“Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you…” (2 Corinthians 9:1-2a).
After little more than 60 days into my new role as Vice President of Advancement (i.e., “fundraising”) at Bethlehem College & Seminary, I traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to visit with Chancellor John Piper, where he was then in residence. Our agenda had only four items, among which was “Fundraising Under the Sovereignty of God, or “Did Hudson Taylor and George Müller have a guy like Rick Segal, and if so, just what did that fellow do?”
The question emerges, of course, from biographical accounts that tell us of how these missionary giants stewarded amazing Gospel enterprises without ever asking for money. The one-on-one conversation with Pastor John on this topic was, as you might imagine, inspiring and edifying. He said, among other things:
“Take 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 and make it your manual.”
And, so I have. When considered in a slow, ponderous, Berean manner, these chapters reveal much about the ways in which God fulfills his promises to meet our needs. In Chapter 9, Paul affirms the confidence he has in the generosity of the saints at Corinth. He knows they will come through for the needy in Jerusalem. He is so confident that he boasts of their faithfulness to others (9:1–3).
I boast of you. That Bethlehem College & Seminary has prospered during these five-plus years is nothing short of a miracle. Since its founding, the school has been a mission of faith, about faith, in faith, and by faith—our faith and yours. The founders knew that the school took form in a community where deep affections for Christ, the Bible, the nations, and the spread of a passion for God’s sovereignty abound. The faith of the founders was not in vain, nor was yours. God has moved among you and stirred streams of generosity that have sustained us and prospered our ministry.
While the staff and faculty render great service to God in service to our students, it is you who are also abounding in every good work here (9:9). It is you who are supplying and multiplying our seed (9:10). Your generosity toward Bethlehem College & Seminary is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God (9:12).
We are equipping students to preach the gospel as pastors, missionaries, theologians, and persons of influence in secular vocations. You lovingly display the gospel to them, and to us all, through your generosity (9:13).
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift (9:15)!
During that visit with Pastor John, he showed me a folio containing facsimiles of Hudson Taylor’s newsletter, China’s Millions. They were beautiful pieces, reminiscent of the lithography of Harper’s Weekly and Currier & Ives. They were dense with “we want you to know” (9:1) kinds of information about the ministry. The second page of each newsletter was the same, a full-page ledger of six columns or more presenting by number, not by name, the receipts issued for each contribution received since the previous issue. Above the ledger was a masthead that read “China Inland Mission. Dr. Hudson Taylor, President.” Just below below the masthead were listed the names of half a dozen financial secretaries, his Rick Segals, I suppose. Then there was a line or two of copy that went something like this, “Here you have a register of the abundant in-flow of financial resources made available to this ministry without solicitation.”
The next sentence read, “To make a donation,” and then listed an address.
Was he asking? Maybe it was just superfluous.
Vice President of Advancement & Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce & Vocation
- Join Adrien and me in lifting prayers of thanks to God for the engagement of our son, Marshall Segal MDiv ’12, to Alyssa Faye Nera of Los Angeles. She’s the cousin of Eric Tibayan MDiv ’12. We’re becoming more “Woven Together” all the time.
- It took $400,000 in our founding year to provide our first class with a low-tuition, no-debt alternative to college and post-graduate education. This year it will require $1.2M to fulfill that same commitment this year, with most of the amount yet to be raised before June. Please pray that God will move in the hearts of many to fulfill this commitment to this year’s students.
- A group of friends of Bethlehem College & Seminary will be gathering in Atlanta, Lord willing, on January 16, to learn, share, and pray about our vision and needs. Pray for the organizers, for the attendees, and for God to stir generosity in the hearts of those attending. Let us know if you know of anyone in the Atlanta area whom we ought to invite.
- Work proceeds in cooperation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) on our application for accreditation. Pray that our responses to their suggestions and recommendations will be satisfying to both the evaluation team and accrediting commission. A favorable decision, by God’s grace, could come as soon as February.
- Pray for the students who are bearing the weight of end-of-semester assignments and examinations, that they would have wisdom and strength to excel in their work to God’s glory, and then enjoy physical and spiritual refreshment with family and friends at Christmas and New Year’s Day.