Life Pacific University has the honor of presenting the Alumnus of the Year Awards yearly during the Alumni Reunion Lunches at Foursquare Connection. This year, there were four well-deserving recipients of the four awards which were voted on by alumni, friends, and LPU staff and faculty.
Award Category Descriptions and Recipients:
Beyond BordersLPU alumnus displaying Spirit-empowered Christian leadership by living out of the country or in the United States with dedicated cross-cultural service through missions, international non-profit work, or a global business vocational environment.
Winner: Rabbi Shmuel Oppenheim (’66)
Rabbi Shmuel Oppenheim, more lovingly known as Sammy, was a child living in El Paso, TX when his Jewish mother accepted Jesus and started attending the El Paso Foursquare Church. At 18, he enrolled in LIFE Bible College and graduated in 1966. He got his Bachelor’s degree in Theology in 1968 from LIFE. Sammy received his first Foursquare credentials in 1966 and was appointed youth director for all the Foursquare churches in the South Central District, holding youth revivals. Then with Tom Ferguson, they were appointed international youth representatives traveling all over the U.S. He was then appointed a Foursquare International Evangelist to Central and South America for three years.
Sammy was interested in the Jesus People movement that was starting to grow in Southern CA. Since Chuck Smith was his former classmate, Sammy moved back to the U.S. and became deeply involved in the Jesus People movement where he helped Jewish people come to faith in the early 1970s. At that time, Sammy got involved in the beginnings of the Jewish Messianic Movement while keeping his Foursquare credentials. The Messianic Jewish movement is for Jews who believe that Yeshua (salvation) is the Savior and son of God
Sammy retired from congregational leadership in 2015 in Las Vegas. He is retired but has stayed in full-time ministry traveling and filling in for Messianic rabbis and Foursquare pastors. Sammy just turned 80 and continues to give messages of deliverance and liberty. He is a respected leader among synagogues across America and is considered nationally as one of the modern Messianic movement’s pioneers. Thousands of Jewish people have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. And he is loved among his generation of Foursquare leaders and LIFE alumni.
LPU alumnus demonstrating faithful and Kingdom-focused leadership while serving within the Church, the marketplace, a local community agency, or organization (nominees serving in a voluntary or non-paid position will be considered).
Winner: Reverend Steve Abraham (’90)
Steve graduated from LIFE Bible College in 1990 with a Theology degree, and today is pastor of Oxnard Northeast Foursquare Church, also known as New Life Community Church, in Oxnard, CA.
Over the last 30 years, Steve kept what he learned as a student and has used the strong biblical foundation he received at LIFE every week in his preaching and leadership. After graduating, Steve and Tami ’89 began their ministry as youth pastors before planting New Life Community Church in 1997 with a group of 40 people. They’ve seen it grow to over 2,500 people. However, the most meaningful thing beyond all the growth and life change, is that all three of his kids are on his church staff and love Jesus deeply. Steve and Tami ’89 have three children Riley, Brenna ‘19, and Ryan (wife Ashton).
LPU alumnus exhibiting innovation and creativity in fulfilling the Great Commission by developing new methods, platforms, and resources through partnerships and collaborative efforts to reach new and emerging communities with the Gospel inside of ministry settings, marketplace arenas, and a broader public audience.
Winner: Derek Williams (’89-’90)
Derek was born and raised in Hong Kong where his parents were Foursquare missionaries for nearly two decades. After returning to the States, he attended LIFE Bible College and was soon working alongside worship leader Tommy Walker on staff at Christian Assembly in Eagle Rock, CA. Derek worked with Tommy Walker for nearly a decade before expanding his career in the entertainment industry.
Currently, Derek is writing a new Young Adult book series, Beacon Hill. Book one was released in April and hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases. Book one, Hunt For Eden’s Star, is under consideration for film and television options with producers, production companies, and studios who have created the most successful Young Adult franchises of all time.
These rapid accomplishments are in stark contrast to how the book series began. The idea struck over a decade ago, but at the time nothing happened. Derek had to set his dream aside and move on to other projects. Ten years later, the series sold and he’s been on a crazy ride over the last few years. From this experience, Derek learned that God’s timing is perfect, and that is the most meaningful to him.
Lifetime of Service
LPU alumnus selected from the 50-Year Reunion Class who leaves a legacy through a lifetime of serving the Lord, exemplary servant leadership, and wholehearted commitment to discipling others through the teaching or preaching of God’s Word.
Winner: Dr. Doretha O’Quinn (’73)
In the early 1970s at LIFE Bible College, Doretha was the only African American female in her class. As with all majors at the time, Doretha’s primary major was Theology, but with a dual emphasis in Missions and Christian Education. Doretha excelled and continued her education earning a teaching credential, a master’s in School Administration, and Ph.D. in Intercultural Education. She taught and served as a school principal, was an adjunct professor in Education, a full-time faculty member, and led in multiple academic roles and senior administration with Christian universities throughout Southern CA. Doretha consulted with each one in diversity, multi-ethnic, and global engagement practices.
She authored two books and has traveled and served around the world educating government officials, parliament and non-profit leaders, and ex-patriots, preaching internationally, and mentoring women in global and domestic leadership roles, especially those working within the urban context.
Throughout her career, Doretha’s ministry path always involved executive pastorate, positions on the Foursquare Board of Directors and Life Pacific Board of Trustees, and educator and leadership development in the Foursquare Church until the present.
After her 50-year career and ministry, Dr. O’Quinn now serves as a Church and Educational Consultant, conference speaker, TV show host, and still remains an executive pastor.