This past Friday, Central Bible College (AG) student Corey Miller, a freshman music major from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a good day - courtesy of two strangers.
During the Friday chapel at CBC, Miller's name was drawn from a container filled with all the students' names. As a result of his name being drawn, a very surprised Miller received a $1,100 scholarship good towards next semester's tuition, a gift from Winston and Sue Hunt, who attend Abundant Life Church (AG) in Indianapolis.
Winston explains that when he was a CBC student, he recalled how an elderly woman at the nearby Maranatha Retirement Center used to create paintings and sell them, sending the proceeds to her alma mater - Southwestern Assemblies of God in Waxahachie, Texas.
"That always inspired me," Hunt says. "I had been praying, wanting to do something for CBC. Finally, I felt God leading me to help students with their college expenses."
This is the second consecutive year the Hunts have given out a personal "at large" scholarship at CBC, located in Springfield, Missouri. They hope that their actions inspire other individuals and churches to seriously consider how they can help AG students attending AG colleges overcome what many see as crushing financial burdens.
Although the Hunts recognized $1,100 isn't huge in light of today's tuition costs, every dollar counts - and could make the difference between a student returning to school or having to drop out to earn more money before continuing their education.
"Many students are coming out of college with such huge financial debt, they feel it is impossible to even consider going to the missions field or taking a full-time position at a financially struggling church or ministry," says Dr. Bob Cook, executive vice-president for the Alliance of AG Higher Education. "We need people - hundreds even thousands of people - like the Hunts to step forward and invest in the future of our college students."
The Hunts, who chose to also honor long-time minister, missionary and CBC-alumnus Spud Dement with this year's gift, officially naming the gift the H.H. Spud Dement Honorary Scholarship, plan to continue giving the scholarship to students on a regular basis. However, Winston believes that many students' financial struggles could be resolved with just $1 a day.
"If each member of the Assemblies of God (about 2.9 million members) set aside just $1 a day to help offset the cost of attending our AG colleges, in a year, that would result in more than $1 billion," he says.
Although it may not possible for everyone to give $1 a day, Cook says even one-tenth of that amount would transform the future for many AG college students.
"At 10¢ a day - that would roughly be $105 million. That means the approximately 10,000 AG students attending our AG schools could receive scholarships of more than $10,000 each on top of whatever aid they already receive," Cook says. "Imagine the liberty students would have to pursue ministry if their first consideration wasn't having to pay off a huge school loan."
"I hope to one day see the Assemblies of God develop a National College Day Fund," Hunt says, "where churches and individuals across the country can give specifically to help our students better afford to attend our colleges."
For more information about AG colleges, see http://www.colleges.ag.org. For additional information on CBC, see http://www.cbcag.edu.