In my Bible reading, I recently saw a verse I have read many times before. But it stood out to me in a new way.
“In the morning, sow your seed and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6, CSB)
Solomon uses an agricultural metaphor to emphasize diligence in planting seed. When spring arrives, farmers and gardeners will work long hours to get their seed planted. Some translations describe the work as planting seed both in the morning and in the evening. Other translations, like the Christian Standard Bible quoted above, suggest that after the seed is planted, the person should keep working in another manner.
Picture a farmer planting throughout the daylight hours. Then after dark, he keeps working around the house. The author says such hard work is necessary, since “you don’t know which will succeed.” It is safe to conclude some of the work may not be successful. But with the farmer’s hard work, at least some will succeed, and maybe it will all be productive.
Reflecting further on this passage, I see three truths about our work at CCCB:
We work hard to recruit potential students, because we never know which ones will come or decide not to. We look for students who have been active in youth group. In the summer, we will find young men and women who came to Christ that week of church camp. We talk to older adults who have been out of school for over 20 years. Some potential students are from other countries, and they are working hard to get the money and approval necessary to come to America. Some are transferring from another college. Even though our enrollment has stabilized over the past three years, we still need more students. We also need help finding them. So we plant seeds, call prospects, and challenge them to serve the church.
We work hard to educate our students, because we never know which ones will do great things. We plant God’s Word in their hearts, so it can grow in them. We show them ministry principles and skills, so they will consider serving God’s kingdom in a substantial way. And we help them use their gifts in various ways that will show them how God might be preparing them for later service. We don’t know which graduates will become full-time ministers and which ones will be devoted volunteers, but we hope “both of them will be equally good.”
Finally, we work hard to tell our friends about the work of Central, and ask them to support us generously. Some churches remain steady in their gifting, while some stop giving. Each year we ask graduates and their parents to donate. Some do. We have board members, businesses, and other friends who hear the challenge and give even more. In 2017, we received over $1.3 million in donations, the highest total amount given in the past six years. That generosity helped us finish last fiscal year in the black and be on track to do the same this year. But we still tell our story, not knowing who might support our Full-Tuition Scholarship for the first time or in a more generous way.
To be honest, we would love to know which will succeed. It would be great to predict exactly which prospects will enroll. Each teacher would love to know the students that will change the world. And we could all benefit if we only talked to the most receptive donors.
But since we don’t know which will succeed, we keep trying hard, trusting God to make at least some of our work, and hopefully all of it. Maybe you have a prospective student in mind. You might have considered enrolling in Bible college yourself. And you may be able to support our work of educating others. If so, send me a note and give us some more work to do!