Faithful Servant Award

The Faithful Servant Award will be given annually to three individuals who will be featured in the fall edition of the SOAR magazine. These individuals will be chosen primarily based on:

  • Their length of years served and contribution to their ministry or profession
  • Their demonstration of high Christian standards and integrity
  • Their faithfulness in promoting the college and seminary and their support of the Faith Alumni Association

Each year the recipients of the Faithful Servant Award will be featured in the fall edition of our SOAR alumni magazine, and they will be honored at an alumni reception during Homecoming events every September.

Faithful Servant Award recipients will be chosen by the Alumni Department; however, we also welcome recommendations from alumni. Simply email the Alumni Department at any time during the year to recommend an alumnus for the Faithful Servant Award.

2017 Faithful Servant Award Recipients

Phil and Joyce Tilson

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Although born in Greenville, South Carolina, Phil Tilson grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. During high school, he encountered a Faith camp team, whose influence, along with Faith’s soccer program, attracted him to the college. He enrolled at Faith and graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Studies. He spent a fifth year at Faith pursuing a one-year graduate degree in Biblical Studies.

While a student at Faith, Phil was involved in the Student Missionary Fellowship, served as a class officer for multiple years, and worked in children’s ministries at Ankeny Baptist Church. Phil greatly appreciated the personal relationships he built with professors as they invested in his life, specifically the influence of Dr. Bob Domokos and his “down-to-earth preaching.”

Phil also credits the athletic program’s importance in helping him to develop Christian character both on and off the field. He quotes his soccer coach, Mark McDougal, as saying, “Soccer is like life in a test-tube. How you respond to challenges on the field will be how you handle life’s challenges outside the test-tube.” This statement is one that he continues to share with others today.

Some of Phil’s closest friendships were formed at Faith, including that of his wife, Joyce (Mehalovich’89, ’91). Some of Joyce’s roommates thought that Phil and Joyce would make a great pair and introduced them to each other. Even though Phil was not a fan of the idea at first, insisting that he didn’t go on setup dates, the two started dating thereafter and were married in 1990.

After getting married, the couple served at Ankeny Baptist in the AWANA program until God led them to pastoral positions across Iowa in Clarkston, Washington, and Council Bluffs. The Lord used experiences from this time to grow in the Tilsons a heart for youth ministry.

In 2003, Phil and Joyce took the directorial position at Whispering Cedars Baptist Camp in Genoa, Nebraska. As the current director at Whispering Cedars, Phil leads camp events, recruits summer staff, cares for the facility, and oversees volunteer workers. Joyce is very active in the camp’s ministry as she works on various off-season projects and puts in countless hours organizing and interacting with campers and staff during the summer.

Each ministry comes with its own set of challenges. Since camp ministry involves commitment to hard work and long hours, Phil explained that one of the difficulties is balancing time with family. “My family is God’s gift to me,” Phil explained. “Camp ministry is God’s leading in my life. God expects me to do both with excellence.” Both Phil and Joyce are thankful to have had their three children Jonathan, Nathan, and Alyssa interested and involved in camp ministry over the years. “They have all learned to work hard and to connect with the purpose of camp ministry,” Phil noted. “They are also the best recruiters we have for campers and counseling staff! I cannot imagine doing camp without their wonderful help.”

While reflecting on his biggest lesson in camp ministry, Phil explained viewing interruptions as divine appointments. Phil emphasized that camp is about people. While it is easy to be task oriented in a camp setting, the people should be the focus of each of the tasks. The Tilsons encourage anyone who seeks to be a camp director to be someone who loves other people—volunteers, counselors, and campers alike.

Phil and Joyce Tilson have been chosen as this year’s Faithful Servant Award recipients in recognition of long-term servant leadership in camp ministry.

Wilma Sammons

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Wilma Sammons (Walker ’66) was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. At the age of twelve, she knew the Lord was leading her into full-time Christian ministry. Wilma also knew how important it was to have a Bible College education, and it was her pastor, R. G. Mohr, that introduced her to Omaha Baptist Bible College (OBBC).

In 1966, Wilma graduated from OBBC with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education. While in school, Wilma was involved in chorale, ladies choruses, missions prayer group, and the Christian Education ministry team. She was also a class officer and a cheerleader. When asked how her experience in Bible College affected her post-graduation ministries, Wilma said, “I received a solid Biblical education at OBBC that has been a strong foundation of my spiritual life. The classes were practical as well as Biblical. Christian Service assignments allowed us opportunities to put into action what we were learning.”

Wilma met her husband, Gary, while attending Bethany Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, and they married in 1966. Wilma remembers Gary always having a burden for missions in Latin America. Since Wilma had a burden for missions herself, she had peace about wherever God would lead them. After taking one year of Spanish language school in Guadalajara, Mexico, Wilma and Gary served together in Santiago, Chile for ten years through the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. During this time, Wilma taught a women’s Bible study, trained women in Sunday school, counseled and mentored women, as well as taught piano lessons.

Eventually God opened the opportunity for Gary to be the missions professor at Faith Baptist Bible College from 1977–1984. During that time, Wilma taught an audio/visual class, enjoyed entertaining missionary kids in their home, and spoke for various ladies groups and mother-daughter banquets.

