SAGU announced the 2017 alumni award honorees to be recognized during Homecoming.

The Association recognizes individuals each year for outstanding service and support of the university, as well as for their contributions and noteworthy success within their respective industry, vocation, or service. The Association currently confers up to six awards. The highest award given under the University’s name is the P.C. Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Award, named for university founder and first president Rev. P.C. Nelson.

P.C. Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Award
Richard W. DuBose.

Following his time at SAGU, DuBose pastored several churches, including an 18-year tenure at Sachse First Assembly of God (now Northplace Church). During that time, the church grew from 17 to more than 800. DuBose served the North Texas District Council of the Assemblies of God as its Assistant Superintendent from 2005 until 2007, followed by 10 years as its District Superintendent from 2007 until the present. On August 10 of this year, DuBose was elected as the General Treasurer for the General Council of the Assemblies of God USA during the group’s biennial meeting in Anaheim, California.

Honorary Alumnus Award
T.W. Hobbs

Hobbs is a long-time friend of the University with a generous heart. So unmatched is his generosity that he has loved SAGU just as if it were his own alma mater. Over the course of many years, Hobbs’s generosity has impacted scores of students directly through his generous contributions to scholarships, with a particular emphasis on students studying to enter full-time mission work.

Distinguished Faculty Award
Robert Mapes ‘82

Mapes joined the faculty in 1986, and again for good 1991. He holds an M.S. from East Texas State University, an M.Div. from Texas Christian University, and an Ed.D. from Texas A&M. He served with distinction as a member of the faculty during his time at SAGU. Most recently, Mapes retired from full-time teaching, and from his position as the Chair of the Counseling and Psychology Department. His career also included service as the Director of a Community Crisis Center, author of “Crisis Lines,” a weekly column that appeared in several North Texas Newspapers, and the founding of North Texas Counseling and Education Services.

Distinguished Alumnus Service Award
John Houston ‘96

Local business owner and home builder John Houston has been loyal to the University since his graduation. His namesake company, John Houston Custom Homes is a consistent sponsor for university activities such as Christmas at SAGU, and the annual golf classic benefitting SAGU Athletics. In the years that John Houston Custom Homes has been the title sponsor for the SAGU Golf Classic, the University has seen a record number of funds raised for athletic projects from the event. John is also a regular guest presenter in classes and seminars and has previously served as a member of the SAGU Foundation Board.

Outstanding Young Alumnus for Vocational Ministry
Girien Salazar ’07, ‘13

Salazar serves as the Deputy Director of Faith and Education for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). The NHCLC is largest Hispanic Christian organization in America, representing over 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals in over 40,000 churches founded by Rev. Sam Rodriguez. Prior to serving in this capacity, Salazar taught English in Mexico, joined as a member of the Naval Reserves serving two deployments, served as Associate Professor for Latin American Bible Institute, a former member of VFW post 837, a board member for the Latin American Heritage Society, community liaison for Grace Tabernacle Church, and was a city official as a member of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Board.

Outstanding Young Alumnus - Marketplace
Benjamin “BJ” Roybal ‘13 and Bianca Roybal ‘13

College sweethearts Benjamin and Bianca graduated from SAGU’s young, but thriving, Digital Media Arts program in 2013. While in school, both of them landed competitive internships in major media markets. Upon graduation, they were both hired as production assistants for Disney/ABC Television Group, where Benjamin remains today. In 2014, Bianca landed a position working on a popular daytime television show. They both currently serve as Associate Producers for their respective employers in the Greater Los Angeles area.

According to Director of Alumni Relations, Devin Ferguson, the tradition of honoring outstanding alumni and friends of the University with these annual presentations dates back 45 years. Founded in 1927, SAGU celebrated 90 years during this year’s Homecoming.

As a small child, Josh sat on the edge of a church pew dangling his legs. His mother sang and great-grandfather played guitar on stage as Josh plucked the strings of his ukulele from the front row. Wide-eyed, he looked back toward the congregation. Their hands were lifted high and their voices clattered as they sang the goodness of God. He was only five, but Josh could feel the Lord in a special way.

Moments like these—moments of complete surrender— would resonate with him when he became a missionary kid in a French-speaking world.

“Worship allows you to connect with God in a way that is different from any other," Aldrich said.

Now almost 26, Aldrich is returning as an appointed Mission America Placement Services (MAPS) missionary. He will be a music director with Horizon Music, a traveling worship team based out of Paris. Horizon Music is a branch of ministry from Eglise Horizon church as they believe for moral, social and spiritual revolution across Europe.

