Good News – March 2019

Good News Newsletter Headline

A Life-long Call to Serve – Roberto & Rhesa Rodriguez

The historic global missionary commissioning of SNU graduates, Roberto and Rhesa Rodriguez, by the Church of the Nazarene, was the latest and most significant affirmation of their life-long call to serve. The group of 37 commissioned in February 2019 is the largest class since 1980 – and is historic not only in size but because the Rodriguez’ are the first global missionaries assigned to serve the USA/Canada Region in the history of the Church of the Nazarene.

Pictured: Rev. Roberto & Rhesa Rodriguez; Josiah, Ruthy, Mikayla

Robert and Rhesa serve as the Nazarene Border Initiative (NBI) facilitators at the USA/Mexico border where they resource and support the humanitarian and compassionate ministry efforts of churches on both sides of the border from Texas to California. Having served as volunteer missionaries in Central Asia and as missionaries on specialized assignment at NBI prior to being commissioned, their 7 years at NBI in El Paso, Texas, has resulted in significant growth of the size and scope of the ministry center as a hub for training, resources, coordinating numerous Work & Witness groups each year, and serving as facilitators for the annual COM2MX missions partnership with SNU.

Robert, originally from Mercedes, Texas, met Rhesa at SNU. They graduated in 2000 and married in 2003. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Science in music and completed a Master of Christian Education degree at NNU. He has served as a children’s pastor, worship leader and Hispanic pastor prior to entering missionary service. He has also been a certified public school teacher and is an Ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene.

Rhesa (Gilbert) came to SNU from Guatemala, the child of missionaries. After earning her Nursing degree from SNU, she completed a Masters as an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. In addition to her work at NBI, she serves as a Pediatric Critical Care Transport Nurse. Rhesa is a district-licensed minister on the South Texas District and on track for ordination as a Deacon.

The Rodriguez’ have three children; Ruthy, Josiah and Mikayla. Their ministry is truly a family affair as they seek God and serve together in Cross Cultural settings.

While both knew from a very early age that God was calling them to lives of service in ministry, Robert and Rhesa said, “For us, our commissioning as global missionaries was a confirmation of the call God had given us when we were kids – a life-long call to serve.”

To learn more about COM2MX (Commission Unto Mexico) visit

Visit Nazarene Border Initiative to read more about the NBI’s work and ministry.

Bobby Martin – A Legacy of Building Champions & Changing Lives

After forty years of impact and influence at Southern Nazarene University, Athletic Director, Bobby Martin, has announced his plans to retire June 30, 2019. Martin stepped onto the campus of Bethany Nazarene College (BNC) as a transfer student-athlete in the fall of 1972. He has served his alma mater in a variety of leadership roles including: Dean of Students, Recruiter, Instructor, Coach and Athletic Director. Throughout his career at SNU, Martin has modeled a LiveLast lifestyle for athletes and made their pursuit of a Christ-centered education a first priority.

This LiveLast legacy began in the early 1960’s in a Nazarene mission church on the West Texas District, where – under the ministry of life-long servants of Christ, and SNU alums, Dr.Joe and Deletta Tompkins, and, later, Dr. Charles and Barbara Jones – a young Bobby Martin became a Christ-follower, grew in his faith, and has allowed God to work through him throughout his life.

Recently, the campus family and community honored Martin with a special night of tributes and testimonials. A highlight of the celebration was the announcement that the floor of the Sawyer Center will be named “Bobby Martin Court.” Fans, former student athletes, and the campus family joined in thanking ‘Coach Martin’ for his legacy of forty years of service and dedication to SNU. While his accomplishments and accolades as a student athlete, coach and Athletic Director are well documented, Martin’s greatest passion, by his own account, is to see change in the lives of athletes and coaches each year. Under his leadership, the mission of the Athletic program has been to model the University motto – Character-Culture-Christ.

Martin’s desire to reach young people with the message of the Gospel led to his creation and leadership of the Camp for Champions summer sports camps for kids. Over the decades he impacted the lives of thousands of boys and girls through the camps’ biblically based message of what a true champion is, and personally led scores of young people to a new life in Christ. Regardless of the demands of a busy schedule, Martin has made it a priority to serve as speaker for countless retreats, conferences and training camps over the years.

