2023 Alumnus of the Year: Phil Moser (Word of Life Bible Institute New York, Class of ’86)
“Sometimes, we forget it was a child who gave Jesus the five loaves and two fishes. He wasn’t an adult; he wasn’t a seminary trained student; he was just a child who gave what he had. God took what he had, multiplied it, and fed a multitude.”
These words from Phil Moser reveal more than just a knowledge of the biblical account in Matthew 15. They demonstrate a posture of humility – of someone who profoundly believes his accomplishments in ministry are simply the result of a great God who multiplies small offerings.
Foundations of Discipleship
Phil was born in a rural town outside Fort Wayne, Indiana. He grew up in a Christian home and was introduced to Jesus through believing parents who were actively involved at church. In describing the journey that molded him into who he is today – a faithful servant of Jesus, husband to Kym Moser, father, grandfather, pastor, author, and international Bible teacher – Phil explains that God worked through many small details to direct him toward a life of ministry.
During high school, Phil was discipled by John Barnett, who worked at the Christian boarding school Phil attended (today, John Barnett is a renowned speaker and a board member at Word of Life). Phil shares, “He was God’s spokesman in my heart during my high school years.” Already, God was laying the groundwork in Phil’s mind for the importance of biblical discipleship.
Phil went on to complete a degree in business at Bob Jones University. As graduation day approached, he presented his career plans to his friend and future wife, Kym. “I expected her to be wowed; instead, she asked me the question, ‘How involved is God in all those plans?’” When confronted with the realization that he hadn’t laid his life direction before the Lord, Phil decided he would try seminary for a semester – until God changed his plans in a way he didn’t expect.
A Different Calling
“My sister was a staff nurse at the Word of Life Island, and I came to pick her up,” Phil shares. “While I was there, Word of Life missionary Don Kinzer asked me about my plans for the following year.
‘I’m going to seminary to see if I’m called to ministry,’ I responded.
‘Seminary is where you go when you have a call to ministry,’ Don replied, ‘but the best way to discover your call to ministry is to do ministry.’”
Through that conversation, Phil decided to come to Word of Life Bible Institute in New York. “At Word of Life, God developed my love for ministry, because there were so many opportunities to actually do ministry. With each new opportunity, my love for God and others grew.”
Phil’s desire to pursue teaching came out of his year as a Bible Institute student as well. One day, he was asked to fill in for a study hall position that involved peer tutoring and teaching. “Afterward, I said to the Lord, ‘If I could do that for the rest of my life, that would be great.’”
Pastoral Ministry and the Biblical Strategies Series
After graduating from the Bible Institute and serving on staff for a short time, Phil married his wife, Kym, and the two moved to California so Phil could attend The Master’s Seminary. It was there Phil developed a heart for pastoral teaching. He shares, “I didn’t know how God would connect pastoring and my love for Word of Life.”
This was no secret to God, however. After wrapping up his master’s degree, Phil was asked to become the campus pastor for the New York Bible Institute campus. He accepted this position, and he and Kym served faithfully in the lives of students for three years. Afterward, Phil became the teaching pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in New Jersey, where he has been ministering for nearly thirty years. He continues to return to the Bible Institute as a guest lecturer and has taught at seminaries and conferences around the world.
Throughout Phil’s years in full-time ministry, he has made an indelible mark on the landscape of discipleship and biblical counseling. One of his most noteworthy contributions – and one that is familiar to any Bible Institute alumnus who studied under Phil Moser – is the Biblical Strategies book series.
“In part, the Biblical Strategies series came out of my work with Bible Institute students,” Phil shares. “Even though I didn’t start writing until much later, it was there that I saw how the Bible works – how the Bible helps someone with anxiety, and how it helps someone with self-pity.”
After presenting practical ways to apply biblical truth to real-world struggles, each of the Biblical Strategies books features a Bible reading schedule and Scripture memory plan. These guides are tailored to help people dealing with procrastination, anger, temptation, or whichever topic the book addresses.
An Open Door
Over the past year and a half, God has provided a new ministry opportunity for Phil – one that is impacting countless refugees affected by the war in Ukraine.
In July of 2022, Phil and the Biblical Strategies team traveled to Europe and distributed over 50,000 books on overcoming anxiety to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and the surrounding areas. Over half these books were copies of a children’s storybook written especially for young refugees. Amazingly, God had laid it on Phil’s heart to write this book only three months earlier.
“I realized I had nothing for the children,” Phil shares. He had taught periodically at a seminary in Ukraine in years past and had already translated and published several books for the Ukrainian people. When he heard about thousands of Ukrainians crammed in refugee shelters and storage units following the Russian invasion, Phil’s heart was broken for the children caught up in the trauma of war.
God opened unimaginable doors in the weeks that followed, providing a gifted illustrator, gracious donors, and many others who volunteered their time and resources to make the children’s book a reality. On May 14, 2022 – just 40 days after Phil had the idea of writing a book for refugee children – Safe in the Storm: A Ukrainian Children’s Tale was sent to print in the Ukrainian language.
Since that time, Phil’s book has been distributed to thousands more children living inside the country’s borders – an opportunity made possible through a partnership with Word of Life missionaries in Ukraine. At the end of last year, Phil offered to send 10,000 books as gifts to accompany Word of Life Ukraine’s gospel-centered musical production. God richly provided resources for this project just in time for Christmas. This spring, God also opened doors for Phil to visit the Ukrainian missionaries himself, signing and handing out books to children after the show was over.
“It was a beautiful thing to see the courage of Ukrainian believers,” Phil shares. He was especially impacted by all the young Ukrainians who are actively engaged in ministry. “During a conference I did at a church [in Ukraine], I was most taken aback by the fact that about 50% of the people there were 25 years old or younger.” Even through the danger and uncertainty of the war, these young believers are shining as lights for Christ.
In Ukraine and around the world, the outlook for the future often seems darkened by sin and suffering. However, stories like Phil’s reveal that God is actively working in our day, and that we have the opportunity to be used by Him in ways we could not imagine. With this in mind, Phil leaves readers with these simple yet profound words of wisdom:
“Don’t downplay what you have to give to the Lord. Give Him your ‘five loaves and two fishes’ moments, and He will multiply them in ways that will astound you.”