Teen Missions is faith supported. They do not have a fixed income and live off what is provided through financial support from friends, family, and churches. Here you can meet a few of the staff members:
Sean and Sharon Deegan – After graduating from high school, Sean and Sharon both enrolled in BMW, having first served as Teen Missions team members in the late 1990s. Sean joined in the summer of 2002, while Sharon joined in the Fall. This is where they officially met. They started dating in the Fall of 2003 and were engaged on New Year’s 2004. After completing their two years of Bible School, they were married in March 2005. One month later, they started their one year internship in Belize. They continue to serve Teen Missions and now have three children: Kieley, 7; Aiden, 5; and Cailyn, 2. Sean works in the video department and leads summer teams, while Sharon is a homeschool mom who helps out in the TMI office and kitchen.
Steve and Gay Petersen – Steve is a BMW instructor who also works on website optimization and promotion for the Teen Missions IT Department. Gay manages the home, cares for her mother, and homeschools the kids. Timothy, 13, is in 6th grade and Faith, 9, is in 3rd grade. As part of her ministry responsibilities, Gay works from home doing proofing and secretarial work, and serves as a weekend cook for TMI conferences and retreats. During the summer months she coordinates the Peanut Kids Camp (7-9 year olds) and travels with Steve as a summer team leader.
Shonn and Lori Foy – Currently the Foys are leading a year long promotional team, the Circuit Riders, who are traveling all over the U.S. raising support for the Motorcycle Sunday School Mission (MSSM). This ministry serves remote areas of the African bush that are beyond the reach of traditional outreach methods. The Foys were introduced to TMI by Shonn’s sister who went on a Teen Missions trip in 1973. She encouraged all of her siblings to send their own children around the age of 16 because of the impact it had on her life. Shonn and Lori are homeschool parents of four children – Shane, Katie, Jesse and Erinn. The three oldest are now grown, while Erinn “is enjoying the tour and … being road schooled this year, which is even more challenging than homeschool to find a routine.”
Go on a mission trip this summer with TMI! Teens age 13-19 can make a difference both physically and spiritually while helping AIDS Orphans, distributing food, medical aid, or clothing. Mission trips use evangelism tools such as drama, music, puppets, and testimonies to share the gospel. Some special mission trips have a unique ministry focus or method such as backpacking, boat, motorcycle, sports, film, or clowning. Work projects can include masonry, carpentry, landscaping, painting, plumbing, etc. The length of teen trips varies slightly depending on location, but they range from 6 to 8 weeks. There are three phases:
Boot Camp is a two week period in which teams prepare for their missions trip while learning discipline, cooperation, and teamwork. Boot Camp includes training in Bible and evangelism; puppet, music and drama classes; and basic construction skills. Evening rallies in a Big Top tent consist of cheers, worship, and missionary speakers.
TMI’s Boot Camp provides the toughest, most complete short term mission trip training in the country, and it is considered by many to be the best program available to teenagers. The goal is to present a simulation of the circumstances they may encounter overseas. For example, participants sleep in tents and there is no running water to wash with—just your bucket and water from the nearby lake.
Probably the most rigorous (and infamous) part of Boot Camp is the timed obstacle course which team members learn to run together. Obstacles include Mount Sinai, a large mountain of tires; Jacob’s Ladder, a large cargo net ladder; The Slough of Despond, a rope swing over a muddy pool of water; and The Wall, a twelve foot wall that each member must go over using only teamwork (there are steps on the back for coming down). The obstacle course is carefully monitored by staff members that encourage anyone who is struggling.
The team project, serving abroad with your team, consists of work and evangelism. The daily schedule also includes personal daily devotions, daily memory verse, weekly classes, and evening group devotions.
Teams return to Florida from their countries to exchange testimonies, compete in memory verse quizzing, and prepare for their return home. The debrief schedule is more relaxed and involves fun time at Central Florida’s world famous tourist attractions.
Summer missions trips are filled on a first-come, first-served basis determined by date received. Register online today or call 321-453-0350.
Many high school graduates are choosing to have a Gap Year between school and college or job placement. TMI offers a variety of opportunities to go overseas to work with AIDS Orphans in Africa or at any of the Teen Missions bases worldwide, for one year of missionary service. The term runs from June to June. Participants must be 18 years old or older.
The first part of the GAP (one-year) internship program is to participate as a mission trip leader (or leader in training) with a TMI summer team. Candidates must attend a Teen Missions Leader Training Seminar prior to the summer missions trip. Training will take place for three weeks in Merritt Island, Florida. You will be trained in the following areas: basic first aid, culture, motorcycle riding, gardening & agriculture, literacy, teaching children, and TMI policies.
Once the North American training is over you report to the base country coordinator to receive your responsibilities. All bases require physical as well as spiritual work. Projects might include medical relief, sewing school uniforms, building grinding mills and granaries, drilling water wells, and much more.
The Gap Year program cost is equivalent to the summer mission trip cost plus $500 per month for the rest of the year, which can be raised through fundraising efforts or church sponsorships. You will also be responsible for passport fees, country visa fees, and any immunizations needed.
For more information about the TMI Gap Year program, please call 321-453-0350 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (put Gap year in the subject line).