A Letter to the Bethlehem of 2006

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Will someone dig out this copy of the STAR from the Bethlehem archives in 2006 on the 20th anniversary of the Apprenticeship Program (renamed in 1990, Bethlehem Ministerial Academy)? If so I would like to write them a letter just in case I have died in the mean time and won't be there for the celebration.

Dear Friends!

We do not presume to be of the caliber of the apostles. Nor do we claim to measure up to John Ryland, Andrew Fuller, Samuel Pearce and William Carey. But this we most heartily affirm: their God is our God, the same yesterday, today and forever. We believe he is still capable and willing to take a 1986 mustard seed of vision and cause it to grow into a tree of worldwide impact in 2006. Has our faith been vindicated?

The apostles were only 12 in the beginning. But 20 years later Paul could write of the entire eastern Mediterranean world, “The gospel of Christ has been fulfilled. . . I have no more room for work in these regions." This is incredible—with man, but not with God.

On October 2, 1792 in a back-parlor, twelve feet by ten, in the town of Kettering, twelve ministers, and a student and one deacon, formed the Baptist Missionary Society. Their combined resources were 13 Pounds and 2 Shillings. But 20 years later parts of the Bible existed in ten languages of India, there was a college in Calcutta, and a dozen new missionary societies were inspired into existence. The modern missionary era was launched!

We in 1986 are laying hold of the God of St. Paul and the God of William Carey and Andrew Fuller. We are expecting great things from God and are eager to attempt great things for God.

The architect of the Bethlehem Apprenticeship Program is Thomas Roy Stellar, our Associate Pastor for Students and Missions. Just last night (September 28) he introduced to the church eight of the first 11 participants. They will be studying and praying together every Monday afternoon through a 21 month program under the supervision of the Bethlehem pastoral staff. The first Monday session was September 22, 1986.

Tom laid out the goal of imparting to these students a theology, a philosophy of ministry and a method of Bible study which undergird the life and labor of our pastoral leadership.

I am no seer. But there is in me the strong expectation that under the sovereign hand of God this mustard seed will flourish into a ministry of worldwide significance. For the saving purposes of the Lord will be victorious.

Your expectant servant,

Pastor John