Norene (Sewell) Anderson, class of 1969 , and her husband, DeWayne Anderson, pastoring in Las Cruces, New Mexico, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on April 4, 2019.

Paul Nicely, class of 1975 , passed away peacefully at home on December 18, 2018. Paul had endured lower body dementia and had returned to Waxahachie to spend his final days in Pleasant Manor Health and Rehabilitation while his wife and alumna, Vickie , lived in town. The two spent time together singing while Paul prayed for other residents. Vickie continues to reside in Waxahachie where she works for Freedom Fellowship International and ministers to hurting people.

Kevin Culpepper, class of 1998 , completed his Doctor of Education degree from the University of the Cumberlands. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for Robert E. Lee High School, Culpepper's former high school in Montgomery. He recently accepted a new role at the Alabama State Department of Education as Project Manager for Child Nutrition programs. Cami, his wife, just celebrated her fifth year as a Children's Director/Minister at Frazer Church and is involved with the continuation of the church's kid television program, “That Kids Show”.

Daymond Sewell, class of 2006 , has served in a wide range of ministries — Youth for Christ, youth pastor, and associate pastor. He married Lyonie Sewell and they are adopting a baby girl, Sarah Grace Elisabeth Gene Sewell. They are located in Toledo, Oregon, ministering in the city and along the Oregon Coast. Daymond has also taken up disc golf and has found the sport as a unique and effective means of ministering to the lost.

Tony and Esmeralda Garza, class of 2013 , have continued to serve in church ministry as assistant pastors for the last eight years in El Paso, Texas. Tony completed his doctoral journey in April of 2018 and received his Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership. They have two children, Melody, 6, and Ian, 4. “We loved our time there (SAGU) as on-campus graduate students and have great memories of SAGU! SAGU was such a blessing in our lives and will always hold a special place in our hearts!” says Dr. Tony Garza.

Emily (Bailey) Fiscus, class of 2015 , married Quinton on June 23, 2018. She works at North Star Behavioral Hospital as a Mental Health Specialist Level III. She was recently promoted to a manager at the facility.

February 25, 2019 | Blake Cochran

Returning Honorable-Mention All-American guard, Lexi Rich has broken the season-single scoring title as a SAGU Lady Lion Saturday against Wayland Baptist University. She broke the record as she poured in 18 points against WBU for a total of 589 points so far this season.

The previous record was held by San Antonio native like Rich, Chelsea Jones as she scored 580 points seven years ago to end her career in 2011. Jones was an NAIA All-American who averaged 16.11 ppg that season as they finished 23-13; the women have compiled a 20 win season this season which hasn’t been since Jones season year.

Rich has been awarded SAC, NAIA, and NCCAA player of the week awards this season and is currently nationally in nine different categories; 2nd in 3-pointers made per game (3.53) and total 3-pointers made (106), 4th in free-throw percentage (88.4%), 6th in total scoring (589), 8th in points per game (19.6), 28th in total assists (107), 36th with 3.57 assists per game, 41st in 3-point shooting percentage (36.6%), and 47th in field-goal percentage (39.5%).

November 11, 2018 | Blake Cochran

The men's cross country team represented SAGU for the sixth time at the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 10th. The meet was held on the College of the Ozarks campus in Point Lookout, MO, and this race was the first of their bid for the championships. This year's field featured 17 DI and DII NCCAA schools from across the country, and although the number of teams were down, the competition was not as the Lions were looking for their program's first podium finish.

With history a short 25-29 minutes away, the Lions boldly toed the line. They were led once again by their fearless freshman, Zackery Hammond, who paced the hilly 8k in 30-degree weather with the time of 26:16.18 which was good enough for 3rd place overall. He was followed closely by fellow Lion, Adrian Cedillo (Sr.) who blazed through the finish line with the time of 26:41.05 and a 10th place finish. Their top 10 finish earned them the program's first and second NCCAA All-American awards. Head Coach Jason Covarrubias on his first two runners, “What can I say, these gentlemen are proof that hard work still works and today hard work got rewarded! I am extremely proud of them and it's pretty cool to witness the program's 1st All-American cross the line and then second one join him 25 seconds later!”