With a population of over 60 million, France is the largest country in Western Europe. But, according to Operation World, only one percent of the country’s inhabitants are Pentecostal. Half of the country claims to be Roman Catholic. However, Aldrich said that most of the French people do not understand what it means to be born-again believers with a personal relationship with the Lord and do not regularly attend church services.

Meanwhile, France faces high unemployment, especially among the nation’s youth. According to FocusEconomics, France has twice the unemployment rate of the United States with over 10 percent of the nation being jobless.

“France is so lost and there is not a lot of hope,” Aldrich said. “France has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe and a lot of young people don’t have jobs. It’s also very dark spiritually and a very large number are involved in the occult.” According to New York Times, the French professional clairvoyance organization, Institut National des Art Divinatoire says 100,000 men and women are practicing clairvoyants in France today—four times the number of Roman Catholic priests. INAD estimates that about €3.2 billion are spent annually on their advice.

As a ministry rooted in the same mission and values of its church, Horizon Music travels to French-speaking countries to create a worship atmosphere that challenges young people to go after God and reach their cities with the gospel. Besides traveling, the band has also produced a live worship album and its worship leaders have opened for notable artists like Jesus Culture and Martin Smith. As they continue to grow and impact the French-speaking world, the goal of Horizon Music remains the same: “the presence of God is what we want, to grow closer to him daily, be led by the Holy Spirit, and through worshiping God create an atmosphere that lives and hearts are transformed and chains are broken.”

Josh plays lead guitar, writes songs, arranges and provides talkback during live worship.

“I have never been on a worship team where I could write songs with them and feel the Holy Spirit guiding us throughout the whole process," Aldrich said.

The process leading up to his involvement in Horizon Music started during a youth camp in France in 2006. At 15 years old, Aldrich felt that God would call him to write music with his best friend, Jeremy Giordano, in the future.

In the fall of 2013, that opportunity finally came when he received a call from his friend. Jeremy was a worship leader and music director at the Eglise Horizon church and asked Aldrich if he would be open to coming back to France to help write songs for the church’s new live worship album.

The rest is history. Josh arrived in January of 2014 as an intern through the help of SAGU’s Intercultural Studies department. Soon thereafter, Horizon Music recorded their new album, Declaration, with the help of Josh as a songwriter, arranger, and lead guitarist.

Since the album’s release, Josh has traveled with the band leading worship for some of the biggest worship conferences in France and French-speaking Europe.

After completing his internship, Josh knew that the Eglise Horizon church was where God was calling him. After graduating from SAGU, he began raising funds as a MAPS missionary to go overseas. In the spring of 2016, Josh went to work with his parents at Continental Theological Seminary in Belgium and Eglise Horizon on weekends. After coming back to raise support, Josh met his goal in November of 2016 and is now serving an 11-month term with Eglise Horizon in France.

Josh said that one passage that has always stuck out to him as a musician is 1 Samuel 16:23. “...David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” (NIV)

“I think there’s a really powerful aspect of anointed worship that allows you to worship the Creator with all your heart and you can just let the Holy Spirit change you. I know this is where God wants me to be,” Josh said.

Horizon Music is writing their second worship album. After they complete recording, they will tour Europe, including Belgium, Switzerland and parts of France.

By: Nathan Rouse, Alumnus
Lead Pastor, Radiant Church, Raleigh, North Carolina

Nathan Rouse Dropping ten thousand feet faster than my stomach could handle, I gripped the arm rests of my seat and looked up to my mom with both a question and declaration, “Are we going to die?” and “I think I’m going to throw …” My mother’s intuition had already kicked in and before I knew it my head was being shoved into an airline vomit bag. (She definitely earned her mother’s pay that night.)

We were on a red eye flight from California to Texas when we ran smack dab into a massive thunderstorm and were tossed around like my dog Sarge’s play toy. Though I was only seven at the time I clearly remember my mom squeezing my hand (cutting off the circulation) as she looked up and prayed, “God please don’t let us die.” (I don’t recommend saying this audibly in front of your kids. It doesn’t calm a kid down.) However, the immediate benefit was that I began to pray along with her, believing that if we teamed up we were bound to get a faster response from the Lord. We must have gotten through because we soon safely landed with a collective applause from all passengers and me asking my mom to loose the death grip she had on my hand.

I pray that you don’t ever have to endure a storm like that in a plane, but we do have to recognize that the storms of life’s circumstances are normal. We can’t stick our head in the sand acting like life isn’t hard, it just plain is. It’s with this in mind that I want us to look at two different storms found in scripture that I believe can shed some light on how we should perceive our own personal storms, view God, and how we should respond in the midst of them.

