Summer 2016

Class Notes

James A. Borland (Th.M. ’71) was re-elected on Nov. 3 to a second four-year term on the Campbell County Board of Supervisors in Virginia, which has over 8,000 constituents. He is also in his 39th year as professor of New Testament and theology at Liberty University.

Skip Garmo (’71), founder of Character Solutions International and a former adjunct professor in the Torrey Honors Institute, published The Leader's SEEcret: Asking the Right Questions & Embracing God’s Answers in September 2014. He writes in the book that a leading cause of failure in Christian leadership is falling in love with the process instead of the outcome. Leaders with enough conviction and courage to follow the data in the Scriptures will look away from trendy axioms, foggy vision talk and “secret sauce” for successful leadership, and will instead risk focusing primarily on Christ-like, God-honoring character.

Steve Blount (’72) won a seat on the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees in California on Feb. 9, 2016. His Area 3 seat encompasses all of Buena Park and La Palma and parts of Cypress and Anaheim.

Daniel B. Wallace (’74) was named president of the Evangelical Theological Society following the recent presidential terms of two Talbot School of Theology faculty members,Scott Rae and Clinton E. Arnold. Wallace, a senior professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, is in the middle of a two-year project with the institute he founded, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, which is digitizing 300 New Testament manuscripts at the National Library of Greece in Athens.

Cheryl (Beachler, ’78) Vanick recently completed her reading certificate from the University of Southern California. She has been a literacy specialist at Meadows Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, Calif., for 15 years and recently began an additional position as university supervisor of student teachers for California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Roger (Ph.D. ’92) and Jan (M.A. ’89) Dixon recently published Cross-Cultural Church Planting for Probies. Jan and Roger have been directly or vicariously involved in cross-cultural church planting for nearly 50 years. “Probie” — or probationary — refers to “the new guy on the block,” the rookie. The Dixons experienced being probies in working among the Sundanese Muslim people for over 30 years. They wrote this book to help others going through similar experiences.

Jennifer (Cowen, ’95) Fitzgerald was recently elected mayor of Fullerton, Calif. She has been on the Fullerton City Council since November 2012. In addition to her public service, she has worked in public relations and public affairs in Orange County for 20 years.

Deborah Price (’99, M.A. ’05) lives in Newark, Ohio, where she serves the Lord as a senior engineer for the Boeing Co. in the ICBM Program and worships at Vineyard Grace Fellowship. She lives with her son Nathan, 8, two cats and a dog, and is involved with community groups such as PTA and Pokemon League. A single mother, Deb has trusted in Psalm 68:5, “The Lord is a Father to the fatherless and a just defender of the husbandless.” She hopes her Biola friends remember that all believers serve God as kingdom ambassadors wherever he has called them.

Amy (Phillips, ’99) Sotis has used her Biola marketing degree to start Luminaries Retreat, a retreat business geared toward health, wellness and fitness from a biblical standpoint. The retreats are in a small town in western Wisconsin and are focused on biking, hiking and nutrition advice. Learn more at

Wes Lucus (’01) recently published Blessed are the Rich: Biblical Perspectives on Wealth and Abundance, which challenges Christians to pay attention to the positive aspects of wealth and the responsibility that comes with it. This book and journal will guide you through meditations and explorations of over 70 Bible verses and useful quotes that will encourage you and prepare you for the reward of God’s blessings.

Tamara Hise (’02) recently published The Child He Gave Me, "Sara": Obtaining Appropriate Education and Exposing Educational Myths, Disparity, and Inflexibility, a book that documents her journey raising a remarkable learner in a remote location where accessible and appropriate educational opportunities were not available. Peer-socialization beliefs, academic challenges and “normal” childhood experiences are presented with both humor and honesty.

Amber (Padgett, ’02) Simson married Martin in Maui, Hawaii, on March 14, 2015. The couple welcomed their first child, Zachary David, on Dec. 20, 2015. They live in California’s Santa Clarita Valley, and Amber works in North Hollywood as a nurse practitioner.

Joshua Wes (’00, M.A. ’02) was named a partner at Tucker Ellis LLP in January 2016. Wes focuses his practice in the area of product liability litigation, primarily defending pharmaceutical and medical device companies in complex actions in state and federal courts. He serves as national and local counsel at the state and federal trial court levels in multidistrict litigation, coordinated proceedings and class actions. He has a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Daniel Nehrbass (Th.M. ’03) recently published Who’s Using You? Making Yourself Available for God’s Use with CLC Publications. Over the course of 40 short chapters, the book seeks to remind us that to be used by God should be our deepest desire. Nehrbass is the president of Nightlight Christian Adoptions and served as an adjunct professor for Biola from 2003 to 2012.

Michael (’04) and Keilah (Vidaurre, ’07) Lord were married at The Griffith House in Anaheim, Calif., on July 4, 2015. They reside in La Mirada.

Josiah Bentle (’06) married Jacqueline Chase, a West Texas native and Loyola University-New Orleans alumna, on Nov. 7, 2015. Josiah and Jacqueline both work for Delta Airlines and will live near Los Angeles International Airport in Playa del Rey, Calif., where they attend Del Rey Hills Evangelical Free Church.

