By Jessica Pigg
Pastor’s Wife, Fellowship Church
Twenty-two years ago, Mark Ballard began a gospel conversation while searching for a church copier. This mundane, ordinary task led him to meet a man–Ken–that desperately needed the gospel. Fast-forwarding to 2009, Ken, his wife, two daughters, and a son-in-law all gave their lives to Jesus and were baptized within a 3-week period. Ken’s son, Paul, however, never put his faith and trust in Jesus.
Last December, Ballard, founder and president of Northeastern Baptist College(NEBC) and a Conservative Baptist NetworkSteering Councilmember, preached at the funeral for Ken where Paul and several others made professions of faith.
This same passionate heart that drives Ballard to continue sharing the gospel in his personal life, is the same heart that he instills into the staff, faculty, and students on the campus of Northeastern Baptist College.
Vermont is the least churched state in America, with Massachusetts, Delaware, and New York approaching quickly. According to the North American Mission Board, 67 million people live in the area, and 82 percent of them are considered to be lost.
“If you come to New England, you see what happens to a region that abandons the gospel message,” said Ballard. “Per capita, the state of Vermont is more lost than China. It is in fact an unreached people group here in the Northeast.”
Located in Bennington, Vt., the campus of NEBC is strategically located in the center of the Northeast, where 20 percent of the American population lives. Utilizing their central location as an opportunity for kingdom-impact, Northeastern is dedicated to equipping the next generation of church leaders to be concerned about the lost, trained in how to rightly handle the Word of God, and to serve the local church.
Since its formation in 2013, Northeastern has always existed to reach the Northeast–and beyond–by training students to have “the mind of a scholar, the heart of a shepherd, and the perseverance of a soldier through providing a strong biblical foundation built on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture and a distinctive blend of academic excellence and practical mentoring.”
With undergraduate degrees in biblical studies, Christian counseling, business administration, and Christian education, students undergo rigorous biblical language requirements and theological core studies. Complementing what they learn in the classroom, all students are required to serve at a local church within the Northeast region through ministry practicums. Partnering with the Baptist Convention of New Englandand using their own relationships with local churches, students scatter across the Northeast every Sunday in order to serve in various capacities and to receive on-site training.
“It is important to have a solid, biblical understanding of the Scriptures and be involved in local church ministry for practical experience,” Ballard said.
Shepherd Groups are a distinguishing characteristic of Northeastern Baptist College. Upon enrollment, each student is placed in a group of 8-12 peers with a faculty advisor. The groups meet weekly for a time of mentorship, encouragement, and accountability.
The impact being made through Northeastern Baptist College goes far beyond the classroom. Since the beginning of 2018, 591 people have come to know Christ through the evangelistic efforts of Northeastern’s students, faculty, and staff. Despite strict COVID restrictions, 149 people came to the know the Lord in 2020, and New England has seen an uptick in baptisms and a renewed passion for sharing God’s Word.
“Northeastern is on mission in a major way,” Ballard said. “This is why we exist–to get the gospel to the Northeast.”
There is no doubt that the kingdom of God is being affected through Northeastern’s strong commitment to heralding and championing the inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word. This is what makes Northeastern Baptist College desire to partner with the Conservative Baptist Network.
Whether in the classroom, pulpit, or pew, Ballard challenges Southern Baptists to be “true to God’s calling, stand firm, and not change or diminish the gospel.”
Northeastern looks forward to a future as bright as that of the last eight years. Ballard said that the college has many exciting endeavors on the horizon, one of which includes new student housing. They also plan to continue their work-study program and training the next generation of disciple-makers.
“We will continue to build laborers for the gospel and train students on a solid biblical education, biblical languages, how to rightly interpret Scripture, and be good communicators of the text,” Ballard said. “If we can do that, we can see a spiritual awakening in the Northeast.”
When asked why God is blessing Northeastern Baptist College, Ballard responded by giving all praise and glory to God.
“When God calls you to do something, if you are obedient to that call, He blesses it,” he said. “It doesn’t always look exciting, sometimes it’s even difficult, but He blesses it. We need to proclaim the gospel message, persevere in God’s call no matter what, and hold supreme the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.”
For more information about Northeastern Baptist College or to schedule a campus preview day, visit https://nebcvt.org/admissions/schedule-a-visit/.