Throughout our Centennial year, we have recognized three very special alumni who have been nominated, voted on, and selected as this year’s Alumni of the Year. Each of these alums makes a difference for the Kingdom of God every day.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Alumnus of the Year – the final award recipient for 2023 – is Derek Williams.
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.
As he looks back on his years growing up in Hong Kong as a missionary kid and traveling around the world in ministry, Derek said, “I realize how being immersed in a myriad of cultures has shaped me as a storyteller, especially as an executive producer/director in the television industry and as an author.”
From an early age, one of the most impactful people in Foursquare and at LIFE for Derek was Ron Mehl. While most students at LPU today recognize his name because of Ron Mehl Court in the San Dimas gymnasium, Derek remembers Ron when he visited Hong Kong and spent time with Derek’s family. Derek says, “While Ron could’ve booked his schedule with speaking engagements, he chose to be available to hang out with me and my brothers and play Nerf hoop in the house.” Since Derek was eight years old, Ron’s life has remained an inspiration for what it looks like to be an authentic follower of Christ. His book, God Works the Night Shift, was a game changer for Derek and remains within reach in his office as a reminder of the impact Mehl has had on him and countless others.
Currently, Derek has completed three books in a new Young Adult book series, Beacon Hill. Book one was released in April 2023 and hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases. Book two, Secrets of the Highlands, is being officially released on November 7. 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. There have been over 1 million views of the book trailers and the web series: Chasing Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling, a behind-the-scenes look at writing the series.
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 wild ride over the last few years with two more book series in the works. From this experience, Derek learned that God’s timing is perfect, and that is the most meaningful to him.