In a sense, The Master’s University’s mission can be boiled down to a simple statement: We exist to equip the next generation of the church.
That’s why it’s so encouraging to hear story after story of faithful service by alumni in local bodies of believers across the country and the world.
Many graduates of TMU are teaching pastors and missionaries — roles we often highlight in the magazine. Many alumni are also nursery workers, Sunday school teachers, and small group leaders. They serve on counseling, worship, and elder teams.
For this edition’s cover story, we’ve highlighted some of these remarkable alums who serve primarily outside the pulpit and the mission field. We hope they will be an encouragement to you as you continue to serve Christ in the context where He’s placed you.
Two main reasons led Tim and Brooke Woodward to move last year from Florida to Texas, where they helped plant Cornerstone Bible Church in Katy, west of Houston.
For one, they loved and trusted the plant’s pastor, Daron Roberts.
“Daron happens to be our brother-in-law,” Tim says, “but in the time we served under him in Florida, we grew to love his teaching and his leadership. So with all the question marks of making a big move, that was one aspect we didn’t question.”
The Woodwards were also motivated by a desire to impact young couples.
“People had been so faithful to pour into us as we came to Florida — newly married, needing a lot of help. And the Lord had put that on our heart, that if He could use us to serve others in the same way, we’d be open to it.”
At Cornerstone, they get to do that by hosting a parenting study in their home. Tim and Brooke — who have four young children of their own — also lead the third-through-sixth-grade Sunday school class.
“We’ve seen people have such a gratitude and hunger for the Word,” Brooke says. “That’s been really sweet.”
Beth De Courcy has long had a heart for people with special needs.
Six years ago, she turned that passion into a ministry at Kindred Community Church in Anaheim Hills. Since then, “Indispensable” — a name that comes from 1 Corinthians 12 — has served more than 70 families. The ministry includes participants of all ages and a wide range of physical and cognitive abilities.
“We’re not a drop-off or a daycare,” says De Courcy, Indispensable’s director. “We’re a ministry. And that looks like making the gospel accessible to them and their families within the local church. We love them, and we learn with and from them.”
Children with mild-to-moderate special needs are integrated into the church’s general classes and assigned a one-on-one buddy, who assists them as they participate in teaching, worship, and free play. When possible, teens are integrated into Kindred’s youth group. Otherwise, they join Indispensable’s adult Bible fellowship.
The benefits of the ministry go both ways.
“Our Indispensables have abilities and character traits that teach us, enrich us, and benefit our growth at Kindred,” De Courcy says. “They show us what it means to love with no reservation, live with complete endurance, have a simple faith, and remain steadfast in suffering.”
Adam Sanchez and Kenneth Piester have served together at Oak Hill Bible Church in Santa Clarita since they were TMU students.
But their friendship goes back even further.
They first met at a church in Pismo Beach, California, 22 years ago. Eventually, they roomed together in TMU’s Hotchkiss Hall. And in 2009, they began attending Oak Hill.
Since then, they’ve been involved in a number of ministries together, including things like set-up and youth, young adult, and men’s ministries.
Currently, they’re both elders and serve on the biblical counseling team, which Sanchez leads. Sanchez’s wife, Jesse (’11), also serves at Oak Hill — in counseling, discipleship, and on the women’s counsel.
Piester and Sanchez believe their friendship has enhanced their ministry.
“You build friends while doing ministry, and it’s really sweet,” Sanchez says. “But when you have pre-existing friendships, there’s a special grace there because you’ve faced challenges together. You can overcome hard things because you know the character of the other person. They also know how to best encourage you to grow. Faithful are the wounds of a friend and a brother.”
When Kevin Rizer left his job as a teacher at Sheridan High School to become an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in 2021, it was the culmination of a longtime desire.
Ever since college, Rizer had wanted to be in full-time ministry. He just wasn’t sure that was what the Lord had for him. Two years ago, he finally “made the jump.”
“I kept saying, ‘No.’ But I feel like God was answering, ‘Not so fast,’” Rizer says of a call to ministry.
