The Lord Did It


As many of you know, one of our central aims at Bethlehem College & Seminary is to have a disproportionate impact on the world. O, how we want to make an impact for the supremacy of Christ and the joy of all peoples! But, this impact will be disproportionate because we aim to make it through an intentionally small, church-based school.

When we are at full capacity, our aim is to have 250 full-time residential students in the college and seminary. In order to spare our students from burdensome student loan debt, every one of them receives a $10,000 Serious Joy Scholarship. In order to fund this scholarship, we must therefore raise 2.5 million dollars, and we must do so year-after-year so that our students can receive the highest quality education at an unbelievably affordable price.

For the last seven years, the primary responsibility for raising that money has fallen to our Vice President of Advancement, Rick Segal. For his entire tenure at Bethlehem College & Seminary, Rick has labored and prayed and strategized with the goal of fully funding the Serious Joy Scholarship. And in those seven years, we have not been able to hit that mark.

Until now.

This year, the Lord did it, and he did it in his own surprising and unmistakable way.

June 2021 was the first month of my presidency. We began the month within sight of our goal. Your prayers and the efforts of Rick and Tim Tomlinson had borne fruit in the generosity of many. As I wrote in a previous letter, our leadership team had a retreat at the end of June. It was a remarkably fruitful time, both in terms of relationship-building and strategic planning. At the end of the weekend, we were still short of our goal with three days remaining until the end of our fiscal year. Rick was ready to pray and labor to bring in the remaining funds so that we could hit our goal for the first time in our school’s short history.

But the Lord had other plans. On Monday, June 28, Rick was admitted to the hospital with chest pains. The doctors discovered that he had had a serious heart attack. On Friday, July 2, Rick had a successful bypass surgery, and he is currently convalescing at his home. Thus, Rick was out of commission for the final push for our 2.5 million dollar goal. And the Lord brought the funds anyway.

Our team has received this strange providence as a reminder that the Lord has no need of us. Yes, we labor. Yes, we toil. Yes, we serve in the strength that God supplies. But God is the one who gives the growth. Rick’s absence at the first finish line of a fully funded Serious Joy Scholarship sobers us and humbles us. But it also encourages us. The Lord is with us when we labor, and the Lord is laboring when we can’t. And in the end, all we can say is, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1).

Having hit this goal for the first time, we have two fundamental prayers, and we invite you to join us in both of them. First, we give thanks to God for his faithfulness. He is able to supply all of our needs, and we give him the glory for doing so. And then, having expressed our gratitude to God for his past grace, we ask him to do it again. We lift up our cup and say, “Fill it again, Lord. Fill it again!” Would you join us in those prayers? And would you also consider whether the Lord might be leading you to be the answer to those prayers?

Our desire in asking the Lord to do it again is primarily because now that God has proven the concept of an intentionally small, church-based school, we want to maintain that disproportionate impact. We aren’t seeking to grow and grow; we are seeking to fulfill our mission to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ by educating men and women to learn, serve, and treasure Jesus in the home, church, and world.

We also welcome prayers for Rick as he rests and heals from his surgery. He and his wife Adrien have experienced the Lord’s sustaining grace in this time, and they (and we) are hopeful for a full recovery. But as with everything else, we ask God for that recovery in the name of Jesus so that he receives all the glory for it.

Joe Rigney, Ph.D.



  1. Pray for the incoming seminarians who started their Greek classes this week. Pray that settling into Minneapolis would go smoothly for them and their families.
  2. Pray for the international students planning to come this fall as they work on visas.
  3. Pray for Jonathon Woodyard and Darcy Enthoven as they continue to shepherd new students towards matriculation in the fall.
  4. Pray for the staff and faculty as they begin to put the final pieces in place for Welcome Week August 16—20.