Let me take you to the gospel of Mark as he gives an account of a very real storm that Jesus and his disciples faced at the height of his ministry. Jesus has just gotten through with a full day of ministry and he’s exhausted and in need of rest. Let’s drop into this story:

Mark 4:35–41:
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

It’s easy to read passages like these and fail to put ourselves in the boat with them, but I want you to climb into the fishing boat with these men. As they cross the sea, a squall kicks up, and this nasty storm begins to bombard the boat. Do you feel the spray of the sea on your face and the raging wind they were sailing into? They're taking on water, and these guys truly believe without exaggeration that they're going to die.

They go to Jesus who is asleep at the back of the ship. They wake him and say, "We're about to die. Don't you know what's going on? Don’t you care?"  Jesus gets up, and commands the wind and the waves, "Peace! Be still!" Immediately there’s "great calm", Mark writes. I imagine water like glass in this moment.

The disciple’s reaction to this divine meteorological miracle is one of Holy fear, "Who is he that even the wind and waves obey his words?" Now, right here is where many stop with this story. We’re amazed at the power that Jesus displays over the weather. (And we should be.)

However, I want you to notice something. There is no indication that Jesus was even going to get up from his nap. The disciples go and wake him, and he does what he has to do to calm them down, but we see no indication Jesus was going to get up.

He doesn't wake up and feel disoriented and yell, "Whoa! What's going on? Why didn't you guys wake me sooner? We have to do something! Let's figure this out!"

No. He gets up and says, "Peace! Be Still!" It is then that he goes on to chastise them for not believing they would make it.

It seems Jesus is less concerned about the wind and the waves, and more concerned about the disciple’s lack of faith. We don’t get a picture that he’s panicking, "Oh my word! Guys, you have to wake me up sooner when things like this happen!" Does Jesus mean that the disciples should have sat in the boat and done nothing? No, that would have been silly.

Imagine when Jesus told them, “let’s go across to the other side”, if the disciples would have just sat in the boat and waited, maybe even began to pray, but never actually began to sail. What do you think Jesus’ reaction would have been? Jesus might wake up and notice that they’re just sitting there, “What are you doing, why aren’t we moving? And the disciples reply: “Well, we’re praying our way over!” No, there’s an obedience and a rowing to our faith!

I was reminded of this lesson God taught me a few years ago as I was on a prayer walk on our church property. Our church sits on sixty-two acres in the woods, so there is plenty of room to roam. As I walked up our long church driveway, I stopped and looked at our church sign near the road and God clearly spoke to me these words, "Pull up those weeds under the sign."

Odd. I know.

It was clearly the Holy Spirit speaking. I walked over and began to pull weeds all the while saying out loud, "Why do I need to pull weeds? I'm out here to pray. This is why we use weed killer." I began to think that maybe this would be one of those miraculous moments that because I was out here pulling weeds someone would drive by and say, "God told me you'd be here" or something.


God said, "Pull." Another few minutes went by as I grappled with the wild onions in the soil when all of a sudden He spoke to me these words, "It's been a long time since you've obeyed me with something this small. Nathan, I don't just want your obedience on the things you perceive as a big deal: ministry, family, the big do's and don'ts. I want it all. Obedience is better than sacrifice."

I kneeled there on the ground for a few moments hit hard by the truth. I prayed, "Lord, I'm yours." He said, "Now, you can go pray." I listened and obeyed. Upon reflection I was reminded that we, many times, miss out on great miracles that God desires to do in and through us because we don't obey the smaller steps that lead to those miracles. There might be small tasks, but there's no such thing as small obedience. When God says pull weeds... pull. When God says to row your boat, you row.

Strong faith works the sails and steers the rudder of our life as needed; with a faith that Jesus is going to get us to the other side. Strong faith works hard with the gifts, resources, and wisdom God’s given us; has the tough conversations; goes through treatment and procedures … knowing that He’s going to walk us through it all.

It is in Him sustaining us through our storms (when others are washing out, and shipwrecking their faith), when we’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death and know He’s with us that our faith is maturing. Look again at Jesus’ response to the disciples, you get the feeling Jesus is expressing, “Guys, you still don’t have faith in me? I'm in the boat with you!"

While there wasn’t an abundance of faith in the boat, there was plenty of fear and that was the problem. We become stopped in our spiritual progress when we allow fear to lead instead of faith. We all know what it's like when all of a sudden we get caught in a fearful moment, when we're freaked out about the future, about a sudden crisis that pounces upon us, about our health or the health of another, about how that job situation is going to work out, our finances, the list goes on. We can all relate.

We become stopped in our spiritual progress when we allow fear to lead instead of faith.

