“Dr. Veum, can I tell you something?” The student asking is from the Dominican Republic. His name is Erick Benjamin Sede Eduardo. He wanted to tell me the story about how the Lord provided a study lamp for only six dollars. But first…a bit of background.
Benjamin—the name his mother calls him—is 25 years old. He served for several years as a translator for the mission teams coming to his country from Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. Some of the leaders of those teams were so impressed with him that they wanted to see him come to the USA and attend Lutheran Brethren Seminary.
Three years ago I had the chance to meet him when he was here serving as a translator for the Boy Scouts. I too was impressed. I learned about his passion for evangelism. When he was just 20 years old he developed a seminar on non-violence for high school students, followed by one on making wise decisions. He presented these in school assemblies as a platform for sharing the gospel.
In the months and years after meeting, we talked on Skype and emailed about his coming, but we had no one to sponsor him. Then this past summer we partnered with Hillcrest to bring him to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. They are providing for his living costs. He works and lives in the boys’ dorm as a resident assistant. We are providing for his education.
That brings me to the story of the lamp. Here is what he told me, but you cannot hear his delightful Spanish accent:
“In the dorm we collect items that students leave in the building and keep them in the ‘lost and found’ box. When the box gets full of unclaimed items, we have an auction. So, there was this box, and I didn’t know what was in it. But I bid $10. Someone else bid $11, so I bid $12—and I got it! When I opened the box, there was a lamp!
When I left home, I left behind a good lamp. My mother said, ‘Don’t take it. You will get a different one in America.’ I needed a lamp to study. There was a radio in the box that I sold for $5 and something else I sold for a dollar. So the Lord provided a lamp for me for just $6! Praise the Lord!”
I wish I could convey the enthusiasm and joy that Benjamin expressed as he told me this story. His humble gratitude has both convicted and encouraged me.
And it goes both ways. After just the second week of class he stopped in to tell me what he was learning. After shaking hands—he always shakes hands—he said, “Dr. Veum, in the Dominican Republic our pastors preach mostly about how we ought to live our lives. But I am learning that we also need to preach the gospel.”
Praise the Lord! His studies at LBS are already impacting and preparing Benjamin to lead God’s people more effectively.
When he came, I promised that LBS would provide 90% of his tuition and books through scholarships. We started an International Scholarship Fund a couple of years ago when someone gave $1000 towards Benjamin’s schooling. We used some of that money to pay for his books. Another financial partner just promised a gift of $10,000 for tuition. That will cover his costs for this year.
The opportunity now comes to you, our financial partners, to provide for his education not covered by tuition. Our costs for each student beyond what they pay average $25,000 annually. That amounts to $500 per week or $100 per day, Monday-Friday, per student. Just think, for $100 you can provide a day of ministry preparation or for $500, a whole week.
Benjamin praised the Lord for a $6 lamp. Like him, we will praise the Lord for your gift of a day, or a week, or a month of ministry preparation.
Dr. David Veum is President of Lutheran Brethren Seminary.