Over the years, Rizer served as an interim youth pastor and on elder boards, while continuing to teach high school. A few years ago, he was encouraged to apply for a full-time ministry position in Montana. Through the process, others affirmed Rizer’s gifting, and though it didn’t immediately lead to a job, it was a turning point. Ultimately, he accepted a position at the church where he was already serving — First Baptist.
Rizer, who still coaches high school football and soccer, functions like an executive pastor — overseeing the church office, filling the pulpit at times, and teaching adult Sunday school.
“Transitioning into full-time ministry has been awesome,” he says. “But I think it’s important to remember that God calls us to faithful service in everything — whether that’s full-time ministry, as a high school teacher, or as a layperson serving in the church.”
Pat first started attending Placerita Bible Church with his then-girlfriend, Christina, in 2004. And in those days, his young career in law enforcement had him working day shifts Saturday through Monday.
For a six-month stretch, worshiping with the church on Sundays was impossible. So, the couple began attending a midweek home Bible study together.
Two decades later, the Hamblins are still involved with the small group ministry at PBC — now as leaders of their own group. Pat teaches, having been an elder at the church since 2013, while Christina manages many of the logistics and leads the women’s prayer time.
Pat still works odd hours as a police officer and helicopter pilot with the Glendale Police Department, but the group meets at different times to accommodate his schedule. And because the group meets a short walk away from TMU’s campus, students flock to it.
“There are so many people who are here for just a short period of time — whether it’s a college student here for four years or a young family that isn’t planning on staying in California,” Pat says. “Being able to help equip them through the life-on-life ministry of a small group — so that they’re ready to serve wherever they go — is a really lovely opportunity.”
Derric Nimmers didn’t hesitate when asked how he and his wife, Natalie, manage a schedule that includes home-schooling five young children, serving in youth group and an adult Bible study at Christ Redeemer Church, and Derric’s career as a firefighter.
“I have an amazing wife,” Derric says. “She makes raising five kids seem like raising only one.”
That allows Derric to spend time preparing to lead the small group Bible study that he and Natalie host in their home three times each month. Derric thinks through the questions their church provides ahead of time; then he facilitates discussion about the previous week’s sermon. The deep relationships formed at the study have been especially rewarding for Derric and Natalie.
Derric also leads the church’s youth group. Right now, he’s teaching on the creation account in Genesis.
“I’m very optimistic about the things well-prepared youth can do for the body of Christ,” Derric says. “Many amazing things we’ve seen done by Christians in history were done by young people that God used. I’m glad I get the chance to meet with them every week and get them deeply settled in Christian convictions that will serve them well in life.”
Dr. Paul Plew, former dean of TMU’s School of Music, has a way of making a lasting impression on people. And Alyssa Eidsen says that one Plew class in particular continues to impact the way she approaches serving on the worship team at The North Church.
The class highlighted the necessity of excellence in music ministry.
“The last thing we want to do is distract the congregation because of things we could have fixed ahead of time in rehearsals,” says Eidsen, who majored in music at TMU. “We want to get out of the way and simply help people worship the Lord.”
Eidsen still takes rehearsals seriously. She also sees them as a time for informal discipleship. “I love talking to young singers who join our team about what worship looks like when you’re helping lead a congregation.”
Eidsen’s service at The North Church holds special meaning for her. She grew up in the congregation, helping with the worship team from the time she was a preteen. Now, she attends with her husband, Mark (who serves as a first-grade Sunday school teacher), and their infant son, Eddy.
For the past 25 years, Janie Walker has enjoyed the work that comes with serving as nursery director at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. The training of staff members. The scheduling. The equipment purchasing.
But one of the tasks she loves most is quite simple.
“I love it when I get to go hold one of the babies,” she says. “Somebody comes by and says, ‘We need another set of arms,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay!’”
Walker and her husband, Gregory, have three children of their own and eight grandchildren. Their kids are all grown up now, but Walker is still responsible for up to 80 little ones — from birth to 3 years old — on Sundays. She oversees a team of roughly 75 workers, a group she regularly plans events for in order to show appreciation. “They do so much for the families at Grace. I want to care for them well.”
Says Walker, “I’m a doer and a planner. All of the things that I’ve ever done in my life up until this point, the Lord took them and made them part of one job. It’s been cool to see how He’s orchestrated everything.”
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|