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Calvary Alumni Minister through COVID-19 Crisis

Calvary Alumni Minister through COVID-19 Crisis

Left: Pastor Tom Zobrist preaches a live-streamed sermon. Top right: Pastor Charlie Paine holds a service through Facebook. Bottom right: another alum, Dustin Garrett, holds a worship service online.

Calvary grads finding creative ways to serve

In spite of stay-at-home orders across the country, Calvary alumni are continuing their ministries. In lieu of holding regular service, many pastors have turned to streaming services. Calvary alum and chairman of the board Tom Zobrist, who pastors Liberty Bible Church in Eureka, Illinois, said, “Liberty was already broadcasting services with high quality video equipment for quite some time,” so the transition was easier for them. Another alumnus, Pastor Charlie Paine of Blue River Bible Church said their services had transitioned online as well. “[We are] conducting a virtual Sunday School class through Zoom… and a feature called Friday Blessings, in which we use the church Facebook to share blessings and praises.”

Staying connected as a church during isolation can prove difficult. Zobrist said Liberty Bible Church has a team that comes in on Sundays to produce their broadcasts, and “I have also been set up to be able to livestream with my phone in our home so that I can broadcast Sunday night and Wednesday night Bible studies when scheduled.” Even some youth group and AWANA events have transitioned to online.

Zobrist said their AWANA leader “developed a virtual AWANA on Wednesday nights that broadcasts opening ceremonies and devotions on Facebook and then leaders contact individual clubbers by phone so that they can keep up with their sections… Our youth also have been having a game and devotion on Wednesday nights with our new youth pastor, Josh Tomlinson, a soon-to-be CU grad. Josh hasn’t even officially started his ministries here yet, but is already developing relationships with our kids.”

Kansas City’s CEF ministries have been adapting to pandemic conditions as well. Another alum, Christy Heath, works as CEF’s local director for the Greater Kansas City Area. Heath said, “When the public elementary schools in our local area abruptly closed in mid-March because of COVID-19, we immediately began to respond with creative ministry strategies and tools for continued Gospel outreach to our 2,000+ after-school Good News Club (Bible club) children, their families, and many others.” CEF’s resources include an online Good News Club on Good News TV (U-NITE YouTube channel), Good News Radio, and online activity books, and other tools available at

As we live through these ever changing times, Pastor Zobrist said, “We look forward to the day we can be together physically again, but until then, we will make the most of the opportunities we are given. May we all stay faithful in these different days.”

President Trump Recognizes CU Alum

President Trump Recognizes CU Alum

The Schneiders with President Donald Trump

President Trump recognized Robin Schneider’s NICU advocacy during his 2020 State of the Union Address.

During his 2020 State of the Union Address back on February 4, President Trump recognized Calvary alumna Robin Schneider for her efforts advocating for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) infants. Schneider graduated from Calvary in 2011 with her Life Track One-Year Certificate. In 2017, Robin’s daughter, Ellie, was born at 21 weeks.

In the State of the Union Address, Trump said this about Ellie: “In 2017, doctors at St. Luke’s hospital in Kansas City delivered one of the earliest premature babies ever to survive. Born at just 21 weeks and 6 days, and weighing less than a pound, Ellie Schneider was born a fighter. Through the skill of her doctors — and the prayers of her parents — little Ellie kept on winning the battle for life.”

Schneider said, “I was first told that I would lose Ellie at 17 weeks pregnant. When we told our church that, they immediately rallied around us and helped find babysitting for our older son, food, prayers, and visits.” The Schneiders visited several hospitals, “and each one told me that there was no hope and that they would not admit me.” Finally, at 19 weeks, St. Luke’s admitted her, “even though there was no hope for viability at that gestation.”

St. Luke’s hospital staff provided high-quality care and encouragement to the Schneider family. Schneider said, “When Ellie was born, I was told she had a 0% chance of survival no matter what they did, but that they would give me the option to attempt life saving measures, and when I said we did want that they worked extremely hard and saved her life. Throughout her entire 5 month stay they were extremely encouraging and helpful.”

