Jesse Albrecht, MDiv ’15, recently shared this testimony with a group of friends of Bethlehem College & Seminary:
“I was still in my cap and gown on the night of commencement when I accepted a position with a missions organization focused on training pastors and church leaders in developing countries. I received my degree on a Friday night and went to work the following Monday morning. I have just returned from Uganda where I had the privilege of teaching Bible-hungry pastors some of what I learned about handling God’s word during my years at Bethlehem College & Seminary. I would not have been able to answer this call were it not for the grace shown me by those who generously funded my Serious Joy Scholarship each year during my time in school.”
I thought to myself, “Well, Jesse said it all.”
He expressed in just four sentences what we have been trying to convey to you about our school in various communications throughout the year. Bethlehem College & Seminary seeks to keep college and graduate-level tuition unusually low so that students with a heart for the gospel may receive an academically rigorous education and launch immediately into ministry after graduation without debt. It is the essential idea behind the Serious Joy Scholarship.
The approach is bearing much fruit for the gospel. As our newest Serious Joy Newsletter documents, just since our first class, God has used this school to produce:
52 Theological Scholars
78 Marketplace Ministers
58 Vocational Ministers
16 Global Missionaries
Still, we plan to remain intentionally small for strategic reasons: nurturing our church-based approach, enhancing our highly relational student experience, being agile in the face of new cultural challenges, and remaining financially sustainable. So, we envision a school of about 250 students a year—60 or so seminarians, the rest undergraduates studying great books in the light of The Greatest Book.
It only costs Bethlehem College & Seminary students about $6,000 a year for tuition. That’s because the remaining $10,000 of their annual tuition is paid for by generous givers in the form of a Serious Joy Scholarship. This is mostly the work of saints, individual men and women, who have made these students a part of their personal ministries for Jesus Christ. We do not accept any state or federal funding. We receive no denominational support. Most of our support from Bethlehem Baptist Church comes in the form of non-cash, in-kind services like the humble, unadorned Sunday School rooms in which our classes take place during the week. By God’s amazing grace, the students’ scholarship needs have been met every year.
Our annual advancement need is expressed in a simple, easy-to-understand formula:
250 Students x $10,000 Serious Joy Scholarships = $2,500,000
Some substantial generous gifts have been promised and will no doubt be honored, but even with these we are far from the goal of 250. Our work in raising the scholarships this year is being done alongside a $38 million fundraising effort at the local church in which we are based. But we are not anxious. We are expectant. We are not looking into a hole, rather into a glorious bowl, confident by reason of both prior experience and God’s revealed promises in Scripture that he will fill it by stirring generosity in the hearts of his saints to meet all of our needs and to produce thanksgiving to himself. His glory, our joy. This is Bethlehem theology. This is biblical theology.
At this Christmas season, please give the gift of Serious Joy. Permit these students to receive a Bible-saturated, church-based, missions-oriented education, without the burden of debt that would otherwise limit their ability to respond to God’s call on their lives or make them unaffordable to the many churches and ministries that need their service.
Adrien and I have watched Jesse Albrecht grow and flourish since he was a wee lad running around the neighborhood swimming pool in suburban Cincinnati. There are few things more beautiful in this world than to watch Christ capture a heart, turn it toward his glory, then use it boldly to capture and turn the hearts of other people. Jesse is just one example of the amazing students of Bethlehem College & Seminary. As the ancient Greek proverb suggests, you and I are —by supporting these students— planting shade trees under which we will never rest. Unlike this old pagan proverb, we will soon enough see the fullness of the radiance of his glory when we see all that he has done in and through us, and them, and all those who have and will yet worshipfully call him Lord.
May he pour into you this season a deeper, richer knowledge of himself and capture for himself un-surrendered precincts of your mind, heart, and soul such that you might be equipped anew to love him and others as you have never loved before.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
BETHLEHEM COLLEGE & SEMINARY
Vice President of Advancement Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce & Vocation
P.S. In addition to your gift to the Serious Joy Scholarship we hope you might help us receive a $100,000 gift to the school’s building fund by matching the generous giver’s offer by December 31.