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2015 Lancer Medal for Lifetime Achievement - Bill Pierpoint


The long, winding road always leads to Him

“I’m thinking about writing my memoirs and calling it, ‘A look in the rearview mirror,’ because I’ve never been able to see out of the windshield worth a hoot.” As Bill Pierpoint looks back on the many ways God has guided him down the road, he recalls how one of the most unexpected turns brought him to CBU.

After attending his freshman year at a college in Missouri, Bill spent a summer in California, where he had lived as a young boy. “I came out here looking for fame and fortune, I guess,” Bill said. But after working all summer at a shoe store in Tustin, he decided to return home to Nebraska. “I bought a bus ticket for Ogallala, but I had a 4 hour layover in L.A.,” Bill recalled. “When I got off the bus in L.A., I sort of panicked. It’s like skid row!”

“So I called an old family friend, Uncle Elmer,” Bill said. “I don’t know why I thought of Elmer, because I was about 6 years old the last time I had seen him. But that one call changed my life completely.” As it turned out, Uncle Elmer was a member of the board of trustees for CBC, and he convinced Bill to stay. “I don’t know for sure, but I suspect he made some arrangements for me, because I ended up getting a basketball scholarship and a track scholarship for $200 per semester,” Bill recalled. “Back then, tuition at CBU was $7.50 a unit.”

While attending CBU (then CBC) that fall, Bill also began attending Palm Baptist Church. “It was the first time I had ever heard that we are saved by grace,” Bill said. “My background had been works oriented, and it’s such a burden. I wouldn’t even make a profession of faith during the altar call because I knew I couldn’t make the grade. But when I heard the truth at Palm Baptist in December 1961, I went forward and gave my life to Christ and got baptized.”

Another life-changing event would occur that December – Bill met his wife, Marilyn. “I wanted to ask her to the Yule Festival, but I waited too long, she had already been asked,” Bill said. “So we had our first date on January 6, we got engaged on May 6, and we were married on August 17.”

As a newlywed with little means for providing, Bill quit attending CBC after his sophomore year and began working full time. “I was looking for any kind of a job, and I fell into what we call ‘IT’ today,” Bill recalled. “One day I saw a flyer on a bulletin board that said, ‘programmer wanted.’ I didn’t even know what that was, but I knew they were going to be testing, and I always did pretty good at tests.” In fact, Bill did very well on the test and was hired as a programmer for a company in Pasadena.

While Bill was making good money as a programmer, he felt it was time to go back to school and finish his degree. Four years and 2 kids later, Bill returned to CBC. “I quit my job, came back to Riverside, and got a job with Bourn’s working in their data processing department,” Bill recalled. “For the next 2 years, I went to school full time and worked full time.” In 1968, Bill graduated from CBC with a B.S. in Business.

Over the next 36 years, Bill had a very successful career in the IT field, working primarily in management positions for the County of San Bernardino and the San Bernardino USD. But also during this time, his personal life began to unravel.

“I had let drinking get the best of me,” Bill recalled. “I was a disgrace to my family and a disappointment to God.” But in October 1985, God once again steered Bill back to Him. “I was at the end of the line, near divorce,” Bill said. “God spoke to me at about 4:00 in the morning and changed my life. I fell out of my chair onto my face before the Lord, confessed my sin, repented, and promised to follow Him with all my heart.” Immediately, Bill began serving at Magnolia Baptist Church as a teacher. He was then ordained as a deacon in 1988, and later served as chairman of the deacons. And he never drank again.

In 2000, Bill retired from his position as System Development Division Chief with San Bernardino County. And at the age of 58, his true calling had just begun. “We bought a motor home and were traveling and sight seeing, but the whole time I felt like God must have something more for me,” Bill said. “We were in West Virginia when I got an email from church. They were looking for families to go to Rialto to help a church that was struggling. It just hit me, this is what we ought to do.”

Bill and Marilyn returned to California and spent the next 22 months serving at the church in Rialto, and it was during this time that Bill felt called by God to preach. So he began making inquiries. “I was looking for preaching opportunities, maybe when people go on vacation,” Bill said. But his inquiries resulted in an offer to serve as the English Pastor at Riverside Mandarin Baptist Church (RMBC), where the congregation is primarily Chinese.

“I said no. I’m not interested in that at all,” Bill said. “But I had made a commitment to God that if somebody asked me to preach, I would.” And so Bill began serving as the English Pastor at RMBC, alongside the current Chinese Pastor, John Lee. But an even bigger decision was yet to come for Bill, when Pastor Lee announced soon afterward that he was leaving the church.

The prospect of being responsible for the entire church was daunting. “I had no theological training. I had no idea really what it meant to be a pastor, especially in a foreign language church,” Bill said. “So my first thought was, I’m going to have to leave too.” And then with tears in his eyes, Bill recalled how God changed His mind. “I was praying about it one morning, and I clearly heard a sentence in my mind, ‘Who called you to this church – Pastor John or Me?’ So I said, okay, I’ll stay, but you get a Chinese pastor in here right away!”

It would be 9 years before God would send a full time Chinese pastor. But what He did in the meantime would only strengthen Bill’s faith. “For that 9 years, God provided everything we needed.” Bill said. “We had translators, and we had a lot of help. There are too many pastors to name who filled in. When one would leave, God brought another.”
While Bill was essentially responsible for all areas of RMBC, the congregation was somewhat reluctant to make his role official through ordination. “They really didn’t feel comfortable turning the reins completely over to me,” Bill said. “But finally, on April 3, 2005, by the grace of God, RMBC ordained me – an English-speaking, untrained computer guy – as their pastor, once again demonstrating the power of a loving God.”

Also during Bill’s time as pastor, RMBC established a Chinese student fellowship at CBU and expanded the fledgling Good Friend Fellowship at UCR, where numerous students have been led to Christ. And in 2004, Bill and Marilyn led a team of CBU students on an ISP trip to China to do outreach to college students.

Bill retired from his position as Pastor last December, but still serves at RMBC as needed. “I believe God brought me here to teach me that it’s about Him. It’s not about what I can or can’t do, or my education or my background,” Bill said. “So here we are once again, looking out the windshield trying to see what God has planned next. But we are certain of one thing, that if we trust in the Lord, He will direct our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). And when we finally come to the end of life’s road, we’ll take a look in the rearview mirror and see that God has been with us all the way.”

Date:08/18/2015Written By:Alumni RelationsCategory:Alumni Stories