Story by Margot Bass
Photos by Josh Larson
“I’m not going to Bible college,” Sierra Lange declared after her high school graduation. Her faith in God was strong, and she wanted to please the Lord—she had loved growing up on the mission field as a pastor’s daughter in Austria, Hungary, and Murietta, CA. Her father, Paul Lange, now director of Calvary Chapel Bible College of Horizon University (CCBCHU) in Indianapolis, IN, had been involved in Calvary Chapel Bible Colleges in each of those locations.
Sierra admitted, “I felt like I had lived my life on a Bible college campus, like I had been going on 20 semesters already. I thought that Bible college was for people who were lost and wanted to find out how to get back with the Lord, or who want to be in missions. That’s great, but I had no interest in missions.” Enrolling in a community college, she “took so many introductory classes into a variety of careers, and they fell short every time.” After graduating with an associate degree in general studies, she took a year off to work—still desiring but not yet knowing God’s calling on her life.
The Lord began to open her heart to the possibility of attending CCBCHU after that year of work. Lord, if this is from You, I want You to make me want it with all my heart, and walk in it, she prayed. “And He did that! I thought, What better way to spend my time than in a place where everyone there would push me towards my relationship with the Lord?”
Her two years at CCBCHU gave her freedom and joy—and humorously, the understanding that living on a Bible college campus was different than attending as a student. “It was a big transformation into a friendship with the Lord. I became much more personal in how I would talk to Him or hear from Him. I was so excited about all the new things and different perspectives the classes brought out,” Sierra exclaimed. During her second year, God graciously unfolded for her a clear vision and a long-sought passion for her future career. At age 27, she is now happily working as a respiratory therapist at an Indianapolis children’s hospital.
Transforming Mind & Heart
The highest goal of all of Horizon University’s (HU) programs, including the two-year, on-site Calvary Chapel Bible College, is transforming both the minds and the hearts of their students.
According to President Randall Dodge, “Romans 12 talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. We desire that, and we also want hearts to be transformed … that students would draw closer and closer to Jesus and that their relationships with Him would be strengthened in their time here.”
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
Horizon University moved to Indianapolis in 2017, to the campus of Horizon Christian Fellowship (HCF), an affiliate of Calvary Chapel. This year, among all programs, nearly 50 students are enrolled from across the U.S. and other parts of the world. HU was started as Horizon Bible Institute in 1993 by Mike MacIntosh, then senior pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, CA. In 2015, Bill Goodrich, pastor of HCF Indy, became overseer of Horizon University, continuing the vision to provide students with “Wisdom for Eternity, Leadership for Life.”
All courses, online and on-site, are accredited. Online, students can earn associate and bachelor’s degrees, certificate diplomas, and master’s degrees. Programs of study include Biblical Counseling, Leadership & Ministry, Organizational Leadership, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Chaplaincy. “All are offered as 2- or 4-year degree programs, but any of them can also be a 1-year certificate program,” Randall explained. “We recently launched our first master’s degree program, an M.A. (Master of Arts) in Biblical Studies.” An M.A. in Leadership & Ministry and an online Master of Divinity was launched in fall 2022.
Laying a Strong Foundation
Paul Lange described CCBCHU as “a great opportunity for people—whether they feel called to ministry or just need some time before they go off to college or a secular career—to lay a biblical foundation in their life. It’s a great time to set aside a season of life to get more in-depth into the Word and seek the will of God.” They can, he added, “get a vision for eternal things, for the kingdom of God, … whether God uses them as a teacher, plumber, or in a ministry role.” From the Bible College, they can move into a degree program online with HU or transfer to other schools.
Graduating Bible College student Corban Kaikkonen observed, “If you want to go on in ministry or to more schooling or a career path, it’s great to have those kinds of foundational truths locked down. It can really secure your relationship with Jesus.”
More than two years ago, Corban came to CCBCHU from Hawaii, where he had been working as a nurse. “I wanted to grow deeper in what God was doing in me,” he reflected. “We all had a common relationship with Jesus, which was awesome. The first semester stood out to me the most—it was almost like pouring Miracle-Gro on my faith.” He valued the Principles of Ministry class, where working pastors share their testimonies and lessons learned. Graduating in 2022, Corban is now serving as an intern at the college, working toward an online bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, and is involved in several church ministries.
That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10
The Indianapolis campus offers a bonus, Randall said. “We have 100 acres of pristine woods—a beautiful place to walk and experience time alone with the Lord.” In addition, the school takes Bible College students on a weeklong fall wilderness trip that includes team building, fasting, and solo time with God. Students are also invited to serve in a summer camp and participate in church ministries, including a men’s winter wilderness trip.
This story was first published in the Fall 2022 print issue (93) of Calvary Chapel Magazine. Since that time, President Randall Dodge reported that enrollment in the Bible College has increased for the current school year. He added that the school sent a team of students in early November to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Ian at Calvary Chapel Punta Gordo, FL.
Look for Part 2 soon: Students serve the church and make connections for future ministry.
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