It is a pleasure to introduce you to the Global Association of Theological Studies. Our journey began with a Global Education Network meeting at World Evangelism Center in October 2006 thanks to two visionary Regional Directors, Reverend Robert K. Rodenbush and Reverend Jerry Richardson who presented a proposal for such a gathering. At the invitation of the Director of Education/AIM, Reverend Lloyd Shirley, an educational representative from each region joined our six Regional Directors for three days of meetings to discuss various aspects of improving the way we go about theological training globally.

In that get-together, the Global Education Committee, Global Association of Theological Studies, and the Global University of Theological Studies were envisioned. They were later approved by the General Director of Global Missions, Reverend Bruce Howell, Planning for Progress and the Global Missions Board in February 2007. That was the easy part. Undertaking the global educational advancement program is a gigantic task, and is not accomplished overnight. It is an ongoing process.

Thanks for visiting . We trust the information you find here will be helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Brad Thompson, acting Assistant to the Director of Education/AIM for matters concerning the GATS program.


The governing body of GATS is the Global Education Committee. It consists of:

  1. General Director of Global Missions – Ex Officio
  2. Director of Education/Coordinator of GATS (Chairman)
  3. Assistant Coordinator of GATS (Co-Chairman)
  4. Regional Directors of Global Missions
  5. Regional GATS Representatives
  6. Global Educator Representative (Consultant rotating – 2 year term/alternating)


The Director of Education and Short Term Missions by virtue of appointment, serves as the “Coordinator of the Global Association of Theological Studies.” This office is currently filled by Jim Poitras. The Global Missions Board, at their discretion, may appoint an “Assistant Coordinator of Global Association of Theological Studies”. In 2017, Rev. Brad Thompson was placed in this position. The Global Educator Representative is included as a consultant with a voice, but no vote.


Africa, Rev. Gerald McLean
Asia, Rev. Prince Mathiasz
Central America/Caribbean, Rev. Brad Thompson
Europe/Middle East, Rev. Mark Shutes
Pacific, Rev. Troy Wickett
South America, Rev. Joseph Anthony Bir

All communication concerning GATS can be sent to: or directly with your Regional GATS Representative.


Bruce A Howell, Ex-Officio Member of the GEC
Bruce A Howell, Ex-Officio Member of the GECDirector of Global Missions
Rev. Bruce Howell is the General Director of Global Missions. He is the former dean of Christian Education at Jackson College of Ministries, was appointed to El Salvador in 1979 and served there for about twenty years, became a Regional Director, and was elected as the general director in October 2001.

Brother Howell emphatically states, “Ministerial education is crucial to the future of the United Pentecostal Church International. The Church marches forward only to the extent that we evangelize the world and educate our converts. GATS is a cutting edge education program that uses the foundation of our past to build for the bright future of taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World by the Whole Church in the 21st century. I stand firmly behind the work of GATS and the Global Education Committee. I foresee ground-breaking changes in the way we go about Bible school training.”

James G Poitras
James G PoitrasDirector of Education & Short-Term Missions, GATS Coordinator
James Poitras has a BEd from the University of New Brunswick, a BA in Biblical Studies from Indiana Bible College, and a MA in Ministerial Studies (Education Concentration) from Global University. Additionally, he has attended the United Pentecostal Church Bible Institute (now Northeast Christian College). His wife, Linda, is also an educator with a Bachelor’s degree from Troy State University. Both have been extensively involved in missions and Bible School administration for more than thirty-five years.
Brad E Thompson
Brad E ThompsonAssistant GATS Coordinator Regional GATS Representative Central America, Caribbean and Mexico Missionary Supervisor in Guatemala
Brad and Regina Thompson have been UPCI missionaries in Guatemala for the past 34 years. Brad is the General Director of one of the largest Bible Colleges in the UPCI, with over 500 students enrolled yearly in the 28 Bible school programs throughout Guatemala.

Regional Team Leaders

Gerald McLean
Africa Region

Gerry and Darla McLean arrived in Nigeria on June 1, 1997 with the primary objective of resurrecting a floundering Bible school that was on the verge of closure. Twenty-two years later there is a sprawling campus in Enugu housing a 14,000 square foot Bible School, a 1200 seat auditorium, a dormitory, chapel, and a two-family residence. A second Bible School was opened in Lagos in 2015. Over 400 students have graduated with an Associate Degree in Ministerial Studies. Over half of the pastors in the United Pentecostal Church in Nigeria have graduated from the Bible School. The work has grown from one Bible School church in 2001 to 207 churches and 24,206 constituents. The Bible school has been the driving force behind this growth.

Gerry McLean served as Principal of Ministerial Training Center for 8 years and 11 years as President. He graduated from Gateway College of Evangelism in 1976. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, a Masters Degree in Social Work and a Masters Degree in Business Administration. He is a licensed counselor specializing in substance abuse. Darla McLean served as the Administrative Assistant at the Bible school for 17 years. Both have taught in the Bible school since 1997.

