BJU’s Bible Conference offering lets students fundraise for a cause. For many years the proceeds went to campus additions, such as the renovation of Stratton Hall in 1996, the building of the Davis Field House in 2001–02, and last year’s Den expansion.
However, Paul Isaacs’ chapel message in the spring of 2019 compelled the student body to change the focus of the offering.
Isaacs—a 1993 alumnus and president of Save the Storks—spoke to the University community about the pro-life movement and how it has changed since Roe v. Wade. While protests and legislature are important, Isaacs believes that “if we put all our hope and stock in that, I’m afraid it’s misplaced.” The pro-life movement should rebrand itself to be more Christlike, and that’s what Save the Storks is doing.
“We found that 84% of abortion-vulnerable women thought that was their only choice,” said Isaacs. Therefore, the organization aims to show these women other options. Save the Storks provides mobile medical units to local pregnancy centers, helping them grow their community impact. Stork vans and buses are equipped to provide abortion-vulnerable women free ultrasounds and pregnancy and STI testing. More importantly, the vehicles bring these women the hope of the Gospel through confidential counseling sessions.
See Also: Save the Storks: Inviting a Conversation
Isaacs reminded the student body of Jesus’ approach with sinners. “Jesus met everyone. He didn’t meet them with politics and rhetoric and graphic images, necessarily. We want to offer women hope and more choices.” Isaacs posed a rhetorical question that remained in the minds of the student body for months: “Would having a Stork Bus in Greenville accomplish the goal of the pro-life community here?”
After that chapel message, BJU President Steve Pettit’s inbox flooded with requests to dedicate the Bible Conference offering to Save the Storks. Never in Pettit’s six years as president were students so passionate about a cause. He explained that the organization pairs Stork units to pregnancy centers. The Piedmont Women’s Center didn’t need one, and the University couldn’t find another venue that did.
But a few months after this announcement, Pettit met Alexia Newman, director of the Carolina Pregnancy Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The two sat at the same table during an event keynoting U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. The moment Newman told him about her work, Pettit knew they met “providentially.” The Save the Storks mobile unit fits perfectly with the center’s needs and services, which include free ultrasounds, a mentoring program for men and women, and a closet for loaning clothes to mothers and their children. The University connected Newman with Save the Storks and it was settled. The Bible Conference 2020 offering will go toward a Stork van for the CPC.
Newman and the Carolina Pregnancy Center staff are excited to go to the community instead of waiting for people to come to them. “We’ll be able to go to colleges and universities … to outlying little towns in Spartanburg county … to the fair when it comes. But more than that, we can give them the hope of Jesus,” said Newman. Not only will the Stork van allow the center to broaden their reach, but “you’re giving us another tool to be able to share with people about Jesus,” she added.
For example, when she spoke in chapel this January, Newman told the story of how that very morning she met a lady in need on her way out of the center. “I just said, ‘Could I get you a cup of coffee?’ … She didn’t have an appointment, but of course we wanted to see her and to help her,” said Newman. When Newman arrived on the BJU campus a few minutes later, a call informed her that the young woman had received Jesus as her Savior. Not only is this story “a picture of what happens at Carolina Pregnancy Center every day,” but a foreshadowing of the impact this Stork van could have in the community.
Though Bible Conference offerings often receive outside donations, during his visit last month Isaacs invited BJU students, faculty and staff to “find your fifty.” “It takes 3,000 people giving $50, and we’re going to have a bus in Spartanburg … and ultimately save women and children from the tragedy of abortion,” Isaacs said. Inspired to help the cause, BJU students organized over 30 different fundraising activities. From succulent sales to grilled steaks to escape rooms, this year’s student fundraisers excel in creativity.
Some events happened in anticipation of Bible Conference week, such as the Bruin Nation 5k, Theta Sigma Chi’s volleyball tournament, and Alpha Sigma Omicron’s showing of The Printing. Other fundraisers—like Tau Delta Chi’s famous speed dating, the ISO’s International Food Festival and Chi Alpha Pi’s after-curfew night show—will take place during the week of the conference.
At the end of the last Bible Conference service, Pettit announced the offering total that had been received at that point: $185,520.03. The goal was the $150,000 required for the Stork van, but the extra funds will allow BJU to assist the Carolina Pregnancy Center with other startup costs. “We will meet with the Carolina Pregnancy Center and really get a better idea of some of the startup costs. There’s always a lot of things involved in that, and so we want to do everything we can to help them through that,” said Pettit.
“As we began this journey, I told you we don’t know what the Lord is going to do,” Pettit reminded the students. “When you do something, you need to do it wholeheartedly, not half-heartedly, and you need to believe in what you’re doing. You need to be committed to what you’re doing. … And I think that we’ve all experienced that this week. … Everybody has their own creativity (in) the way they do what they do, yet God uses it all for His glory. …. We praise the Lord for what God has done.”
Paul Isaacs also sent a message conveying his gratitude to the BJU community: “Words cannot express how full my heart is. Please tell the students that I love them all and that I am grateful for their sacrifice. People will find them in heaven someday and thank them for giving to this epic cause. They will be the world changers that we helped save together—the next generation of preachers, Christian businessmen, doctors, nurses, missionaries—all in heaven because we worked together to make abortion unthinkable and unimaginable together.”