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Why bother with the Old Testament?

Why bother with the Old Testament?

“Is the Old Testament for us today? Is everything in it for Christians living in the 21st Century? If we fail to study the Old Testament, what might we be missing? What might we be getting wrong?

Calvary’s Dr. Mike Dodds invited Joel Williamson, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament studies at Calvary University, for a conversation about the importance of studying the Old Testament today.

Visit the Calvary Conversations page to join the conversation, get on our email list and learn more.

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Duane and Cristina Smith: Faithfully Building up the Body of Christ

Duane and Cristina Smith: Faithfully Building up the Body of Christ

Duane and Cristina, 1993. 

“When you see people apply the Word that you had the joy of teaching them, it is a tremendous blessing.” 

Duane and Cristina Smith grew up in Christian families and came to faith at a young age, meeting at Calvary and marrying soon after. They stayed in the KC area for four years and were highly involved in their local church. Learning how a body of believers functioned would later become integral to them becoming spiritual mentors in their future home church. When the Lord took them to Marshfield, WI, Duane served as the assistant pastor of Calvary Bible Church, where he and Cristina served for over 8 years; during this time, they had all three of their sons. Today, Duane is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Waukon, IA. 

When reflecting on how his educational journey impacted his future career in ministry, Duane stated: “The education I received from Calvary laid a biblical and theological foundation for my life in ministry. As a pastoral studies major, my classes helped me understand the practical side of ministry, and Dr. Raiford shared wisdom with us ‘preacher boys,’ as he called us, that was absolutely invaluable.” He also added that his music training at Calvary helped prepare him for conducting worship in church services for over twenty-five years. Cristina reflects that her double major in Biblical Counseling and Church Music was exactly what she needed: “I am blessed to have been the Worship Coordinator at our church for many years now and use my degree not only in accompanying piano and worship leading, but in planning worship services year-round. As for counseling, I use the knowledge I gained from this degree every day.”

When asked what the most rewarding thing about full-time ministry has been, Duane states that it has been witnessing people grow in their faith: “There are many things that can discourage you in this ministry if you let it, but when you see people apply the Word that you had the joy of teaching them, it is a tremendous blessing.” Cristina adds, “There’s nothing like seeing the chains of sin being broken in people’s lives and watching them live in the freedom of their new identity in Christ.”

Duane sends a special word of counsel to those pursuing pastoral ministry: “Remember to cultivate a close relationship with the Lord now. As a pastor, you will be the one feeding others and discipling them. You must learn to feed yourself spiritually! Don’t just look at the Bible as another textbook. Treat it as the living and active Word of God that you derive your spiritual nourishment from. Serving God as a pastor is a tremendous blessing, but if you are trying to do it in your own strength it will be a disaster.”

Duane and Cristina both look forward to what God has in store for their future as a couple serving God in the church. Duane states that he looks forward to seeing people grow in Christ and use their gifts to serve Him: “There are some young men who are wanting to be discipled in my church, and that process will begin soon. I pray that God uses them in mighty ways!” Cristina adds, “We hope to plan another mission trip soon as they have transformed our church family into thinking globally and strengthened individuals in their personal walks with God.” 




Duane Smith speaking at Calvary’s 2022 Baccalaureate.

Duane and Cristina’s sons, Nathan (CU grad, 23), Michael (21), and Jacob (18).

Dr. James Clark: Dealing With Conflict Biblically

Dr. James Clark: Dealing With Conflict Biblically

“Conflict is everywhere. In my book, I present Biblical solutions to conflict, whether personal, interpersonal, emotional, social, or spiritual.” 

Dr. Clark is an experienced pastor, chaplain, counselor, and educator who recently published his second book, Dealing With Conflict Biblically, through Calvary University Press. 

Dr. Clark graduated from Calvary Bible College in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education and a minor in Music. He then became as a Youth For Christ director in S.E. Iowa. He served six years as an associate pastor in Wilmar, Minnesota, while also being a college and Vocational-Tech Institute chaplain. Years later, he served as lead pastor in Lackland, Minnesota for five years while also serving as a prison chaplain at Stillwater, Minnesota prison. For ten years, he pastored in Waverly, Iowa and served as chaplain for the Waverly Fire Department. 

In 1993, Dr. Clark began teaching at Calvary and started the counseling department for both college and seminary. In 1993, he attended Bethel Theological Seminary and Trinity Theological College and Seminary, finishing his master’s and doctorate degrees in Biblical counseling. At Calvary, he served as an academic dean for eleven years, president for seven years, and is currently teaching as an adjunct professor. 

Dr. Clark’s journey in ministry began when he was just thirteen years old: “While attending a Youth For Christ rally in St. Louis I felt called to ministry. My church gave me opportunities to speak and I preached two summers in churches in Michigan. I was also active in our local Youth For Christ club from junior high through high school.” While a student at Calvary, Dr. Clark served for three years at Kansas City Youth For Christ as a club director, where he discovered that a career in ministry was his passion because he saw the need to counsel teens.