Schneider pointed out, “Ellie is an anomaly not only in the fact that she survived, but that she has almost no complications, and none of her complications are serious.” All of the prognoses offered at Ellie’s birth included lengthy lists of side-effects and probable surgeries, but Ellie only had one complication that required a surgery, and now Ellie is a healthy toddler. In his address, President Trump said, “Ellie reminds us that every child is a miracle of life… Our goal should be to ensure that every baby has the best chance to thrive and grow just like Ellie.”

The months spent in the hospital with Ellie have greatly shaped Schneider. “All my life I was looking for my purpose, and was frustrated for many years. After Ellie was born and I spent all that time in the NICU, I discovered that my passion was advocating for these babies and their parents.” Now, Schneider has been able to use her family’s NICU journey “to help families, to encourage and draw them to Jesus, and to help bring miracles to others.”

The Schneider family: Elijah, Joel, Eliora, and Robin
Robin and Ellie

Calvary Grad Uses Media in International Ministry

Calvary Grad Uses Media in International Ministry

Seminary graduate Dr. Leandro Tarrataca serves as president of ABECAR in Brazil.

Dr. Leandro Tarrataca graduated from Calvary Theological Seminary with a Master of Theological Sciences in 2007 and headed home to Brazil to put his degree to work. Now he serves as president of ABECAR (Brazilian Association of Culture, Education, Service, and Religion), a ministry focused on discipling believers through various forms. Tarrataca said, “The main thing we do is making disciples; that’s our Great Commission. In order to get that task done, we have different areas in process.”

ABECAR works to fulfill the Great Commission through strategic church planting, running children’s camps throughout the year, children’s programs, and media ministry. The camp program frequently involves teams coming from American churches to host English camps. The idea for the children’s program was developed by Tarrataca’s wife, Julie; she created a plan for buses to pick up underprivilaged children, who receive meals, help with homework, and recreation time. Tarrataca said, “It’s not only social work, it’s a social program because we want them to come to Christ.” He said over 1,000 children have been through the program, and as they grow up, they are becoming “doctors and dentists and teachers” instead of turning to drugs or other destructive habits.

The media aspect of ABECAR’s ministry sprouted from Back to the Bible’s work in Brazil, and follows a similar format. In the past, Tarrataca was “the voice of Back to the Bible to the Portuguese speaking world,” and he brings that experience to his current work developing podcasts and video sermons. He loves the analytics of modern technology that gives ABECAR statistics on their viewership base that has reached over 360,000 viewers in Brazil, Japan, and throughout Europe and the Americas. The media presence also plays a critical role in the educational side of ministry. ABECAR offers long-distance education across the country, supplemented with on-campus modulars that train believers and pastors in their faith.

When Tarrataca started his own education, he said, “[I knew] that I would be engaged with some sort of media ministry… that was my crystal-clear thing that I should be doing.” The other aspects of his current work—children’s ministry, church planting, and directing ABECAR—were unexpected. As he evaluated the ways God is working in Brazil, he said, “I really think we have to answer these things, not based on feelings, but on what Scripture says… I think our aim of making disciples is a biblical command… [and] we see people coming to Christ and being baptized… [So] first, what we’re doing is biblical; second, people are coming to Christ; and third, people are growing spiritually.” Based on that, he said he fully trusts that God is working in and through the ministry in Brazil.

Dr. Tarrataca with wife Julie, son Leonardo, and daughter Melina.

Dr. Tarrataca serves as president of ABECAR, a distance learning system that is roughly translated, “A theological faculty as close as your television.” 

Dr. Tarrataca’s personal website is “Communicating Hope in the Digital World.”

Calvary Alum Directing Amazon Project in Brazil

Calvary Alum Directing Amazon Project in Brazil

Gary (back, center) and Sandy (front, second from left) serve with Word of Life Bible Institute in Brazil.

Calvary “Pushed” Him Toward Missions

Calvary alumnus Gary Parker serves with his wife, Sandy, with Word of Life Bible Institute (WOLBI) in Brazil, The Amazon Project. Parker said this ministry has three major foci. The first is “to evangelize and disciple young people,” by means of camping ministries, a K-12 Christian school, sports ministries, and teaching the Bible in public schools. Their second focus is the Missionary Training Institute, offering one-year, three-year, and five-year tracks. Parker said the three-year program is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in missiology, while the five-year program partners with online Brazilian universities to give students training in missiology and a university degree.

