New Director of Campus Ministries Joins the HIU Community
We are thrilled to welcome back Bryan Sands (BA ’01) to HIU in his new role as Director of Campus Ministries. Sands most recently served as the Associate Pastor of Outreach and Pastor of Student Ministry at Discovery Christian Church in Moreno Valley, CA. We sat down with him for a one-on-one interview to learn a little more about where he has been since graduating and what he hopes to do at HIU.
HIU: Bryan, it’s great to have you back here at HIU! You graduated from Hope in 2001 – what’s it like being back here?
Bryan Sands: It’s great being back on campus! In one sense I feel like I haven’t really been gone. I’ve stayed connected with the school through the professors (Joe Grana is my hero!) as well as participating in Hope’s Frontline ministry conferences, or spending time with former students. I love this campus and am excited to see what it will look like in the next two years or so.
HIU: Congratulations on your recent marriage! I’ve heard your first date was an unusual one. Care to elaborate?
BS: (laughs) Being an Australian, I asked Caz if she knew how to surf, as I assumed all Aussies did. Upon hearing she didn’t know, I asked her if she wanted to learn. The stage was set for our first date. Unfortunately, whilst paddling out, a large wave came and knocked my board right out of my hands. It caught an extra gust of wind as it did, and proceeded to plummet toward her. The board hit her right in the head and knocked her off her board into the water! She got back up on her board and put her hand on her throbbing head to reveal blood pouring out everywhere! Then of course, in true Aussie fashion, she said “I’ll be right!” and fought off the swarming crocodiles and sharks with the knife she had strapped to her leg… ok…I may have exaggerated that knife part! Throughout the remainder of the date, the bump on her head grew to be the size of a golf ball! In 2010 my beautiful wife, Caz, decided to marry me, despite our first date mishap.
HIU: Sounds like you definitely are the lucky one. So, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
BS: Growing up I was never really interested in church. I thought it was boring and when my teenage years hit I started to rebel. I got involved with things I shouldn't have been involved with, even though I always knew there was a God. After a couple rough years of high school, I had a friend who was the closest person to Jesus I had ever met. We would go skateboarding all day and then come back and listen to Walter Martin (you can Google him) tapes. For me I wasn't going to change my life if Jesus and the Bible did not make logical sense. After months and months of discussing and arguing, I started to see the logic in Christianity and over time God began working on my heart. I made the commitment to Jesus as my Savior when I was in the eleventh grade.
I started attending HIU in 1998 and also started interning at Discovery Christian Church in Moreno Valley around the same time. I worked as an intern while I completed my undergraduate work. After graduation, I began full time ministry at Discovery.
HIU: What is your best memory from when you were a student here at Hope?
BS: We used to throw salsa [dance] parties and we would pack our dorm room with 10-40 students. Our parties got so big that we rented out the café and had a salsa party with music and giveaways. I thought I would be funny, so I tried to raffle off my friend’s car. It didn’t work and he was upset with me.
HIU: How have your experiences as a teenager impacted your life as an adult, and how will this help to shape your new ministry role here?
BS: I think all experiences shape or mold us in one way or another. With me, I definitely believe my experiences as a teenager have impacted my life. The teenage years can be awkward but at the same time exciting. Every high school year got progressively better for me. It's amazing what happens when one sheds himself of bad influences.
I'm not sure if there was a specific moment in my life when I said, "I want to work with youth." Growing up I always had older people around me, caring for me so it was more of a natural response to work with the youth. I wanted to give back what had been given to me. I have always connected with the "rougher" students because they are a reminder of what I used to be like. And it's usually the rougher students who get the "raw" deal. With that said, I simply have a heart for everyone because there have been all sorts of people in my life to care for and guide me.
[With regards to the new role as Director of Campus Ministries] I am the most excited about the potential of having a higher level of impact for the Kingdom! It's my hope to add to the current spiritual life (of the campus community), encouraging everyone to draw nearer to Jesus. Also, I hope to challenge and encourage students and faculty in their walk with Jesus.
HIU: What is something you appreciate about college students?
BS: I appreciate that college students are willing to take on the world. They have an energy and a willingness to make a difference.
HIU: Thanks for your time, Bryan. In closing, is there anything else we should know about you?
BS: I love Jesus, my wife, and the Lakers! Oh and I have a cat that need a good exorcism.
Bryan and his wife Caz attend church at the Cause Community Church in Brea, CA.