Life Pacific University honors the Beyond Borders Alumnus of the Year, Rabbi Shmuel Oppenheim, more lovingly known as Sammy.
Sammy was a child living in El Paso, TX when his Jewish mother accepted Jesus and started attending the El Paso Foursquare Church. Sammy was a wild 15–year-old Jewish teenager when the owner of the business where Sammy worked witnessed him. Between his employer and his mother, Sammy gave his life to the Lord.
Within a year, Sammy was called to full-time ministry at camp, so at 18 years old he enrolled at LIFE Bible College and graduated in 1966.
After graduation and holding youth revivals all over the U.S., Sammy was interested in the Jesus People movement that was starting to grow in Southern California. Since Chuck Smith was his former classmate, Sammy 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.
Sammy turned 80 this year and is now retired from congregational leadership, but has stayed in full-time ministry traveling and filling in for Messianic rabbis and Foursquare pastors.
Fellow classmate, Reverend Jim Hayford ’66, nominated Sammy for this award and says, “Sammy 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 Sammy is loved among his generation of Foursquare leaders and LIFE alumni.”
Rabbi Oppenheim’s life verse is Psalm 27:4 – “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
For demonstrating Spirit-filled leadership and excellence in service through cross-cultural ministry and moving beyond the cultural borders that exist between Christians and Jews, LPU honors Rabbi Shmuel Oppenheim with the Beyond Borders Alumnus of the Year Award for 2023.