Written by Matt Fier
As Stephen Mbogo approaches, you can see the 43-year-old’s smile from a mile away, as he extends a hand and gives a generous hug.
“It’s good to finally meet you in person!” he says with a laugh.
Mbogo came to Biola in 2008 with his wife, Rosemary and their two children, Victor and Joy. He is currently a graduate student at Talbot School of Theology, working on his Ph.D in Intercultural Studies (ICS), with a focus on values and leadership of politicians in Africa.
However, Mbogo’s story runs much deeper than that.
In 2005, Mbogo and his family started By Grace Orphanage in Kenya, while he was also a pastor at a church in the slums of Nairobi.
“The ratio of orphans in Kenya is 20 to one. There are 2.5 million orphans [total],” Mbogo says, with a look of determination. “We felt if we made a difference to one young life, then that may be what God is calling us to.”
Not long after, the house — where Mbogo and his family also lived — was filled with 20 children, with a total of 50 coming to the house for school during the day.
“They receive schooling as well as medical attention. In fact, a few of them are HIV positive. It’s quite exciting seeing these kids being changed. To me, it just makes my day,” Mbogo says, smiling.
Mbogo and his family also started Tumaini Academy. They chose the name “Tumaini” because the word translates to “hope.” This school reaches nearly 250 kids in the slums.
“To hear their stories of what they went through, how they lived without food, or how one would catch flies to eat … all this makes you say, ‘Thank you, Lord, for giving us a privilege to be there for these children,’” Mbogo adds.
As Mbogo finishes up his Ph.D, his next goal is to return to Africa. Mbogo has put together a leadership team to work with politicians to put on leadership forums throughout Sudan and Kenya.
“We bring politicians together to encourage good government and servant leadership,” he explains.
Already these conferences have had a major impact.
In 2007, members of parliament, the diplomatic corps, heads of military and top government officials were in attendance, including the President of Sudan. Afterwards, the Minister for Communication gave his life to the Lord.
“He said, ‘For the last two decades when we went to war, I lost Jesus in the bush fighting. Tell me more about Jesus and this value system of service and integrity,’” Mbogo says, leaning forward intently. “A few months later, he was baptized, and it was a public event where the President and other people who don’t go to church came.”
As Mbogo says, there’s not just the ‘little fish’ but also the big fish — and they, too, need Jesus. Surely, Mbogo will make sure he does his part.
The Black Belt
The Record Setter
Junior Amy Atkinson’s serene smile and calm demeanor hide the facts: this is the kind of young woman who can set records.
As the starting right defender for the Biola women’s soccer team and a Guam citizen, Atkinson not only plays soccer, but has also held as many as eight Guam Junior National running records from road races to track events.
“My dad showed me all these records, so I kind of made it my goal,” Atkinson says with a look of dedication in her eyes. “When I run, that’s when I feel most free. I’m very competitive.”
That could be an understatement.
Atkinson set junior records in the Guam Cross Island 10 Mile Run (1:10:00), Guam Koko International 20k Road Race (2006 Jr. Record), the Alley Oop 6.7 Miler (2007 Jr. Record), and the Tumon Beach Run 5.5 Miler (2006 Jr. Record).
In addition, Atkinson plays for the Guam national soccer team, continues to run races and is planning to represent Guam this summer at the Micronesian Games in Palau. She’s also a full-time student working toward an undergraduate degree in liberal studies.
Atkinson, though, is one of those special collegiate athletes who puts all the emphasis back on her Savior.
“Knowing I trained and raced as hard as I could is the big thing, so that I can bring glory to God through that … When you set records, people are more willing to listen, and it gives me a chance to give glory to Him and be a witness,” she responds nonchalantly, her islander “chill” personality becoming evident.
Just as solid as her records is her fire and passion for Christ, which she exemplifies through hard work in her athletic abilities, as well as in her desire to teach and help people.
“God’s given me these talents and abilities, and I know He’s given me a passion for running and soccer, and I [want] to use those gifts to find success in Him and use that to lead others to Christ,” Atkinson says.
No matter where God may take her after her days at Biola, one thing is for sure — she will keep changing records, but in the future it will be the records in the Book of Life.
Jin Uk Jung arrives and calmly takes his seat outside the coffee shop as he pulls out his laptop and notes for the interview. Dressed sharply, he looks more like a businessman from downtown Los Angeles than a former Republic of Korea Army chaplain.
Jung, 39, is working toward a doctorate in intercultural studies here at Biola University. Previously, he spent three and a half years carrying more responsibility in ministry than some pastors will in a lifetime. Jung pursued being a chaplain in his native country of South Korea because he wanted to transition into a job as a pastor.
He also adds, “I had very little choice. A pastor recommended me, and my big brother and cousin were in the military.”
After going through a rigorous process, which includes a family history investigation, he was one of seven selected out of hundreds of applicants.
Once selected, Jung was thrust into the responsibilities and challenges of his position.
“I baptized around 3,000 soldiers,” Jung says. “Many soldiers wanted to commit suicide. I had to counsel a total of 2,500 soldiers face to face.”
In the Korean military system, the way a chaplain is promoted is by baptizing as many people as he can. That’s one reason why Jung chose to leave the military and seek other facets of ministry.
“I [felt] guilty doing it; it didn’t fit my faith or conscience,” he responds.
After leaving the military, Jung landed in the Philippines doing missionary work where he met a principal of a school with relations to Biola and Clyde Cook.
“He told me it was the ‘purest university in the world,’” Jung says with a laugh.
After a little more than a year, Jung, his wife and daughters all transitioned into the Biola family.
After finishing his master’s degree for pastoral work and counseling at Talbot, he is now looking to complete his second graduate degree.
As a full-time student, Jung still finds time to volunteer in youth ministries and to serve as the Chaplain Associate at the Anaheim Memorial Hospital, where he works directly with the Korean patients.
Jung hopes to finish up his schooling here and then follow the Lord’s next calling.
“I want to go back to the Philippines as a professor and as a missionary,” he says.
When senior Lindsey Pierce is greeted, she responds with a smile and a laugh, as one would expect from a former California Homecoming Queen, a part of America’s Homecoming Queen pageant.
Then you start to get to know her.
“[My senior year] I was the captain of the volleyball team. I only had two best friends in high school, and I wasn’t very popular,” she says with a big smile.
That doesn’t seem like the stereotypical homecoming queen: 5 feet, 9 inches tall, an athlete, not very popular?
“I knew a lot of younger girls from the freshman and junior varsity team, and they nominated me as a joke,” Pierce says. “I ended up on court with four cheerleaders, who are all under 5 feet.”
Then she won.
“It blew everyone’s mind. It was kind of a silly situation in the first place, and I ended up winning,” Pierce explains.
The next day in class, Pierce found an application on her desk, inviting her to the national pageant, America’s Homecoming Queen. Again, she and her friend filled it out as a joke.
“We’re laughing, putting down things like, ‘I’m interested in lacrosse and butterfly catching,’” she says.
A few months later, the joke once again became real as she received a letter stating she was a finalist.
Pierce went on to compete against girls who “made it their whole life to be there” even though she barely put any effort into it. Then, once again to the surprise of herself and her friends, Pierce won for the state of California and received a scholarship, which ultimately helped her come to Biola.
After state competition, Pierce went onto Nationals and once again won — however, a different award this time.
She was voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow pageant queens. Pierce, a former R.A., has one piece of advice to girls at Biola.
“[Vanity] is just chasing after the wind,” Pierce says. “Consider your motivation, deepest desires, and it should be to invest in eternal purposes and lift others higher than themselves and trust what Jesus says about them.”