by Cedarville University Authors
Lives transformed by the Gospel, for the glory of God, in every area of life. Young people are changed forever by faculty mentorship, loving and supportive community, a biblical worldview in every class, and vocational preparation that emphasizes career as a platform for the Gospel. And generous scholarships, provided by the faithful support of donors, are helping make this kind of life transformation available for thousands of students every year. We pray you are inspired and encouraged by the Transformation Stories of our amazing students and the way your gifts have made a Cedarville education possible for them.
From Halfway Around the World
By Rufus Mathew ’22
After hearing that I come from Bahrain, a small island in the Arabian Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, the very next question people ask is: “How did you hear about Cedarville?” I love this question, because I love sharing my heart about how Cedarville has transformed me and how the Lord has used my time at Cedarville to challenge and equip me for His glory as I prepare for life after college.
When I was in the college hunt process, my mom kept getting emails from Cedarville that were full of Scripture. How she signed up for these emails, I do not know. I was pursuing 157 colleges spanning nine countries all over the world, and my mom would bring up Cedarville every now and then because the mission of the University stood out to her: “For the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.”
I began to look into Cedarville and realized it has one of the top undergraduate engineering schools in the United States, and its cybersecurity program is recognized by the National Security Agency. This stood out to me, but as I began to look more into the school, it was ultimately the central focus on Scripture and the Gospel that challenged me to apply.
Once I had applied and been accepted, I began to receive wonderful scholarships from Cedarville. These included the Warren G. Elliot Scholarship, the Cedarville Excellence Award, International Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship, International Student Grant, David and Edith Clark Scholarship, Reynolds & Reynolds Scholarship, Cedarville University Endowment, and Give Hope Scholarship. I tell people I chose Cedarville because of its focus on Christ, top engineering school with a solid cybersecurity and computer science program, and scholarships!
In my time at Cedarville, there have been many semesters where I did not know if I could return and finish my education. College is expensive, and I was having to pay for it mostly on my own. My family supported me financially whenever they could, but I had to bear a lot of the financial burden. It was in these moments that all I could do was pray and trust in the Lord. I knew that God had called me to Cedarville, and I knew that He was going to provide a way for me to stay. Scholarships and extra financial help from relatives somehow always came through, and I can attribute this to the Lord’s hand at work in my life. I have felt the Lord’s provision so much since being in college. My faith has truly grown as I see the Lord’s faithfulness on display to me.
I have been able to dive deeply into service and leadership on campus, as I have worked in many different offices and departments at Cedarville. From working in IT to the dining hall, Residence Life, Admissions, the bookstore, and as Student Government Association President, I have been impacted by so many people. I can say that the people around me have pushed me closer to Christ continually, and motivated me not just academically and professionally, but spiritually, too. The training at Cedarville has equipped me to start life after college strong because I have the academic and spiritual foundation that will be unwavering amid a turbulent culture.
With the Lord’s blessing, the future of Cedarville is looking bright, and my hope is to be able to give back to a school that has richly blessed me over the last 1,000 days.
Rufus Mathew ’22 graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
Growing in God’s Love
By Annalyse Dissinger ’23
When I first visited Cedarville, I cried when I realized that I could never afford to attend. While I was disheartened by the cost, I recognized its value as a Christ-centered school with a focus on training me toward being a Christian educator. This focus would better equip me for the missions field than any of the other colleges I had looked at. I went home and decided not to make any decisions for at least two weeks. I believed in letting the excitement of school tours wear off. Free T-shirts and complimentary thermoses, the best that the dining hall could offer, and residence hall tours, while providing a glimpse into the life of a college student, create an allurement that distracts from the weightier decision. Emotional decisions do not leave room for much-needed prayers and wisdom.
Thanks to Cedarville’s scholarships — the President’s Ministry Impact Scholarship, the Cedarville Fund Scholarship, the Founders Scholarship, the Cedarville Excellence Award, and the Pastor’s Recommendation Scholarship, to name a few — attending Cedarville became more feasible. I continued to pray for answers.
The week of the decision deadline, I had my choice narrowed down to Cedarville and another college. Of the other Christian colleges other than option No. 2, Cedarville’s scholarships had made it the most affordable for me. In the end, I chose Cedarville for its authentic focus on training students to be Christ-followers in whatever career path they choose to pursue.
