Wildcats are witnesses to NFL title history

V.T. "Vitamin T” Smith

V.T. “Vitamin T” Smith Jr.

For years, Wildcats from Abilene Christian University have had far more than a front-row seat at the annual championship game staged by the National Football League.

On Sunday, one of them will have a lot to do with what you see and hear when the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers square off in Santa Clara, Calif., for Super Bowl 50.

But more about that in a minute.

Barrow is one of only two executive producers to mastermind televising the Masters tournament for CBS Sports.

Super Bowl 50 lead producer Lance Barrow

The NFL played an annual title game for nearly five decades before initiating in 1967 what is known as the Super Bowl, a contest to decide a winner between the National Football Conference and American Football Conference.

Wildcats have played in three NFL championship and seven Super Bowl games:

V.T. “Vitamin T” Smith Jr. (’49) became the first former ACU football star to play in an NFL title game, something he did three times for the Los Angeles Rams from 1949-53. The Rams lost championship games in 1949 and 1950 before defeating the Cleveland Browns in 1951 in the first NFL title game to be televised live across the nation. A halfback who caught passes from Hall of Fame quarterback Norm Van Brocklin for the league’s top-scoring team, Smith led the NFL in punt return yards in 1949 and in kickoff return yards in 1950. His three touchdowns on kickoff returns in 1950 stood as an NFL record for 17 seasons. Smith also starred in track and field (as a sprinter and javelin thrower) and was the first Wildcat football player named first-team All-America. He served in the U.S. Army during the D-Day invasion at Normandy before enrolling at Abilene Christian, and graduated in just three years.

ACU career rushing leader Wilbert Montgomery (’77) played in one Super Bowl (XV as a running back for Philadelphia) and coached in three others: XXXIV and XXXVI for St. Louis and XLVII for Baltimore, earning two world championship rings. A sixth-round selection by the Eagles in the 1977 NFL Draft, he played nine years (eight for Philadelphia and one for Detroit), twice earning All-Pro honors and setting numerous Eagle career rushing records. He then began a 19-year-and-counting career as assistant coach for St. Louis (1997-2005), Detroit (2006-07), Baltimore (2008-13) and Cleveland (2014-present), mentoring some of the top running backs in league history. He was inducted to the inaugural Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll in 1987 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Cle Montgomery

Cle Montgomery

Wide receiver and kick returner Cle Montgomery (’78) played for the world champion Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII. The younger brother of Wilbert, he was a six-year NFL veteran wide receiver and kick returner for Cincinnati, Cleveland and Oakland. He also served as an ACU trustee from 2000-06.

Offensive lineman Dan Remsberg (’85) helped Denver to two Super Bowls (XXI and XXII) after being selected in the ninth round of the 1985 NFL Draft by San Diego.

Safety and kick returner Danieal Manning (’07) had a storybook first year in the NFL in 2006 when he was the Chicago Bears’ top draft choice (second round, 42nd pick overall) and helped lead them to Super Bowl XLI. He retired in 2015 following a nine-year career with the Bears and Houston Texans.

Lance Barrow (’77) was a Wildcat football player who never played professionally, yet his skills as coordinating producer of football and golf for CBS Sports have brought many of the world’s top sporting events – NFL games, The Masters and PGA Championship, NCAA men’s Final Four, Daytona 500 and U.S. Open tennis among them – to TV viewers for several decades. This year he will be the lead producer for his third Super Bowl telecast (along with XLVII and XLIV). Barrow, who has won 11 Emmy Awards, has been an ACU trustee since 2005.

Kickoff for Super Bowl 50 is 5:30 p.m. CST.

Wilbert Montgomery

Wilbert Montgomery

Dan Remsberg

Dan Remsberg

Danieal Manning

Danieal Manning


Medical Missions: Guatemala with HTI

ACU students prepare to board a plane for a medical missions trip to Guatemala.

ACU students prepare to board a plane for a medical missions trip to Guatemala.

Many ACU students get their first taste of medical missions as undergraduates studying to become future doctors, dentists, nurses, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals.

