Generosity and vision define new chapter
Eston College – formerly located in Eston, Sask., a town of a thousand people – officially moved to Regina in August 2023. College president Sean Stevenson-Douglas explains the rationale behind the move to an urban centre with greater missional needs. "Many people look at Bible college as a time where young people maybe sequester themselves in a classroom, in the library, and they would look at [a non-profit] and say, ‘Oh that’s where people go if they want to share their faith, make a difference in the world.’ "
The college (EstonCollege.ca) is trying to end that split between theory and practice. "We have tried to uniquely combine the strengths of short-term mission and higher biblical academics."
In Regina the college will headquarter its teaching facilities, offices and cafeteria at Regina Apostolic Church while students will live in two wings of the Luther College Student Village on the University of Regina campus, a 15-minute walk from the church.
The college’s outreach activities will span the breadth of the city’s needs, from street and marketplace evangelism to soup kitchens and drop-in centres, to serving refugee and newcomer nonprofits and more.
Instead of selling its $1.2 million property in Eston, board members unanimously voted to give the campus and some nearby properties to a Christian organization called Village of Hope (VillageOfHope.ca). The ministry – whose founder Andrew Vähi is an alumnus of Eston College – helps people suffering with drug and alcohol addictions.
In an Eston College newsletter, Vähi says Village of Hope is blessed by the gift of Eston’s campus. "Although it is a change, the purposes of God will continue, in many ways, just as they always have right there on the very ground that has been saturated with prayer and tears over many years," says Vähi.
Eston College is in talks with Village of Hope about future collaboration, which could include the college helping the charity teach biblical studies and Christian living courses, as well as offering its students other domestic ministry apprenticeships at Village of Hope.
Stevenson-Douglas acknowledges giving away the facilities was a "radical act of faith," but adds, "If we withheld the campus and waited, we would have sold it, and Lord knows we need the revenue from that, but the more important thing is the ministry Village of Hope brings to the Church and to the province." –RACHEL BAARDA