We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 2 Corinthians 8: 1-4
Just as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, we too want you to know about the grace of God that has been given in the last six months to meet the needs of our Serious Joy Scholarship recipients at Bethlehem College & Seminary, and of that which remains to be met before the end of the school year. There have been 439 households, and probably more like 600 individual men and women—Christian saints—whom God has stirred to pour out $1,436,513 toward a school-year budget of $1,954,800, leaving $518,287 needed before June 30, 2020 to fully fund every scholarship. To God be the glory! A former trustee of the school, Pastor Sam Storms, once remarked, “It is entirely reasonable that God will move to supply the need of Bethlehem College & Seminary.” Indeed, he has again and again, and we have every confidence that he will continue to do so.
We thank God for you whose overflow of love for Christ has washed over these students such that they can receive their Bible-saturated, “Education in Serious Joy” and launch into life and ministry debt-free. This enables them to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ and to share the great truth that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
In addition to that received to fund The Serious Joy Scholarship, we have also received $131,530 designated to the benefit of the Extension Site initiative led by Dr. Dieudonné Tamfu in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Six seminarians there completed in December their first semester as students at Bethlehem College & Seminary-Yaoundé. We have also received $77,761 in gifts to the Alex Steddom International Student Fund which will support the full tuition and extraordinary financial needs of three seminary students presently here from elsewhere in the world who intend to carry Bethlehem theology back to their people upon graduation. A new seminary student from Indonesia will, Lord willing, join us in August of this year.
Like many non-profit organizations, our contributor base is divided between a few contributors giving very substantial amounts and a large number of contributors giving in smaller amounts—all sacrificially, we assume. We continue to implore you to pray whether you are or might lead us to those extraordinary individuals who possess both great capacity of resources and deep affinity for gospel ministry to fund Serious Joy Scholarships, of $10,000 each, in whole.
But this appeal is not about them. It’s about the 80% of our contributors who give sacrificially in small amounts, some who do so every month or even every pay period. Our house is built on the bricks of this benevolence every bit as sure as it is on the larger beams.
There are now 120 months, should Christ tarry, in the decade of The Twenties now before us. There are two requests we would like to make as this decade gets underway.
Consider establishing a monthly gift to The Serious Joy Scholarship.
Like all expense or investment transactions of size, they become more manageable if disbursed over time. A full scholarship for a year, for instance, can be funded with a monthly gift of $833.33 or a semester’s worth with a monthly gift of $416.66.
A monthly gift of $160 provides just shy of 20% of a student’s annual scholarship support, and 200 contributors giving $50 a month supplies an entire scholarship. See how it works? See how God may work through his people in an endeavor like this?
But there’s more that we humbly ask of you.
Share this message with someone else—this month—and ask them to join you in this personal ministry for Jesus Christ.
The greatest financial need facing Bethlehem College & Seminary in the months ahead is not closing the gap between current receipts and the fiscal year budget. It is that of expanding the community of generous contributors to The Serious Joy Scholarship. So, please share this message with a note of your own personal invitation to someone new who might join in this effort to promote biblical higher education in a way that unleashes gospel ambition in a new generation. Forward it. Facebook it. Tweet it. Snapchat it or Instagram it. Or, dare we suggest, just write, call, or go see someone? If some politician can spur a million people to give $100 million in less than $20 increments, how much more ought the disciples of Christ be able to do in an undertaking of this kind?
So, the work goes on. Pulpits are being filled, ministries staffed, nations reached, workplaces influenced, and the theological academy doctrinally well-seasoned because you have made these students and their professors a work of your personal ministry for Jesus Christ. It won’t be until glory that we see the full impact of your efforts on behalf of Bethlehem College & Seminary, but there is disproportionate impact already apparent and the promise of the future grace of his glorious marvels to look upon, forevermore.
We are so grateful to God for you.
Rick Segal is Vice President of Advancement and the Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce and Vocation