Alumnus of the Year: Robin Wainwright ’64
I was shocked to hear about this award, and I can assure you that many of my classmates were also shocked. I didn’t grow up in the church. In the spring of 1962, I was working my way through college at San Jose State doing a morning and an evening shift in a sandwich shop. One night, an old man came in from the pouring rain and said, “My wife’s taking a night class, and I just wanted to get a cup of coffee.” Then he started asking me a bunch of questions. He didn’t say anything to me, he just asked me questions. I don’t remember what he asked, and I don’t know what I said, except that I had no good news to tell him. My life was a mess. And when he was done, he said, “I’ve got to go get my wife—I can’t leave her standing out there in the rain. But I want to tell you that I think God has some important things for you to do. And if I were you, I wouldn’t miss it.”
“I don’t know what God does,” I said to him. He said, “Boy, I haven’t got time, but let me write down something, the name of a college and the president of the college. If you go there, you can find out what God does.” I opened that piece of paper, and it said “Roger Voskuyl, president of Westmont College.”
It just happened that I was going down to Southern California the next week to do a geology class in Death Valley, so I thought I’d go by Westmont College and talk to somebody. Maybe I’ll go there, I thought. I started in the fall of 1962, when Dr. Gundry and Lois had just come also. He was my first Bible teacher, and the first Bible study I did was in the book of Revelation—oh my goodness.
I learned one important thing from that study: In all the brokenness and chaos of the world, God will overcome. God wins. In my broken life, I needed to know that; it was something really important, and I hung onto it. Then I took some classes from Dr. Bouslough and read Kenneth Scott Latourette’s “History of Christianity.” As I read it through that year, I discovered an amazing pattern. Throughout history, the church would lose its way a little bit, get into a cul de sac and lose the map and what it’s supposed to be about. Then God would take some unlikely people and raise them up from nowhere and start anew, make a new beginning and get back on track.
During Easter week in 1963, 50 years ago, I went down to Voskuyl Chapel and sat in the second pew from the rear, left side. I prayed: “Lord, I want to be part of this story, but I ask you one thing. I’m not smart enough to stay out of the cul de sacs and blind alleys. So I’d like to ask you to let me be part of the new things.” That’s a bit of an audacious prayer, but maybe the spirit was helping me pray because it was a good prayer.
God was faithful beyond belief. As the Scripture says in Ephesians 3:20, “God is supremely powerful to do all that we could ask for or even imagine,” and my life is a witness to that. I can’t believe the places I’ve been around the globe and the 12 different ministries I’ve been part of as a startup or on the board. I never could have dreamed any of these things. God is faithful and amazing and has a great sense of humor to let me be part of all these things.
I would like to say to you who are my age: You’re not done. Maybe God can use you. God is powerful. He can take something we think is not much to work with, and he can make something out of it. My life is a witness to that by the grace of God.
If you are younger or still finding your way in the world, you may be like I was then—you have no clue what you are doing, no clue of your own value, and you’re struggling and broken. But you may think it would be worthwhile to do something important for God, more important than great fame or much wealth. I say to you, “God could have something important for you to do, and if I were you, I wouldn’t miss it.”
Robin Catlin Wainwright ’64 started a ministry to inner-city youth in Santa Barbara in 1969 and became the first director of Westmont’s Urban Program. He taught discipleship, evangelism and social ministries at Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota and served as executive director of Jubilee Foundation in Chicago. Since 1992, he and his wife, Nancy, have developed ministries throughout the Middle East by working with local church leaders. They built a water project in Gaza and established the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem. They organized the Journey of the Magi 2000: A Pilgrimage for Peace, a team that traveled 1,200 miles by foot and camel and arrived in Bethlehem on Christmas Day 2000 to honor the 2,000th birthday of Jesus. Robin earned a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and serves on the board of directors for the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in England. He is the president of Middle East Fellowship and director of the Catlin Foundation in Florida. Read more about Robin here.
Global Service Award: Brent ’85 and Allison Brubaker ’85 Searway
Allison: Our ministry is the place where Potter’s Clay camps every spring break, which is how we’ve remained in contact with Westmont over the years. It’s our joy to do so.
It’s funny to get an award. At first it just feels so validating: Oh, somebody noticed! For about 28 seconds, you feel really great. Then you start to realize how many people it takes for a person to get to the place where they’re recognized for something. It would be completely ungrateful for us to stand up here and not say we wouldn’t be who we are if it weren’t for our parents, our family members who brought us to the Lord, our friends and family who have supported us all through the years and made sacrifices so we could do what we’re doing, and our beautiful children who’ve loved the life we gave them. We’re so privileged and blessed to have lived in Mexico.
I want to say a humungous thanks to Westmont. When I was in school, I went to a chapel that exemplified what I heard over and over at Westmont. I believe it was Dave Dolan who spoke that day, and he’s here today, so I was excited to see him. He said, “You weren’t blessed to sit around and soak in the blessing. You were blessed to go out and bless others with it.”
