2013 Kopio Awards recognize tireless service to ministry

By |


Summer Celebration 2013 began Sunday night, June 30, and continued through Tuesday, July 2, as more than 4,000 people streamed to campus for worship, fellowship, fireworks and spiritual activities of all types. At each keynote session, themed  “Practicing the Way of Jesus: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount,” Lipscomb paid tribute to one who has served God with enthusiasm throughout their lifetime.

Charles Strobel, founding director of Nashville’s Room in the Inn program; Robert Randolph, chaplain at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Marco Diaz, liflong Christian and minister who began a preaching training school in Chattanooga, were each honored with a Kopio Award.

From left to right, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Kopio Award recipient Charles Strobel and Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry.

The Kopio Awards’ name comes from a transliteration of a Greek word that is used to describe a person who labors to the point of utter exhaustion with the help and for the glory of God. Lipscomb established the Kopio Awards to honor those individuals who give of themselves in this manner in service to God and the community.

Charles Strobel, founding director, Room in the Inn

During the Sunday evening worship and keynote activities, Lipscomb University presented Charles Strobel, founding director of Nashville’s Room in the Inn program, with a 2013 Kopio Award, given annually at Summer Celebration.

“Charles Strobel has tirelessly served this community for decades,” said President L. Randolph Lowry. “We thank him for practicing the way of Jesus and appreciate all that he has done to make a difference in this community and to our students. We thank God for him.”

A native Nashvillian, Strobel started Room in the Inn, a citywide ministry helping the homeless of Nashville, in 1986. The mission of the program is “to provide programs that emphasize human development and recovery through education, self-help, and work, centered in community and long-term support for those who call the streets of Nashville home.”

Today, the Room In The Inn is a combined effort of more than 150 Nashville-area congregations. By creating small shelters using the space and volunteers they already have, congregations offer hospitality and hope to guests who would otherwise find themselves on the streets. Room In The Inn was able to provide shelter for 1,260 individuals last year from November 1 through March 31.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean recognized Strobel’s impact on the community.

“Charles Strobel is a hero, and I don’t use that term lightly,” said Dean. “His work through Room in the Inn has literally saved thousands of lives. What he has done through this program is true service to God and to our community. And, through it all, he has remained a humble man of God. It gives me great pleasure to be here and to be a part of honoring Charles Strobel, one of the most amazing men I know.”

Deby Samuels, vice president for university communication and marketing at Lipscomb, was a member of Room in the Inn’s first board.

“He gave us a way to come together as a community to make a difference in the lives of those who live on the streets,” she told the audience. “He opened a door and added a little leaven that has taken this ministry to churches throughout Nashville and to 15 other states.”

Strobel credits his mother for words that inspired him to help others.

“My mom always told me that people don’t have to be nice to you,” he said upon receiving the award. “And, she’s right. They don’t. I learned to never take for granted the kindness of other people. What we do in this program is to be kind to others. Thank you for your kindness to me and to the people served by Room in the Inn.”

Room In The Inn's Campus for Human Development operates year-round as Nashville's only single site of services for the homeless. Programs include education, support services, The Guest House, respite care, transitional housing for veterans, Odyssey, and the congregational helpline.



Robert Randolph, chaplain, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert Randolph

During Monday evening activities, Robert Randolph, chaplain at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was honored with a Kopio Award for his service to the students at MIT. Randolph, who has been on staff at MIT since 1979, served in various roles at the institution including assistant dean for student affairs, senior associate dean for undergradaute education and student affairs and dean-in-residence. He was named the first chaplain at MIT in 2007. In this capacity, Randolph is the "guardian of the core values of the institute" and works alongside the board of chaplains, who represents many religious traditions, in fostering interfaith discourse and educating the MIT community about the history and role of religions around the world. 

"My love for this place is deep and long," said Randolph upon receiving his award. "Honors like these don't come to individuals, but to family who know the love and nurture of Jesus Christ."

Randolph holds degrees from Abilene Christian , Pepperdine, Yale and Brandeis universities in addition to Andover Newton Theological School.




Marco Diaz, former Health Talents International missionary

Kopio 2013 200 pxls 1
Kopio 2013 200 pxls 2

At the final worship session for Summer Celebration on Tuesday evening, July 2, a 2013 Kopio Award was presented to a Tennessee minister who overcame incredible spiritual and physical obstacles to serve the Lord.

Marco Diaz, a former Health Talents International missionary who now runs a preaching training school in Chattanooga, Tenn., began his life of ministry after being shot 14 times in an assault and carjacking in Guatemala.

“When I met Marco Diaz, I realized God was introducing me to a man who personified what God was talking about,” in Colossians 1:29, the inspirational verse for the Kopio Award, said Scott Sager, vice president of church services, as he presented the award to Diaz.

“Kopio” comes from a transliteration of a Greek word used to describe one who labors to the point of utter exhaustion for the glory of God.

Diaz was born and raised in Guatemala. He earned his MBA and was a successful, wealthy businessman in Guatemala when he was attacked. He remained in a coma for three months and spent three years in and out of hospitals to fully recover.

The experience was a wake-up call for Diaz, who devoted his life to ministry from that point on, even ministering to others in the hospital, Sager said. Once recuperated, he studied at the Baxter Institute to become a preacher and established his training school in Chattanooga in 2004. The program has graduated 39 students so far.

As he called Diaz to the stage, Sager noted that he expects to award many future Kopio Awards to those brothers now studying with Diaz -- and to those who will study with him in the future.

“I probably don’t deserve this. I feel so humble, I just don’t have the words to thank every one of you,” Diaz told the crowd gathered in Allen Arena. “I just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to preach the gospel here on earth.”

*      *       *

For more information about Summer Celebration, visit summercelebration.lipscomb.edu.