One of the wonderful gifts that Bethlehem College & Seminary gives to its faculty is the privilege to periodically request a sabbatical. Bethlehem Baptist Church also gives to its pastoral staff the opportunity to request a sabbatical every five years. We do not take this for granted. Our appreciation abounds!
Last semester, I was on sabbatical. It was my third sabbatical since coming to Bethlehem in 1980. My first sabbatical was in 1997. At that time we called it a study leave. I took it at the Billy Graham Center on the campus of Wheaton College and used much of the time to design The Bethlehem Institute and to recruit the first cohort. During the second sabbatical in 2007, I received a grant from the Lily Foundation that enabled me and my family to study at Tyndale House in Cambridge, England. During that sabbatical I poured my life into the study of Ephesians, which I’ve had the privilege of teaching several times since then.
This past sabbatical was my “stay at home” sabbatical, just a few blocks from the church, and it was very precious in its own way. In addition to being the CEO for Julie’s busiest business season (CEO means Carry Everything Out) I also enjoyed more time to drive for LYFT and interact with the peoples of the city, while paying off the weddings of my two daughters from last summer.
But what was deeply on my heart much of the time was thinking and praying for the Bethlehem College & Seminary extension site in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Now with board approval and significant staff and faculty involvement , our faculty colleague, Dr. Dieudonné Tamfu, has relocated his family to Yaoundé. His first season is primarily focused on helping his street French become preaching, teaching, and academic French. He is enrolled in formal French classes and is evangelizing as he practices his French in the city. His Haitian-American wife, Dominque, is already fluent in French.
Dieudonné is also forming his church planting team and recruiting the first cohort of students. He already has a core group of people who have expressed interest in starting the church with him, and two students have already filled out our extensive seminary application form.
We envision the global outreach of Bethlehem College & Seminary to become a significant teaching ministry in this prosperity gospel soaked country. Our hope also is that it will be a place where we can send our students who need a cross-cultural internship.
Back on the homefront, it is difficult to express the joy I feel in getting back into the classroom, teaching Greek exegesis to the new cohort of our seminary students, and seeing afresh God’s hand in establishing our very unique school. You are all part of this adventure, and we thank God for you and for your encouragement, your insights, your financial investment, and your prayers. This is truly a team effort!
Together with you in the Greatest Cause,
Pastor Tom Steller
- Pray for the Tamfu’s as they pioneer our extension site in Cameroon.
- Pray for our students, faculty, and staff as we begin a new semester together.
- Pray for our Conference for Pastors + Church Leaders that begins on Monday with many alumni returning and prospective students coming.