A feature from ACU Today magazine

A feature from ACU Today magazine

Two of those students – Jeremy Aymard, senior biology major from San Francisco, Calif., and Selvin Villeda, senior biology major from Rockwall, Texas – shared photos from their Spring Break trip last March to Guatemala, conducted by Health Talents International.

HTI is a non-profit Christian organization that works within the Churches of Christ to promote medical evangelism in developing countries. Its mission is “to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through teaching and healing ministries.” Drs. Cynthia (Barton ’81) and Greg Powell (’80), both professors in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, accompanied the ACU group.

(From left) Laura Edwards, Elena Taylor, Colton McCoy, Michael McCoy and Jeremy Aymard work in HTI's on-site dental clinic.

(From left) Laura Edwards, Elena Taylor, Colton McCoy, Michael McCoy and Jeremy Aymard work in HTI’s dental clinic.

“What I love about HTI is that the organization has several full-time doctors and dentists who are of Guatemalan descent, so they are not completely dependent on American healthcare workers,” Aymard said. “However, they welcome American volunteer doctors and dentists, and generously allow us college students to shadow their healthcare workers and really see what medicine is like in a Third World country.”

Selvin said the trip “was a life-changing experience that assured me that medical missions is a path I want to take.

Student volunteers sort medication into packets to be distributed by physicians. Clockwise from left are Jill Baker, Evan Bridges, Laura Edwards, Houston Schoonmaker, Tanner Gregory and Taylor Fernandes.

(Clockwise from left) Jill Baker, Evan Bridges, Laura Edwards, Houston Schoonmaker, Tanner Gregory and Taylor Binkley sort medication.

“The people we served in Guatemala showed me a new way to look at life,” he said, “and that is to be thankful for every little commodity we have. I realized that if they were happy with their situation, then my situation is plenty fine as well.”

Aymard said the trip was life-changing for him, as well. “The short time we spent in Guatemala will impact how we practice medicine, or dentistry, for the rest of our lives – even here in the states,” he said.

Aymard and Selvin are just two of the many Wildcats each year who serve as the hands and feet of Jesus throughout the world. If you have #ACUmissions stories or photos to share, post them online with the hashtag, or email Robin Saylor, robin.saylor@acu.edu.


For Crying Out Loud: Women’s hoops on a roll

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There’s no crying in baseball, we were famously told by Jimmy Dugan, Tom Hanks’ crusty character in A League of Their Own. Basketball is a different sport, and this is a different story.  

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Now Julie Goodenough doesn’t cry easily. In fact, in the four years and 103 games in which she has been the head coach of the Abilene Christian University’s women’s basketball team, I’ve only seen her misty-eyed three times.

The first was in her third game on the job. It was in Canyon on Nov. 28, 2012. West Texas A&M University, ACU’s heated (and, to some, hated) rival in the Lone Star Conference, paused before the introduction of the starting lineups for a moment of silence to honor the memory of 10-year-old Rex Fleming, who had died three days before following a two-year battle with brain cancer. As she stood alongside her team, Goodenough wept quietly for the son of her colleague, ACU associate director of athletics for media relations Lance Fleming (’92).

The second was last December in Lubbock after Goodenough’s team lost a hard-fought, knockdown drag-out decision to Texas Tech University, 71-65. The emotion that night flowed from the deepest recesses of a West Texas girl’s heart. Goodenough grew up in Haskell, rooting for the Lady Raiders whose legendary head coach, Marsha Sharp, became one of her mentors. In fact, Goodenough – at the time, still Julie Roewe – was so inspired by watching Sharp’s team win the 1993 national championship that she summoned the gumption to call up that guy she had been eyeing, Rob Goodenough. They married a year later.

When that ACU loss in Lubbock ended and she had finished her postgame radio interview with me, Goodenough buried her head in Rob’s shoulder and sobbed. Not so much because her team had lost a basketball game. The tears seemed more involuntarily, a physiological reaction borne out of the energy she had put into beating a program she says she cheers for 364 days a year.