It reminds me of the man who goes to visit his doctor for some test results. The doctor walks in and says, "Well, Mike, I have some bad news, and I have worse news." Mike says, "Hit me with it Doc." The Doctor leans in and says, "The bad news is you have twenty-four hours to live." "What could be worse than that?" the man replies. The doctor sighs and says, "I forgot to tell you yesterday."

That's bad news and a bad joke.

This is the kind of bad news the disciples were facing in their hearts and minds during this storm, but Jesus points out that the remedy is faith in Him. Consider this: had they had faith in the midst of the storm, the miracle would not have been needed. They would have made it across because that’s where Jesus said they were going.

Jesus didn’t say, “We’re going to start across but end up in a storm, capsize and then sink.” No, he said, “Let us go to the other side.” We must cling to God’s promised word!

When it comes to the storms we face, God can certainly remove it, but more often He chooses to take us through it. Yet, many of us would rather have the miracle without the storm. Like the disciples, we’d rather God rescue us than sustain us. We all want the fix, but what if we’ve been called to endure and trust Him in the midst of hardship? You can be sure that there are times when God steps to the bow of the boat of our lives and speaks, “Peace, be still.” Yet, other times He comes and says, “My peace I give you.” God wants us to trust and believe for the miracle, but also trust Him in the midst of our perceived chaos.

In my own life I have to admit that I bring much of this chaos on myself. I am notorious for being forgetful. "Where did I put my wallet, my keys, that book I was reading?" Thankfully my wife Erin has the gift of a photographic memory for where all these items are at any one time. She amazes me. Unfortunately, forgetting inanimate objects are the least of my worries when it comes to forgetting.

Sometimes I forget God is able. Maybe in a moment of struggle or overwhelming stress you've forgotten too. Even as believers we sometimes fail to believe. Listen to this dramatic conversation between Jesus and the father of a child who desperately needed a miracle:

"And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief’” (Mark 9:21–24)!

"I believe; help my unbelief." That statement alone sums up the faith of many. Many times we believe in a general sense, but don't believe for our own circumstances. If we read on we find that Jesus meets this father's faith where he is and delivers the child. Jesus is kind that way, meeting us where we are. He desires to meet you where you are today as well.

While I can’t give you the answers to all of life’s hardships, I can tell you why we as followers go through difficult and painful times. It is in the testing of our faith that we become more like Jesus. That’s the Father’s goal.

Garza Receives National Award Destiny Garza was been named as the National Christian College Athletic Associations (NCCAA) D1 Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the week during the 2015 season. It marked the first time a SAGU cross country athlete received a national honor. She was also named the Sooner Athletic Conference Women’s Runner of the Week.

Garza, a junior from Aldine, Texas, demolished the University of Dallas course with a personal record of 18:20. The course is known as “no PR hill” because of the grueling terrain. With her first place finish, she beat the second place runner by 1:19. This was Garza’s third meet in a row to be the meet champion. Her efforts helped her team to a third place finish overall.

Alumna Desiree Richards Loses 200 Pounds A fter finding herself in the emergency room with heart related issues, alumna Desiree Richards made a new start — losing more than 200 pounds. Richards said, "I use to pray that God would do a miracle and take the weight off of me. I believe that my weight loss journey is a testament that sometimes miracles come in different ways than we expect."

In September of 2013, while attending SAGU, Richards was rushed to the emergency room due to a racing heart rate. After doctors restored her regular rhythm, the risk of diabetes and heart disease triggered a life-style change.

At one point weighing almost 400 pounds, she signed up for TITLE Boxing Club in Arlington, Texas, began eating healthy, and started her journey.

Richards says, "I would say one of the hardest things was just stepping foot into the gym. I figured people would laugh at me and I was afraid. However, I knew I needed to make a change if I wanted to live a long and healthy life. "

She began working out four times a week. Now, She works out six days a week: four times at TITLE and two weight resistance workouts using a weighted vest and weighted gloves. She is continuing to look for ways to improve and become better than she was the day before.

Food became a form of comfort during difficult times. Richards said, "The life of someone severely overweight is hard physically, mentally and emotionally. All of that changed as I lost weight." She learned the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and using good judgment when it comes to her eating habits.

Richards graduated from SAGU in 2012 with a degree in Pre-Professional Counseling. Upon graduation, she enrolled at University of Texas–Austin (UTA) and graduated with a master's in social work. She is now working on her clinical social work license.

Richards says, "I feel blessed to be inspiring others to change their lifestyle's like I was inspired by my friends and family. I recently began a gofundme page for skin removal surgery to take away the excess skin after losing the weight." She continued, "I'm also following a body building plan and working to build muscle. Ultimately, I am healthy and that has always been my goal."