A Satisfying Sabbatical


My entire family is deeply humbled and grateful to God and to Bethlehem College & Seminary for the amazing gift of a research sabbatical from January–July 2015. This was my first leave of this sort in my ten years of academic ministry, and the time reenergized me, refreshed my soul and family, opened new doors for relationships and ministry, and empowered sustained writing that is already serving the church.

Academic sabbaticals are research-focused, allowing professors to participate in sustained, in-depth study and writing at a level far beyond what is possible during a regular teaching schedule. I am truly blessed that Bethlehem prizes the pursuit of God’s truth so as to prioritize spreading heightened passion for the Lord’s supremacy in this world. I am also deeply grateful to my colleagues who filled in for me in various ways while I was away. My daily prayer was, “God, let me encounter you through my study, and help me to write in a way that moves others to encounter you.” I believe that he has been answering this prayer.

My hopes for this research sabbatical were manifold, but a key component was that my time away would serve our school and fuel its mission. Here are four ways that I believe the Lord is letting this happen.

1. Broader awareness of and connections for Bethlehem. My family spent our semester away on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. This other context allowed for focused writing and opened doors for fresh relationships with a new school, new churches, and new believers in a new region of the country. Our four months away gave us numerous opportunities to share about God’s work at Bethlehem, and now there are many new connections for our students, whether for future schooling or ministry.

2. Fresh thinking about mission-mindedness at Bethlehem. While at Southeastern, I was deeply encouraged by the missional intentionality of the administration and faculty, and it challenged me to consider how Bethlehem generally and my ministry in particular can better mobilize our students for international missions.

3. Spreading Bethlehem theology through my writing. The opportunity to write in a sustained, uninterrupted context allowed me a depth of study and heightened productivity that I have not experienced for over a decade. New gospel-saturated commentaries for pastors on Zephaniah are forthcoming with Crossway and Zondervan, and a guide for Christians on how to study the OT is forthcoming with Presbyterian & Reformed. I pray that these works can serve the church, and I praise the Lord for letting me minister through my writing.

4. Enlivened framework for ministry. My sabbatical nurtured joy in the Lord, my marriage, and my family, and from this wellspring of satisfaction, I return to the school more passionate to help our students make much of Christ from the whole of Scripture among the nations. I am so grateful to God and to Bethlehem for this gift.

Jason S. DeRouchie, PhD
Associate Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology

John Helmberger’s Message at Chapel,
October 8, 2015: “Among Whom You Shine As Lights”

Join us for our weekly Chapel Service on Thursday, October 22nd, 12:45-1:45pm, featuring Todd Rasmuson on Global Focus (Business as Mission).


Prayer Requests:

1. Pray for the gospel’s advance among the nations and for Bethlehem to remain faithful to our mission and never to swerve from our commitment to biblical truth.

2. Pray that God will help Bethlehem’s faculty both teach and write in ways that will heighten gospel hope and nurture Godliness and biblical awareness in the church worldwide.

3. Pray for Bethlehem’s students to grow in their commitment to global missions, whether as goers or as equippers and senders.

4. Pray for mission-mindedness to increase among our faculty and students, with greater numbers open to minister in difficult places where the name of Jesus is not even known, let alone prized.