That was Dec. 2, and it was ACU’s last loss.

ACU WBB 2 600x400 96Since then, Goodenough’s Wildcats have reeled off 11 consecutive wins; 10 against NCAA Division I teams with a combined record of 94-62. The streak quite literally came out of thin air.

Forty-eight hours after the Tech game, the Wildcats gutted out a 75-71 victory over Grand Canyon University in a tournament hosted by Air Force Academy in the higher altitude of Colorado Springs, Colo. The next day, ACU dealt red-hot Eastern Michigan University – a team that would a month later knock off the University of Michigan – what is still its worst loss of the season, 73-59.

Following a week off so her players could take their fall semester final exams, Goodenough’s team aced what amounted to its mid-terms: road wins over Eastern Washington University and the University of Idaho, each by a deceptively large margin of 12 points and each of which was the opponent’s first home loss.

Alexis Mason

Sophomore guard Alyssa Echols

After a palate-cleansing home rout of Division III Schreiner University on New Year’s Eve, ACU opened Southland Conference play in Conway, Ark., against the University of Central Arkansas, the only team in the league with more wins at the time and which – like EWU and Idaho – hadn’t lost at home all season. The Wildcats broke open a close game in the second half behind senior Whitney Swinford and junior Sydney Shelstead, who scored 26 of their combined 34 points in the final 20 minutes, to win 61-49. That made it six straight wins overall and three 12-point decisions in a row against teams which hadn’t lost at home entering that game.

Back home on Thursday, Jan. 7, ACU avenged close losses to Northwestern State University on the road the previous two years with a resounding 21-point victory in Moody Coliseum over the two-time defending Southland tournament champions.

Three days and a 10-hour bus ride later, the Wildcats rallied from five points down in the final 67 seconds to nip Nicholls State University, 71-68, in Thibodaux, La., behind more 11th-hour heroics from Swinford, whose three-pointer tied the game and two free throws with 11 seconds to go extended a one-point lead to three.

Home again Jan. 13, the Wildcats got 20 second half points from junior Alexis Mason to stifle a 10-win team from McNeese State University, 79-62. The streak was nine.

Then last Saturday in Nacogdoches, Goodenough choked up after her team, yet again, came through in the clutch. Down eight to Stephen F. Austin State University after the first quarter, the Wildcats roared back to take a one-point halftime lead and two-point advantage after three quarters. In the final 10 minutes, Mason took over, scoring 15 points in a fourth period that saw ACU outscore SFA by 13 and win, 85-70. (That performance by Mason capped a four-game stretch in which she scored 89 points and earned consecutive Southland player of the week honors.)

What moved Goodenough wasn’t so much the team’s 10th straight win as the fact that it marked the first time in 10 tries that she had vanquished Stephen F. – as a player at The University of Texas-Arlington or as a coach – and, more poignantly, that it happened almost a year to the day after the untimely death of Jerry Isler, her coach at UTA and the man who convinced her to join the profession.

“I think,” Goodenough said as her eyes watered, “he’d be pretty happy that we finally beat SFA.”

Suzzy Dimba

Junior forward Suzzy Dimba

With Swinford, Shelstead, Mason and the Dimba twins, Suzzy and Lizzy, Goodenough has the best starting five in the conference and is beginning to make noise nationally.

Now 15-2, ACU has been as high as 12th of 349 teams in Division I women’s basketball in RPI (ratings percentage index), a metric valuing a team’s win-loss record and strength of schedule. That’s an astonishingly high ranking for a team in a smaller league like the Southland and in just its third year as a Division I program. And the hits keep coming. For the last two weeks, the Wildcats have been No. 21 in a weekly poll of teams from so-called mid-major conferences.

While ACU remains ineligible for the Southland and NCAA tournaments until the 2017-18 school year, the team can earn a bid to the Women’s Basketball Invitational, a postseason event for teams which don’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament. That would be a tremendous consolation prize, but it’s not these Wildcats’ meow. No, the primary goal from day one has been to finish first in the Southland and be declared the regular season champs.

