Some of you have been praying since the 1980’s when Bethlehem Baptist Church began our intentional focus on raising up pastors and missionaries through our Apprenticeship Program for Ministerial Candidates. More of you were drawn into this prayer between 1998 and 2009 as we labored at a higher level in this same mission through The Bethlehem Institute for Bible, Theology and Missions. Most of you have been drawn into this movement of prayer during the first decade of Bethlehem College & Seminary (2009-2019). In response to your prayers and generous giving God has graciously chosen to establish not only a seminary but a college as well. He has scattered our graduates to the ends of the earth, and to the highways and byways and big cities in-between.
We marked the beginning of this decade with a convocation in which Al Mohler and John Piper cast a vision of what the college and seminary could become with Christ and His Word as the foundation. I encourage you to listen again to these foundation-laying messages they delivered on October 3, 2009. We can truly say that God has done above and beyond what we originally dared to dream. We strongly believe the best is yet to come.
We usually meet twice a month as an entire faculty. When we meet, I look around that room astonished at the team God has assembled. The passion on their hearts to lift up Jesus like a multifaceted diamond to be beheld and examined and celebrated and proclaimed fuels a passion in me that refuses to dissipate as the years roll on. Once a month we gather as an entire faculty and staff. The affection soars. Where would we be without this team of Christ-filled “make it happen” folks? Then to have the privilege of visiting our graduates in some of the remotest parts of the earth and to see with my own eyes what these Christian Hedonists are “giving up” for the sake of the Kingdom’s advance inspires me to press on in this great work God has given us to do. To connect with other graduates serving in small rural churches, gladly pouring their lives out in what the world considers to be the shadows, far away from the limelight makes me wish I had more lives to live so I could join them. And seeing our graduates live out their faith as car mechanics, teachers, lawyers in training, software engineers, mothers, and fathers, and—yes—even grandparents fills me with so much joy.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of preaching at the funeral of Don Range, one of our graduates from the early Apprenticeship program. I wish you could have all been there and seen the fruit of a life well-lived to God’s glory in a small town most Minnesotans haven’t even heard of. To see the faith of his wife, his grown children, and his flock persevere and shine amidst the sudden, traumatic ending of his life with an unexpected heart attack at his desk with his Bible opened, made me realize afresh how precious the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus really is. “To whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.”
Would you pray for our upcoming Decennial Convocation celebrating these last 10 years of Bethlehem College & Seminary? We would love for you to join us as we worship God together. Dr. Mohler and Dr. Piper will once again be the preachers of His Word. The faculty will be decked out in their regalia; the orchestra will assist us to sing with all our hearts as we thank God and pledge afresh to keep our hands to the plow as the next chapter unfolds.
Together with you in the Greatest Cause,
Pastor Tom Steller
- that God will be glorified in our praise and as we launch into the next decade of ministry,
- that God will have a fresh Word for us through Dr. Mohler and Pastor John,
- that everyone who comes will be inspired afresh to prize Jesus above all else.