The Lions next three runners gutted and fought hard the entire race as they chased their goal of being one of the top four teams honored at the award podium. Cody Walker (Jr.) was the third lion to finish the rugged 8k with the time of 28:09.99 in 30th place. He was followed by captain Robert Herrera (R-So.) four places after with the time of 28:31, and freshman Arturo Valdez rounded out the top 5 in 46th place with the time of 29:17.34. Freshmen, David Burciaga and Jose Alvarez also finished the most difficult course the Lions have raced on in 57th and 63rd place, respectively.

Fifteen minutes after the last runner crosses the line; the official team results were posted naming Biola University the 2018 NCCAA National Champion with 25 points, runner-up was the Tigers from Campbellsville University with 51 points, 3rd the Troll of Trinity Christian College with 91 points, and the final podium spot was award to the Lions from Southwestern Assemblies of God University with 104 points. Covarrubias, “This is the best we have ever finished. It was our goal from day one to not leave here empty handed and as I tell them every day, this won't be the last one either. Today, was a historical day for these men.”

March 11, 2019 | Blake Cochran

On Saturday, March 9th, one day into Spring Break, four members of the SAGU Lions Track Team competed in the 4x800m Relay at the Jet Relays in Fort Worth, TX. The meet was hosted by the legendary Hallmark Track Club and featured over forty universities and colleges from the NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, and several from the NAIA level.

SAGU's 4x800m team consisted of a junior and three freshman this was the third time in program history that a team competed in this rare event. The relay was started off by Arturo Valdez (Fr.), who is currently ranked 6th in both the 800m and 1500m runs in the NCCAA. Valdez handed off to Zackery Hammond (Fr.), ranked 3rd in the NAIA in the 5,000m and 3000SC and 1st, respectively, in the NCCAA. Hammond passed the baton to David Burciaga (Fr.) who is ranked 3rd in the NCCAA for the 3000SC. Finally, Burciaga successfully transferred the baton to Cody Walker (Sr.), who anchored the team and is currently ranked 9th in the 1500m for NAIA and 1st in the NCCAA, and is the lone returning member of the 2017 4x800m squad that finished 10th at the NCCAA National Championship.

The team finished 4th place overall at the Jet Relays and was less than five seconds away from a podium appearance with a time of 8:31.46. The time earned the men's relay team a spot in the NCCAA National Outdoor Track Championships in Winona Lake, IN, this May, and currently hold the #1 ranking 4x800m time in the NCCAA.

The Lions Track team will remain idle for Spring Break and return to action at the Harding Invitational in Searcy, AR, on Saturday, March 23rd.

March 20, 2019 | Andrew Hurst

Children in the foster care system often report experiencing feelings of grief and anxiety as a result of their transitional lifestyles. Having a sense of family, community, or even identity can be near impossible when living out of a suitcase hopping from home to home and usually separated from siblings.

It is because of these feelings of neglect and disassociation that resulted in Lacey Todd, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) Social Work Instructor, and her husband, Brian, to make the decision of adopting three sibling children in the foster care system on March 6.

“We felt that it was important for the children to be able to stay together,” says Todd. “It’s highly uncommon for a sibling group of three to be able to be placed in the same home, so that’s one of the reasons we decided to open our house to them.

Though the adoption was just recently finalized, the children moved in with Lacey, Brian, and their 8-year-old daughter, Roxie, on December 8, 2017.  The placement was considered a kinship placement due to the fact that the children were related to the Todds.

“Whenever we got the call asking if we would take them, my husband and I decided then that if they were coming with us, then they were going to stay. If we were going to take them into the house, then we were going to have them and eventually go towards adoption if the parental rights were terminated.”

According to Lacey, all three children currently ages 8, 5, and 3 have adjusted well to a stable home setting.