ACU isn’t in a league of its own but, at the moment, does lead the league at 6-0. There’s a long way to go – 12 more conference games, to be precise. But if the season does end with ACU on top, don’t be surprised if Goodenough sheds another tear or two. She won’t be alone.

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Construction to begin on Wildcat Stadium

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The Abilene Christian University Board of Trustees has voted to start construction on a new on-campus football stadium as fundraising continues for the project.

ACU will officially break ground for Wildcat Stadium at a ceremony after 11 a.m. Chapel on Friday, Feb. 19, during Sing Song weekend on campus.

President Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) announced Tuesday that the university has received more than $37 million in commitments toward construction of both the football stadium and the new Elmer Gray Stadium, $7 million more than the original goal set for the two facilities.

This allows ACU to prepare to break ground for the football stadium – Elmer Gray Stadium for track and field / soccer was completed in April 2015 – while continuing to raise funds, Schubert said in an email to ACU faculty and staff. The overall budget for both stadiums has grown to $50 million, he said, noting that the increased budget reflects enhancements necessary to ensure the quality of the facilities is consistent with the rest of the campus.

Schubert said he is confident in the university’s ability to secure the additional $13 million in commitments during construction.

“Already, we’ve raised more than our initial goal, and more than one-third of gifts to the football stadium have come within the past five months,” he said. “We believe it is important to leverage this amazing momentum, as well as wise to avoid additional financing and construction costs, by beginning this project now.”

ACU director of athletics Lee De Leon said he also is positive about the university reaching its fundraising goal.

“We appreciate our generous donors, and the way in which they have stepped up over the last few weeks is phenomenal,” he said. “While we still have more money to raise, we are thankful for how God is blessing this university.”

Funds raised for the Vision in Action initiative so far total $82 million, surpassing the original $75 million goal and making it the third largest campaign, dollar-wise, in ACU’s history. Other VIA projects include the Halbert-Walling Research Center, Onstead Science Center, and Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium. Construction is complete or underway on all three science buildings.

“I’m so grateful to April (Bullock ’89) and Mark (’86) Anthony, whose vision and landmark gift for the stadium made it a reality,” Schubert said. “I continue to be amazed and grateful at the generosity that we’ve seen from our alumni, faculty, staff and friends, and I’m certain it will only grow as we officially break ground and prepare for our first home football game on Sept. 16, 2017. Wildcat Stadium will be a place beloved for generations, not only by the ACU community but by Abilene and West Texas as well.”


Medical Missions: Belize, Paraguay, Ecuador

A feature from ACU Today magazine

A feature from ACU Today magazine

Our most recent issue of ACU Today magazine features alumni who serve as medical missionaries, committing their time, energy and other resources to bring healing and the Gospel to those in need. We asked other Wildcats to share their favorite #ACUmissions photos and stories as well.

Enjoy this sampling from two alumni and and a current student who are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus around the globe:

Beth Horner in Belize

Beth Horner in Belize

Beth (Kruse ’76) Horner
San Angelo, Texas

I go with the North Belize Medical Mission, overseen by the Central Church of Christ in Bryan, Texas.  I thought the first mission trip was a “one-time thing,” completely out of character for me, but God had a different idea, and I have been a team member for 18 of the 21 years the mission has been going.

At various times, all of my children and my husband, Bryan (76), have also gone.  My daughter is Hayley (Horner ’04) Rodgers; my sons are Beau Horner and Brady Horner, who is the youth minister at Westgate Church of Christ in Abilene. We moved away from Bryan/College Station many years ago, but continued to travel with the team.

We set up clinics in four different villages, and our services include dentistry, eyes and glasses, checkups, and prescription and maintenance medications. We do minor surgical procedures and, of course, spiritual service, counseling and local church support. Bob Wolfert is the team leader.

My job is translating Spanish for the doctors. English is the official language, but many Belizeans speak only Spanish. A few speak a form of Deutsch (there are Mennonite villages), and many of the much older residents speak Mayan. So it is never boring!

