The returns are in. By God’s grace, Bethlehem College and Seminary has reached its goal of raising $2.5 million annually in support of The Serious Joy Scholarship. This is the financial instrument that enables our students to receive a Bible-saturated, academically rigorous “Education in Serious Joy” then launch immediately into life, vocation, and ministry without a burden of student loan debt. Our hearts are overflowing with Godward gratitude for the hundreds who gave sacrificially during this school year. More on this in a moment.
You have made gifts for our students. Now, would you pray about making a gift of a student.
As you may have read, there has been a seismic shift in higher education enrollments in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Some of this is demographic, a matter of there being a smaller population of prospective students overall. Some of it is abundant new, online education options which emerged as “good enough” in the aftermath of COVID. More high school seniors seem to be taking “gap” years—an idea that runs counter to our own aim to accelerate adolescence. Whatever the reasons, it is manifesting itself as fewer applicants, fewer enrollments. We need God’s help through you, just as we have for financial resources.
Here’s what we’ve learned. We don’t attract students with a “generic” interest in higher education, even a Bible college education. Truth is they’ve all been touched, as you have, by the ministry of John Piper and by the staggering idea that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Almost 100% of our students ricochet off of the affections of a parent, relative, pastor, or friend influenced by “Bethlehem Theology” and Christian Hedonism—or are propelled here directly by their own consideration of one of Piper’s books, sermons, podcasts, or other content on desiringGod.org.
This means that our next cohorts of students are highly likely to know you. Or better said, you know who our next students are better than we do.
I’ve taken to saying “They’re on a patch,” a patch of lushly green Reformed, Calvinist theological ground, in a church, with a family and a pastor. It’s a peculiar patch with peculiar people, just as we’re a peculiar school with peculiar students.
So my hand is out, again. This time I’m pleading for student referrals and leads. There’s a handy utility on our website that you can use to make a referral. But we’re also looking for leads.
I confess that Adrien and I fritter more time than we should in watching British detective shows. But one helpful thing I’ve learned by doing so is of the value of a lead. The detective never solves the case with his or her first question. The Copper asks a question and gains pieces of information. He may ask someone when he last saw the murder victim to learn that he was “bowling with another red-haired man.” The detective knew that the decedent had been rolling kittles, but the “red-haired man,” that’s the new piece of information—the lead.
If you can’t give us all the contact information of a prospective student, or even the name, please give us some leads. “There’s a young man in my church who leads the youth who ought to go to seminary.” “My next door neighbor’s girl is a godly young woman who doesn’t want to go to a big school.” “There’s a whole big Bible-believing family that lives near our daughter that you should get to know.” Give us the lead. We’ll do the detective work.
It all begins with your praying toward this end, that the Lord would have you tell us, “I’ll tell you you who ought to be at Bethlehem College and Seminary.” Churches send missionaries. You’ll send us our the next students.
2022-23 Advancement Report
Our aim is to have an intentionally small school of about 250 students combined in a college and seminary. Such requires us to be able to raise $2.5 million year-after-year to support that vision. God supplied that measure in 2021 and again in 2023. Total receipts were $2,631,697 in the year just completed. We are grateful to God for the small group of generous contributors who served up a $500,000 matching gift opportunity in February, and for the hundreds of contributors who stepped up to match it.
Beyond support for The Serious Joy Scholarship, our community of generous contributors supplied $252,045 to our Cameroon Extension Site—including $147,985 for a new church and school building there. Visit forthejoyofcameroon.com to learn more. God also provided $46,419 in support of The Alex Steddom International Student Fund to provide tuition and living expenses to select seminary students from theologically famished regions of the world. Bible Arc received $5,344 in subscriber support, and another $97,000 in giving served specific longer term needs of the school. God was most kind to us this year. We are humbled.
Now it zeros out, and we start all over, again. Trusting expectantly in our sovereign God.
It’s summer, and I’ll be back to you soon enough about The Alex Steddom International Student Fund, but for now…give us a student.
Vice President of Advancement
Lecturer of History and Political Philosophy