Troy Dolge sat with his guitar and suitcase for six hours at the airport in Anchorage, Alaska, waiting for a bus to pick him up. He says, "I was looking around
and thinking, This is so sparse, this is so cold. But I felt like
I was on the right path for onceI knew this was where God wanted me."
After another four hours traveling to Alaska Bible College, Troy was even
more convinced. He came to ABC to learn about ministry, to spend time with
God apart from the distractions of his hometown in Washington, and to live
and study in a small, close-knit community. The warm welcome he received
on the bus and his experience in classes showed him he'd found what
he was looking for.
"I knew I wanted more of a foundation in Bible than a general education,"
says Troy, now a sophomore. "I wanted to get away from the English and the
math and just focus on God's Word."
For students like Troy, who know they're headed for full-time ministry,
Bible colleges and institutes offer focused education. The schools'
targeted curriculum and fellowship opportunities are designed to train people
for careers where serving Christ is in the job descriptionpastors and
missionaries, for example. But since a lot of undergrads change majors about
as often as they order pizza, they'd better have a good idea of their
calling before enrolling. Changing majors might mean transferring to a different
"The kind of person who would come here is looking to work professionally
in ministry and missions," says Larry Seif, a professor at Christ for the
Nations Insititute in Dallas. "The excitement is high, not only for the
acquisition of knowledge, but to go out and do some thing about it. There's
a passion here for the Great Commission, for leading people to Jesus. This
place just pulsates with that."
This strong focus on ministry is certainly a distinctive of a Bible college
"We're hoping that students sit down and say, What's the
difference between a Christian liberal arts school and a Bible college?'
and find that a different mission drives a Bible school," says Larry Davidhizar,
associate dean of undergraduate academics at Moody Bible Institute
"Neither is wrong; it's just how God tugs at your heart. If God is calling
you to be a Christian businessman, God is going to use a Christian liberal
arts college to prepare you better than a Bible college would. But if
you're thinking about going into full-time ministry, Bible college might
be the better option."
"There's a real family atmosphere at a Bible college," says Sharon Clawser,
a graduate of Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania. "Some of that may
be because of the size, but I think a lot of it is because most of the students
here are serious about preparing for full-time ministry."
It didn't take long for Troy to realize his classes at Alaska Bible
College were a different kind of schooling than he'd seen before.
"You could spend five years going to church every Sunday to learn the things
I've picked up in one semester," he says. "It's like a burst, and
I've got to constantly ask myself, How is God acting in my
While students learn how the Bible relates to everyday life, they also build
relationships with teachers. Professor Seif says a big part of teaching at
Christ for the Nations is becoming involved in students' lives.
"For me personally, it's not so much the dispensing of information
as watching the students as they get some sense of finding the kind of person
they want to be," he says. "What's really important is that students
get some sense of how to live an authentic and successful life."
Beyond in-depth academic study of Bible and ministry-related subjects, Bible
colleges and institutes place a premium on off-campus ministry experience.
Students explore missions opportunities ranging from worship teams and pastoral
training to ministries in prisons, inner cities and overseas.