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A Story of God’s Persistent Grace

Author: Boise Bible College
Published on: July 16, 2020

Steven Ray Bragg entered Boise Bible College at age 27 in the spring of 1976. Previously, the Hippie culture of drugs and alcohol influenced him and became apart of his life. Steven had discovered God but did not know who He was. His brother, Greg, found a college in Boise that taught the Bible with no denominational bias. Three months after discovering God, Steven entered BBC.

One of his first classes was “The Fourfold Gospel” with Professor Bob Ballard. Bob’s humor and unique storytelling ability made the life of Christ come to life in Steven’s heart and mind. He found his God and his life was significantly changed forever.

Steven would often share what he was learning with Leroy Stolle, his adopted father. Leroy got excited and started classes himself at BBC in the fall of 1976, and his life was transformed to serve God. Steven finished his BA in 3.5 years, graduating in 1979, and Leroy graduated with a BA in 1980.

Steven remembers the funniest experience at BBC Chapel was when Leroy, who lived on a farm, sat in front during chapel, and there was a mouse in the back lining of his coat moving around. Leroy didn’t want to get up and disturb the speaker, so he sat while the mouse tried to find its way out. Everyone behind him was trying not to laugh but it was impossible.

During his BBC years, Steven made lifelong friends with fellow students Danny Harrod (BA’79), Don Henderson (BA’83), David Knoecklein (BA’80), and Rich Schell (BS’86). Professor Rick Deighton (BA’65), who taught evangelism, brought Steven into his ministry at Idaho State Penitentiary (now the Old Idaho Penitentiary), leading to a friendship that remains today. Steven completed an internship in church planting, helping Bill Putman (then director of Intermountain Church Planters Association) plant a new church in Boise. This also led to a close friendship that remains today.

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Life After Boise Bible College

Unfortunately, Steven had not acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to deal with his previous addictions and they caught up with him a year after graduation. He was able to stay clean during college but once out on his own, fell back into his addictions.

Thirteen years later, with God’s continuous prompting, Steven turned back to Him. A small community church helped him to deal with the addictions and repair his life. He was able to return their kindness, influencing them to establish a leadership, and observe weekly communion.

In Steven’s quest for forgiveness and restoration, he discovered a deeper and richer meaning of God’s grace and wanted to share it with others. The community church encouraged him to become a missionary in the Philippines since he had ties there through his wife, who was Filipino. 

Before he could go, though, he had some things to take care of. He needed to ask forgiveness and encouragement from those at BBC. He visited one afternoon and met with David Davolt who imparted Godly wisdom and encouragement. Then he visited Bill Putman who did the same. He also sought forgiveness from his children and their blessing to enter ministry. They forgave him and encouraged him to proceed as a missionary.

Steven and his family moved to the Philippines in 2011 to plant New Testament churches. Since that time, thirty-four churches have been planted and several more are starting now. The thirty-four churches are collectively called River Rock Church Philippines because it was River Rock Church in America that commissioned and sent Steven and his family to the mission field. Steven attributes this success to the blessings of God. He took a message of Jesus and salvation by grace with him to the mission field. The influences of Bill Putman in church planting and Rick Deighton in evangelism are key factors.

Part of the church planting strategy is to ground the people in God’s Word. BBC has played a significant role in this. President Derek Voorhees traveled to the Philippines and taught a seminar on hermeneutics for 175 RRCP leaders. Friend and Professor Danny Harrod visited and taught a seminar on the Book of Acts to encourage the church planters, taking several BBC students who also helped teach the seminar. Dana Williamson (BA’17) did a summer internship and influenced the youth leaders. Tony Williamson and his son Joshua, both Ozark Christian College graduates, have taught several youth camps with as many as 250 youth. Joshua also taught a seminar on homiletics. Lord willing, in January 2021, BBC professors Russell and Amber Grove will teach a seminar on apologetics.

Since 2018, Steven is on furlough with his wife Juliana and son Steven, who attended BBC for a year. Young Steven aspires to be a pilot and will soon have his private license. While on furlough, the senior Steven is ministering at Nezperce Christian Church, Nezperce ID. He would love to be invited to your church to tell the RRCP story.

Steven has authored two books: Get Up! God Is Not Finished With You! (an account of his fall from ministry and God’s restoration) and The Enemy Is Roaring and the Lord Is Blessing (stories of church planting in the Philippines). He’s working on his third: Finish the Race – The One God Has Given You.