Those were among the first words that Rick Segal shared with me yesterday when his plane landed in Washington, D.C. on his way home from Cameroon, West Africa. Rick and Adrien Segal accompanied their “adopted” son, Dieudonne Tamfu, another Bethlehem couple, and Brett Toney (class of 2012) on a ministry trip to Dieudonne’s homeland.
Dieudonne was the town barber in Ndu, a village in the beautiful hills of the Northwest Province of Cameroon. The village was also the home of the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary. Seminary students would come to his barbershop and try to convert him as he was cutting their hair. Dieudonne decided to study the Bible, so he could refute their claims and quiet them down. While studying the Bible his heart was opened to see the glory of Christ. Shortly after that he was given a cassette tape containing two sermons by John Piper. Dieudonne listened to both sermons again and again, virtually wearing out the tape. When he heard that Piper was speaking at a missions conference on the seminary campus, Dieudonne closed up his barber shop and walked over to the seminary campus to listen. While Piper was preaching, God clearly called Dieudonne to give his life to gospel ministry. He enrolled in the seminary and earned his Bachelor of Theology, while paying the bills from his haircutting.
Four TBI grads were teaching at CBTS in 2007 and urged me to interview Dieudonne when I visited Cameroon to speak at the CBTS graduation that year. Before I could sit down for the interview, I heard Dieudonne preach a powerful sermon while a torrential downpour was pounding the tin roof of First Baptist Church of Ndu. After hearing the sermon and talking face to face with Dieudonne, we were led by God to invite him to come to BCS (then known as TBI). But before he came, we urged him to get at least a year of pastoral experience in Cameroon. This he did with great blessing for the Baptist Church in Limbe.
Finally, in August of 2008 he arrived in Minneapolis at 2am and moved into our basement apartment where he roomed with a variety of students, including Marshall Segal, who is currently serving as John Piper’s executive assistant. Through his deep friendship with Marshall, he became a vital part of the Segal family and remains so to this day. Dieudonne excelled in his studies at BCS, pastoring in our small group ministry. Upon his graduation he was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is now on the verge of completing his doctoral work in biblical theology. After Dieudonne wondered for a season if God might be calling him to life-long singleness, God brought Dominique, a beautiful Haitian woman into his life. Her passion to pour into gospel ministry in Cameroon matches her husband’s.
So what was so historic? I will leave that for Rick Segal to tell in next week’s prayer letter. But suffice it to say that as I listened to the Segals testify to God’s hand on Dieudonne’s life, it made me happier than ever that God has brought BCS into existence and given me the privilege to pour my life into men like Dieudonne and Marshall and Brett and the list could go on and on and on. As we enter into this new academic year, I am more humbled and grateful than ever that God is multiplying heralds of the gospel through BCS. Your prayers and encouragement to our students and joy-filled giving is making an eternal difference.
Together with you in the Greatest Cause,
Academic Dean, Bethlehem College & Seminary
- Please continue to pray for our admissions and recruitment staff. They are working hard to fill out the incoming freshman class at the college. Please pray that the Lord would lead just the right number of new college students to us this fall.
- August is here, and thus we are quickly preparing for the fall semester. Please pray for our faculty and staff as they begin the many preparations for the beginning of a new school year. Pray especially for Barb Waldemar, our Events Coordinator and Dean of Women, as she bears a particularly heavy burden in preparing for the many events that occur in August and September.
- Please continue to pray for the accreditation process. We are hosting an accreditation consultant in early August who is coming to help us prepare for the formal accreditation visit that will be taking place in early October. In advance of that October visit, we need to submit a revised Self-Study to our accrediting association. Pray for the leadership as we work to get that document submitted by mid-August.
- Pray also for the ongoing need for funding. It obviously takes a lot of money to operate an institution of higher learning—even one which is intentionally very lean in its operation like BCS. Pray for many new contributors to join our support team in the coming months.