In addition to scholarships, I have been blessed with many opportunities to work, allowing me to earn the remainder of my tuition costs through unexpected jobs. One semester, my uncle invited me on a trip to lay felt for a landfill for an extra $1,500. Another semester, my boss offered me extra hours doing alterations at home. Between the generous scholarships gifted to me by donors through Cedarville and my church and the 60-hour work weeks over the summers working for a furniture store, a sewing store, and a construction company, I am now in my junior year at Cedarville as an adolescent/young adult language arts education major without any debt. On paper, there is never any way I can cover tuition, but God provided each semester, and I have always had just the right amount in time for the semester. I do not question God's ability to help me the rest of the way through college, if that is His plan.
Since choosing Cedarville, I have wrestled with my understanding of what it means to truly love and serve God. Transforming my sinful nature of self-centeredness into a focus on loving God and others more whole-heartedly requires a daily struggle against self, but it has been refreshing to understand my worth in the context of my relationship with God. This understanding has allowed me to serve others better. I currently serve as the Vice President of Alpha Kappa Delta, Cedarville’s English honors organization, and as the Secretary of the Society of Engineers Aiding Missions. Cedarville has given me the opportunity to grow as a leader and form friendships with people across a wide range of fields. I am thankful that I have had this opportunity to grow, so I can be ready to serve in whatever capacity God calls me to after my time at Cedarville.
Annalyse Dissinger ’23 is an adolescent and young adult language arts education major.
Little Hope to Hope Overflowing
By Ezra Shimabenga ’23
After high school, my family and I moved to a different town, where my father worked as an evangelist for the Evangelical Mission Baptist Church of Zambia. I was applying to a university in Zambia when I heard of opportunities to apply to universities abroad. The first time I heard about Cedarville University was from Mrs. [Rachel (Mayo)] Chambers ’78 who, together with her husband, [Jim Chambers ’78], had attended Cedarville before becoming missionaries to Zambia through Grace Baptist. I mentioned to her my intention to apply to schools mainly in India, Australia, and the United Kingdom, and she mentioned Cedarville University. I remember her saying, “I wish there was a way you could go there.”
Months later, a family from the United States came to visit the Chambers and while conversing over dinner, Mrs. Chambers brought up the idea of me attending Cedarville University. I don’t quite remember the details of the discussion, but the next day I was sitting in the dining room filling out the first page of the application. To be honest, I had little hope it would amount to anything because everyone I knew thought getting into a university in the U.S. was nearly impossible, so I poured all my attention into my other applications. Unfortunately, all of them fell through. I remember sitting in the small office at the Chambers’ house thinking everything was over. And then, I opened my email and there was a message confirming my admission to Cedarville University.
We did not know where the finances would come from, but we trusted and prayed. However, as time went by, my faith began to dwindle. I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to attend Cedarville. Sometime later I got the admission packet from the University, and in it was a certificate for the International Student Grant; later I received an email informing me I had been offered another scholarship: the International Faculty Excellence Scholarship. For the first time in my life, I felt like I didn’t have control over my affairs. I sat and watched God provide over and over again. In the following weeks, additional funds came in and before long, everything was set.
I came to Cedarville in the fall of 2019. My first year here was probably one of the toughest times of my life. I was no longer in Zambia, and everything here was different. The people were different. The language was different. For a long while, I felt distant from God. Then one day I was listening to a sermon in chapel, and the speaker was preaching on Psalm 13. The message was about trusting God. I remember feeling convicted because I knew I had not fully trusted God in my situation. I had let myself think my hardships were bigger than Him when they were not. I prayed a genuine prayer that night: that God would free me from my desire to control my life. Afterward, I felt like a heavy load had been lifted as I realized for the first time in my life that things are better when God is in control.
In my sophomore year I lost my father. If it wasn't for the support I got from people around me, I don’t think I would still be here. During that rough time, I received so much encouragement. The community here is unlike anything I have ever experienced. At Cedarville University, help is never far away. I don’t know how many times I have visited the financial aid office, but each time they are always willing to help. I am a testimony to the generosity of so many people who are willing to give for students like me to attend Cedarville University. Words cannot express how appreciative I am.
Ezra Shimabenga ’23 is a molecular biology major.
God’s Amazing Provision
By Lilly Anderson ’23
I grew up in Da Nang, a city in the central region of Vietnam. I was raised in a Buddhist family but found Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior when I was 16. My aunt, mother, grandmother, sister, and I are first-generation Christians. I met my husband when he came to Vietnam to serve with a mission organization. After dating for several years, we were married and lived in Da Nang for two years before moving to the U.S. Our hearts’ desire was for me to attend a Christian college to learn more about the Lord, study the Bible, and pursue a degree in the healthcare field, where I have always felt called to serve.
