In the late 1970s and early ’80s, BJU President Dr. Bob Jones III established two similar scholarship programs that reflected his heart for missions.
“It dawned on me that the nations of the world could best be reached by nationals trained in the Scriptures than by Americans who are at a deficit having to learn the language/culture,” said Jones. “Many American missionaries are leaving the field for reasons of retirement and health or even due to political upheavals. Their numbers are not being replaced one-for-one, and the work of the Lord will languish without solid national churches.”
Over the past 40 years, the Timothy and WORLD Funds have financially helped numerous international students attend BJU and return to minister in their home country after graduation.
Founded in 1977, the Timothy Fund is designated for young men who feel called to go into full-time ministry in their home country. The full scholarship “covers all expenses of tuition, housing, meals, program fee, travel and a stipend toward books, which is a 100% full scholarship except for the amount earned from working on campus about 12 hours per week,” said Bryan Boudreau, coordinator for international student engagement.
Most current Timothy students are referred to the program by other Timothy students or BJU alumni. “I heard about this scholarship through two Brazilian friends who were Timothy students,” said Esdras Oliveira Borges, from Brazil. “One of them is a pastor back home and the other one is a friend who graduated two years before I came to BJU.”
Collins Barnor, a student from Ghana, West Africa, likewise heard about the scholarship from a Japanese pastor friend who is a BJU alumnus.
“The idea is (the students) go back home, and then they carry on the ministry while the missionary moves on,” said Mark Vowels, director of the Timothy Fund program. While many, like Barnor, plan to return as pastors, some look to fill other ministerial roles. After completing a bachelor’s in missions, Oliveira began working on a master’s degree in Bible translation. “I am planning to use my training as a Bible translation missionary,” he said. Ratiranjan Debbarma, a Timothy student from India, plans to teach at South India Baptist Bible College which he previously attended.
“We’ve had some phenomenal guys go out and do some really incredible things, really be leaders in their countries, and shape the course of Christian ministry in a number of places,” said Vowels.
“It has been my joy to visit the countries and churches where many of these men have returned, and I’m overwhelmed by the spiritual influence they have,” said Jones. “Because of their college/seminary training, they are looked to by their peers and other pastors to help them start churches or to speak at their conferences, etc. Often these men find themselves in demand beyond the border of their own ‘Jerusalem’ and traveling to nearby countries. I’m overjoyed by the lasting fruit, and those I’ve been able to visit from among the several score of men throughout these 43 years since the program started.”
The WORLD Fund — which covers tuition, housing and meals — is open to any student of any major (as long as it does not require postgraduate work) who plans to return to their home country after graduation. “We’ve had students in all kinds of different majors,” said Vowels. According to Jones, these students’ “witness for Christ becomes a significant part of (their) church’s outreach to the immediate area by giving them contacts through this ‘profession’ that they would not have otherwise.”
Carandang learned about the WORLD Fund from her pastor who was a Timothy student. “He asked me to consider studying Christian Education at BJU for our growing school ministry in Palawan,” Carandang said. “I plan to go back to my country, the Philippines, and serve the Lord in Brooke’s Point Bible Church, which is my home church, until Jesus returns. We have a school ministry in our church, Southern Palawan Christian Academy. Our school has open enrollment, and most of our students are from the community. God has been using our school to exalt Christ in our community, and also it gives us opportunities to share the Gospel.”
Ross was referred to the program by the Bruins men’s soccer coach. “As a teenager coming from South Africa it is difficult to study abroad as it is really costly,” he said. “I am just thankful for the WORLD Fund that has helped cover many of the funds involved in studying in America and it’s given me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see different things and meet different people.”
Ross plans to work as a conservationist in Cape Town after graduation, but he hopes to eventually transition into working in full-time ministry with his father. “There is a great need in South Africa for the Gospel,” he said, “and our church is very much involved in the community and giving back to the people. Many young people’s lives have been changed through my testimony, and they all can see what God can do if you serve Him and dedicate your life to Him.”
Originally, Timothy and WORLD Fund students were undergraduates. But that has changed.
Said Vowels: “In the last 20–25 years, a lot of mission fields have matured to where they have training opportunities in the field, and missionaries have realized that … they send their best guy off to America, and he never comes back.” As a result, missionaries are encouraging their people to attend college close to home. “And what we’ve done with the Timothy program, not 100% but much more than we used to, was say, let’s take guys that are looking for grad school education.”
As higher education has seen a rise in non-traditional students, the Timothy Fund program has also changed. “We (have) two students now that are online. Another (student) that we’ve let do some modular courses and let the fund pay for it. So, in other words, (the program is) kind of evolving. It’s not necessarily going to be a four-year in-residence program for every student,” said Vowels.
For more information or to recommend a student for a scholarship, contact the international admission counselor.
Current Timothy and WORLD Fund students say their lives have been changed by their time at BJU:
“Being at BJU has given me a totally different view on life. The way things are done and the respect people have for one another and the godly character that shows from the students and faculty rubs off on you as a person, and it has changed me into a good godly man. I have become more wise and have drawn closer to God during my time at BJU. I’m excited to see how God uses me in the future, and I believe He has a big plan for me as I continue my studies at BJU.” — Jason Ross, South Africa, WORLD Student
“BJU points me to Christ. All preaching in chapels and lectures in the classroom encouraged me to live my life in Christ’s life patterns, not in people’s. Think biblically yet lovingly is one of the mottos I live by, which I got here in BJU through chapel messages. People may have a different perspective about things, but if we are guided and rooted in the Word of God, we are secure.” — Anamie Carandang, the Philippines, WORLD Student
“There are several ways in which BJU has had a positive impact on me. First, it has helped me to think at a deeper theological level than I had previously known to do and also to interpret things through a biblical and theological lens. Secondly, it has helped me become more disciplined and intentional about what I do and how I should do it. And thirdly, the caring community at BJU and the people I’m surrounded with whether at work, at class or at church has helped me grow to love the Lord and to love and care for others.” — Ratiranjan Debbarma, India, Timothy Student
“BJU stretched me, opened my horizons, and encouraged me to grow in my walk with the Lord. I grew in time-management skills. I became aware of different ministry opportunities (such as Bible translation). And learning theology helped me grow in my understanding and experience of God’s grace.” — Esdras Oliveira Borges, Brazil, Timothy Student
“BJU has improved my perspective of the body of Christ and multi-cultural ministry. It’s helped me form new friendships and networks for life and the ministry.” — Collins Barnor, Ghana, West Africa, Timothy Student
“(Through my time at BJU,) I’ve been able to know brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world and learn from them. That’s a life-changing experience.” — Carlos Alberto Cruz Malaver, Colombia, Timothy Student
Make a Difference
Both scholarship programs are funded through donations. Originally, Jones’s intent was that alumni would give, on their birthday, $1 for every year they have been in the world. However, donations are down.
“Frankly, we don’t have as much funds as we used to. … There was a time when we had a lot of students under (the WORLD Fund) program. Now, we have two, and we’re low in funds,” said Vowels. “In fact, if someone applied now, I’m not sure that we could take them in. I think they’d have to wait until the fund built up a little more.”
“We desperately need donations for both of these funds,” said Boudreau. “I can’t help but think of the Kingdom impact of donations, which BJU will use for direct training of qualified Christian international students who will return home to serve Christ in many different ministries and vocations.”
This Christmastime, give the gift of a Christian liberal arts education to a student who could not otherwise afford it.