Just out of high school, Benjamin Hutcherson was unsure of his future. He made the wise decision to move forward with his college education as inexpensively as possible. Intent on managing his limited finances well, he chose to attend a small community college near his home, just south of Chicago. At age 20, during his two years at South Suburban College, he came across Andrew's Gospel Truth program on television. Benjamin happened to tune in to an episode mid-way through Andrew's teaching on Financial Stewardship—a series that would radically change Benjamin's future.
Although Benjamin had stumbled across The Gospel Truth quite by accident, he recognized Andrew from his childhood. Benjamin's dad, Bruce, would often listen to Andrew, and sometimes he would have the whole family (Benjamin has five brothers and a sister) sit down to listen to a particularly impactful part of a message. Benjamin said, "I had a lot of respect for Andrew. The primary thing I remember learning from him back then was the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. It was in May 2011 that I began actively listening to Andrew’s teachings on my own."
Benjamin was on board with being a good steward of finances, but Andrew's teaching brought something new to Benjamin's attention. He said, "What really impacted me from Andrew’s Financial Stewardship teaching was when he taught from the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16. I realized that the primary and highest use of my finances is not for my physical necessities, but rather, to make an eternal difference in the lives of other people by sowing into the Kingdom of God."
When he was attending the community college, Benjamin paid for school out of pocket. While his wages, working for a large office supply store weren't high, he was able to tithe as well as cover his college costs. He knew that if he wanted to earn a four-year degree, he would have to transfer to a larger full-time college or university, and he knew his expenses would be significantly higher. As he considered what to do, he continued to listen to Andrew's teachings. He listened to the Financial Stewardship series repeatedly and meditated on the principles he was learning. He also studied Andrew's, How to Receive God's Best,Spirit, Soul & Body, and You've Already Got It.
After deciding to continue his education, Benjamin prayed about what school to attend and how to cover his expenses. Although he could have gotten some financial assistance in the form of college loans, both through the school and through his parents, he chose not to borrow any money. Having seen how so many college students had racked up mountains of debt, he decided that he did not want to take out a student loan or allow his parents to get one for him. "All of those specific teachings were foundational in my decision to go to college debt free. I continued to meditate on those principles," Benjamin said. "I just considered financial debt as bondage and as a curse as described in Deuteronomy 28. I believed that the borrower is servant to the lender as it says in Proverbs 22:7. I didn’t want that for me or my family," he said.
Benjamin's passion for art, drawing and animation to be precise, led him to attend Columbia College in Chicago. His tuition costs leapt from $1,600 per year to $10,000 per semester, plus books, materials and a $150 per month Metra train ticket—a staggering increase. "I did not have a clue as to how I was going to pay for Columbia. So, I registered without knowing how I was going to receive the money. I resolved that either God would pay for it or I would just drop out, simple as that," Benjamin recalled frankly.
Benjamin mediated on the Word and took comfort in the Scriptures about Abraham, and how he simply believed God. "I told myself, 'I don’t care what my bank account says, what my college advisors say, what my parents say, or what anybody else has to say. I’m going to trust God, and He’s going to provide for me.'"
Although Benjamin refused to borrow money, he did apply for several scholarships, but he never received any of the funding. He said that one of the things Andrew's teaching inspired him to do was give freely. He had always tithed, but had never really sowed into offerings or special projects. Benjamin learned that even though giving may seem like you are moving away from your financial goals, it actually works the opposite way—it moves you closer to your goals. "What liberated me to give so radically was this: Since with my personal money alone, I could never afford to pay to go to college, I would just give as much as I pleased because even if I saved it all, it would never be enough anyway." Benjamin gave extra to his church and to other ministries, tsunami relief organizations, and he became one of Andrew's Foundation Builders for the new CBC-Colorado campus. Sometimes Benjamin would give away half his paycheck. With regard to his Foundation Builder partnership he said, "I figured that since I wanted to go to school, I should sow a financial seed that would help other people go."
Benjamin learned to trust God and rest in Him. He gave freely, and he received freely. Each semester began the same way; Benjamin would start classes without any idea where his funds would come from, and the provision would come. Even for his last semester, during which he incurred higher than normal tuition and book fees, and he actually worked less hours at his job, the provision still came. "When I look back, I think to myself, 'How in the world did I manage to do that every month?' It was an absolute miracle because whenever I try to figure it out mathematically it doesn’t make sense. So I just stop trying to figure it out," Benjamin said.
Benjamin not only earned his degree in Film & Video with a concentration in traditional animation, but he did it with straight A’s and perfect attendance, and he graduated with honors. He did it all debt free!
The summer after he graduated, having not heard back from the places to which he applied for work, Benjamin laid his cards on the table before God and declared that he was willing to put his animation dreams on hold, to do whatever God wanted him to do. To his surprise, God used Andrew's program again to help guide Benjamin. After Benjamin's declaration, he came across Andrew's, How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will series on the Gospel Truth. It was the first time Benjamin had ever heard the teaching, and a short time later, he knew that going to Charis Bible College in Chicago was God’s next step for him.
Today Benjamin, his brother Rueben, his mother Thomesa and his dad, Bruce, all attend CBC-Chicago. And of course, Benjamin is attending debt free.