In 1986, Gary accepted the position of chairman of the missions department at Piedmont Bible College, and Wilma became the dean of women. During that time, they worked together with Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM) missionaries to establish a Hispanic Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In 1993, Wilma and Gary joined BMM, working with Campus Bible Fellowship (CBF) to help start CBF ministries on four secular campuses in North Carolina. During this time, Wilma taught the weekly Bible studies. Other ministry opportunities included entertaining students in their home, counseling, organizing retreats, teaching, opening a campus house, and weekly literature tables at each campus.

Wilma explained that one of the biggest challenges in their ministry was health. Gary was diagnosed with cancer, and God called him home to glory on August 20, 2015. When asked how she would advise people who felt called to missions, Wilma replied, “There is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will. Seek wise counsel, pray for direction from the Lord, and keep an open and willing heart.”

Wilma Sammons has been chosen as this year’s Faithful Servant Award recipient in recognition of a life-long commitment to foreign and home missions.

Tom and Sandy Robbins

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Pastor Tom Robbins grew up in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Tom was influenced to attend Faith by his youth pastor—a Faith graduate—and also by the opportunity to visit campus with his youth group. Tom originally planned to attend Faith for one year before transferring to a liberal arts school to major in math, but after finishing his first year, he decided to return the next fall.

Shortly after completing his sophomore year, Pastor Robbins attended the Moody’s Pastors’ Conference. It was there that God confirmed in his heart a calling to pastoral ministry. He returned to Faith that fall, and he graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry. He continued his education, and he earned his Master’s degree through Faith’s theological seminary in 1984.

During his five years at Faith, Pastor Robbins had the opportunity to sing in the chorale, play soccer, perform, in school plays, and travel as the preacher with the ladies handbell ensemble. He also was able to fill pulpits in local churches. This gave him not only practice preaching but also an opportunity to interact with other people and see how varying churches “do ministry.” Pastor Robbins is thankful for the solid, Biblical foundation he received from Faith and for faculty that mentored and equipped him for ministry. He says the godly environment and friendships at Faith helped strengthen his walk with the Lord, and the opportunities he received impacted the ministry he has today.

Not only did he make lifelong friends during his time at Faith, but he also met his wife Sandy (Frier ’80). After attending Faith for one year, Sandy continued her education to earn her RN degree at Iowa Methodist School of Nursing in Des Moines, Iowa. Tom and Sandy were married in 1983 after she finished her nursing training.

They served together at First Baptist Church of Curlew, Iowa, from 1985 to 1991 before transitioning to First Baptist Church at Camp Point, Illinois, in June of 1991. Tom has been pastoring there for the past 26 years. Over the years, Sandy has been Tom’s faithful partner in ministry. She has served as the part-time church secretary, piano player, Sunday school teacher, and a variety of other ministries. She also joyfully serves with Tom in visitations and counseling opportunities.

The Robbins chose to homeschool their two children, Heidi and Nathan, which gave them the flexibility to be involved in ministries in their church. Both Heidi and Nathan are now serving in full-time ministry. Heidi is currently serving as a missionary in Lima, Peru, and Nathan is serving as a pastor in Sutter, Illinois.

When asked about challenges in pastoral ministry, Tom responded, “It is easy to grow complacent or comfortable in ministry, especially when you have been somewhere for a long time. For me, the challenge is to keep learning, changing, and growing spiritually, so that I will stay fresh in my preaching and other ministries.”

Pastor Robbins’ philosophy has always been, “Preach the Word, and love the people.” The Robbins have learned that nothing is more effective than a faithful ministry of the Word and a loving involvement in the lives of people. To anyone pursuing pastoral ministry, Pastor Robbins’ advises having an assurance of knowing God has called him into ministry and is leading him to pursue pastoral ministry. If someone is confident of God’s call, then pursue it with all his heart, striving to be active in ministry while being a student. Referencing 1 Timothy 3:1, Pastor Robbins added, “There is nothing better than being a pastor—it is truly a ‘good thing.’”

Tom and Sandy Robbins have been chosen as this year’s Faithful Servant Award recipients in recognition of a lifetime of faithfully shepherding flocks in pastoral ministry.

2016 Faithful Servant Award Recipients


Brad and Joanne Hoff; Jerolyn Virgillo; Steve and Karen Borders (Karen’s parents pictured)

Honorary Alumni Awards

From time to time the Faith Alumni Association recognizes individuals as honorary alumni of Faith. This distinction is granted to people who did not graduate from Faith but who have made a significant contribution to Faith.

2019 Honorary Alumni Award Recipient

The 2019 Honorary Alumnus Award was presented to Mrs. Sandy Capon. Read more about Mrs. Capon here.

2016 Honorary Alumni Award Recipients

This year we are pleased to recognize Dr. John Hartog II and Dr. and Mrs. Jim and Joan Tillotson as an honorary alumnus of Faith. Read More.


Alumnus of the Year

From 1970 to 2015 the Faith Alumni Association recognized outstanding alumni with the Alumnus of the Year Award.
In 2016, the Alumni Department transitioned to a Faithful Servant Award and now accepts recipient suggestions year-round and awards three individuals during Homecoming Weekend events. View a complete list of Alumnus of the  Year recipients.