Dr. Clark saw the need for pastors and chaplains who truly desired to help people through continued counseling: “Being called to Calvary to teach counseling and head up a counseling center was a big step in my life; I loved assisting students in their counseling ministry.” After retiring, Dr. Clark decided to put his experiences and teachings in a Biblical Counseling book for the Christian community, Biblical Counseling for the Church and Community, published through Grace Acres. Now, he is releasing Dealing With Conflict Biblically, through Calvary University Press. 

While in ministry, Dr. Clark dealt with many different types of conflicts first-hand, which prepared him with the knowledge and experience to write Dealing With Conflict Biblically. He states: “It goes without saying that conflict is everywhere. In my book, I present Biblical solutions to conflict, whether personal, interpersonal, emotional, social, or spiritual. How to deal with conflict is clearly laid out in the Bible, which is what I expound upon with illustrations and biblical examples in Dealing With Conflict Biblically.

Dr. Clark is excited about writing several more books to inspire people to find the Bible relevant with solutions for modern society. “Calvary University Press has great potential to inform people about Biblical material to help them in their understanding, knowledge and growth in the Lord Jesus Christ!” Dr. Clark also looks forward to continuing God’s will for his life through following his callings in teaching, preaching, and writing. “I’m enjoying this phase of my retired life. As my physician said, God is not done with the Clarks yet!”


Dr. Clark is a highly respected and dearly loved alumnus of Calvary University. CU Press to honored to introduce his work.

Alumnus Recognized: Bruce Baker

Alumnus Recognized: Bruce Baker

Dr. Bruce Baker (CTS ‘97) and his wife, Bonnie, were married for 40 years and had three children together: Daniel, Jacob, and Elizabeth. Dr. Baker went to be with the Lord on February 13, 2022 from ALS complications.

Dr. Baker served in the US Navy for 11 years until he was honorably discharged in 1991. He dedicated the rest of his life to ministry and preaching the Gospel at various churches and across the globe. He received his Master’s of Divinity from Calvary Theological Seminary in 1997 and his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Baptist Bible Seminary. According to his wife, “his extroverted personality made him a natural teacher and expository preacher, and God allowed him to be a gifted one.” Bonnie also said that he hardly ever wasted an opportunity to talk about Christ with those around him.

In 1999, Dr. Baker went on a mission trip and discovered the impact he could have in teaching pastors and church leaders from across the globe who did not have access to sound biblical teaching. From that point on, for as long as his health allowed him to, he traveled to over 11 different countries on 4 different continents on an annual basis. In 2007, he took a trip to central Africa which stirred within him a passion and love for the people who lived there. The trip also gave him the idea to start his own organization, called Becoming Mature. Dr. Baker created this organization to help train pastors and church leaders, as well as build churches in central Africa. The Bakers’ son, Jacob, is now the Executive Director and Missionary-at-Large for Becoming Mature. Bonnie and their daughter, Elizabeth, also help with the ministry. Bonnie is the Office Manager and Elizabeth is the Online Coordinator. The Baker family hopes to continue expanding the ministry and the work being done in Africa through Becoming Mature.

In the last 12 years, Dr. Baker wrote two books. In 2010, he published Spiritual Maturity: The Road to Wonderland. After being diagnosed with ALS in 2018, he wanted to write a book of hope for believers who, like him, would stare death in the face. In 2019, he published For Thou Art With Me: Biblical Help for the Terminally Ill and Those Who Love Them.

According to Bonnie, Dr. Baker’s true passion was teaching others about the Lord and the Bible. “When he could no longer preach, it was a very low point for him.” COVID brought about more complications for his desire to teach, as it meant that he was not able to leave home. However, God continued to use and bless Dr. Baker, “He was asked to teach the adult Sunday School class. He would sit at his computer, in front of the camera and God would give him just enough energy to make it through the lesson. But that was enough for Bruce,” Bonnie continued, saying, “Even right up to the end of his life, God just kept giving Bruce small, yet vital roles.”

Calvary University is delighted to recognize Dr. Baker for his faithful service in ministry. During Calvary’s commencement service on May 7th, Bonnie Baker accepted the Alumni Association Award on behalf of her late husband and announced the establishment of the Baker Scholarship in his honor.

To invest in the Dr. Bruce Baker Mermorial Scholarship fund, please click here to visit 

For more information about Becoming Mature, established by Dr. Baker, please click here to visit

Rev. Tom Zobrist: A Man of Ministry

Rev. Tom Zobrist: A Man of Ministry

Calvary gave me a solid foundation of Bible and theology on which all of the ministry God has given me has been built.


During this year’s Calvary Commencement Ceremony,  Rev. Thomas (Tom) A. Zobrist will be receiving his Honorary Doctorate of Divinity. Additionally, Calvary will introduce the Zobrist Family Scholarship in recognition of Tom and his wife Cindi’s exceptional contributions to Calvary University and their deep and enduring ties to the Calvary community. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial support for those who, like Tom, actively demonstrate a passion for full-time ministry. 

