Jeff Roach's Story :: Bob Jones University Alumni and Friends

Music, Math, and Faith

Jeff Roach's Story

The conductor raises his arms. Choir and orchestra members wait, poised, for the cue to begin Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living at the 2018 BJU Homecoming Concert. As the lush choral tones of hundreds of voices fill the auditorium, you might never guess that among them stands a singer who served as a senior economist for Bank of America on their corporate trading floor, and who now provides bespoke macroeconomic insights for all types of companies. But Jeff Roach isn’t your average musician—or your average economist.

The Best Place to Study Music and Math

Iimage3.jpgt’s not often that you meet someone who excels in both numbers and the arts. In fact, popular left-brain and right-brain terminology seem to exclude one from the other. But for Jeff, there’s never been a question that both music and math would play integral roles in his service to the Lord, and he sees both as a means of sharing the gospel.

“When I was at BJU, I was a math and physics major, but I also sang in the choirs and played the trumpet,” says Jeff. “The musical training was a huge part of my development as a human—challenging both the left brain and right brain. That’s what makes a BJU education so powerful. You can graduate with a well-informed artistic view even though you weren’t officially in the music department or art department.” 

“My parents worked at Bob Jones University, and I attended the elementary, junior high, and high school,” says Jeff. “I was very musical growing up, and once I was ready for college, I knew I wanted more of that experience. I knew I could get a good Christian ethic in both the arts and the sciences at BJU.” 

Jeff recalls having interests in many different areas as he prepared to enter college. It was BJU’s emphasis on the liberal arts that stood out to him since he knew he would receive excellent teaching in music, writing, and public speaking as well as math and science. Ultimately, he chose to major in math and physics, but it was the liberal arts environment that allowed him to develop his full potential across a range of disciplines.


Finding Hope in the Dismal Science

As a math and physics major, Jeff soon faced a dilemma: how would he use his technical knowledge to pursue a job? He credits BJU mathematics faculty members like Dave Brown and Gary Guthrie with helping him consider creative options for applying his math knowledge in the business world. And that led him to the field of economics. 

Many economists refer to their field as “the dismal science,” because it tracks the fluctuations of global poverty and wealth. As 18th-century scholar T.R. Malthus gloomily predicted, the population will always grow faster than the food supply, and therefore we will always have famine, poverty, and war. But Jeff offers a different perspective on his chosen profession.

It’s a great opportunity for me to tell folks that it’s not a dismal science when you know how it ultimately turns out. We know what the end will be and there is optimism in that.

jeff_roach_7.jpgLifelong Learning

Jeff’s work has taken him from the heart of the Bank of America trading floor where he advised traders on what was happening in the markets and why, to an asset management firm where he helps shape investing decisions by evaluating and forecasting market trends, consumer behavior, and global risk. It’s an ever-changing, always-challenging field, and Jeff has traveled extensively with his family as part of his job. 

"There is a lifetime of learning opportunities in economics because the economy is a living, changing organism,” says Jeff. “You’re always trying to untangle something, and there’s always something baffling going on.” He compares the often-frightening fluctuations of economics to pruning a tree. The markets rise and fall, just as a fruit tree must be pruned so it can grow. “If a fruit tree could talk, I’m sure it wouldn’t enjoy the process of pruning, but the end result is more fruit and a better, stronger tree.”

jeff_roach_1.jpgBusiness: A Catalyst for Missions

While he was a student at BJU, Jeff traveled to Europe with the musical mission team, and God gave him a burden for using his mathematical talent as a means of sharing the gospel. His interest in business and the global economy seemed to be a perfect fit for choosing a career that would allow him to interact with missions. 

And that’s just what he has done. Jeff, his wife Erica, and their two children love connecting with missionaries and pastors as they travel. 

That’s been a huge highlight. We make sure we are connected to different believers, and different mission works, and we get to see the big picture of how God’s kingdom is growing in different cultures.


Learning as an Act of Worship

IMG_7011.jpgJeff’s dream of developing a professional career as a catalyst for sharing God’s Word has been realized not only abroad, but also at home, where he serves as the music director at his local church. Using the skills he learned in the BJU music program, he is involved in musical planning and preparation as well as singing or playing the trumpet or guitar in every service. 

Jeff’s philosophy on using his talent for the Lord comes from Psalm 111:2.

Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.

“My love of learning was something I developed and appreciated at BJU. There is always someone smarter or more talented in the room, but that doesn’t mean I should switch to another field where I am the smartest. It’s about seeing the connection between learning and worshipping by understanding God’s creation better and enjoying Him more.”

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