Lacey and Brian were intentional to set a tone of permanency and make them feel at home when they arrived. They immediately unpacked and put away their suitcases along with putting all their clothes on hangers. Family members also came over to meet them and help put the boys' new bunk beds together.

“The children have lived in many different homes through their short lives and have been moved around more times than we can count. They are very loving, get along well with our daughter and have adjusted well to a routine.”

“They are also quite rambunctious” she laughed.

“I’ve had to learn how to be a mom of boys, since before we only had my daughter, and how to go from one child to managing four, making dinner, baths, and how to fit them all along with car seats in one car. It’s definitely an experience…. And to do diapers all over again. You forget how to do diapers,” she said.

Though she and her husband continue to tackle the newfound duties of parenting multiple children, Lacey says that the amount of support they have received from SAGU and the local community has been overwhelming.

Lacey was pleased to find out that many SAGU professors on campus are foster parents including Dr. Darren Daugherty, Program Director of SAGU’s Child and Family Studies degree program. “There are multiple times I messaged him asking advice,” she said.

Along with Dr. Daugherty, Lacey mentioned how Sandra Harp, SAGU Instructor and a former director at Arrow Child & Family Ministries, greatly helped her. “There were often times when I reached out to her to see what I should do,” says Lacey. “Being a foster parent is very isolating and it’s not always like a traditional parenting problem, but being in an atmosphere where foster care and adoption is a commonality helped it feel not as isolating. It was important to have the SAGU community supporting us and giving us advice. Multiple students got “approved” to be sitters for me so we (husband and I) could go out. There are certain steps you have to go through to babysit kids in foster care so Ms. Harp did that and so did another student just so we can have a night out.”

When Lacey and Brian decided to become licensed foster parents, working with the Oaks Church Orphan Care helped fast track the licensing process. “Their Orphan Care program has been a big support. SAGU has actually had interns work closely with the program. Seeing how the local churches work together to provide support for social services and emphasized the churches-needed role in this area was great to see.”

Lauren O'Leary with the Children

Orphan Care assisted them with the foster care approval process through the agency, Arrow Child & Family Ministries. Lauren O’Leary, SAGU alumna and one of the first SAGU Social Work majors, was their case agent throughout the whole process. “It was an interesting dynamic to both learn alongside her and just see how she’s functioning in the field as a professional,” said Lacey. “Ms. Harp was also one of her first professors and got to see Lauren in action and they both got to join us at the adoption hearing.”

In the midst of the adoption procedures, Lacey thought this would be an opportunity to shed a positive light on CPS workers and foster care services for her students. March serves as the official Social Work Month every year in which social workers throughout the nation are recognized for the important contributions they make to society. As such, Lacey invited students from her Human Behavior and Social Environment and Social Work Practice class to witness the official adoption in court and talk to the Child Protective Services (CPS) worker and foster care worker on the case.

“I wanted the students to see a positive moment in a field that at times can be overwhelming, heartbreaking, and stressful. Although the field of social work is broad and is practiced in multiple different arenas, many of the students want to work in the area of child welfare.”

Since first opening their doors to the children, Lacey and Brian have been able to invest in their lives in more ways than one. The oldest two children were recently baptized at their home church, Highland Meadows in Red Oak. The children have all bonded with their children’s pastors, Austin, SAGU alumnus, and Shallen Slusher. They have also attended North Texas Kids Camp and participated in Fine Arts with Shine Bright Kids Ministry (Lighthouse Church, Bowie, TX) where their aunt is the children’s pastor.

“Although I’ve practiced as a social worker for over 10 years, I have always worked in the area of mental health and only seen the child welfare system work as an outsider. This new journey into foster care and adoption was unexpected and has stretched us in more ways than one. Our family is adjusting to our new normal and seeing each of the children reach new milestones and thrive is worth every struggle. Seeing how many people from all different areas of our lives where there to support our children on adoption day was amazing and emphasized our adoption day motto- “Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten-Stitch.’”