2014 Alumnus of the Year Awards
During the Commencement service on Friday, May 9, the Faith Alumni Association honored two individuals with Alumnus of the Year awards in the category of Christian layworker.
Mrs. Sandi Nihart
Sandi Nihart was born in Concord, California as the oldest of 3 sisters. Her father was a policeman while her mother remained in the home and attended to the needs of the family.
At the age of 8 two monumental events happened in her life. The first event was attending a Good News Club in her neighborhood. She went mainly because they had snacks! Her teacher told the crucifixion story and how Jesus loved us so much He died for our sin. That afternoon Sandi trusted Christ as her Savior. The second event was the death of her mother, immediately giving Sandi the responsibility of helping her younger sisters.
At the age of 13 a Sunday school teacher began to minister in her life. With consistent love and care she became instrumental in teaching Sandi how to trust in God. She introduced her to Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
This verse had an immediate application because Sandi and her two sisters were unable to stay in their home in California. So on a snowy winter day they arrived at the Baptist Children’s Home in Valparaiso, Indiana.
During her teen years, the Baptist Children’s Home provided Sandi with a godly and loving home with house parents, Dick and Carol Montei, who daily taught her the Word of God.
As a high school senior, Sandi was asked what she was going to do upon graduation. She really had not thought about that next step! She promptly asked house parents, Dick and Carol, what to do, and they encouraged her to attend Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. Knowing the love they demonstrated to her, she read a Faith brochure and promptly completed and mailed an application.
Sandi left the Baptist Children’s Home in the fall of 1974 and traveled to Ankeny, Iowa, a place she had never seen! Given her background, our honoree was concerned with being different from other collegians. In fact, having spent her teen years at the Baptist Children’s Home always asking for permission to do things, she could not understand why her resident advisor did not want to know where she was every second of the day!
During her collegiate years at Faith, Sandi was involved as a student association representative, drama team member, youth conference committee member, special event committees, and women’s intramural sports. She continues her athletic interests today by playing on a granny basketball team.
It was during her time at Faith she met her husband Lanny whom she married in May of 1977. She continued her education and graduated in 1978. Upon graduation, our honoree and Lanny remained in Ankeny, where she worked for a while for Faith as a full-time cook.
Sandi has utilized her Faith training and education by ministering for the past 37 years at Ankeny Baptist Church. In her church she has been involved in Awana, Vacation Bible School, nursery, senior high and collegiate ministry leader, discipleship and CE committees, and on a missions trip to Haiti.
Through the years she has also assisted her husband’s coaching ministry at Faith, supported and attended school events, hosted collegians in her home, and participated as a freshmen orientation speaker. Additionally, she has audited several seminary modules and has pursued certification as a Biblical counselor.
Today,Sandi often speaks at ladies retreats, youth camps, and special banquets. She currently is the lead teacher for a Bible study group for ladies in the Ankeny community who have no direct relationship with her church.
Sandi and Lanny have three children—Erin, Eric, and Jay. All three children attended Faith and found their spouses at Faith. She has six grandchildren, and her desire is for ALL her grandchildren to attend Faith as well!
Because of Sandi Nihart's commitment to Faith and service for Christ, the Faith Alumni Association is happy to present to her the 2014 female Alumnus of the Year award.
John Javaux was raised on a farm in Idaho, the youngest of five children. He was a member of FFA and played football in high school.
John trusted Christ as his Savior while a senior in high school through the influence of a friend who invited him to a church youth activity. He became a member of First Baptist Church in Notus, Idaho.
After graduating from high school in 1972, John attended The College of Idaho for a year. During one summer Randy Cook, a student at Faith, did his internship at the church in Notus. Through Randy’s influence, John decided to attend Faith. Another influence in his decision was Dr. David Nettleton who spoke in the church during this time. John arrived at Faith in the fall of 1973.
While at Faith John played on the JV basketball team. The girl who would become his wife was a cheerleader and needed some help with some athletic banquet decorations. She saw a group of basketball players and asked them to light the candles on the tables. She did not even know John's name, but that was their first meeting.
Two weeks later when John was working in the concession stand, he saw Susan and asked her to the spring play. She agreed and they doubled with another couple and went to Pauline’s Pizza after the play.
They parted ways that summer and communicated only a little. In the fall of 1974 they came back to school and dated on and off. Susan graduated in the spring of 1975. She tried to ignore John, but he was persistent.
In the fall of 1975 Susan went to work at Regular Baptist Press in the Chicago area. She came back during that school year to visit her cousin who was a student at Faith and saw John with another girl. That made her jealous!
From that point on she realized he was special to her. They were engaged in February of 1976 and married in July of that year.
The newly weds lived in Ankeny because John had one more year at Faith. Susan worked at Faith that year. John graduated in May of 1977. After another year in Ankeny, they moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, where they served as relief house parents for two years.
The happy couple came back to Ankeny in 1980, and John was offered the position of head of the Faith security team. He spent 14 years working security and maintenance here at Faith. During this time John completed a physical education degree from Iowa State University. He then taught at Grandview Park Baptist School for two years.
In 1996 John began working for Gilchrist Jewett lumber company in Ankeny. After another job, he returned to Gilchrist Jewett where he still works.
Our couple has been serving at Ankeny Baptist Church since 1977 with two brief periods away for other ministries. John has served as a deacon, missions committee chairman, softball coordinator, choir member, Awana leader, Sunday School teacher, and assistant to the financial secretary. In all these ministries he has distinguished himself as a faithful servant of the Lord.
John and his wife have four children: Mark, Nancy, Beth, and Karen. Beth is a 2010 Faith grad and Karen attended here one year.
Several key words describe our nominee: Caring, sensitive, persistent, serving, faithful. Since he came to Faith in 1973, this school has been a big part of his life. The Faith Alumni Association is happy to award John Javaux the 2014 male Alumnus of the Year award.