Tom Hocking

I was born to career missionaries and raised in the Central African Republic.

Consequently, faith in Jesus, a commitment to the Bible, and a dedication to the Church

and its mission were unquestioned aspects of my childhood. However, as a teenager I

experienced an increasing disparity between what I professed externally and what I felt

about myself internally. I regularly wondered how I could know for sure that I was truly

acceptable to God since I remained so enslaved to sin.

My spiritual dissonance came to a head when I was sixteen. But, after a painful and

private struggle, I resolved to “go all in” with Jesus—trusting that the Bible was true and

that Jesus’s substitutionary death and resurrection was the only way I could gain

acceptance with God. That decision has shaped my life for the last 45 years as I resolved

to spend my life learning to love Jesus and lead others to do the same.

“Learning to love” for me started off with a whole lot more “learning” than “loving”. I

dove into studying the Bible and the original languages in which it was written first at

Biola University. then at Grace Theological Seminary, and later on I completed a Doctor

of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary. However, I think my real education began

when another Biola student, Steve Cohen, invited me in 1980 to visit Bellflower Brethren

Church [BBC] where he was serving as the college pastor. Soon, I joined the church after

the founding pastor, Ed Cashman, affirmed my calling to be in “full-time ministry” with

the words, “If you’re going to be a missionary, we want to be your sending church!” I

had never before received words of encouragement like that.

As it turned out, BBC became not just a “sending church” but my spiritual family. After I

had served as Pastor Cashman’s associate for several years, my wife and I served as

short-term missionaries in Cameroon for six months. Then, after God clearly closed that

ministry door, Pastor Cashman invited me to be his successor as BBC’s lead pastor in


When I look back over the last four decades of involvement at BBC, I am overwhelmed

by the grace, goodness, and mercy of God in Christ. The Word of God, the Spirit of God,

and the family of God have sustained, encouraged, and empowered me through some

stormy times [many of those self-inflicted!]. With respect to God’s family, I am so very

grateful, first and foremost, for my amazing life-and-ministry partner, Tami. From the

moment I first met her at a missions conference called “Urbana 79”, I have been blessed

to be loved by a woman who passionately loves Jesus and His mission. Without a doubt,

the primary reason for my longevity in ministry at BBC is due to the fact that folks love

her so much that they begrudgingly have to put up with me! Those who know her well,

therefore, can appreciate the fact that—for me—the best part of any day is time spent

with her. regardless of what we’re doing. You see, the best version of myself shows up

when I’m with her!