When Calder Marriott decided he wanted to attend a Bible college, he and a friend did a quick search online.
Kauai Bible College popped up.
“Yep, let’s check it out,” he said to a friend.
So they did.
Here’s what Marriott learned: It was in Hawaii. Beautiful setting. Small class sizes. Sleep in tents. Work around the campus. Study the Bible. Strengthen relationships with God. Meet other Christians. Make more disciples.
“It seemed like the right fit,” he said.
Marriott is now in his second semester at Kauai Bible College.
“I love the atmosphere, the people, the church, the encouragement to grow in the Lord,” he said during a break from mowing the lawn on a sunny afternoon.
The Colorado man plans to become a pastor.
“The Lord’s calling me to do that,” he said.
Which is the idea behind the Bible college that’s a ministry of Crossroads Christian Fellowship.
Its mission is to make disciples of Jesus, according to the college website, “semester by semester, resulting in students that have a close personal relationship with the God of the Bible, students who know how to study the Bible, students who know what the Bible says, and students who are doing what the Bible says …”
The college opened six years ago, a vision of Bob Hallman, pastor at the church just off the Kapaa Bypass Road.
Equipping people for ministry is key to its goals, he said, and it is doing that well. Students grow in faith, maturity, character and in knowledge of God.
“I love the college,” Hallman said. “I think it’s one of highlights for me of ministry.”
Learning to lead
The origin for Kauai Bible College stretches back to 1986, when Hallman attended seminary. Practical training for ministry, he said, was not as strong as he would have liked it.
He had it in mind to open a college that did exactly that.
Kauai Bible College, Hallman said, gives students a real practical opportunity, not just for the education component, but for practical tools for being fruitful in ministry, with an emphasis on discipleship.
He has what he calls a supervisory role with the college, preferring to let the young staff handle daily operations with some oversight.
“They have a lot of freedom,” he said.
Curtis Zeigler arrived at Kauai Bible College four years ago as a student. He left, returned, taught, and last year, was named college director.
He leads a staff of seven, and while there are usually about 25 students each semester, there are currently around 15.
“I really felt like God was telling me to come back over there,” he said.
Zeigler, 27, says he is not a natural leader, and had some doubts about taking such a role.
Being responsible for others, he said, caused him to grow up quickly.
“God has really developed that in me as I’ve had to lead,” he said. “Leading is new to me, but it’s something I’m growing in.”
Students come from a range of backgrounds, places and varied understandings of the Bible
“I like to be able to clarify those things,” he said.
The Bible college is for Christians, for believers in God, in Christ.
“The goal is to build up believers,” he said. “The school isn’t really designed to evangelize students.”
Zeigler said he’s faced challenges as director, and is a better man for it. He has learned to “rejoice” in those times because the Bible says we will all face trials.
“You grow through those things. You learn and you pray and you draw close to God,” he said.
At Kauai Bible College, there are daily classes. There’s Bible study. There are theology classes. There’s hands on ministry. There are worship times. Prayer times. There are morning devotions. Students are given personal time to spend with God. They help prepare for services at Crossroads Christian Fellowship.
Practical ministries sees students mowing laws, sweeping or raking, visiting seniors at assisted living homes and sharing their faith on Ke Ala Hele Makalae.
Lowen Kurtz, a student from Canada, arrived in late August.
So, why is he here?
“I’m learning about the Lord,” Kurtz said.
He enjoys studying the Bible, learning theology and being part of a small community.
“It’s a good adjustment. Something I’ve never really been used to,” he said.
All students sleep in large tents, equipped with furniture and beds, but no electricity (the college is in the process of establishing solar power). Centipedes, cane spiders, cockroaches, are occasionally guests.
Cost is $3,700 a semester, which includes a place to live, food and books.
They eat together, breakfast is at 8, lunch at 12:30, dinner at 5.
There’s some exercise equipment in the form of free weights and bikes.
Some, like Tim Bentley, have taken up surfing.
“I’ve been eating it a lot. But it’s fine. I’m getting the hang of it,” he said, laughing.
The 18-year-old from Texas said he was saved three years ago and feels called to the ministry.
“I knew I needed to grow more in my spiritual walk,” he said.
Which is what brought him to Kauai Bible College. The classes, the instructors, fellow students, the setting, are a perfect place to develop his faith, he said.
He’s even adjusted well to sleeping in a tent every night.
“I love it so far, except the mosquitoes at night,” he added, smiling.
Another student, 18-year-old Nighteagle, came to Kauai three years ago with his parents. He was happy to return for Bible college when he left Riverside, Calif.
“I thought it’d be really cool to get a foundation for life here,” he said.
Focus on God
Not all students go on to be biblical scholars or pastors. Some come out here to grow in their knowledge of the Lord, said Nichole Hatten, dean of woman.
“There’s a whole variety of reasons people come here,” she said.
“You get out what you put in.”
Hatten arrived at the college two years ago from Southern California, trying to determine the next step in her life. When she was offered the dean of women post six months later, she accepted.
“I love it,” Hatten said. “It’s a different atmosphere here. It’s very unique. It’s nice to be able to come here and be out of the rat race that’s going on.”
“Here, I can relax and get my focus back on what the Lord wants me to do,” she said.
Hatten said she’s received some on-the-job training.
“I’ve had to rely on God’s word and go in prayer, ask the Lord for wisdom, college and guidance, how to go about those things and how to encourage someone,” she said.
“It’s definitely grown my faith.”
Hallman said the goal at Kauai Bible College is pretty simple: Continue raising up more and more students to be disciples of Christ.
“Our heart is just to keep opening more doors for more people to be involved,” he said.