Tom has been a pastor for nearly 35 years since he graduated from Calvary University in 1987. After just one year of internship, he was called to pastor Liberty Bible Church, a small storefront church in Eureka, Illinois. Over his years of pastoring, he has watched his once small church transform into a lively home of over 500 members: “We are a mission minded church from which many of our blessings come. We have an excellent leadership team there including two pastors that are also Calvary graduates, and we have many mature men to disciple our younger men.” Tom has also had a hand in ministries outside pastoring his church: “IFCA International, Calvary University, Brazil Gospel Fellowship Mission, and Adelphos USA are all ministries I have been able to serve for many years. I have grown to love the people and places and am thankful to the Lord and to LBC that I have been able to be a part of these ministries.” 

Tom’s experience of attending Calvary was both invigorating and challenging. He was a father of three children at the time, balancing family, work, school, and homework all at once; yet to this day he is incredibly grateful for the impact Calvary made on him both personally and professionally. He reflects: “Calvary gave me a solid foundation of Bible and theology on which all of the ministry God has given me has been built. The practical classes offered for pastoral ministry were all so valuable that I have kept all of the notes from every class and referred to them over the years.” As a young man, Tom looked up to many of the men that were leaders at Calvary during his educational journey, and he strived to reflect a life that exhibited dedication to the Lord as they did. Two men in particular, Dr. Madison and Dr. Langmade, impacted Tom’s life as a believer long after he graduated from Calvary. “I also have to mention one Board of Trustee member that first told me of Calvary and took me for my first visit,” Tom reflects, “Wilbur ‘Bud’ Miller was an elder at my home church and he remained my friend until the day he was promoted to glory.” Ultimately, through many men of faith at Calvary, Tom learned the importance of passing on knowledge and he experienced a new generation of leaders for the church: “That is why I encourage young people to consider Calvary, where they continue to teach the same theology after 90 years.” 

Concerning his ministry and career journey, Tom says there were “many hard knocks along the way”, but despite it all, he had many pastors help him in times of need and he had a church that was gracious and showed love toward him regardless of his flaws: “God used them all to refine me and make me a better servant of our Lord.” He goes on to say that there are so many accounts of impact he has had as a minister that he would have to write a book to share them all, but one of the most amazing experiences he had was baptizing his 79 year-old mother while her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren watched. “Our church continues to grow at a rapid pace and it is exciting to meet new families and watch them get excited about the Bible. I hope to work with more young aspiring pastors to help them gain the experience they need to serve in the local church.”


The Zobrist Family Scholarship will be given in honor of both Tom and his wife Cindi, for their deep and enduring ties with Calvary University. 

Ben Bielenberg and the Blue Moon Youth Center

Ben Bielenberg and the Blue Moon Youth Center

Ben Bielenberg is a Calvary Alum (CBC ‘13) working as a missionary in the small town of Blue Mound, Kansas. He and his wife, Krista, have three children. Through connections made at Calvary, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Pastoral Studies, Ben got involved with Village Missions, whose mission statement is, “helping country churches thrive.”

Ben and his family moved to Blue Mound so he could be the head pastor of Federated Church right in the center of town. He is the first pastor in a long time to actually live in town; “the previous pastors lived in Kansas City and would drive down every Sunday to do service. They never lasted very long doing that.” Because he lives in town, Ben has gotten several opportunities to build relationships with the community in ways such as serving on the local volunteer fire department.

It is because of Ben’s relationship with the community that the Blue Moon Youth Center has been so successful. The building which Blue Moon is located in today was originally built in 1947 as a local theater. Several people throughout the years have attempted to utilize the building as a theater, but because of the nature of a small town, businesses tend to die pretty quickly. When Ben realized this space was just sitting empty, he quickly brought it to the attention of his church board, saying, “Why is nobody using this space? We should be using it!”

In the summer of 2018, the Federated Church purchased the building from the city and began construction to update it. Many people were so excited for the new community center to be built that they were willing to put in time, effort, and money into helping turn it into something great. Even the people who were not regular church attenders joined Ben during construction. This gave Ben more opportunity to build relationships with community members outside his church. In the summer of 2020, Blue Mound was hosting a car show when a stranger stopped by to show off his car. While there, he heard about the community center. He loved the idea and wanted to help. He turned out to be the owner of a theater equipment company. He happened to have old (but still in good condition) theater equipment on hand. The man decided to donate that equipment and even had his employees help set it up.

Today, the Blue Moon Youth Center is being used nearly every single night. “Throughout the week there are various Bible studies which meet there, and every weekend we show movies for free—a different movie on each night.” They charge a dollar or two for food and snacks. This makes it a great and affordable place for families to hangout on the weekends. There are really only two other businesses in town aside from the Blue Moon Youth Center: one of them is a local restaurant and the other is a bar. “We have a bit of a running joke that we’re in competition with the bar to see who has more cars in the parking lot each night.”

Ben attributes the success of the youth center to God. “He clearly orchestrated it all from the beginning. I mean, nearly everything we use at Blue Moon was donated.” Even the timing was clearly God’s work. Ben was able to get to know the locals and become one of them. “Anytime an outsider comes into town to start a business, it doesn’t last long.” God has used the time Ben has spent amongst the community to build trust and lasting relationships, leading to many conversations about the Gospel.

Blue Mound Federated Church

Ben interacting with people at Blue Moon

A view of Blue Moon from down the street