Dr. Jeff and Amy McKissick with their children (from left) Micah, 8; Ginny, 14; Tyler, 10; Josiah, 2; Julia, 3; Claire, 1; Joshua, 12; and Ryan, 16.

Dr. Jeff and Amy McKissick with their children (from left) Micah, 8; Ginny, 14; Tyler, 10; Josiah, 2; Julia, 3; Claire, 1; Joshua, 12; and Ryan, 16.

Dr. Jeff McKissick (’97)
Asuncion, Paraguay

I graduated from ACU in 1997 and my wife, formerly Amy Crittenden, R.N., attended ACU from 1995-98. We have been working in Paraguay, South America, as full-time medical missionaries since 2005.

I am a family physician, and half of our work is free medical care to the poor of our rural community while the other half is church planting in this unreached corner of Paraguay.

We work full time with SIM, the same missions organization to which Dr. Kent Brantly (’03) was attached during his time in Liberia.

Catherine Longest in Ecuador

Catherine Longest in Ecuador

Catherine Longest (’18)
Environmental science major
from Shawnee, Okla.

Here are two photos from the medical missions trip I helped with this summer. The first photo is of me translating for one of the nurses. We were in the jungles of Ecuador, up the Cayapas River. The second photo is of me and Dr. Scott Bedichek (’99), an ACU alumnus I met on the trip. He served as our dentist.

Catherine Longest and Dr. Scott Bedichek

Catherine Longest and Dr. Scott Bedichek

My job was to translate for the nurses, and it was an amazing experience. I have wanted to translate on a medical missions trip since my first Spanish class, and after doing a Spanish immersion program in Montevideo through ACU, I was finally able to achieve my dream. Our team had six different medical clinics during our time there, and we treated hundreds of people.

Whether you serve as a full-time medical missionary or devote your vacation days to volunteer, we ask you to share your favorite photos online with the hashtag #ACUmissions. Include a sentence or two telling us about the photo and why it is meaningful to you. Or you can email your favorites to Robin Saylor, robin.saylor@acu.edu.

DFW twisters disrupt lives of alumni families

A look inside the Harbours' damaged apartment in a complex destroyed along Interstate 30 in Garland. (Photo by Dr. Michael Harbour)

A look inside the Harbours’ damaged apartment in a complex destroyed along Interstate 30 in Garland. (Photo by Dr. Michael Harbour)

Among the hundreds of people putting their tornado-shredded lives back together in the Dallas and Fort Worth Metroplex are four Abilene Christian University alumni.

Dr. Michael (’06 D.Min.) and Sandra (Anderson ’82) Harbour of Garland and Mike (’90) and Michelle (Kehoe ’90) Patterson of Rowlett represent families affected among the 1,800 houses and businesses damaged in the rare wintertime tornadoes Dec. 26. The National Weather Service said three twisters – some as strong as EF-4, with winds up to 200 mph – were the cause. The city of Garland reported damage to 783 houses, with 236 of them destroyed.

Winter Storm Goliath has caused 52 deaths in blizzards stretching from New Mexico to Maine, epic flooding in Illinois and Missouri, and tornadoes in Texas.

Eleven of the 52 were killed in the DFW Metroplex, including a 3-day old “Christmas baby” just home from the hospital in the small Collin County town of Blue Ridge; a Copeville man who shielded his wife with his own body just days after celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary; and several whose vehicles were tossed from roadways. Eight of those 11 died in Garland.

A yellow Volkswagen, one of the Harbours' vehicles, was heavily damaged in the storm.

A yellow Volkswagen, one of the Harbours’ vehicles, was heavily damaged in the storm. (Photo by Dr. Michael Harbour)

The Harbours were traveling in Arizona when the storm struck and upon returning home, could only salvage a few things from their apartment alongside Interstate 30 in Garland. ACU friends and students, along with their spiritual family at Skillman Church of Christ in Dallas, are helping them get settled temporarily in an apartment building where university students live while attending classes at ACU at CitySquare.

