Dear Bethany University Students, Staff & Alumni…
I am not a BU alumni but I have been following the alumni facebook page for several months hoping & praying that Bethany University would overcome their current obstacles, hurdles and challenges and live to see another season of awesome ministry to students who will carry on to impact the world for Jesus Christ.
My heart was bolstered with confidence after the District Council Meeting in April when it appeared that Bethany would be given yet another opportunity to carry on in service to our Lord. I rejoiced with you all as we heard the news of “Miracle Monday” and began to pray about what way the Lord might use my family to help continue the amazing legacy at BU through giving of our time, talent and treasure. And this last week I have grieved deeply along with you all at the heart wrenching news of the impending closing of this amazing university.
You may wonder why, if having never been a student, staff member or alumni of this school, that my heart would be so connected to your beloved alma mater? Let me explain….
You see, I should have been a college student at Bethany University in the early 80’s. It would have been the “perfect fit” for a passionate young lady who knew that she was called to minister to youth and wanted more than anything else to know God in a deeply intimate way. Unfortunately, I lacked the knowledge that a school like yours even existed and without any wisdom or counsel from the adults around me I ended up at a private secular university where I sat in disgust as the professor in “Intro to New Testament” spent the semester “proving” that the Bible was not the inspired word of God. Yet God, in His amazing grace kept me secure in His hands and while I ultimately graduated with my faith in tact I missed out on truly what I desired from a college experience. Here is what I would have wanted:
- solid Bible teaching as well as other classes that were motivating and inspiring, taught by faculty who truly wanted to mentor, invest and speak into my life
- friendships that would encourage me, sharpen my faith and last for a lifetime through the bonds of Christ
- a positive uplifting environment in every area from dorm life, to athletic events to chapel services
- a place where I could seek unhindered the Lord’s will for my life & future along side students and staff who would care for me, pray for me, rejoice with me and cry with me
A college much like Bethany University!
I graduated from the University of Pacific with a degree in Recreational Leadership (that would work for youth ministry right?) and went on to be a youth pastor for four years at an Assembly of God Church in Stockton, California. During those years I came to learn about Bethany University and was always so excited when the admissions teams would come share during our youth service or we would take students over to the campus for preview weekends. Everytime I met a Bethany student or walked on campus I could sense the spirit of the Lord moving in hearts and lives. It was like a breath of fresh air. During my years as a youth pastor and subsequently a Christian high school teacher and guidance counselor, I encouraged many young people to attend BU and those that did had life changing experiences. Despite an often “older” run down campus, limited majors, a small community and even an uncertain future I have continued to promote the college to young people who are seeking to know the Lord and follow His path for their lives because there is simply something very unique and special that happens at Bethany.
Bethany University has also affected my life richly through the number of alumni who I have personally been ministered to, worked and enjoyed fellowship with over the past 30 years. My husband and children have also been profoundly affected by many BU alumni. In fact as I began to make a list of Bethany alumni who have been a part of our lives, it is vast and impressive. Truly a university who has produced the number of exceptional men and women of God attributed to this school must have a special anointing upon it.
And finally I feel connected to BU because I was about to become a “Bethany Mom”. My second daughter, Amy was to enter the college this fall as a freshman. After applying and being accepted to six private Christian colleges in California and one in Texas there was just “something about Bethany” that drew her. Because my husband, her father is a licensed minister with the Northern California/Nevada Assemblies of God (he is however not a pastor of an AG church but has committed his life to the ministry of Christian education as a high school chaplain & Bible teacher) we perhaps had more “inside” information than many incoming freshman and even with the knowledge of impending doom, Amy chose to attend Bethany. Her response to those who questioned her wisdom? “I would love to be at a school where students held special prayer meetings to save their school.” She had already been captivated by the heart and soul of Bethany. She is currently doing earthquake relief ministry in Japan where I had to convey to her last week via email, Bethany’s decision to close its doors. Even though she is much less impacted by this decision than the current students are, she still feels a great sense of loss for what “might have been”. As she takes another look at her other college options, many good solid Christian institutions, there is a sense of unrest and dissatisfaction. They just aren’t Bethany.
I decided to write this missive tonight for three reasons:
1. To let you the alumni, current students and staff know that there are many of us out here, who while not directly a part of the Bethany family, truly care about Bethany University. We are standing with you in prayer. We are grieving the current loss and we are ever hopeful to be rejoicing in what the Lord still may do in the future. (with God all things are possible!)
2. To encourage and challenge you to come together in unity to fight for the future of Bethany University! For all of the reasons I have shared above and many more this unique, special, one of a kind, anointed school needs to be saved. And while we often think it will take investors with the type of wealth that most of us can only dream of, I have found that much of the time God chooses the small unknown, yet full of faith and confidence in God… “Davids” in the kingdom to slay the “Goliaths”. I have personally experienced this type of miraculous victory when well over a decade ago my husband and I set out to start a Christian school in our community, against all odds. We were just a young couple, without money, power or influence and yet the Lord chose to use us to gather a group of passionate parents together in hopes of starting a unique, special, one of a kind, anointed Christian High School. Using just our Christmas card mailing list we sent out a letter asking for support to start this massive undertaking and within a month had raised close to $30,000. That momentum was just what was needed to put together a school board, incorporate a non-profit and continue to raise the quarter million dollars that was needed to begin the school. When I look back I stand in amazement that people were willing to give to a school that did not even exist, a school that could have potentially never opened its doors, a school who even in its first year faced great financial struggles so much so, that even our board president predicted that it would close its doors after the first graduating class. And yet God prevailed, not through multi million dollar investors but through average everyday people who monthly gave in faith what little they could afford. Fourteen years later that school – Jim Elliot Christian High School in Lodi – is still impacting students lives! To God be the glory!
Perhaps God is speaking to one or several of you…to lead the charge, to step out in faith, to gather all those who are passionate about Bethany University and together make a difference. There are thousands of alumni, hundreds of students and dozens of faculty and staff members who all have friends and family that they could invite to make an investment, a step of faith in a university that actually does exist, a university with an amazing legacy, a university with WASC accreditation, fabulous faculty and committed students, a university that will touch the lives of its students who will in turn go out and make a difference in the world. I can easily do the math…and it adds up to millions and millions of dollars that could be raised in a very short order (if my Christmas card mailing list raised $30,000 in 30 days from “average” folks who donated to a “potential” school….what could all of your mailing lists combined do?) But it takes vision and leadership to take on the Goliath (in this case massive debt and vital restructuring of business practices). Maybe the Lord is piercing one or several of your hearts to lead the charge!
3. To use my God-given gifts as well as sphere of influence to share the Bethany experience and the impending closing with others in hopes that perhaps someone out there may feel led to make a difference in the future of this University. Besides posting this on the Bethany alumni facebook page, I will also publish it on my blog where I know my thousands of readers will at the very least pray for the current students and staff as well as alumni and for the Lord’s will to prevail. (I do realize that it well may be the Lord’s will for BU to close…but I feel compelled to share the “impossible” possibilities)
This time it is not my place or purpose to lead the way but perhaps it is your turn! I am willing to offer my time and talent in the area of development to any of you involved with efforts to help a new day dawn for Bethany University.
Blessings to each of you,