Bjorn (’06, M.Div. ’08) and Esther (Vorherr, ’03, M.A. ’08) Dixon became the parents of a 3-year-old boy on Aug. 4, 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They arrived home with Lennox Nati a month later and were eagerly welcomed by their 6-year-old twin daughters, Liana and Amaya. Bjorn serves as pastor of the WHY Church in Elk River, Minn., while Esther is at home helping Lennox adjust to his new family.

Karlynn Holbrook (’06) published her first work of fiction, Group Therapy, in January 2016. The book centers on Rachel London, who after experiencing a mental breakdown at work, is forced between getting fired and getting help. Rachel reluctantly agrees to go to therapy, but when she is greeted by a counselor with a tattoo of an eagle and Isaiah 40:31 on her arm and hears unimaginable experiences from other women, she’s more convinced than ever that she does not need therapy, her family or God. Will Rachel confront her painful past in order to keep her future on track?

Robert “Bobo” Chang (’08) and his wife, Kallie, celebrated the birth of their son, Zadok Psalm, in September 2015. He joined their 2-year-old daughter, Prayer Noelle. The Changs live in Burbank, where Bobo continues to receive the Lord's grace in his family and in his journey in acting and filmmaking. He is currently shooting a web series called "Mr. Student Body President" on Verizon’s Go90, releasing in July.

Liana Sims (’08) recently published the book Monday Never Comes, in which she shares how her fight against obesity wasn’t won in the kitchen nor in the gym, but in her mind. Liana, who lost 180 pounds, shares her weight-loss story and the principles learned along the journey to help readers overcome the seemingly impossible. Learn more about her story and the book at

Becky (Lorge, ’09) Salazar married Eric Salazar, a current Talbot School of Theology student, on Nov. 6, 2015. The two met in Roseville, Calif., through the young adults group at the church they both attended. Four years later they married and moved back to the Biola area, where Eric began attending Talbot in the spring of 2015.

Rick Laib (M.A. ’10) completed an Th.M. in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., in December 2014.

Ian Mayta (’13) started his own film production company called Studio and Cine after graduating. Recently, one of the company’s short documentary films, Lifeline, made it to one of the largest film festivals in the country, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The film is about a child soldier from the Liberian Civil war who finds refuge in the United States after the conflict. He finds the mental strength to overcome his fears and memories of the war through surfing.

Travis Swart, a current student in Biola’s master’s program in Christian apologetics, recently published the book From Prophecy into History: Proof of God's Hand on the Bible. The book, written for Christians and non-Christians alike, shows how Old Testament prophecies recorded over 2,000 years ago have repeatedly found fulfillment in the headlines of nonbiblical history.


In Memoriam                                                                  

H. Richard Kater (’50) passed away on Dec. 27, 2015, in Eugene, Ore. He is survived by his wife, Marion (’49), three children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Kater served in many capacities at his church home, Berean Baptist Church, including church treasurer, deacon, Sunday school teacher for both children and adults, and Boys’ Brigade leader.

Leonard Booker (’51) passed away on Feb. 3 in Colorado Springs, Colo. After graduating from Biola with a theology degree, Booker served in pastoral ministry in California for nearly a decade before moving to Quito, Ecuador, in 1962 to serve with Reach Beyond. There, he put his music and radio production talents to work, singing together with his wife, Imogene, in various music groups and doing English-language radio programs. After 15 years in Quito, the Bookers moved back to California in 1976, doing mission representation for the next 15 years. Upon their 1992 retirement from Reach Beyond, the Bookers continued to be active in ministry. They moved to Colorado Springs in 2006 to be closer to family and continued working with international students as long as Leonard’s health permitted.

Lillian Thiesen Kliewer (’53) passed away on Oct. 28, 2015, in Yucaipa, Calif. She was 83. As a student at Biola, she was active as a cheerleader and played piano in a school quartet. She also met the love of her life and husband of 54 years, the Rev. Robert C. Kliewer (’52, M.A. ’55) who preceded her in death in 2006. In her early years, she was a schoolteacher at Culter Academy and Baldwin Park Christian School. She served faithfully as a pastor's wife with her husband in many Grace Brethren churches in California, including West Covina, Modesto, Seal Beach, Westminster and Cherry Valley, as well as Linfield Christian School in Temecula. She will be remembered for her hospitality and her ability to make hymns come to life on the piano as she so easily played them by ear.

Melinda (Wilson) Robinson (’88) of Sagle, Idaho, passed away on Dec. 22, 2015, after a sudden battle with cancer at the age of 49. She is survived by her loving husband of 28 years, Todd Robinson; her children, Athena, Alanna, Avalon and Arwyn and Sean Labolle; and brother Guy Wilson of Leesburg, Fla. She was married in 1987, completed her elementary education degree at Biola, then taught fourth grade at Bethany Christian School in Whittier until starting a family. She homeschooled all four of her daughters through high school and declared herself retired when the youngest graduated. She was a woman of strong faith, which carried her through years of spinal pain following a near-fatal car accident. Even as she suffered daily, she was a warm and happy spirit, always bringing joy to those around her, and she spent many happy hours in her garden. She was an extraordinary seamstress and costumer, sewed clothing for the needy and rarely took time to sew for herself. Her brilliant sense of humor, abiding faith and love for others will be sorely missed by all who knew her.


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