Michael, former executive administrative director of ACU’s Honors College, wrote on his Facebook page Dec. 29:

“We are choosing to be defiantly joyful … Working the problems and being an encouragement to those we encounter. … We hurt for our neighbors. We are amazed with the community. We are thankful for our friends, for your big and kind and generous hearts. You are helping us. We are so thankful.”

The Patterson family, including sons Blake and Cameron, were visiting family in Georgia when the storm tore apart their Rowlett house in Rockwall County.

“For me, it’s been hard, it’s been shocking, it’s been surreal. But the blessings we have received from our church and others are very humbling,” said Mike Patterson, who cited friend Doug Hall (’90) for setting up a GoFundMe account to help financially bridge the gap of a return to everyday life. He also talked of friends, including two firemen from church, who helped recover personal items or protect them from the weather until the family could arrive.

“This has been a powerful reminder that this world is not our home and we shouldn’t get too comfortable here. Our lives can change in an instant; in the time it takes to receive a text message,” Patterson said. “There are lots of profound lessons we are learning. This is not a life experience we expected to have and we would not have been able to empathize with those who go through it. But now we can.”

The Pattersons have found an apartment in which to live. They attend Garland’s Saturn Road Church of Christ, which is helping lead aid efforts in its community.

A semitrailer with supplies arrived Dec. 30 at Saturn Road from Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort Inc., a nonprofit based in Nashville, Tenn. Members of the congregation have been preparing and delivering food daily for a worksite near Bobtown and Westlake roads where volunteers are helping clean up. The church’s Facebook page provides updates several times each day on opportunities for volunteers.

Similar volunteer work is being done through Rockwall’s Eastridge Church of Christ (also in concert with Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort Inc.), Mesquite’s Meadow View Church of Christ, The Church of Christ on McDermott Road in Plano, and Dallas’ Western Heights Bilingual Church of Christ and Prestoncrest Church of Christ, among others.

You can help the Pattersons by donating to this GoFundMe page.

You can help the Harbours by donating at the Skillman congregation’s online giving Web page.

The Dallas Morning News aggregates ways anyone can volunteer or donate at this Web page.

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Workers help remove tornado debris from along Interstate 30 in Garland, Texas. (Photo by Dr. Michael Harbour)


Jingle Balls: Holiday cheer for ACU hoops

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Senior guard Whitney West Swinford

’Twas the month before Christmas
And all through the nation
Wildcats were stirring
In hoops celebration

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

The uniforms hung
By the lockers with care
In hopes that more victories
Soon would be there

With Lance keeping stats
And I on the mic
Ready to relay
A score fans would like  

The players were taking
Their spots on the court
Opposing them?
Some of the best in the sport

Sophomore guard Alyssa Echols

Sophomore guard Alyssa Echols

The women’s team beep-beeped
Right past the Roadrunners
Then clobbered two more foes
With its three-point gunners

A close loss in Lubbock
Was quickly erased
By beating both teams
In the Rockies they faced

And in the Northwest
With the ‘Cats on a roll
Two wins from the Eagles
And Vandals they stole

Women's head coach Julie Goodenough

Women’s head coach Julie Goodenough

Whit, Syd and ‘Lexis
And both of the Dimbas
Have made this a most
Holly-jolly Decemb-a

The men’s team is bigger
And younger and stronger
Than previous years and
The road trips are longer

Out west, then the mountains
And Gulf went these battlers
Who feasted on day-after-
Thanksgiving Rattlers

The Big Ten, the Big 12
They took on each comer
Right down to the wire!
And fell short – a bummer

Freshman guard Jaylen Franklin

Freshman guard Jaylen Franklin

But rookies like J-Frank
And Jaren and Jovan
Along with the rest
Are a team fans can love on

Julie’s and Joe’s squads
Now fold up their maps
And settle down quickly
For short, winter naps

With conference upcoming
We say with good reason
Go Wildcats! Go Wildcats!
To us a great season!

Follow the Wildcats all season here!

