An academic sabbatical is a temporary suspension of teaching responsibilities for the purpose of pursuing academic research or experience which will benefit the academic institution. In theological schools this sometimes includes opportunities for missionary service which will enrich classroom instruction.

I have been granted a one semester sabbatical by Emmaus Bible College. I’ve teaching at Emmaus since 2005 where my course list includes Christian Life and Bible Study Methods, Bible Geography, 1, 2 Kings, Deuteronomy, Applied Theology, The History and Literature of the Intertestamental Period, and Hebrew Language. In addition, I direct the EmmausOnline program, manage the AudioVisual Department, and since the Fall 2011 semester, chair the Bible department.

Since this sabbatical will be almost seven months long (semester + summer) my entire family will participate. While in Zambia, Julie will undertake to continue the schooling of our children as well as the children of the missionary family we will be staying with (Mark and Carmen Brubacher). Julie has a B.A. in elementary education and has taught in the Dallas public school system.


In 2005 Emmaus asked me to teach a course on Bible Archaeology, but I declined believing that it would be best for me to participate in an archaeological dig before attempting to teach that course. I have led students to Israel in 2008 and 2010 but have never participated in a dig. I plan to participate in a dig (objective 1) that will last approximately six weeks. Every summer institutions from around the world team up with Israeli schools to dig in the Holy Land. Students and professors can join these digs for a fee. These digs provide training in the basics of archaeological research and experience in doing actual field work. The digs are numerous and range from the famous Hazor, or Dan, to less well known by equally important sites. After the dig is complete I will prepare a course (objective 2) in Bible archaeology.


As a college with a strong missions emphasis, Emmaus faculty members are encouraged to support and participate in missions opportunities as they become available. In October 2011 I was invited to participate in a series of meetings in Samfya, Zambia (in south central Africa) designed to evaluate and improve the curriculum of the Samfya Bible School. This school is unique in that it serves the rural communities of Zambia. Its graduates return to parts of the country that are often abandoned by students who gain an education. BrightHope World, one of the NGOs working with Samfya Bible School, says this about the institution.

“Samfya Bible School has been preparing Christian leaders since 1940 and is a key provider of training in the Luapula Province of Zambia. Every year they train about 20 people who become pastors, evangelists, church planters and change agents in their communities. They produce high quality graduates, many of whom are making a huge impact on their communities…

Much has changed in Northern Zambia in the last few decades. 11% of the population is now infected with HIV/AIDS, 10% of the population is an orphan under the age of 18 and 70% of the population lives on less than $1 a day. As a result of their isolation, rural communities have suffered the most in recent years. In response to this crisis Samfya Bible School is re-designing its curriculum and is now integrating Christian Ministry and Community Outreach components into their education program.  Students will now graduate with the skills, experience and confidence to meet both the spiritual and physical needs of communities in distress.

The Christian Brethren Mission Station in Samfya was founded in the mid 1930’s by Horace Coleman, a missionary from Scotland.  The Bible School itself grew out of Bible study classes that Mr. Coleman organized from his house. The current buildings on campus, which are still being utilized, were constructed in 1960. From 1986 until 1991 the school went through a period of decline and was finally shut down. In 1991 under the guidance of Mark Davies it was reopened and in 1997 Rodgers Chama, a gifted Zambian graduate from the Theological College of Central Africa took over as principal. Rodgers worked hard to build up the school and unite local churches. Chama passed away in 2004 and his ministry has been carried on by the current principal of Samfya Bible School, Levy Chibu.

Samfya Bible School has always maintained a unique role in Christian ministry in the Northern Provinces of Zambia. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that the school is focused on training and equipping church leaders from and for rural service.  Most of the students that come to the Bible School are from poor rural areas and, much to their credit, the school sees the majority of these students returning to serve in their home villages and communities. Samfya Bible School has been one of the driving forces behind the evangelism and Christian ministry in Northern Zambia.”[1]

In recent years the school has begun a process of evaluating and improving its curriculum and assessing the impact it is having through its graduates. My participation was well received at the October consultation and I was asked to return and to continue helping in this process. The bulk of this sabbatical mid-December-mid-May will be spent in Zambia working with the faculty of the Samfya Bible School.


The largest expense we face are travel costs. Plane tickets will cost approximately $12,000 or more for six people.


Living expenses in Israel are the next largest cost with rent and a vehicle running approximately $5,000 for 2.5 months. Living expenses in Samfya, Zambia will be small by comparison at $2400 for 4 months.

SCHEDULE (Dates are approximate pending the purchase of airline tickets)

December 2012 – May 2013 – We arrive in Samfya, Zambia.
May 2013 – We travel to Israel to participate in an archaeological dig.
August 2013 – Sabbatical complete, we return to US.
Fall 2013 – Steven resumes responsibilities at Emmaus.


As with any foreign travel, especially to impoverished areas, there are risks that simply can not be protected against. In addition travel to Israel can be particularly risky. It is possible that after plane tickets have been purchased the political situation in Israel could become destabilized to the point that it is not wise for Americans to travel there.      


We would love to have your support. You can follow our progress before and during the sabbatical by visiting our blog (sanchezabroad.wordpress.com). Please pray for us! If you are able and would like to make a financial investment in this project we would welcome that too. It may seem difficult to justify travel costs for so many people when only one is really doing the work, but the length of the sabbatical (seven months) makes it unwise for me to leave my family in the US. Please prayerfully consider whether God would have you invest in his kingdom this way.

Christian Missions in Many Lands (www.cmml.org) has agreed to receive gifts for this project and to issue tax-deductible receipts. If you would like to give, this link will take you to their website.

Feel free to contact us with questions.

Steven Sanchez
(563) 564-9446

or by mail:
2570 Asbury Rd
Dubuque, IA 52001


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