When Walter Weber (’56) graduated from Biola in 1956 with a Bible degree, he felt he could best serve the Lord “in some backwoods location instead of a city.” Weber had heard of a need for churches along the British Columbia/Alaska coast, so he sent letters of inquiry to postmasters until he learned there was no church in British Columbia’s Sayward Valley. Together with his wife, Waverly, Weber drove a mobile home into the remote logging community and planted a small church, where he has since pastored for 57 years. Weber has never taken any salary from his ministry; instead he has supported his family by working in the logging camp. All offerings from his small church have been given to missionary work. Because Weber, 87, moved away before his commencement ceremony in 1956, he accepted an invitation to return to Biola to participate in commencement festivities this May. During the awarding of degrees, Weber was the first to walk across the stage to receive his diploma case — to thunderous applause from students and attendees. Weber said it was “a delight” to be back at Biola, where he first began his preaching tenure. Weber’s wife passed away in 1991. They have five children, one deceased, 12 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Weber lives with his daughter Connie in Sayward, and still preaches every Sunday. “The Christian life just gets better and better no matter how old you get,” Weber said.
When Christina (Lando, ’99) Stoimenova was a Biola student, the idea of missionary work intimidated her. She knew only that she wanted to go into ministry. But a summer trip to Ukraine with a team of Biola students changed her life. As an orphanage volunteer, she was stunned by the kids’ need for love. “They literally clung to us,” Stoimenova said. “We’d have to tear them off of us in order to leave.” After graduating, Stoimenova lived in Ukraine, continuing to work with orphaned children. She moved to Bulgaria in 2004 because of the even greater need for orphan care in that country. Stoimenova and her husband, Spas, now work for Global Outreach, providing education and Sunday school to neglected children. The Stoimenovs, who have two children of their own, Joanna, 4, and Abigail, 2, are also raising funds to open a Christian home for young orphans through the Smile Bulgaria Foundation, where Christian house parents will create a loving environment and help build a foundation to lead productive lives. Stoimenova said her family will stay in Bulgaria as long as God keeps them there. “We plan to be there until we’ve worked ourselves out of a job,” she said. Learn more about Smile Bulgaria and how to support the Stoimenovas’ ministry at smilebulgariafoundation.org.
When Mark Alan Williams (’78, M.Div. ’81) joined the board of Dynamic Church Planting International in 1996, their vision was to train leaders of 1,000 churches. But God multiplied their efforts — and today DCPI (dcpi.org), located in Oceanside, Calif., has provided training to leaders of an estimated 173,726 churches around the world, in 30 different languages. Williams serves as vice president, where he develops training materials to guide leaders in planting churches. The training is provided free to church planters — DCPI is funded through giving. “We give it away, trusting God to provide for us,” said Williams, who graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1976 and was named Moody’s Alumnus of the Year in 2010. He also completed a doctorate of ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1990. Williams has also authored three books: The Dynamic Daughter Church Planting Handbook, The New Dynamic Church Planting Handbook and Winning The World For Christ: The Untapped Potential Of Mother-Daughter Church Planting. “The church is the bride of Christ — so we want churches to give birth to daughter churches,” Williams said. Williams and his wife, Carolyn (’80), have three children: Gabriel, 31, Daniel, 27, and Benjamin, 24. Learn more about Mark’s ministry at www.markalanwilliams.net.
Bianca Oros (’06) thought she was leaving the United States for a couple of weeks. A Canadian citizen, Oros had been serving as communications director for Living Hope Baptist Church in Whittier, Calif. As her visa was expiring, Oros went back to Canada in January 2011 — and was told at the border that she could not return to the States. “It completely rocked my world,” said Oros, who stayed in Canada, looking for work, until her sister and brother-in-law invited her to stay with them in Zurich, Switzerland. There, at a business prayer meeting, she heard of a position at Zurich Insurance. Now, Oros works as communications coordinator and executive assistant to the head of communications for Global Life, a branch of Zurich Insurance. She handles event coordinating and internal communications for company employees. Oros said the sudden life change has shown her that God is in control. She is grateful for the core values of the workplace, even with its hectic pace and long hours. “You’re expected on a daily basis to act with integrity and to work with integrity,” she said. “I strive for integrity every day and I’m happy that it’s actually part of the mandate.”