Senior center Duran Porter

Senior center Duran Porter

Head men's coach Joe Golding

Head men’s coach Joe Golding (’99)


Medical Missions: Hearts lost to Haiti

J'Lyn Emerson poses with children in Haiti.

ACU graduate J’Lyn Emerson poses with children in Haiti, where she works with LiveBeyond.

Our most recent issue of ACU Today magazine features alumni who serve as medical missionaries, committing time, energy and other resources to bring healing and the Gospel to those in need. We asked other Wildcats to share their favorite #ACUmissions photos and stories as well. Here is the first:

ACU-Today-Blog-Missions-Graphic

A feature from ACU Today magazine

J’Lyn Emerson (11) is marketing manager for LiveBeyond, a faith-based, humanitarian organization that brings medical and maternal health care, clean water, education, orphan care, community development and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the oppressed in Thomazeau, Haiti. The organization was founded and is operated by ACU graduates Dr. David (’82) and Laurie (Stallings ’81) Vanderpool. J’Lyn tells how the people of Haiti captured her heart.

Love in Action

My first mission with LiveBeyond was in November 2013. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Haiti, and I certainly wasn’t expecting for it to turn my entire life upside down. But God had bigger plans for me than I had for myself. Funny how He always seems to works like that.

Laurie (Stallings '81)) Vanderpool

Laurie (Stallings ’81) Vanderpool

I could go on and on about all “the feels” that I experienced during my first trip, but I’ll keep it short and simple. On my first day in Haiti, I knew that my life would never be the same. God shifted my heart 180 degrees – and that shift was directed towards His people – knowing that my life was never meant to be about me, but instead, it must be about serving those who cannot care for themselves and spreading the Gospel to a people desperate for His truth, hope and love.

This October was my ninth trip with LiveBeyond. Over the past two years, I’ve been incredibly blessed to witness and be a part of the transformation that’s taking place in Thomazeau. And to say that God is working in extraordinary ways is the understatement of the century.

I’ve witnessed our staffs’ hearts change from just doing their jobs to get paid to fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives through their jobs with LiveBeyond. I’ve seen babies born that I thought, “There’s no way she’s going to make it.” And a few months later I return, and the baby is healthy and growing because LiveBeyond provided medical care, medicine and formula for the child. I’ve listened to the Vanderpools’ conversations about their dreams and what’s next for LiveBeyond – and I’ve seen those dreams come to fruition time and time again.

One of those dreams was Kè Pou Timoun.

If you look at the camera roll on my iPhone, you’re going to find hundreds of pictures of kids in our Kè Pou Timoun program. You might find some older pictures and think, “Why would she not delete that by now?” But the truth is that I simply cannot delete these memories or precious faces from my mind or phone. Because from trip to trip, I can visibly see God working and watch the change in these children’s lives unfold.

David M. Vanderpool, M.D. ('82)

David M. Vanderpool, M.D. (’82)

I can see sparks of creativity behind Junior’s eyes when he picks up a crayon now. Before he didn’t even know how to hold it or what to do with it.

I can see kids joyfully sing about what Jesus has done (and is doing!) in their life instead of being quiet bystanders during our church worship services.

I can see our Kè Pou Timoun staff passionately tell Bible stories and teach the kids about God’s faithfulness and goodness – when at first, they weren’t sure what to think about leading this new program.

This list could go on forever. But I want this post to be a reminder that there is still so much more to do.

I’m guilty of looking at pictures of the kids when I return home and dwelling in my thoughts about how much I love them. Oh, how I love every single one of those sweet faces. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great, but I can dwell in my love for a long time. But God commands for our love to be an action. He commands that we boldly love to move His Kingdom forward.

Emily Caldwell ('11)

Emily Caldwell (’11)

“Our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do.” (1 John 3:18)

When the kids in Kè Pou Timoun are all in matching T-shirts with big smiles on their faces, you can forget their tattered clothing underneath, and the tin and twig homes they return to after the program ends every day.

