Students and staff returning to campus have enjoyed reconnecting with friends while returning to the rhythms of the school year. One notable exception to the norm is the absence of Brad and Sarah Bierle. After serving at the Bible College and Seminary for the past 5 years, they made the difficult decision to take a call to Sioux Falls, SD. This fall they began their new roles at Abiding Savior Academy, a K-12 classical education ministry of Abiding Savior Free Lutheran Church. Brad is serving as Middle School and High School Principal. Sarah is using her skills in academic administration. Amid their busy season of transition, the Bierles sat down with me this summer to reflect on the work God has done during their tenure at FLBC.
Brad and Sarah came to the campus in 2017 with very few expectations. After an inquiry from President Mobley and an interview with school administration, the Bierles left positions at a Christian K-12 school in Quito, Ecuador to live in the FLBC dorms, serving as Men’s and Women’s Resident Heads. Two of their three children joined them. Jacob started attending FLBC and Tessa would complete high school and eventually work part time on the campus custodial team.
“We didn’t know what to expect but came in open minded, and quickly we were hooked,” noted Brad. “We just dived in, and the college students won our hearts.”
Their responsibilities continued to evolve as other doors opened. Brad accepted the position of Men’s Basketball Coach in 2018 but retained a key role in student discipleship. Eventually adding the title of Student Life Director in 2019, Brad worked in partnership with the Dean of FLBC, allowing the Dean to take on more classroom instruction.
Sarah moved into the role of registrar in 2018 and would eventually serve as Institutional Effectiveness Director, working to ensure the College and Seminary delivered on the promise to train students in the Word of God through classes, dorm ministry, and congregational life.
Sarah described the joys of seeing multiple departments pulling together towards the same goal. “We’ve worked really hard at understanding how academics affects student life, and student life affects financial, and how student life affects academics,” stated Sarah. “They are all interwoven because the whole person needs to be cared for. We’ve tried to break down those barriers and build relationships…. students see they are not just a number; they are a valued person in the eyes of the Lord and in the eyes of our staff.”
In his reflections Brad said he will miss the front row seat in seeing how God works in the students. “When these young people take initiative and lead,” says Brad, “they remind me to worship the Lord out loud, to do so boldly and unashamed. They keep the wonder of what the Lord does, front and center.”
Brad and Sarah agreed their time at the College and Seminary allowed them to grow in their God given talents. In many ways their new call in Sioux Falls will mirror their roles at FLBC, but they also anticipate distinct challenges and opportunities. “We spent these last 5 years helping young people verbalize and understand their faith as their own, after they leave home,” noted Brad. “Now we shift to helping families prepare their students for that transition.”
After living in a “machine shed” in Ecuador, embracing the late nights of serving in FLBC dorms, walking alongside student of all ages through life’s ups and downs, and now diving into another new ministry in Sioux Falls, the Bierles continue to rely on the Lord to guide their steps each day.
“Looking back now,” said Sarah, “we have almost 10 years of Kindergarten through College education experience that has uniquely set us up to grow and develop teachers and students through God’s leading. Never in this process was that the end goal…. Some people say following Christ is boring…. It is the adventure of a lifetime if you let Him lead your life.”
When asked what message they would leave for our campus family, the Bierles encouraged the team to stay the course, “The Bible College is doing great things because we are not straying from our mission.” stated Brad. “That mission is centered on God’s Word and it’s increasingly rare. The world needs what we do here.”
Prior to their move to Sioux Falls the campus gathered for a “Bye Bye Bierles” farewell party. The sendoff included a time of prayer, sharing memories, laughs, and some shed tears. AJ Watland (FLBC class of 2019), couldn’t be at the event but shared this encouragement, “Brad really helped me grow as a leader, Christian, and student and was willing to invest the time into relationships. Both Brad and Sarah will be greatly missed.” The Bierle family will continue hold a special place in our hearts. We pray that God will work through their unique gifts as they embark on the next adventure.
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