The summer between school years is the season during which we annually appeal to you to consider a contribution to support the extraordinary financial needs of international seminary students at Bethlehem College & Seminary. The Alex Steddom International Student Fund aspires to be a means of God-stirred generosity that permits four students from elsewhere in the world—one new student per year— to study here and be equipped for biblical eldership and then return to their home communities to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.
This monetary amount is not huge, but well-beyond our budgeted resources. In order to support the extraordinary needs of these students, most of whom will travel here from poor countries and villages, we need to have $180,000 annually available in the Alex Steddom International Student Fund. We begin the new school year with a balance of only $38,500. We need at least that much more to support the two students already enrolled and entering their second years of study. In order for us to accept another international student for the 2019-20 school year, we need to wait on God to supply a total of $153,500.
An amazing thing has happened since Chancellor John Piper’s teaching on Christian Hedonism first appeared on desiringgod.org in 1996. The message “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” has literally reached to the ends of the earth, today attracting 28 million unique visitors annually from outside the United States. A by-product of this global ministry and the extensive global partner footprint of Bethlehem Baptist Church is a long line of prospective international students to Bethlehem College & Seminary. In the last twelve months over 64 prospective international students have applied to Bethlehem’s seminary. At our intentionally small scale, that’s an entire seminary’s worth of expressed desire.
Alas, we were unable to admit an international student to the seminary for the coming school year, because we did not have sufficient funds on hand. We did however admit two students in 2017, so the situation is in no way bleak. God is showing favor to our plans. We simply need to trust him to supply our need in time that we may admit another international seminary student when the admissions committee meets after the first of the year.
The financial needs of these students once admitted are extraordinary. In addition to the $10,000 of annual tuition support provided by The Serious Joy Scholarship, we also need to cover what is usually the student portion of tuition, travel, housing, compliance costs, books, healthcare, and some other living expenses. When they come with their wives and children, as most do, the need adds up. Student visa requirements prohibit them from working outside of the school. While we do create some work-study opportunities for them, from a budget standpoint the need is all watered from the same well.
Take a moment to read the testimonies of Dr. Dieudonné Tamfu of Cameroon, Pastor René González of El Salvador, and Pastor Zau Naw of Myanmar.
Because of the Alex Steddom Scholarship and Bethlehem College & Seminary’s generous support, I graduated debt-free, and I will now be returning to my home country, Cameroon, to plant a church and establish a seminary. I know a number of seminary graduates who are unable to engage in ministry in poor parts of the world like Cameroon because of loans. What a blessing it is to be able to depart swiftly to a place where there is desperate need. This scholarship is truly supporting the work of the kingdom.
The first year of Seminary has been a blessing beyond my expectations. Being able to read the New Testament for the first time in the original Greek and seeing how Christ is anticipated and proclaimed throughout the Old Testament has profoundly affected my affections for Christ and deepened my desire for many pastors in my country to be exposed to these stunning truths.
Despite the fact that Kachin Christians are a minority ethnic group in Myanmar, I thank God that I am a Kachin Christian. It is an amazing grace for me, coming from a third-world nation, to study at Bethlehem College & Seminary. I would not be able to bear the cost without the financial assistance of the Alex Steddom International Student Fund. After completing my first year of study, I believe that Bethlehem produces numerous Godly men and women. Without a doubt, it gives Christ-centered higher education, and it is profoundly established within Biblical truth. Many thanks for your most generous gifts.
Dr. Tamfu graduated from our program with support from this fund. He and his family will soon be back in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where, by God’s grace, he will plant a new church and establish a remote M.Div. program of this school. Dieudonné’s work in Africa is precisely the kind of gospel endeavor that the Alex Steddom International Student Fund was created to enable. Bring them here. Fill them up. Send them home. Pray for revival.
In the economy of God’s infinite riches, $180,000 is a meager sum, but certainly not to these international students. We know that we have appealed to you vigorously in 2018 for support of The Serious Joy Scholarship, particularly during the course of the just-concluded “On The Double” matching gift campaign, and students will return in the Fall requiring their scholarship support for which we will reach out to you at year’s end.
The Alex Steddom International Student Fund, as you may know, is named after a young man who would have now been entering his third year of seminary here, had the Lord not called him home whilst serving on the mission field in Ireland during the summer before school started. Alex Steddom now has answers to all the questions he might have pondered at Bethlehem College & Seminary, but these current and future international students, whose gospel ambition Alex would have affirmed, labor on in hope. So, in the next 60 days, amidst the manifold joys of slower-paced summer months, would you pray to discern whether God is calling you to provide an amount, large or small, to fuel this aspect of the disproportionate impact of Bethlehem College & Seminary…that the nations may be glad.
His servant & yours,
Vice President of Advancement