You can forget that each night, these kids fall asleep to the sound of Voodoo chants and drums. You can forget that it’s normal for girls to be raped and likely become a mother before the age of 15. You can forget that these kids would be worshipping Voodoo instead of Jesus if it weren’t for LiveBeyond’s ministry.

But may we never forget their desperate circumstances, and that God gave us this life to care for and love others. He gave us this life to step in and intervene to give these children, and all of His people, a future filled with hope that only comes through Jesus Christ. Our lives are meant to be lived with His love as an action.

Let’s live out love together, friends.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Whether you serve as a full-time medical missionary or devote your vacation days to volunteer, we ask you to share your favorite photos online with the hashtag #ACUmissions. Include a sentence or two telling us about the photo and why it is meaningful to you. Or you can email your favorites to Robin Saylor, robin.saylor@acu.edu.


Childers presented with honorary doctorate

Board chair Dr. Barry Packer (’78), president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), Dr. Terry Childers (’__) and provost Dr. Robert Rhodes

(From left) Board chair Dr. Barry Packer (’78), president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), Dr. Terry Childers (’74) and provost Dr. Robert Rhodes

Terry L. Childers (’74) on Friday received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for distinction in public and governmental service, and contributions to the university and society.

Childers was awarded the degree, one of ACU’s highest honors, at December Commencement in Moody Coliseum. At a celebratory dinner beforehand, president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) extolled Childers’ leadership.

“Terry is a true trailblazer,” Schubert said. “He has broken barriers during his life’s work in Texas and Oklahoma, making a real difference in the lives of people and the communities in which they live. ACU is known around the world for the notable public service careers of many of its graduates. Terry is one such respected servant-leader.”

Essie and Dr. Terry Childers

Essie and Dr. Terry Childers

His career has largely been focused in city management; at the age of 34 in Oklahoma City, Okla., he became one of the nation’s youngest city managers for a major city. He currently is assistant agency director for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute as well as interim city manager for Amarillo.

Childers served on ACU’s Board of Trustees from 1988-2008, and with his wife, Essie (Charles ’75) Childers, established the Watson and Ruby Childers Endowed Scholarship for Abilene Christian students in honor of his parents. They have three children: Shalawn (Childers ’96) Harris, Jonathan Childers (’02) and Adam Childers (’07).

“He has always been an ambassador for his alma mater, building relationships and mentoring young leaders,” Schubert said. “We are so proud Terry, Essie and the entire family are part of the ACU family.”


ACU Remembers: Kenneth L. Sinclair

Kenneth Sinclair by Tommy Chia 2015 600x450 96Family, students, colleagues and other friends stopped today to remember one of Abilene Christian University’s most beloved international ambassadors.

Kenneth Leroy Sinclair (’65) died unexpectedly Dec. 2, 2015, while traveling in Singapore at age 73. The former missionary-in-residence in ACU’s Halbert Institute for Missions was there to visit alumni and friends, encourage churches and officiate at a wedding, but fell ill and died a few days later of complications caused by the Dengue virus.

He was born Sept. 6, 1942, in Plainview, Texas.

Sinclair earned a B.A. in Bible and a Master of Missiology (1978) degree, both from ACU. He served as a missionary and church planter to various Church of Christ congregations in Malaysia, Singapore and the Republic of Indonesia; recruited and trained missions teams; and traveled extensively researching evangelism opportunities in countries such as Taiwan, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In the U.S. he was pulpit minister for congegations in Lake Jackson and Sonora, Texas.

From 1991-2004, he taught Bible classes at ACU to several thousand international students who came to know their “Uncle Ken” as a lifelong friend, mentor and spiritual father.

In Abilene he was a member of South 11th and Willis Church of Christ, where his service as outreach coordinator included pastoral teaching and counseling in the Taylor County Jail and several prisons in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William H. and Myrtle (Sandefur) Sinclair; two sisters and a brother.

Among survivors are his wife, Estelle (White ’65) Sinclair; a son, David Sinclair (’96); a daughter, Kyna Sinclair (’99); and five grandchildren.