I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 2 Corinthians 8:8-10
Bethlehem College & Seminary is giving glory to God at the news of two generous contributors who have offered to match up to $300,000 of gifts to The Serious Joy Scholarship between now and June 30, 2018. The name of this five-month effort will be “On The Double,” highlighting both the opportunity and the urgency. This means your gift of $100 becomes $200, $1,000 becomes $2,000, and a gift of $5,000 becomes a full scholarship, if received before school year’s end. To God be the glory!
All resident students of Bethlehem College & Seminary receive an annual scholarship of $10,000 against an already unusually low tuition bill of $16,000, such that they can receive a Bible-saturated and academically rigorous “Education in Serious Joy,” then launch immediately into life and ministry without student loan debt.
This extravagant act of generosity overflowing from the enraptured, joy-filled hearts of these two contributors sets the stage, by God’s grace, for reaching an important milestone in Bethlehem College & Seminary’s history—full annual funding of our vision of a school of 250 students. And this, as the Lord may will, just in time to be part of the school’s submission of its request for a new period of ten-year accreditation.
As we write, generous givers have made gifts and commitments of $1,831,054 for the current school year. Were God to use this matching gift to harvest an additional $300,000 in generosity from the rest of us, and others, we would end the year only $68,946 short of the $2,500,000 required to support 250 students. All to say this initiative alone won’t accomplish the task in full, but we pray it serves to create a groundswell among God’s people.
When God called me to Bethlehem College & Seminary to undertake the work of ministering to generous people, I quickly learned that the lessons I gained in thirty years in business were mostly irrelevant, c.f., “What I Said to Rick Segal.” After a few months of trying to acclimate to this new vocation of ministering rather than transacting, I traveled to Knoxville to spend a day with Chancellor John Piper, who was then residing there.
Among the items I crafted for the meeting agenda was, “Did George Müller Have a Guy Like Rick Segal on His Team and, if so, Just What Did That Guy Do?” Müller you might recall was the 19th century English evangelist whose ministry was reportedly always miraculously resourced without any solicitation but prayer. Dr. Piper’s exhortation to me was, “Take 2 Corinthians 8-9, and make it your manual. Just keep looking at it, and God will give you inexhaustible counsel on how to do your job well.” And so I have, and so I do as I contemplate on what God is doing among us, now.
We are well-familiar with Paul’s exhortation to cheerful giving in these passages, but we call to mind less often how Paul and Titus are working between generous givers in Macedonia and Corinth, not playing them off one against the other but, providing visibility to what is going on in the hearts of Macedonian contributors for the benefit—yes, benefit—of Corinthian contributors. Paul and Titus labor to maintain a line of sight to the Lord’s specific work between and among all those engaged in it, as we are now seeking to do in making you aware of this $300,000 matching gift, for we know that you are already both “doing” this ministry among our students, and “desiring” to do it, as well.
This appeal to match the $300,000 gift of some other people is by no means a command rather, as it was between the Macedonians and Corinthians, it is an opportunity to position yourself to be part of a spectacular light show as God’s glory ricochets in multiple directions off of the blood-polished, joy-sparkling hearts of the saints, then concentrating like a laser to inscribe a blessing of provision to 250 students who are likewise just as earnestly positioning their lives to reflect the radiance of Christ in the lives and ministries they are launching into.
Please pray whether you are called to make an early calendar-year gift to Bethlehem College & Seminary to multiply God-stirred generosity in this season and, by his grace, help reach the goal toward which we have been praying since 2008: funding for a school of 250 students.
Vice President of Advancement & Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce and Vocation