It was a rough beginning when my husband and I started our new life in the U.S. I worked full time to support him as he finished his nursing degree. When he graduated, we were blessed with our first child, and even though it seemed hopeless, I never stopped praying for a way to study at a Christian college. When my daughter was 3 years old, I started the application process at Cedarville University on a leap of faith. One of my "God answers prayer" moments was when the Cedarville Admissions called, informing me that I was accepted. I immediately burst into tears. I was happy that I would be able to study at a great Christian university, yet I had no idea how we would afford it. There seemed to be so many obstacles. However, my little faith did not stop God from proving to me that nothing is impossible for Him.
Not knowing where to start, I called the financial aid office and immediately connected with a wonderful team. They always responded quickly and came alongside me to walk through the entire process. When I was discouraged, my counselor listened and prayed with me. It was a truly wonderful experience. I started my first year as an undergraduate with wide-open doors from God financially. Besides helping me navigate and obtain government loans, Cedarville provided grants, awards, and scholarships that covered my entire tuition, allowing me to finally start my journey.
I am now a junior in the allied health program. At the beginning of every school year, I always question, "What will happen now? Am I able to study this semester? How do I afford this?" I seem to always struggle with faith, even though I know that God is in control of my life and all I need to do is trust Him. The verse I hold onto is, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19, NIV).
And, yes, God has supplied repeatedly. He's miraculously provided Cedarville grants, a Cedarville Excellence Award, a Side by Side Scholarship, the Give Hope Scholarship, the Kyle Memorial Scholarship, the Troyer Academic Scholarship, the Warren G. Elliot Scholarship, the Alvin & June Perry Scholarship, and the Wickerham Memorial Scholarship. Each gift I've received means the world to me.
I am a full-time mom and student. Because English is my second language, I spend double the time studying and completing my coursework compared to my peers. My husband is a full-time nurse with severe cervicogenic headaches. He has had multiple surgeries trying to improve his condition. In addition, he was furloughed as an operating room nurse when the pandemic hit. Despite all this, the Lord has been faithful. Through prayer and the generous financial support offered by Cedarville, I've been able to continue my education. The future is bright, and God willing, I'll fulfill my calling to serve the Lord as a physician assistant. My prayer is that when I get there, I'll be able to give back and support students who may find themselves in my situation.
Lilly Anderson ’23 is an allied health major.
God is Faithful
By Sean Beverly ’22
“God is faithful; you can trust Him.” I have written this statement on various sticky notes time and time again as God has provided for me at Cedarville. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I always knew that I would have to find funding for college. Part of the reason I was able to come to Cedarville is the academic scholarships offered to me freshman year. However, my freshman year in engineering did not go smoothly.
Because of my GPA, I lost my largest scholarship. I remember having to swallow my pride and tell my parents about what happened. I felt like I had wasted my opportunity and, even worse, I may have completely ruined my chances of getting a college degree.
I contemplated transferring schools that summer after freshman year, but something kept pulling me back to Cedarville. Even though I had no plans for how to pay for the next year, I decided to return for sophomore year after being awarded a small scholarship during the summer. I also asked my parents if they would take out a loan. I hated having to resort to this because I never wanted to place the burden of my education on them. Beginning spring semester, I vowed to figure it out, or I would have to leave.
When I returned in January 2020, the Spring Missions Conference was kicking off. They collected an offering for one of their selected missions, but during this time I was pinching pennies, waiting on my financial aid meeting the next day to find out if I needed to pay for a ride home or not. The plate kept getting closer and the weight on my shoulders kept getting heavier. I remember breaking down in my seat and praying, “God, if this is where you want me to be, I need you to pay for it.” As the plate reached my row, I grabbed a $20 bill from the last $60 in my wallet and threw it in. I felt that if I expected God to work, I needed to trust Him.
That next day, I walked to financial aid fully prepared to hear there was nothing they could do. Thankfully, it went much differently; they found $8,000 for me! I was at a complete loss for words. I still had nearly $7,000 left to pay, but I was positive that God would provide.
Despite seeing God work, I avoided looking at my leftover school bill. Eventually, my sister talked me into looking at it and, to my surprise, all that was left to pay after government assistance and some reimbursements was $20. I quickly paid for it and excitedly ran upstairs to tell my parents the great news.
This has not been an isolated event in my time here at Cedarville. God has provided all my funding for every semester since. Some semesters I even had money left over in my student account that helped cover a summer class. The Lord has provided 14 different scholarships through Cedarville. In all of this, I keep thinking about Dr. White’s chapel series from sophomore year and remembering, “God is faithful; you can trust Him.”
Sean Beverly ’22 graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in management.