This fall, the Florida district of Charis Fellowship churches provided a full-ride scholarship to one student attending Great Commission Bible Institute (GCBI) in Sebring, Fla. GCBI is a ten-month discipleship program designed to help young adults establish a solid understanding of God’s Word while participating in-depth discipleship and ministry experiences. Read more about GCBI in a recent article here.
Luke Russell was the recipient of this year’s scholarship. Luke spent the early part of his life in Martinsburg, Pa., attending Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church, until his family moved to the Philippines in 2012. Over the next eight years, the Russells lived overseas where Luke’s mom assisted with medical care and Luke’s dad taught agricultural practices.
In 2020 the Russells returned to the US for a planned furlough of a couple months that turned into three years. It was during this time of uncertainty that God really got Luke’s attention. “I knew that God was God, and I believed in Him and loved him, but I wasn’t really walking like it,” Luke said.
During a two-week quarantine Luke began to learn the guitar and discovered he really enjoyed it. In the summer of 2021, he participated in Momentum Ministry Partner’s Worship Travel Team, and subsequently got involved in leading worship at his church. “I was discovering how to really worship God with the abilities He’s given me.”
Luke attended Momentum Youth Conference this past summer. Before the conference his mom suggested he consider attending GCBI in the fall. Having never enjoyed school, Luke was resistant to the idea of another year of school. But the Lord used his mom to plant a seed that continued to grow over the summer. “I prayed that if God wanted me to go to GCBI, someone at Momentum would say something to me about it.”
The Lord answered Luke’s prayer during the week in that two different people asked him if he had ever considered going to GCBI. He visited the GCBI booth and talked to Devon Fox, GCBI program director, and was encouraged to apply. After returning home, he applied to the program and saw through the Lord continually closing other doors the path he was supposed to take.
When his brother Ben, GCBI alumnus and current lead pastor at Neighborhood Church in Sebring, heard Luke applied to GCBI, he told him about the scholarship and encouraged him to apply. Luke was granted the scholarship and began the program in August.
About a month into his studies, Luke reported that he was putting a lot of effort into his schoolwork and was really enjoying the community at GCBI.
“This scholarship has given me the opportunity to focus on my schooling and the ministry I’m involved in at my local church,” Luke said. “With this scholarship I’ve been able to accept positions that if I had to work to pay for GCBI I otherwise would have not been able to do. Therefore, I say thank you for picking me; it makes me feel and know that I am blessed.”