When I heard this, I was wondering why on earth I was so blessed to have this education, and suddenly, I knew why. I’m so grateful God allowed me to be in a place where putting others before self is important.
Brent: For me, it’s truly a miracle to be here and a true blessing to celebrate with you today. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May 2012. By January, it had grown to be five times the size it was in May. At first they said it was inoperable. But it grew in such a way that they could operate, and they removed a tumor about the size of an orange. When things like that happen in your life, God speaks to you in different ways and teaches you some valuable lessons about life.
January felt like a time between life and death as I wasn’t sure I was going to come out of the operation. One side of my body was pretty much paralyzed in January, but the Lord’s been allowing me to get my strength back. The doctors are saying now that they’re not sure they can see any cancer. That’s uncommon in this kind of cancer, so we’re praising God for that.
God has taught me many things during these moments. I’m really glad I didn’t squander my life in selfish desires but that I invested it in Kingdom work, in a global work, that I learned here at Westmont. I praise God for that. He has taught me the peace and assurance I had when I went into surgery, knowing no matter what happened it was going to be a good outcome, whether it was going to be with Him or being here. When I came out of surgery, I wanted even more, with more urgent desire, to share with others what I had in Jesus Christ.
That’s what we’re doing. We’re back, we’re serving in Mexico, and we’re loving it. I also found something I think all Americans need to learn: Through our weakness, God’s power is made perfect.
People we’re ministering to and alongside realize we didn’t have our faith in the circumstances around us. We had it in the One True God, whom we follow and serve and love. Now that we minister in weakness instead of our strengths, it’s been amazing to see the impact we’ve had.
If we, as Americans, can learn to minister in our weakness and not in our strength, God will be able to use that. It’s funny to get an award for something that God told you to do and you just wouldn’t be happy if you didn’t do it.
It’s an honor to be here, where this journey began and where we learned about global awareness and being concerned about the rest of the world and the people who don’t know Jesus. I especially thank all of you who have encouraged and supported us throughout the years.
Brent ’85 and Allison Brubaker ’85 Searway met at Westmont and served together on Potter’s Clay. Sharing a heart for missions and for Mexico, they quit their jobs as teachers in 1993 and sold all their belongings to move to Ensenada.For 20 years, they have directed Agua Viva Ministries, which is committed to reaching Mexico for Christ. They have seen thousands come to faith through their camping ministry and more than 20,000 Americans participate in short-term missions to assist Ensenada churches. Agua Viva’s intensive Ministry Training Institute has prepared more than 550 Mexican nationals to serve as pastors and missionaries. Both Brent and Allison teach at the institute, and she also works as its academic coordinator. Brent serves as an acting board member. They have two children, and their son, Rodney, graduated from Westmont in 2013.
Young Alumna of the Year: Rachel Goble ’05
When I think back on my time at Westmont, I joke that I was indoctrinated to attend. As a young child, my mother and father walked me around the campus and said, “Someday you’ll go to school here.” I applied to many different colleges and universities, but Westmont stole my heart for a number of reasons. Much of how it shaped me into who I am today has to do with the small classrooms and the depth of conversation.
One of my entrepreneurship professors used to teach us that it was possible to “reach all our edges.” During my time here I started to develop a passion for photography and the arts as well as for business. I had no idea how those would merge into what I’m doing now, but they have, setting the foundation for what I believe to be a way of storytelling and a way of capturing the possibility of children and what can be through the art of film. Brad Elliott, who’s walking around taking pictures, mentored me in photography.
Marketing was a huge part of my passion while I was here. All these things have come together beautifully through the SOLD project. My passion truly is to tell the stories of the vulnerable and to bridge the gap between those who have resources and those who don’t, to share stories and come around a table. My work with the SOLD project has taught me so much about humility, so much about working within different cultures.
I’ve learned the reality that justice is not easy. As you work and strive on your journey, you achieve successes in the mundane and the small choices you make on a daily basis that add up and contribute to moments of recognition. But it’s not the moments of recognition that truly define, that truly matter. I think it’s the journey in getting there. For me, Westmont was a huge part of that journey.
As president of the SOLD Project and associate producer of the film “SOLD,” Rachel Goble ’05 fights child trafficking through innovative work in prevention, education and mentoring. Since 2009, she has shown “SOLD” in more than 27 U.S. cities to raise awareness. In Northern Thailand, the SOLD Project sponsors 140 at-risk students, reducing their drop-out rate from 50 to 5 percent in five years. SOLD received first place in Nike’s GIRL EFFECT Award in 2013 and appears on the Top-Rated List of Great Nonprofits. Rachel majored in economics and business and earned a master’s degree in cross-cultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. She has spoken at dozens of events and universities about the importance of preventing the exploitation of children. In 2012 she was a finalist for the Edna Social Justice Award, which honors leaders in social justice. Passionate about the intersection of justice and the arts, she also owns Rachel Goble Photography.