Christmas is coming! Every radio station in Springfield is filled with Christmas carols. The Hallmark Channel has begun its “Countdown to Christmas.” Students here atBBC | Life Change U have decked the halls, worn their ugliest sweaters, eaten every cookie sent by grandma, and they’ve been quoting favorite Christmas movies lines like this one from Elf: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
One of my favorite Christmas movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The movie tells the story of George Bailey. George is facing a devastating situation and declares that he wishes he had never been born. Clarence, an angel, is sent to earth to make that wish come true, and George is able to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. The movie shows the profound difference one man can make in the world. The beautiful, welcoming town of Bedford Falls has become Potterville, a place of darkness and despair, filled with people who have no hope. Clarence makes this statement:
”Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.
When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
I began to think of what it would be like if there were no Baptist Bible College.
Rumors have abounded for decades that the college is going to close. As a student in the 1980s, I heard them all the time. Today, as president of this great college, I am faced with many hard truths, including this one: It is a difficult time for Bible colleges. Since I became president in 2012, not a year has passed without at least two Bible colleges closing; a recent study by Moody predicts that this number will triple by 2017. BBC is just a small Bible college. Why is it so important that we continue?
The purpose of BBC is to proclaim the true meaning of Christmas -
the baby born in the manger became the Savior on the cross!
For over 66 years, we have been training students to share the gospel message with the world. These students have gone on to change the world for Christ. What would our world be like if there were no BBC?
If BBC weren’t around, it would leave an awful hole.
If there were no BBC, there would be fewer pastors.
• Herb Gilbert came to BBC in the early 1960s and trained to be a pastor. He and his wife, Glenda, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary at Beacon Baptist Church in Taylor, Michigan. In 1966, this young BBC graduate dedicated his life to reaching the people of this Detroit suburb. Beacon has grown tremendously underHerb’s leadership and has been a light to its city and the world. Thousands of live shave been changed because of Herb Gilbert’s ministry.
• James Goodman came to BBC in the early 1970s and trained to be a pastor. He and his wife, Debbie, moved to the small town of Clarksville, Arkansas, where he became pastor of Stillwell Bible Baptist Church. You would be hard pressed to find someone in town who does not know Brother Jim and Mrs. Debbie. They have changed countless lives through their work at the church and through their youth camp ministry.
• Brian Moore graduated from BBC in 1999 and trained to be a pastor. He and his wife, Shannon, moved to Yorba Linda, California, where they have revitalized Crosspointe Church. They have baptized hundreds and are changing lives for Christ.
• Nathan Burch graduated from BBC in 2004 and trained to be a pastor. He and his wife, Leannah, moved to Aurora, Missouri, where he became pastor of AuroraBaptist Temple. Their church is growing and they are seeing lives changed.
If there were no BBC, there would be fewer churches.
In the early days of BBC, Dr. John Rawlings challenged students to find a city and“capture that town for Christ!”
• Gene Milioni, my uncle, left BBC and captured the town of Findlay, Ohio. He planted Trinity Baptist Church and remained there for over 50 years.
• Ron Taylor left BBC and is capturing New York City for Christ.
• Chris Highfill left BBC and is capturing O’Fallon, Missouri, for Christ.
• Mike Brinson left BBC and is capturing Centerton, Arkansas, for Christ.
• Joey Candillo left BBC and is capturing Independence, Missouri, for Christ.
• Gary Milbourne left BBC and is capturing Pearland, Texas, for Christ.
If there were no BBC, there would be no BBFI missionaries changing lives for Christ around the world, like these BBC graduates:
• Boyd and Donna Lyons to the Philippines.
• John and Karrie Barnes to Costa Rica.
• Justin Rhodes to England
• Brian and Rachel Weed to Nicaragua.
If there were no BBC, there would be fewer Bible Colleges.
• Boston Baptist College, founded in 1976 as Baptist Bible College East.
• Liberty University, founded in 1971 by BBC graduate Dr. Jerry Falwell.
• Numerous Bible colleges and seminaries started by BBFI missionaries
If there were no BBC, there would be fewer organizations helping those in need.
• There would be no New Hope Initiative, founded by Sandy and Karen Baird.
• There would be no Manna Worldwide, founded by Bruce O’Neal.
• There would be no Tin Roof Society, founded by Shawn Koonce.
If BBC weren’t around, it would leave an awful hole.
Every student has touched the lives of so many others. BBC students have helped to meet the needs of people physically and spiritually, changing those lives for eternity. Only heaven will reveal the profound dierence that BBC has made in the world.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” ends with this quote from the angel, Clarence:
“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”
One of the biggest reasons that other Christian colleges have closed is because of a lack of friends. Friends to pray for them, friends to advise them, and friends to support them.Baptist Bible College / Life Change U has been blessed with many friends over the years. Every time that Barb and I travel to churches, camps, or conferences, people make it a point to tell us that they pray for us and for BBC every day.
This is so humbling – that busy men and women like you take the time to pray for the needs of our college. Thank you. Your prayers make a dierence.
We have also been blessed by friends like you who give so generously to the college. I hope this letter helps you to realize just where those gifts go. Every dollar given goes toward training another student who will become a pastor, a church planter, a missionary,an educator, or someone who will use their education to reach people for Christ in ways that we have not yet imagined. Your investment in BBC is more than just an investment in a classroom or a library or a dormitory. Each gift is an investment in countless lives that are changed for Christ through the ministry and life of each and every student who attends BBC. Your gifts have helped countless others to experience “A Wonderful Life” in Christ.
As you make your Christmas list this year, please remember Baptist Bible College. Your continued financial support and prayers allow us to continue to train men and women to change the world for Christ.
Right now we need our friends and your gifts desperately as we continue to strengthen our programs and our campus. Every year there is a significant gap between what students pay and the actual cost of college. We work hard to make BBC aordable so that more can actually make it into ministry. But this is only possible because of donors like you. Currently, we face some pressing needs at BBC; we need new doors, heating and air upgrades, roofs, and bathrooms - so many needs. Please pray and consider helping in some way. It is greatly needed and greatly appreciated.
Would you consider a gift for BBC right now? Can I encourage you to stop and pray right now for BBC and how you can help? We truly need you. If every friend that has been touched by BBC would give something we could easily accomplish so much. Could you pray about a gift of $1000 before the year ends? Even a gift of $500, $250 or even $100 would help us so much.
Thank you for being our friend. Thank you for loving Baptist Bible College. Thank you for helping to share the gospel around the world so that others can know “A Wonderful Life”in Christ. We love you and pray that God will continue to bless and use you.
President, Baptist Bible College