February 2017—Jeff Briden
Jeff Briden (’83, ’87) serves as the assistant pastor of Parsippany Baptist Church in Parsippany, New Jersey, where he has been serving for 28 years. From serving as a part-time assistant pastor in Iowa to serving as the long-term assistant pastor at PBC, God has led Jeff into a lifetime of ministry faithfully serving Him.
Jeff visited Faith when he was a teenager with his youth group from Ohio. Although Jeff had no intention of attending Faith, he agreed to go on the trip for the fun opportunity of taking a plane ride with people from church. God used that trip to lead him to Faith as a student.
While at Faith, Jeff participated in music ministries such as performing instrumental solos and playing in the concert band. He also worked in the kitchen throughout his years as a student. As he looks back, these experiences gave him opportunities to train for ministry.
Jeff felt the call to ministry just before his senior year of high school. That summer he served as a teacher for a backyard Bible club followed by a week at a Christian camp and a teen leadership conference. These events, coupled with his visit to Faith, directed Jeff to pursue a life of ministry.
Jeff began seminary at Denver Baptist Theological Seminary, but when Denver merged with Faith, he finished his education in Iowa. He served for two years as an assistant pastor in Newton, Iowa while working part-time. God began leading him to a full-time ministry role, and through previous connections at Denver, he candidated and was called to be the full-time assistant pastor of Parsippany Baptist Church.
“Youth ministry has been one of my responsibilities here at Parsippany,” Jeff said. “When I first came, there was a seventh grader in our youth group who is now our Christian school principal. A young lady who ministers presently in our youth ministry is someone I can remember being born 27 years ago. Another former youth group member is one of the missionaries our church supports. Other former youth group members are also actively involved in our Christian school and church ministries. Ephesians 4:11-12 speaks of the role of a pastor to be equipping the saints for ministry. What a thrill to see that happening before my very eyes over the years!”
The greatest lesson Jeff has learned as a pastor is the benefit of stepping outside of his comfort zone. “I have learned that God is always the One who will accomplish His purpose through me and sometimes even in spite of me,” Jeff explained. “God seems to delight in using ordinary people to accomplish His work and consequently deserves the credit and glory for anything any of His servants accomplish.”
January 2017–Anna Wivell
“Growing up as a missionary kid in Australia, my parents’ ministry taught me a love for missions,” Anna explained. “I had felt from the age of eight that God was calling me to be a missionary in Africa.” Years later and with much schooling completed, that is exactly what God has led her to do. Anna Wivell (’04, ’07) is serving with Bibles International in the Central African country of Chad. She serves as a Bible translation consultant to national translators as they work to translate the Bible into their mother tongues.
Anna came to Faith and chose a Bible major with a missions emphasis. This would give her greater flexibility to study the biblical languages while in her undergraduate studies. While at Faith, Anna became heavily involved in many ministry opportunities both through her church and through the college. During her junior year, she went on a six-week missions trip to Zambia in Southern Africa. Not only did this trip fulfill her missions emphasis requirement, but it also let her see what God was doing through missions in Africa. Because of Anna’s interests in the biblical languages, one of the missionaries suggested Bible translation as a possible future ministry for Anna to pursue. As she prayed about that possibility over the next year, Anna knew God was leading her into Bible translation work by her senior year at Faith.
Anna knew that pursuing Bible translation ministry would require further training in the biblical languages. She enrolled at the seminary, and before she even graduated, she joined Bibles International and began raising support for her future work.
“I started full-time deputation in 2008, and it was quite a journey to get to the field!” Anna explained. “With a major recession hitting early on in my deputation journey, it was a challenge even to schedule meetings at first. For a long time, I wondered if I would ever reach full support so I could go to the field. But—oh me of little faith!—God provided my needs, though as always He operated on His schedule and not on mine.”
