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Is It Worth It?


He's a fundraiser. He's a father. He's a Free Will Baptist. He lives on the road. He can't help but ask...


Is It Worth It?

by David Williford


“It just doesn’t make sense.” That sentiment, if not those exact words, is frequently expressed when I talk with parents about sending their children to Free Will Baptist Bible College. For most in our denomination, FWBBC is a long way from home. But every year students from 25 states decide that the long-term benefits of attending FWBBC outweigh the convenience of dollars and distance that a community college offers.


What’s My Story?

I understand about sending your child 400 or more miles from home to attend college. It’s not easy to load the car and watch Junior set out on an eight-hour trip to attend college. It’s hard on the emotions.

I also understand the financial side of the picture. When my children made the decision to attend FWBBC, I was a pastor in Florida. My wife worked for the state. In case you didn’t know, neither of those vocations will carve out a spot on the Forbes list of the 500 wealthiest Americans!

To complicate matters, we knew we would have two in college at the same time for two years. I remember talking with my wife during our daughter’s senior year in high school. We looked at the realities of the checkbook and just shook our heads.

“How are we going to keep two kids in college at the same time?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “But there’s one thing I do know. There’s no way it will happen naturally. If we make it, it will be a God thing, because there’s no way to figure it financially. It’ll be interesting to sit back and see how God does this.”

The good news? We did it. The “we” is all-inclusive. It includes my wife, me, our kids, God’s supernatural provisions, denominational and government aid, and a willingness to make sacrifices. Our children both worked while they attended FWBBC. Did it hurt them? No. It helped them. They learned to budget their time as well as their finances.

The denomination helped. I knew that the giving of our people subsidized the cost of an FWBBC education, but until that time I didn’t know how significant it was. When my kids attended, the cost per semester hour was reduced by almost $150 because people gave selflessly to the ministry of FWBBC. Did that make a difference? Yes. A significant difference!

We accessed Pell Grants, student loans, and tapped associational scholarships and loans as well. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes. It made sense to us.


What About Now?

Fast-forward 14 years. Now I’m the guy on the road raising money for FWBBC. Trying to get people to buy into the idea of Christian higher education. Making the 6:00 a.m. flight to be at a state meeting, or catching the red-eye home after being in a local church or meeting with a donor.

My average year has me saying goodbye to Donna and hello to the folks at the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn more than 100 times. I interact with pastors, donors, parents, and friends of FWBBC. During breaks in meetings, I’m on the phone to someone at the college, making sure my office is functioning. Conference calls, texts, emails, and faxes are part and parcel of the day.

Much time is spent on my cell phone late at night, checking in with my wife before we go to sleep 300 or more miles apart. It is often tiring, mostly enjoyable (just don’t get me started about airlines), and seldom dull. I meet people who love the college I represent and others who tolerate us. Some are passionate about Christian higher education. Others are indifferent and wonder aloud if the cost the denomination pays is worth the return on investment.

I do what I do because I believe in it. FWBBC and what it stands for make sense to me.


Should I Do It?

That’s the question I’m asked in a dozen different ways. It’s the question parents ask when their child wants to attend FWBBC and the parents are unsure. “Should I encourage them to go? Should I bless their decision?”

I can speak from experience, and, yes, it is worth the cost. How much is it worth to know that every professor, staff member, and administrator who interacts with your child has his/her spiritual wellbeing at heart? How much is it worth to know that someone will pray for and with your child if there is a problem? How much is it worth to know that every course taught in a college curriculum is taught in light of eternal truth and unchanging principles? How much is it worth to know your child is in a structured environment designed to help him or her become a deeper disciple of Christ?

And how important is it to know they do not have to sacrifice a quality education to receive those benefits? FWBBC is ranked 54th among the “Best Regional Colleges” (South Region) by U.S. News & World Report. We offer the complete package.

That’s why it makes sense to me.


Why Should I Do It?

It’s the question I sometimes hear from donors. “Why do you deserve my support? What are you doing that someone else cannot do cheaper and more effectively? Are you worth it?”
When I’m asked that, I remember students whose lives are changed when they attend FWBBC.

I think about the young man who came seeking a degree in English and answered the call to preach. He now pastors a Free Will Baptist church.

I think about the young lady who wanted a degree in international business so she could carry the gospel into a restricted-access country as a businesswoman, because she could not get a missionary visa for that region.

Today, she runs a business in Southeast Asia, providing help for women who have been sold by human traffickers. Her company provides employment and training for women leaving lives of prostitution and degradation, but most of all she offers the grace of God to people who have known only abuse and evil. FWBBC prepared her to impact lives for eternity.

These two young people and hundreds more like them experience the life-changing atmosphere that is FWBBC because people give. So my answer to the questioner is, “Yes, FWBBC is worth it. What we do matters. It matters right now. It matters eternally. No other denomination’s school and no independent school has a greater passion for preparing workers for Free Will Baptist ministries.”

Why should you give? Because FWBBC is educating young people to change the world for Christ. There is no higher calling. There is no greater need. That makes sense to me.

Most Bible colleges, including ours, operate on a shoestring budget. Funding is always an issue. Faculty salaries lag far behind their contemporaries at secular colleges, although the faculty is just as qualified. Maintenance needs are routinely delayed because needs exceed resources. But our people serve cheerfully, in spite of difficulties, because they know it matters. It just makes sense.


Is It Worth It?

Resoundingly, yes! It will be worth the sacrifice for your child to attend. It will be worth the financial gift you make, and it is worth my time, efforts, and energy.


About the Writer: David Williford is vice president for institutional advancement at Free Will Baptist Bible College. Read more about the college at


©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists