A few years ago, when my husband Rick and I came to help Bethlehem College & Seminary raise scholarship money, I was most familiar with the seminary. One of our sons had graduated from it, and we had fallen in love with one of his roommates from Cameroon and “adopted” him into our family. In these two young men and in others we met from the school, we saw a beautiful joy in the Lord, maturity of faith, knowledge of the Bible and the ability to mine it for treasure, and impressive gifts in teaching others. We were convinced that this school was a very special place.
It has been such a delight, in the years since we joined the school, to discover that not only is the Seminary program exceptional, the undergraduate program is extraordinary, too. I was a literature major decades ago when I attended a fine university, and I am very grateful for the education I received, but I wish I could have benefitted from the approach offered at this school.
Students enter their freshman year as part of a 2-year cohort and begin taking classes in what is called the “Omnia” program. “Omnia” is Latin for “all things,” and the school chose the name based on Colossians 1:17 “and he is before all things and in him all things hold together”.
In these first two years, students survey history and the great books of Western Civilization and literature in light of the greatest book: The Bible. They are guided through the unfolding of cultures and civilizations and the most important emerging ideas that broke through along the way. They read and write a lot. Perhaps best of all is that it is all taught within the context of biblical understanding that illuminates the loving God who is sovereign over it all. In addition, students learn Greek, so that they can understand the Bible better in one of its original languages. If I could put my life on hold right now and enter into this adventure of learning…well, I can’t imagine much that would be more exhilarating.
After the first two years, students “step it up a notch” in one of two tracks: History of Ideas or Biblical and Theological Studies. If you want to know more, check out the website here.
Great as the learning is, the life lessons these young people are gaining may be just as important. First of all, the academic work is challenging. This is not a place to come to relax and be entertained. Of course, working hard not only strengthens character and builds knowledge and thinking and writing skills, it also bonds the students together more deeply than a social life alone can do. They lean on the Lord together.
Secondly, this is a “no-frills” school. The classrooms are in the church. The students live in an urban environment renting apartments nearby or in the basements of church members and professors. The church works hard to enfold the students into the life of the body of Christ. Students see what vibrant life in the church looks like, and will be better able to contribute to the churches they will one day serve.
Finally, Christ is the center of it all. At this formative time of life, it is a beautiful thing to see these young people grow in faith and love for the Lord. My sense is that all of these things work together in a way that our students get a much more realistic picture of what adult life is like and they are much better prepared to enter into it.
The more I’ve been involved in what’s happening at Bethlehem College & Seminary, the more convinced I am that support of this school is a wonderful investment in the Kingdom. We are so grateful for every person who joins with us in this ministry to make sure future generations learn the importance of spreading “a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” If you are a partner, thank you! If you haven’t joined with us yet, would you pray about whether God might be prompting you to invest in this fruitful work?
- For our students as they finish assignments and exams in the coming weeks, and for the faculty as they finish teaching and grading as we come to the end of another school year.
- For the God’s calling to be clear for our graduating students and that the path would be cleared for each one to respond with joy.
- For a new church plant and “outpost” of the seminary in the formative stages in Cameroon, Africa. Dr. Dieudonné Tamfu (our “adopted” son) and his family have been on the ground in Cameroon since August 2018 laying the groundwork for these ministries to begin this fall.
- For the remaining funds needed to finish the year in a strong financial position, and for the funds for the coming year to flow from abundant generosity.