In early 2012, Anna left for language school in France before arriving in Chad on New Year’s Eve, 2012. As a translation consultant on the field, she acts as an editor for the translation works. The Chadian nationals serve as the translators into their native languages, and consultants—like Anna—provide the education and experience to ensure accurate translations. Consulting, coordinating, and overseeing complex projects keeps the process moving, although projects take many years to fully complete. When asked what is the greatest lesson she has learned since being in Chad, Anna simply exclaimed, “Flexibility!”
She has now been serving in Chad for four years, and every day is full of challenges and blessings. Currently Anna is finishing a furlough in the States, and she will be going back to Chad soon. She asks prayer for adjusting back to Chadian life as well as some personnel changes on the field. She also knows there are two projects waiting for her when she returns to Chad, and she asks prayer that those would be completed soon.
November 2016—Heidi Davis
Although many of the world’s people have the Bible written in their language, there are still millions who have no Bible in their heart language. Bible translation is still an essential ministry in our world today. Heidi Davis (’00, ‘03) is working in Bible translation in southern Asia, where the need is great and the gospel is not known.
Growing up on the mission field of Colombia, the idea of missions was always present for Heidi. When she was a teenager, she felt God’s leading for her to pursue missions. Heidi came to Faith as a freshman with an undeclared major, but eventually changed to Bible with a Missions minor. While at Faith, God created within Heidi an awareness and burden for Bible translation. One of her missions professors strongly encouraged her to consider Bible translation for future ministry.
Heidi graduated from both the college and seminary, and now she is serving in southern Asia. Here she has been working with a team that is translating the New Testament into a minority language of her area. She also is currently transitioning into the Field Treasurer position, which she will take over when the current treasurer retires.
“I never imagined that God would use my enjoyment of accounting and my decision to take Accounting in college in this way,” Heidi explained. “So far, I have seen God take something that I did not consider a particular ‘gifting’ of mine (working with numbers and money and balancing accounts) as a way to bless and serve our entire field team.”
As Heidi works with the other translators in this part of the world, there are many culture-specific challenges. The main people group of the country is divided between Islam and Hinduism, which also divides the national language into a Muslim and non-Muslim form. In addition to these two larger groups, there are also many minority groups, with Buddhists being the largest religion of the minority groups.
“In order to share the Gospel effectively, it is necessary to know a little about each of these religions, languages, and cultural norms. For the minority group I work with, who are predominantly Buddhist, it is hard to differentiate between what things are ‘religious’ and what holidays and practices are ‘cultural.’”
As challenges and blessings come and go while working in another culture, Heidi never forgets to learn valuable lessons God teaches her.
“The greatest lesson I have learned while serving here is that I cannot do the work in my own strength—it is only possible through God's strength and power. Serving here has given me a new appreciation and understanding of my complete and total reliance on God and His strength to accomplish the work He has prepared for me.”
Heidi asks prayer for the team on the ground as they work to finish their translation in the current project language. She also asks prayer for her anticipated furlough during spring of 2017. While many people still need the Bible in their heart language, it is encouraging to see Faith alumni, like Heidi, faithfully serving and working hard to take the Word to the World.
December 2016—Jonathan Boyd
Jonathan Boyd (‘98, ‘01) lives and works in Santa Marta, a city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, South America. Here he has served for six years as a church planter faithfully taking the Word to the World.
Jonathan’s leading into missions began in his teen years. He worked at a Christian camp in Minnesota for several summers during high school. While working there one summer, another Faith alumnus, Troy Dowden, had a large impact in Jonathan’s life. As Jonathan pursued missions, he found God leading him to study missions at Faith Baptist Bible College.
Jonathan came to Faith with a missions major. While at Faith, Johnathan began attending CrossRoad Baptist Church in Ames and has since been a member for over twenty years. Through his church, Jonathan reconnected with Troy and was involved in international student ministry at Iowa State University including a Spanish Bible study. This ministry opportunity played a crucial part in his training for foreign missions. In the first couple weeks of school, Jonathan met his wife, Holly ('98 Davis), on the church van. Holly was a missionary kid from Colombia, and the he was interested in her story of growing up in Colombia.