“The focus is to train Brazilian young people to be missionaries, to take the gospel to places where it’s never gone before around the world,” Parker said. The institute trains students in a variety of skills, including first aid, mechanics, agriculture, literacy, sanitation and water supply, and food preparation.

The third focus of WOLBI in Brazil is a church planting ministry on the Amazon River. WOLBI has a team of missionaries that go out on boats doing survey work to identify communities that are open to churches, then teams of church planters plant churches in the identified communities. Parker said, “As those churches begin to be established, of course, in all of these communities there are young people, so the cycle starts over.” All of the youth ministries are functional on the Amazon on a different scale, including camps, schools, and “floating seminary.”

Parker said, “I see God moving in the Brazilian church and in the hearts of Brazilian young people to not only take responsibility for finishing the job of reaching the nation of Brazil with the gospel, but also having more and more of a vision for reaching the world with the gospel.” He also mentioned how Brazil is uniquely positioned to reach the Muslim world, “because all the Muslim countries hate America, but they love Brazil because of soccer… And so Brazilians have open doors.”

Parker, who serves as Executive Director of The Amazon Project, discovered Calvary when their music team performed at his church in high school. He came to Calvary pursuing pastoral studies, but “a lot of things changed in my heart, and I ended up going back to Brazil where I was born to be a missionary.” While he was at Calvary, his parents returned to Brazil to start a new ministry with WOLBI. “They needed somebody to come with them,” Parker said, “to learn with them and grow with them… and I was looking for something to give my life to.” Now he oversees the various ministries in Brazil, raising funds, and representing the ministry in conferences and promotion. “Think what Dr. Cone does for Calvary, and that’s what I do for Word of Life.”

Parker said, “I believe we have one job description, and that’s making disciples in all nations. Whatever our occupation, we should have the nations in mind.” He looked to his time at Calvary as one of the factors that pushed him towards missions. “The time that you spend in college is a time where you begin to identify how you find your abilities, talents, and opportunities best aligning with that mission… so whatever you’re doing, whether you’re building widgets or preaching, the purpose behind that is the mission of making disciples globally.”

Be our guest for Calvary Days: Experience Student Life at Calvary

Be our guest for Calvary Days: Experience Student Life at Calvary

See for yourself what life is like as a Calvary University Warrior!

Calvary Days provides high school juniors and seniors, and college freshman transfers a chance to meet current CU students and professors, stay in the dorms, eat in the Student Life Center, sit in on college classes, attend an assembly, enjoy a CU theatre production, and so much more.

Calvary Days 2020 is scheduled for March 12-14. Be our guest and let us introduce you to student life at Calvary University in Kansas City, MO. Click here for more information and a registration form.

The Baby’s Name

The Baby’s Name

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us… And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:5-6

When I first heard the magnificent strains of “Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s Messiah, I didn’t know that its text was drawn from the sublime poetry of Isaiah in chapter 9, verses 5–6 (verses 4–5 in the Hebrew text). I have since learned that in those verses, Isaiah introduces the Child-Son, whose four-fold compound Name refers not only to His humanity but also to His deity.

The first Name, often translated as two, ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Counsellor’, is better understood as one phrase: “Wonder Purposer.” The first part of the Name refers to the quality of the supernatural from a verb which means ‘adviser’. But to Isaiah, it connotes the unthwartable plans and purposes of God which shall certainly come to pass.

“Mighty God” is best translated as, “God the Hero.” The word I translate “Hero” is used of one characterized as powerful, hence a ‘hero’ in the sense of a mighty warrior. Isaiah depicts God as a mighty warrior donning armor to save His people (Isaiah 59:15–17; 63:1). It is a name akin to “Jesus,” which in Hebrew means “the one who will give victory.”

The third name, “Father of Eternity,” can be understood in two ways: (1) the One who is eternally a Father and (2) the Progenitor of eternity. An approximate New Testament analog is “through whom He made the ages” (Hebrews 1:2).

Finally, He is called “Prince of Peace” (“Monarch of Well-being”) which speaks of the Child’s purpose in bringing reconciliation between God and man. The word usually translated “prince” is connected to the Akkadian word for king, and the word often translated “peace,” refers to a wholeness, an unbrokenness which He restores by taking our punishment upon Himself (Isa. 53:5–6)—the “peace offering” which celebrates the return to “at-one-ment” with God!

A Blessed Christmas to all in His Name!