Northpoint Comes to S. Attleboro
By Fred Comella
It seems as though my editor approves of my writing on education, as I have yet another assignment which highlights knowledge as our last best hope. Working in close proximity to the next generation in the twilight of my career has taught me much about what the future may hold for our nation, and frankly for the world.
Political discussions abound in the wake of tragedies like the Orlando night club shooting, with politicians and the “main stream” press re-writing the book of societal manipulation once a week. Again we appear poised at the crossroads of cause and effect, with real solutions obscured by the politics and pandering of Godless leaders. With every passing decade, it seems more of our storied history and its faith based origins dies by the roadside on life’s journey, with a new generation of His children filling in the blanks with whatever social media says those blanks should be filled in with. Media pundits and “reality” show stars appear to be the only ones talking, as the “low-accountability” crowd firms up their foothold here in America and around the globe.
So is there hope? Well, for all of my political pontification, and as I’ve written numerous times for this Christian publication, I keep coming back to Christ, and the hope of His teachings, that they might reach the eyes of the scripturally blind and the ears of the intentionally deaf. I am more and more convinced every day that this must be our endeavor without deviation. But where do we turn for this guidance? Who will show us the way? I’ve come to know in my own journey, that reading and understanding the Bible must be at the root of that effort. However I must also admit this is sometimes difficult, as learned Pastors and those with a “passion” for teaching the lessons of scripture are essential to the proper translation if you will, of God’s message to all of us. Folks dedicated to “The Word” and all of the lessons to be learned there in, undoubtedly smooth the road to one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Truth be told, aside from my wife’s steady guidance and patience in the early days of my “education”, it was the pastor whom I met at my new church, and his knowledge and heartfelt presentation which brought me to my knees one sunny Easter morning.
Now this is all well and good, but is there a “chain of command” to coin a phrase from my world? Who teaches the teacher? Well it turns out my editor sent me down the road once again to figure that out…
There is one thing that I’ve been able to extrapolate from the now many interviews of local pastors and missionaries alike I’ve conducted, and that is the constant of Zion Bible College, now Northpoint Bible College in Haverhill MA, and its influence on those with a “passion for The Word”, and who desire to bring that passion to a new generation of Christian leaders. Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to interview a number of folks affiliated with the college and have learned much about their rich history in Biblical education. I suppose that if we’re looking for the aforementioned educators of Christian leaders, then this would be a good place to find them.
From their web site: “In 1924 Northpoint Bible College (Formerly Zion Bible College) was founded by Rev. Christine Gibson for the purpose of preparing men and women for Pentecostal ministry. The school started in East Providence, Rhode Island, and 1985 relocated to Barrington, Rhode Island. In 2008, the college was miraculously blessed with its current beautiful and historic 18 acre residential campus, located in Haverhill, Massachusetts. There are now thousands of Northpoint alumni serving all over the world in various fields of ministry, and for over 90 years Northpoint Bible College has continued to stand by this vision: to teach and train students for excellent Pentecostal ministry”.
One such former student and now educator with, in his words, “an unbridled passion for scripture and its application in everyday life” is Dr. Andrew Sargent. Dr. Sargent took some time out of what I’m sure is a hectic educators schedule to speak with me about his “passion” last week, as well as Northpoint’s move back to the South Eastern Massachusetts/Rhode Island area, with a satellite school to be anchored in the South Attleboro Assembly of God Church on Newport Avenue. http://drandrewsargent.com/2016/06/northpoint-bible-collegesouth-attleboro-launches-three-courses-this-fall/
The 49 year-old married father of four grown children is also founder & President of Biblical Literacy Ministries, and holds a PhD in Theology with a concentration in Old Testament Studies from Trinity International University. This is in addition to his undergraduate work in Biblical studies, a Master’s in Old Testament Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Master’s in Biblical Studies from Regent University (’97). He is also actively involved in the establishment of a Bible college in Pune, India, Koinonia School of Ministry (KSOM). http://indiaconnection.org.
As our conversation began, I could immediately hear the oh so familiar excitement in the voice of a servant with heart for God as we discussed the need for an accredited school like Northpoint in the new location, and how with the transition of Zion/Northpoint to Haverhill, there was now a void he was eager to fill. He told me of his interaction with Pastor Randal Ackland of South Attleboro Assembly of God, as well as Adult Education Pastor Ed Lambright and their shared desire to use the church as the satellite, and the first discussions of such an undertaking took place in the summer of 2014.
A year and a half would pass with much planning and work before the federal accreditation would come. But come it did and Northpoint was finally ready to make the leap to extension school with the full accreditation of the main campus in Haverhill. Dr. Sargent explained the official launch will be this fall with three courses including Old Testament History & Literature, Spiritual Formation, and English Composition. Spring and summer 2017 will see the addition of New Testament History and Literature, Systematic Theology 1, Intro to speech, Missions and Evangelism, Disciple in church, and Intro to Adult Ministry.
I asked Dr. Sargent about some of the advantages of the satellite school and he told me students would be full Northpoint grads but would not incur some of the larger costs of campus living. They could satisfy their desire to serve the Lord and learn The Word, all while commuting locally, working their jobs, and taking care of their families. We see a lot of this in the secular education model, and I’m sure it will be a huge draw in Christian Biblical education as well.
Dr. Sargent’s passion was even more evident as he spoke of his methodology, telling me that simple dictation of a curriculum would never be enough. Interaction and application of all that would be learned was essential to evangelism and ministry. Students must not only know The Word, but they must be able communicate it and its application in everyday life. Training up the Christian educators of tomorrow for a monumental task such as faces them on graduation in the 21st Century, has to be more than just classroom and dissertations.
Communicating his passion for Scripture by way of example and with an education honed by way of that Scripture, Dr. Sargent is confident he and his dedicated Bible and Theology team will be able to provide the insight and skill set necessary, so that those who shall give their time and energies to teaching the Word of God may do so effectively. On a personal note, my pastor whom I wrote of at the top of this article has signed on to be a part of this effort. And using my own experience as a guide, I can think of no one better. Pastor David Aucoin was a huge part of my transformation. And I would tell you, it was no easy task… J
So for those who’ve been contemplating or even just toying with the idea of exploring your faith beyond Sunday services and volunteerism, and if those inclinations have been stymied by the often constricting mechanisms of travel, time and cost, Northpoint in South Attleboro has the answer on all accounts. Whether it’s for the sake of only furthering your knowledge of Scripture so you may apply it to your everyday walk with Christ, or if you want to make the leap of faith and bring that knowledge to others, here and around the world, Northpoint South Attleboro is your school.
As is the case with many schools today, flexibility is often freedom when it comes to realizing your dreams. In the case of Northpoint, it occurs to me the advantages are numerous beyond just a Biblical education to say the least. What say you??
For more information, and to speak with admissions representatives, apply to the main campus at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (978)478-3400. You may also write to Northpoint at: 320 South Main St, Haverhill, MA 01835 or visit their website.
For more information on Dr. Sargent and his Biblical Literacy efforts, you can contact him through his own website and ministry at: Biblical Literacy Ministries, P.O. Box 133 Norton, MA 02766, (774)-265-2453