Prince Mathiasz
Asia Region

Prince Mathiasz serves as the Regional GATS Representative for Asia as well as a Career missionary to the nation of Sri Lanka. He received his Associate, Bachelor and Masters degrees at Indiana Bible College.

He was instrumental in the establishment of the UPC of Sri Lanka and has served as founding pastor of several churches there. He has written several textbooks for the Ministerial Institute of Theology of Sri Lanka and is heavily involved in their Associate Degree program.

Prince has been a part of the GATS program from the very beginning and has worked diligently to see many Asian nations implement GATS Curriculum in their Bible Schools

Brad Thompson
Central America/Caribbean Region

Brad and Regina Thompson have been UPCI missionaries in Guatemala for the past 34 years. Brad is the General Director of one of the largest Bible Colleges in the UPCI, with over 500 students enrolled yearly in the 28 Bible school programs throughout Guatemala.

His passion is to train and equip men and women for effective ministry, and to make training available to as many people as possible.  With a team of 124 GATS trained teachers, they are taking ministerial training into every region of the nation. His motto is ‘if the student cannot come to the Bible school, then we will take the Bible school to the student’. This concept has been very effective in producing ministers, training leaders, and providing stability to the UPC of Guatemala. It is evidenced in 250 established churches, 186 daughter works, 301 licensed ministers, and over 22,000 in attendance in their churches on a weekly basis.  As a direct result of the training efforts, they are averaging monthly one new church established and 2 new ministers receiving license.

Brad has served as Regional GATS Representative for Central America and the Caribbean for over ten years, during which time they have held annual Faculty Development seminars in many of the nations and witnessed exponential  growth and development in the Bible Schools.

In 2017 he was appointed as the Assistant GATS Coordinator globally.  It is his vision to continue to develop and expand the GATS program, have annual faculty training seminars in every GATS nation and to facilitate the sending forth of equipped laborers to once again ‘turn the world upside down’ with the full gospel.

Mark Shutes
Europe, Middle East Region

Mark Shutes has pioneered the opening of several countries, and is co-founder of Revival By Design, a strategy for continual revival and Bible Training. He currently serves as the LDI Coordinator for Europe and the Middle East. He strongly believes in the equipping of leaders globally.

He is the President of the Robert K Rodenbush Global Training Center in Riga, Latvia. North American Bible School students and AIMers are also trained there and sent out to other countries to plant churches and start training centers.

Mark Shutes is a strong believer in Bible School education and believes in the principles and goals of the GATS program. He wholeheartedly encourages the further development and advancement of GATS and GATS Faculty Advancement Seminars throughout the nations of Europe and the Middle East.

Troy Wickett
Pacific Region

Troy M. Wickett is the GATS representative for the Pacific Region. He is working with students and faculty of Bible Colleges in the Pacific region with a goal of ministerial excellence.

Since appointment in 2017, Troy Wickett has made numerous contributions to the advancement of higher education.  He is an instructor at Faculty Development Seminars, and is creating and enhancing support provided to faculty and administrators of Colleges in the many Pacific countries on a continual basis.

Troy has studied at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and Texas Bible College in Houston, Texas in pursuit of a Bachelors Degree in Christian Education, as well as a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and Christian Counselling.   He has also received education and accreditation from the US Federal Government as a Federal Instructor of the Mine Health and Safety Association (MHSA) for an International company (Headwaters Resources Inc.).

Troy has served in Global Missions to places including South Pacific, Central America, Europe and in Africa; teaching in Bible Colleges both in North America and abroad.  In September 2016 Troy and his wife Jennette along with their three children (Justus, Callan & Eva) received their appointment as Missionaries to Fiji and The Solomon Islands where they continue to invest in Bible Colleges as they endeavor to establish churches and preaching points throughout the islands.

Joseph Bir
South America Region

Joseph and Loretta Bir are graduates of Texas Bible College and have been educators in Christian schools in the United States and overseas since 1978.

They received their appointment as United Pentecostal Church Missionaries to Paraguay in May 1986. This appointment resulted from the Birs long-standing global mission burden.  Since 1989 Joseph has served as Director and an instructor of the Apostolic Bible Institute in Paraguay.  Their appointment was expanded to include Peru in 2008.

He has been instrumental in the implementation of the GATS program in both Paraguay and Peru and is serving as the GATS Regional Representative for South America.  He has conducted Faculty Development seminars in several of the South American nations.

Joseph Bir was the Field Superintendent and President of Paraguay for 20 years. He served as the Area Coordinator for the South America’s Southern Cone for 13 years and currently for the Central Andean Zone.

Loretta Bir is involved in children’s and ladies’ ministries and teaches in the Bible school. She is the Director of New Heights School which provides an education to some of the poorest children in Lambaré a suburb of the capital city of Asunción. She teaches nine weekly English classes to around 300 students. Loretta is also serving as a Global Educator, teaching in Faculty Development seminars in South America.