After graduating from Faith with a Master of Divinity in 2001, Jonathan began looking at opportunities in missions. When Jonathan considered all factors, including his wife’s growing up in a Spanish-speaking country, God led the Boyds to Bogotá, Colombia. After church planting in Bogotá for their first term, God opened the door in Santa Marta, and they relocated there in 2010 to work alongside both an American family and a Colombian family.
Although adjusting from American to Colombian culture has its challenges, Jonathan has learned how to serve with flexibility and trust in God’s sovereignty. “I think the most important lesson,” Jonathan said, “is that our triune God should be the center of all we do. ‘My plans’ have to be relegated to a secondary plane, because they are often linked to pride.” It is always exciting to see God lead alumni through ministry as they faithfully serve Him across the world.
October 2016—Barry Farlow
Barry Farlow (’99, ’03) serves as a professor at Seminário Batista Regular do Sul, a Bible college in Pinhais, Brazil. Located right outside the city of Curitiba, Barry helps meet the great need for training Brazilian nationals for ministry.
Barry grew up on the mission field of Brazil. When it was time for him to begin looking at colleges, the pastor of his family’s sending church, a Faith grad, recommended Faith. Barry began to look into Faith, and because of Faith’s sound doctrine and the testimony of several pastors who had graduated from Faith, he decided to attend.
Barry graduated from the Biblical Studies program with a Missions minor. Because of the flexibility the program offered, Barry even had the opportunity to study in Israel for a year. Throughout his college years, Barry’s ultimate goal was missions in Nepal. At that time Nepal was a creative-access nation, and no mission agencies in his circles could get him in. Barry appreciated Faith hosting many missionary representatives, and with each one he tried to look for opportunities in Nepal. Even after graduating—no leads.
Upon graduating, Barry began working full-time at Faith while seeking the next step from God. It was during this time that Barry reconnected with Ellen, a fellow missionary kid who grew up near the Farlows in Brazil. Barry and Ellen were married later that year. During that same year, the opportunity Barry had been waiting for finally opened up.
“I received word from one of the mission reps that I had talked to over the years,” Barry explained. “They were going to take a survey trip to Nepal. Since I had been bugging them for so long, they invited me to go along. I was excited at the prospect of finally being able to go to Nepal.”
The trip to Nepal went well, but as Barry reflected on the trip after returning, his assurance of missions in Nepal was not confirmed but rather dwindled. This was confusing to Barry, especially after pursuing Nepal for so long.
He returned to Faith to begin seminary. While working on his degree, he was encouraged to continue his education to pursue a doctorate. This would open up the door for future teaching opportunities.
“At that point I did not have really any direction in my life, and the idea attracted me. As I reflected on having grown up in Brazil and already speaking the language, I thought about all the people qualified to teach in the States, but how few there were available in Brazil. As I thought of the great need to prepare men for ministry in Brazil, I felt God redirecting my attention there.”
Barry and his family are now in their second term as missionaries in Brazil. As he reflects on his current teaching ministry there, he realizes how much his time at Faith impacted his ministry. Not only did Faith make an impact as Barry prepared to return to Brazil, but it continues to make an impact as current Faith professors occasionally teach module classes at the Bible college. As Barry prays for God to provide more laborers to train nationals in Brazil, it is clear to him that God has already blessed the college ministry in Brazil.
Faith Chorale Spring ConcertMarch 17
The Faith Chorale will present its annual spring concert March 17 at 7:00 pm. This concert will be held in the Nettleton Center.
Spring Alumni Dessert FellowshipMarch 27, 7 pm
Join us for a time of fellowship with old classmates, and hear what's new at Faith.
Instrumental Spring ConcertApril 7
The Faith Instrumental Ensembles will present their annual spring concert April 7 at 7:00 p.m. This concert will be held in the Nettleton Center.