Alumni Spotlight: Brad ’99 & Caroline Tubbesing ’00
Brad Tubbesing ’99 first noticed Caroline Taylor Tubbesing ’00 during his 8th grade year at Westminster. Little did he know then that a couple decades later she would be his wife and working alongside him with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), a ministry that seeks to help college students be transformed by the gospel of grace. Having first served in the campus ministry at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and now at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, much of their desire to work with college students stemmed from their own college experiences.
“In our fraternity and sorority houses, we saw how many students fill their lives with other things,” says Brad. “It was a timely opportunity to help them see that Jesus is what they truly long for and encourage them to begin a life of dependence on Him,” says Brad, who leads RUF at IU. His responsibilities include preaching at the ministry’s weekly on-campus large group gathering, leading some small group Bible studies, and overseeing the student leadership team.
Brad received a political science degree from Miami University in Ohio in 2002 and a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary in 2006. During seminary, he worked in several church-related and ministry-related internships. Following graduation, Brad accepted a call to begin a new RUF ministry at UAH, where he served as the campus minister for five years. He and Caroline then moved to Bloomington in 2012 to begin a new RUF ministry at IU and help start Hope Presbyterian Church.
Caroline graduated from the University of Missouri in 2003 with a communication degree and began work as a wedding planner at St. Louis Wedding Design, where she stayed until 2005 before assuming a role as admissions administrator at Covenant Theological Seminary. Today, Caroline spends much of her time caring for their four children – Eliza (9), Adie (6), Jane (4), and JR (2) – but still devotes time to the ministry through hosting small groups of students in their home, leading Bible studies, and meeting with girls in the ministry one on one, in addition to working with their church.
At Westminster, despite knowing each other since middle school, the two didn’t start dating until Brad’s senior year at Westminster. They were married right after Caroline graduated from college, in June 2003. They say Westminster played a major part in preparing them well for the work they are doing with college students. “Westminster’s Bible courses had a very positive effect on me,” says Brad, naming Old Testament, Biblical Ethics, and Worldviews. “At a very important age, the teachers helped me form and solidify important truths about myself and the world around me. I learned that because of sin, the world is not the way it is supposed to be, but Jesus is bringing redemption. This foundation given to me at Westminster made me think about and make sense of the broken world around me – especially as I went off to college – and undoubtedly affects my ministry today.”
Both Brad and Caroline credit their Westminster teachers, coaches, and mentors who led by example and showed them the characteristics of godly leaders. Caroline appreciated how leadership was valued and encouraged at Westminster and as a result assumed several leadership positions as a student. “From leadership retreats to one-on-one talks with Mrs. [Sara] Drexler, I received much training on how to lead and care for others,” she says. “If I have any compassion for others and desire to help students see the beauty of the gospel, I attribute that to the compassion – and integrity and grace – to the example I saw in my teachers at Westminster.” Brad adds, “I remember how Mr. [Mark] Hearne and Mr. [Ken] Boesch gave me opportunities to excel in areas they know I was strong in academically, and how my soccer coaches showed me grace when I let our team down but also pushed me to play to my greatest potential,” he says. “The way they empowered me to take risks, challenge myself, and lead is something I reflect on often, as much of my job is empowering students to do the same – to lead and boldly follow Jesus where He has called them.”
Brad says they hope and pray that through RUF, many of the non-Christian students they interact with will see their need for God’s grace and come to a saving relationship with Him. For the Christian students, he says they pray that they would gain a fuller grasp of the beauty of the gospel. “Caroline and I hope that all their earthly desires – for friendships, a family, successful finances, or a certain vocation – would be lived out as a means to praise God for his goodness and grace,” he says, noting that they also pray that students would see the need to be involved in the local church throughout college and their lives. “We’re grateful that Westminster taught us many of these truths, which we now have the opportunity to teach to students today.”
A Match Made in Algebra
My senior year (Caroline’s junior year), we were a pretty new couple. During a morning class, Mr. [Rich] VanGilst told me to come to his classroom for lunch, as I would be serving a detention for talking too much in class. Little did Mr.VanGilst know that Caroline – my new crush – would be in his classroom at that same time (she was in VG’s college algebra class that took place during my lunch period).
Naturally, before the class started, I made sure I was in a seat within earshot of Caroline.The guy who just got into trouble for talking too much had no problem with whispering to Car- oline throughout the class. Finally, though, VG had had enough. “Mr.Tubbesing, do you care to share with the rest of us what you keep whispering to this young lady?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I responded, “Mr. VanGilst. I’d rather not share. But let’s be honest. Can you blame me for talking to this girl? I mean, look at her!” And with that, Caroline got up from her desk and bolted out of the classroom.