As Athletic Director, Bobby Martin played a pivotal role in SNU’s transition from the NAIA to the NCAA-Division II in a rigorous, three-year process. This was the culmination of the growth from 4 to 17 varsity sports for women and men over the span of his leadership, and the Crimson Storm is already experiencing success in this new and highly competitive arena, with the most recent accomplishment being historic back-to-back conference championships for the Men’s Basketball program.

“Bobby Martin’s contributions to SNU are immeasurable,” said SNU President Dr. Keith Newman. “In every role he has provided Christ-like leadership and been a champion for students on their discipleship journey. We are grateful for the sacrificial investment he and Jan have made in this university. May God bless Bobby in some extra special ways in this next season.”
To read more about Bobby Martin’s significant impact on intercollegiate sports and Southern Nazarene University, visit SNU Athletics News

Innovation Leader Shares Insights at Spring Pastors Forum

Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and Innovation Leader at Life.Church, served as the featured speaker for the Spring Pastors Forum, held on Monday, March 11, 2019 on the campus of SNU.

A leading voice in the Church on innovation and the use of technology, Gruenewald is a graduate of Southern Nazarene University and, prior to joining the Life.Church team in 2001, he started and sold two technology companies and served in advisory capacities for various startups and venture capital funds. Bobby is probably best known as founder of the YouVersion Bible App, which has seen over 365 million downloads in the ten years since its launch and has made the Bible readily available around the world and in more than 1,300 languages.

Speaking to a large group of pastors who gathered on campus, as well as scores more via the live stream, Gruenewald recounted his church youth camp experience where he dedicated his life to following Christ and how it sparked a God-given gift of creativity that he continues to use to build the Kingdom of God. His presentation on the 4 Essentials for Innovation was a window into the birth, development and challenges of true innovation in the Church that brings growth and spiritual transformation.

In addition, Gruenewald gave a number of insights into the challenges and experiences of leadership in the Church, then set aside a generous block of time for questions from the Forum participants – in the room and viewing via the live stream. Participants from Alaska to Mississippi and individuals and groups scattered across the South Central Region submitted questions related to the topics, and Gruenewald’s insightful responses sparked a resonate note with the pastors and leaders.

The twice-yearly Pastors Forums at SNU are sponsored by the Resource Center for Pastoral Leadership at SNU, bringing top-tier presenters and free or low-cost resources to those in ministry. Mark your calendar for the Fall Pastors Forum on Monday, October 14, 2019, featuring Steve DeNeff, author, ministry trainer and Senior Pastor of College Wesleyan Church in Marion, IN. More information and online registration available soon at

PK Retreat Hosted at SNU

One of the great traditions at Southern Nazarene University is the annual PK Retreat, held each Spring on the campus of SNU. Recognizing that ‘preachers’ kids’ grow up in a unique set of circumstances that sometimes brings a different perspective on college, the PK Retreat was designed to bring high school age PK’s to SNU to experience campus life.

This year’s retreat was packed with fun, fellowship and food – and highlighted by times of worship, led by PK’s Libby Frees and Brittany Jenkins. SNU student and PK, Anna Rackley, led the group in a session of PK 101 and the Recruitment team from the Office of Admissions connected with each PK to be sure they knew how a Christ-centered education at SNU could be in their future.

Timmy Riggs, College Pastor at Bethany First Nazarene, and SNU alum, served as this year’s speaker. With his high-energy style, Pastor Timmy recounted experiences as a pastor’s kid with humor and honesty – and shared insights into making the most of the college years to bring about spiritual growth and maturity.

Always a bonding experience for the group, the fifteen PK’s who gathered this year got to know each other and their SNU PK hosts more personally throughout the weekend as they took part in a welcome party, went to Oklahoma City’s ‘Bricktown’ district for arcade games, sampled the local food favorites, and were treated to a performance of ‘Seussical the Musical’ by the SNU School of Music student cast.

Vice President for Church Relations, Dr. Terry Toler, said, “The annual PK Retreat is an important part of ‘pastor care’ for us because we know how much our pastoral families give of themselves to their church and community. The challenges teens face in our culture, with the added dimension of the parsonage life, makes it especially important that we show our PK’s how valued they are – and how they can be part of the SNU family.”

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