A Lasting Legacy
“Since Jonathan never made it to the mission field, we thought it would be a good thing to help others who would,” John Leber said. “We wanted to bring honor and glory to the Lord, first of all. We also wanted to help other students get to the mission field who could not afford to pay for all of their schooling.”
The Jonathan Leber Memorial Scholarship has been helping young people since 2006. It is named in honor of the Maranatha student who died on April 26, 2005, when the small private plane he was piloting ran out of fuel over Lake Michigan.
Kathy Leber wrote a book about her son’s life, death, and enduring testimony entitled “How Real is Your God?” The Leber Scholarship has provided very real help for other students pursuing a life serving God.
“I’ve often thought of the phrase, ‘Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last, ’” Kathy Leber said. “We wanted to provide for something continuing, something lasting, for Christ. That was our purpose.”
There are 14 privately funded memorial scholarships available to Maranatha students. Each is named after a person remembered for a significant positive impact on others’ lives.
“Ace” Leber was known for his athletic and academic abilities, his remarkable self-discipline, and his zeal in pursing what he believed to be God’s plan for his life—to become a missionary pilot and help establish churches in South America.
“He was full of fun and life,” friend Matt Ledgerwood said during a memorial chapel service in 2005. “He didn’t miss a workout, and it showed. He would spend two hours researching and writing a paper and always got an A or B. Anyone who knew him would say his 20 years were lived to the fullest.”
The Lebers first suggested the idea of a memorial scholarship. Some of the initial funds came from Jonathan’s bank accounts. More money came from members of Fairfax (Va.) Baptist Temple, Jonathan’s home church. Others gave to help encourage future missionaries.
The first recipient, Adam Breiner, was chosen by a College committee in 2006. Breiner, coincidentally, is related to a member of Fairfax Baptist Temple.
John Leber is now pastor of United Baptist Church in Easton, Maine. He and Kathy have traveled to Maranatha to meet three of the four scholarship winners.
“This is all about helping to get the gospel out,” John Leber said.
Do you know of someone whose life has had an enduring impact for Christ?
Donors can work with Maranatha to determine the awarding criteria (GPA, class standing, major, financial need, godly character, etc.). Maranatha’s scholarship committee decides the recipients from students who best fit the criteria, and awards are announced during a scholarship chapel during the spring semester. Scholarships may be created in three ways:
Endow a Scholarship: When you endow a scholarship, the money is placed in a protected fund. The earned annual income of that investment determines the actual dollar amount of the award. The minimum threshold for a permanently endowed scholarship is $15,000.
Give an Annual Gift: You may choose to give a specified amount every year to the scholarship, or you may give a one-time amount that provides annual scholarships until it is diminished.
Give a One-Time Gift: Maranatha’s memorial scholarships typically award $500 to $2,500 per student.
Leber Scholarship Recipients
Travis Daharsh: Travis Daharsh, a senior Missions major, was the recipient of the Leber Scholarship in both 2008 and 2009. He is preparing for a church planting ministry. “The Lebers were at the scholarship lunch both times I received it, and they told me Jonathan’s story,” Daharsh said. “Mrs. Leber sent me devotional emails each morning for about two years. Receiving this scholarship is a huge blessing for a college student. It was an encouragement to see God providing for me to be at Maranatha through that scholarship.”
Emily Timblin: Emily Timblin, a junior Humanities/Cross Cultural Studies major, was part of a Language Acquisition and Missions Program team that traveled to Peru in the summer of 2010. “Receiving the scholarship encouraged me to trust in God to supply my needs,” Timblin said. “I have not earned very much money throughout the past summers because I’ve been involved in ministry, but I thank God for the experiences I’ve gained and opportunities He’s given me. Through receiving this scholarship, God has reminded me that He is working even when I don’t know it, and He has already made provisions for me to do His will.”
Heather Swinson: Heather Swinson, a 2008 graduate, was the 2007 Leber Scholarship recipient. “Mrs. Leber kindly sends regular emails that include short devotionals; it makes me smile to see her list of recipients grow longer,” Swinson said. “I know my Lord provides for me and I am so glad for His mercy through scholarships and other means. ” Swinson said she believes God has called her to full-time service in Japan.