“My number one passion is helping people understand clearly what God is like. I believe that if people understand God, there is nothing about Him to not like.”
To Tom Kopp, “what God is like” is grace and that’s his message for everyone. The impact of God’s grace in his own life has led him to strive daily to liberally give grace to those around him. He teaches people to rely on grace rather than question if it’s available in their lives.
Tom’s passion for sharing grace comes straight from the truth of the Scriptures. Well before his high school years he knew he wanted to be in full-time ministry and wanted a college that would stay true to Scripture. Without ever having seen the campus, he picked BBC, enrolled, and pulled in to start his freshman year in 1982.
In Romans class, Tom saw God’s grace at a depth he had never understood before. In Acts class, he gained a foundation for his understanding of the church in action. The truths learned in these two classes combine to continue informing and shaping his ministry today.
Professor Kenny Beckman shared a story on Tom’s first day of classes that he will never forget. Years before in Nebraska, at age 19, Beckman had led a revival and a young woman had come forward to be baptized. That young woman was Tom’s mother.
Tom loved professor Beckman’s passion for making biblical truth come to life. He also experienced and benefits yet today from being made to preach to a class seated along the back wall of the gym in a way that they could not only hear but feel engaged by the message. Watching himself on video taught him a lot and he still encourages those he mentors to record and watch themselves preaching.
He learned a lot from professor Dale Cornett, whose quiet godly humility, depth of thinking, and soccer skills amazed him. Professor Chuck Faber, whose way of thinking and communicating really resonated with him, taught him a lot too.
Tom today admits and regrets that he was so focused on preparing for ministry that he didn’t form any friendships at BBC. Looking back, he knows he should have, and encourages others to make friends while in college.
Life After Boise Bible College
Youth, children’s, and associate ministries in Oregon, California, Arizona, and Australia followed Tom’s graduation in 1986 with a BA in Theology. He obtained a Master of Arts in Global Leadership from Fuller Seminary in 2011. Today he leads Evangelism and Assimilation for Central Christian Church in Arizona, a role he loves because he gets to “do everything I can to help those outside of heaven to understand they are welcome to come in.”
Tom has been married to his wife Alana (Hoskins) for 25 years. She is a school counselor. His son, Caleb, graduated from Grand Canyon University and works for Apple Computers. And, his other son, Stephen, graduated from Hope International University and today works for his alma mater as well as Eastside Christian College.
In addition to liberally dispensing grace, Tom loves to travel, spend time with family, and read books on his passions of evangelism, church growth, and leadership. He also reads on subjects that challenge and stretch him. Recently he’s been reading a lot on loving those of different races, economic backgrounds, and religions. His strong desire is to lean in and love them rather than distance, question, or hate those who are different from him.
Tom speaks matter-of-factly about his condition known as RP, which has greatly diminished his sight and hearing (but certainly has not hampered his ministry). He speaks of the “few accommodations” he has to make and is grateful that God continues to allow him to pursue full-time ministry. Since he’s been unable to drive for 18 years, Uber is one of his favorite opportunities to evangelize. He shares that it’s amazing how open people are to a conversation rather than a confrontation, and he rarely exits an Uber ride without praying with the driver.
The truths taught in the classroom and modeled by his professors laid a foundation for Tom’s life and ministry. He learned to let the Bible speak into his life and set his theology rather than listening to others or just going with what he’s been taught. For all of this and the grace of God in his life, he is grateful every single day.