How Great a Debt?

Excerpt from the 2019 Conference for Pastor’s + Church Leaders

It is my delight at our school to be the principle advocate for the Serious Joy Scholarship, a ten thousand dollar a year annual grant, that is given to every resident student at our school, undergraduate and graduate, so that they can receive a bible-saturated, academically-rigorous education in serious joy and then graduate and immediately launch into life and ministry without a burden of student loan debt.

Since 1954, the federal student loan program has undoubtedly put the blessing of higher education within the reach of millions and many have been blessed. Even today, it is a reasonable financing plan in pursuit of an education aimed at a higher income vocation. Sadly in our time, it has become an obstacle to the transition into adulthood and a facilitator of extended adolescence. Student loan debt sadly serves in too many cases as a diminution of the standard of living for our children and grandchildren.

We can say with some certainty, if there is a young man or young woman whose passion is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ, in that young person’s life a burden of student loan debt is a shackle, a manacle; it is an encumbrance on gospel action, and their agility to move immediately to go where God has called them to go. Not withstanding the fashion of current bi-vocational ministry, I’ll go so far to say it is a rationale for bi-vocational ministry, because students are emerging from their educations with such a heavy burden of debt that they can’t afford to work for you, and you can’t afford to hire them.

So we have crafted an alternative at Bethlehem College & Seminary in which a student can come to our school, attend at an extraordinarily low tuition cost, and receive the benefit of the serious joy scholarship. It is a work that no government is going to undertake. Few corporations are willing to undertake it. A few foundations, thankfully, are willing to partner with us, but this is a work largely of the saints. Because no one’s going to undertake this work but the church.

I know that in this particular crowd we’re all mendicants of sorts. I also, sadly, know that some of you out there, with hair that’s starting to turn my color, still have some coupons in your backpack of student loan debt yet to be resolved, and we don’t want to place any more burdens on anyone. If you would pray that you would be moved to become part of this ministry, to make these students a part of your personal ministries for Jesus Christ, or that you might point us to someone who would, we would be most grateful to God for that and for you.

Rick Segal
Vice President of Advancement

Prayer Requests

  1. Pray that God would continue to use the messages shared at the recent pastors conference (now available) in lives and ministries.
  2. Pray for the filling of the Serious Joy Scholarship to provide for this year’s students.
  3. Pray as we continue to move towards an extension site in Cameroon.
  4. Pray as we prepare for the next step of a site visit in our re-accreditation process.