Photo taken by Darren Heslop.

Last weekend, Maranatha Volunteers International’s president, Don Noble, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree of Humane Letters from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. The presentation took place during the College of Education & International Services & the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary’s spring commencement ceremony. The faculties of Andrews University voted to recommend Noble for this honor because of his dedicated efforts to show God’s love by serving others. “By conferring this degree, the university gives public recognition to the extraordinary achievements of the candidate,” said Andrews University President John Wesley Taylor V. “We hold up his life as an example and an inspiration to this year’s graduates. He’s a person who exhibits the ideals of Andrews University in an exemplary way.”

At the birth of his career, Noble earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Oregon. After graduation, he entered the Air Force and attended officer training at the School of Military Sciences in Texas. But it was after being commissioned as a second lieutenant, during his time at air force pilot training in Arizona, when Noble had a life-altering spiritual awakening. This prompted him to request transfer from active duty to reserve military status and begin teaching Bible, business management, and physical education classes at the Minneapolis Junior Academy in Minnesota.

Over time, Noble decided to continue his formal education, earning a master’s degree in religion from Andrews University. He then moved to Colorado and initially worked as a counselor and Bible teacher at Mile High Academy, before accepting a position as an executive at Synergy, a Denver-based management consulting company.

In 1983, Noble made a choice that would propel him into a lifelong career of service. He accepted the position as president of Maranatha Volunteers International, formerly known as Maranatha Flights International. During his 41 years of leadership, Maranatha has worked in 88 countries and mobilized over 100,000 volunteers. Noble has overseen the construction of more than 10,000 churches and 3,000 classrooms, and drilled approximately 3,500 water wells. This is in addition to 5,400 other projects, like disaster relief, housing repairs, and youth camp renovations. His dedicated service has built Maranatha throughout the years and exemplified Christ’s love every step of the way.

“It is my belief that this award is really in recognition of Maranatha as a whole,” said Noble. “It is with great joy that I represent this organization, but this honor belongs to the staff, volunteers, and donors who show up and support the mission year after year. It is their passion and hard work that deserves the recognition of an award such as this.”