I graduated with my associate’s degree 10 years ago. I did so as a 22-year-old, single guy, and I accumulated a mountain of debt in the process. At the time of writing this, I am in the final stretch of completing my Bachelor of Theology degree through the Degree Completion Program at Bethlehem College & Seminary. I am doing so as a 32-year-old married man with three children, yet with $0 in debt. I thank the Lord for His gracious provision, and I have loved being a part of Bethlehem.
I am thankful, not simply because I have been able to graduate without the hindrance of student debt, but also because I have been equipped with tools of knowledge to passionately magnify the person and work of Jesus Christ—the one who satisfies man’s ultimate longing (cf. Isaiah 55:1–3; John 7:37–39). Some of these tools of knowledge include: biblical languages, biblical exegesis, hermeneutics, writing, church history, biblical theology, systematic theology, practical theology, and cross-cultural ministry.
The Degree Completion Program has been the most academically rigorous schooling I have experienced, and, by God’s grace, I have been able to do it while working full-time, leading my family, enjoying membership at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and being diligent in my studies. It has been the means to help me grow in my faith and treasure Christ more. Likewise, it has been the means of humbling me, revealing my empty hands before my King. This season has required personal sacrifices to ensure I am faithful with all that God has entrusted to me. Yet, to borrow the words of David Livingstone, “I never made a sacrifice.” This experience has been incredibly worth it—worth it for my family, others, and me. Here are a few examples in which I see its worth:
Work: My theology does not stay in the classroom or at church. It is with me everywhere I go. When I am working, I do not merely work for man; I work for my King. May my clients be able to say, “Rob, your theology degree that I thought was peculiar was in fact relevant to every aspect of your work.”
Family: As my kids grow up learning the Scriptures from their Dad, I want to show them their Savior, for it is their heavenly Father who will meet their deepest needs. I want them to know Him and be known by Him. May my children be able to look back and say, “Dad, thank you; those years of study were worth it in the way that you and mom brought us up.”
Ministry: Oh, I wish I could take back all that I’ve said and done wrongly in past ministry experiences. While I can’t do this, I can lean on my Savior and continue growing day by day. As I go forward, may those who see my actions and hear God’s truth from my lips be able to reflect from their homes in heaven and say, “Yes, brother! Those years of study were worth it.”
Suffering: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). May the time of suffering find me able to rejoice and able to say, “My time in study was worth it, because I grew in love, passion, and knowledge of God’s promises through His Word. I know and trust that my King is coming.”
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that the Degree Completion Program gave me to finish my Bachelor of Theology and propel me into a lifetime of future learning and ministry. This school and program are unique, and the professors have been a consistent means of God’s grace to me in developing my thinking and increasing my joy in Christ.
Thank you, generous supporters, for providing a way for this busy husband, father, and worker to study here and receive this level of training. I do not know how most of us students could have done this otherwise. May you be able to hear from the countless impacted lives, “It was worth it!”
Robert Spangler Senior Theology Student Bethlehem College & Seminary
The Degree Completion Program
1. Pray for the students as they complete final exams, and for the professors as they do their grading.
2. Pray that the sanctuary at Bethlehem Baptist Church Downtown will be filled to capacity for the extraordinary worship experience that is the Bethlehem College & Seminary Commencement, Friday, May 13. All members of the church and friends of the school are invited to attend.
3. We are only 50 Serious Joy Scholarships shy of funding the full complement of 250 students envisioned by our founders. Pray whether you might be called to underwrite one or more of these $10,000 scholarships, in whole or in part.