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Seminarians thank scholarship donors for reflecting God’s faithfulness

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Grizzelle Montemayor was not ready to give up on her seminary education. The need in her country was great, but she knew she could not go on financially.

That was a year ago when the native of Morelia, Mexico, was in the middle of her master of arts in marriage and family counseling degree program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. With financial problems mounting, she felt she had nowhere to turn except to cry out to God, “If this is your will, you’re going to help me. If not, I’m going back to my country. Show me your will.”

The week she made that plea she received a scholarship from one of Southwestern’s more than 400 scholarship funds. Last year, Southwestern students received more than $700,000 from these funds.

Montemayor shared her testimony during Southwestern’s annual scholarship donor luncheon Jan. 25. As she spoke to the 55 donors at the luncheon, she said, “God has [been] manifested in my life through you, through your life. And God has shown me that he is faithful.”

That was the consistent theme of the stories told during the luncheon.

Michael Spikes’ child contracted bacterial pneumonia right before the spring semester, draining the Houston family’s finances with medical bills. An emergency fund started by a donor helped Spikes enroll this semester.

A bank with Chacha Mwita’s savings collapsed in his home country of Kenya. A scholarship has helped him stay in school and taught him that ministry cannot be done single-handedly.

With work, school and family, Ryan Palmer of Joplin, Mo., found he had no time for ministry. A scholarship helped him reduce his work hours so that he could minister.

John Opiyo and his family sold almost everything they had when they left Kenya for Southwestern. “We’re going because a seminary education is worth much more than the worldly possessions,” Opiyo recalled thinking before he left. Scholarships have helped him pay for his education.

Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill thanked the donors for their gifts, which are particularly vital to a school like Southwestern that receives no government aid and that has a majority of older students who usually receive little financial assistance from parents.

“Many of [the students] leave their profitable careers to be a part of Southwestern, and your scholarships help make all the difference in the world,” Hemphill said.

Palmer took time during his testimony to thank all Southern Baptists who give to the Cooperative Program.

“I would like to thank those of you who have given and not only with your individual endowments, your individual donations,” he said, “but for those of you who are Southern Baptists, I want to thank you for the churchmanship you show when you give through your tithes” to churches that share the gifts through the Cooperative Program.

Those gifts, Palmer continued, will enable him to graduate in May debt-free.

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  • Matt Sanders