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By: OCC

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Spring 2022 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Paul Acosta - Clovis, NM
Mikayla Aden - Salem, IL
Kyle Anis - Porter Ranch, CA
Meghann Arnold - Carbondale, MO
Kevin Atchison - Olathe, KS
Emma Aubuchon - St. Charles, MO
Cade Bailey - Greenwood, LA
Andrea Bandy - Weir, KS
Patrick Baum - Nauvoo, IL
Addison Blagg - Carthage, MO
Gracelyn Bond - Hollister, MO
Ruth Bond - Quincy, IL
Haleigh Branch - Prairie Grove, AR
Josiah Branson - Lamar, MO
Lydia Brauch - Louisville, KY
Caleb Brown - Oronogo, MO
Landon Budke - Beloit, KS
John Caldwell - Indianapolis, IN
Melaney Campbell - Joplin, MO
Samantha Capehart - Lamar, MO
Gabriel Carter - Jeffersonville, IN
Randall Carter - Shawnee, KS
Haven Casey - New Braunfels, TX
Skylar Clevenger - Galesburg, KS
Emily Colin - Joplin, MO
Joshua Cowan - Warrensburg, MO
Abbygail Cox - Claremore, OK
Aaron Creech - Plainfield, IN
Brennan Crossgrove - Joplin, MO
Grant Curtis - Gilman, IA
Justis Davis - Wichita, KS
Emily Dawkins - Sulphur, KY
Matthew Dawkins - Sulphur, KY
Will Deitrich - Carthage, IL
Joshua Dodge - Bella Vista, AR
Aaron Donnelly - Fishers, IN
Andrew Doyle - Joplin, MO
Jackson Dugan - Louisville, KY
Ethan Edwards - Golden City, MO
Faith Evans - Indianola, IA
Kara Frech - Frontenac, KS
Jadon Fricker - Collinsville, OK
Jedidiah Fritze - Hackensack, MN
Brady Gallaway - Muskogee, OK
Dakota Gayer - Derby, KS
Kamryn Gentry - Broken Bow, OK
Lydia Giesey - Rolla, MO
Jacob Gordon - Jefferson City, MO
Lanaya Gore - Vandalia, MO
Lauren Griggs - Sedgwick, KS
Macy Haas - Joplin, MO
Parker Habermehl - Roanoke, TX
Taylor Harris - Oronogo, MO
Virginia Hartley - Edwardsville, KS
Jacob Hazel - Brighton, CO
Jessica Henry - Salina, KS
Josue Hernandez - Joplin, MO
Seth Hiebert - Newton, KS
Kaitlyn Hoover - Springfield, MO
Rylie Huff - Webb City, MO
Jeramy Hunter - Muskogee, OK
Anne Jaycox - Bella Vista, AR
Ethan Jennings - Guthrie, OK
Keely Johnson - Webb City, MO
Moriah Johnson - Franklin, IN
Jami Joslin - Joplin, MO
Kendall Kadnuck - Highlands Ranch, CO
Katherine Kelsey - Owasso, OK
Chandler Key - Georgetown, DE
Madison Koehn - Anthony, KS
Aidan Krehbiel - Lamar, MO
Caleb Lankford - Warwick, RI
Anne Lanyon - Carthage, MO
Shannon Largent - Orlando, FL
Layton Lewis - Valley Center, KS
Noah Lewis - Pittsboro, IN
Garrett Majobian - Lebanon, MO
Noah Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Justin Matthews - Greenville, IL
Matthew McConnell - Louisville, KY
David McQueen - Indianapolis, IN
Ian Meyer - Joplin, MO
Peyton Miller - Tulsa, OK
Piper Mills - Garnett, KS
Kenton Moore - Clemmons, NC
Brayden Morrison - Lamar, MO
Ethan Morton - Ames, IA
Chloe Moss - Richland, MO
Reed Nelson - Olathe, KS
Liam Ngo - Hiawatha, IA
Audrey Nichols - Fulton, MO
Emma Oehler - Normal, IL
Keila Palmquist - Joplin, MO
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Mitchell Petersen - Tilden, NE
Alyssa Phares - Owasso, OK
Enoch Phillips - Joplin, MO
Natalee Phillips - Carthage, MO
Alora Pittenger - Shawnee, KS
Melissa Pottinger - Fort Riley, KS
Joseph Potts - Cleveland, OK
Hope Pratt - Collinsville, OK
Carl Proctor - Joplin, MO
Joy Proctor - Joplin, MO
Ashlyn Putzier - Cushing, IA
Joseph Ramirez-Trejo - Collinsville, OK
Mellenie Redick - Shawnee, KS
David Reisner - Cedar Rapids, IA
Nicole Reynolds - Eldon, MO
Mackenzie Richars - Fenton, MO
Michael Ryan - Bethel, MO
Samuel Ryan - Great Bend, KS
Erica Sadler - Danville, IL
Caleb Salm - Metamora, IL
Jonathan Saltsman - Lansing, MI
Haley Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Stacie Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Solomon Sanchez - Joplin, MO
Maddison Schaper - Welch, OK
Zoe Schmitt - Webb City, MO
Marshall Schoen - Houston, TX
Marshall Schreiber - Hamilton, OH
Claira Schroter - Carthage, MO
Elias Scott - Indianapolis, IN
Micah Smith - Marion, IA
Rebecca Smith - Branson, MO
Allaina Spencer - Kansas City, KS
Haddon Spikereit - Webb City, MO
Trey Stephens - Edwardsville, IL
Halia Stites - Joplin, MO
Anne Storms - Joplin, MO
Molly Storms - Joplin, MO
Addi Summers - Camby, IN
Landen Summers - Excelsior Springs, MO
David Taylor - Warrensburg, MO
Seth Teague - Cheney, KS
Garrett Thomas - Joplin, MO
Jacey Thomas - Neosho, MO
Nathanial Titshaw - Browns Summit, NC
Olivia Turner - Murfreesboro, AR
Ashton Twyford - Cozad, NE
Benjamin Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Timothy Vaipan - Joplin, MO
Chase Vasquez - Firestone, CO
Stanley Wainaina - Joplin, MO
Seth Walczak - Woodhaven, MI
Brianne Warren - Manhattan, KS
Jillian Wedman - Wichita, KS
Owen Weller - Jasper, MO
Robert Weston - St. Peters, MO
Kristen Whaley - Gering, NE
Ethan Wiggs - Whiting, IA
Travis Wilson - Joplin, MO
Blake Winchell - Jeffersonville, IN
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO

By: OCC

OCC is excited to announce that Justin Gill has accepted our offer to serve as director of the Seth Wilson Library. Justin graduated from Ozark in 2014, and he holds a Master of Arts in New Testament from Northern Seminary in Chicago, where he also served as a research assistant to Dr. Scot McKnight.

Justin has served in ministry roles with churches in Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. He has worked on numerous published books as well as an article in The IVP Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Most recently, Justin has served as director of library services and educational technology at Northern Seminary. He also teaches for OCC as an online instructor. Since February, Justin’s wife Rebecca (OCC ’13) has served as the administrative assistant in Ozark’s Graduate Studies Department.

Justin knows and loves Ozark’s mission of training men and women for Christian service, and he has the skills, experience, and servant’s heart to direct our library well. We look forward to partnering with Justin when he begins at OCC in July.

By: President Matt Proctor

“It’s easier to bring the truck to the hay than the hay to the truck.” I’ve heard more “country sayings” than I can shake a stick at, but I’d never heard that one from my Missouri farmer father-in-law. 

Growing up on an Iowa farm, I knew “grinnin’ like a possum” meant happy, “madder than a wet hen” meant unhappy, “make a preacher cuss” meant frustrating, and “just fell off the turnip truck” meant not very smart. When my dad said, “Don’t break your arm pattin’ yourself on the back,” I knew he meant don’t get cocky. When we fixed a piece of house siding and my father-in-law said, “Well, a man riding by on a fast horse will never know the difference,” I knew he meant close enough is good enough. 

When he said, “It’s easier to bring the truck to the hay than the hay to the truck,” he meant: work smarter, not harder. I’d never heard that saying before, but I’ve never forgotten it. 

As OCC’s graduate program launches this fall—a biblical education for those who already have an undergrad degree—I need your help to “bring the truck to the hay.” More on that, but first…

Austin Williams might know a few “country sayings.” The 27-year-old Missouri farmer loves language. In middle school, he wanted to be an author, writing stories of dragons and knights (“complete with a © symbol next to my name,” he says, smiling, “in case someone stumbled across my literary brilliance and tried to publish them under a pseudonym”). But “like most failed novelists,” says Austin, “I ended up teaching English” to seventh graders.

Eventually he left teaching for farming and now manages 900 acres, 1,000 sheep, and 120 cattle. But as the new youth minister at his Boonville church, Austin’s real passion is ministry—combining an author’s word crafting, a teacher’s relational care, and a farmer’s patient work. All he needs now is biblical training, so Austin begins Ozark’s new graduate program this fall. But he needs your help “bringing the truck to the hay.”

Tommy Don Smith has heard some “country sayings,” too. An Oklahoma good ‘ol boy nicknamed “Grizzly Bear,” Tommy was a deputy sheriff and gun store owner. But God “has been at work in my life,” says Tommy. Sensing a call to ministry, he quit as a deputy sheriff, sold his business, did a one-year residency at Sunnybrook Christian Church in Stillwater, and now pastors the Rockin’ M Cowboy Church. He enrolled in Ozark’s new graduate program “to grow my biblical knowledge and pastoral skills,” but like Austin, he needs your help.

How can you “bring the truck to the hay” for Tommy and Austin? Keep reading to find out…

We’ve been encouraged by the response to OCC’s graduate program launch this fall—over 150 have already applied! Most live far from Joplin and have families and jobs, so the online format fits them perfectly—a quality biblical education without having to relocate. It’s for people like…

Here’s the problem: We can’t wait to teach these new graduate students, but as online learners, they wont have access to Ozark’s library. When researching assignments, on-campus students can walk into the Seth Wilson Library, pull books or journals off the shelf, and dig in. But not online students.

How will Austin and Tommy and Debbie and Brandon get that kind of learning experience? They can’t drive to Joplin every time they write a paper. (Gas prices are enough to “make a preacher cuss.”) That would be working harder, not smarter—like lugging heavy hay bales a hundred yards to a waiting truck. A wise farmer uses technology and drives the truck to the bales.

How can we “bring the truck to the hay” for our graduate students? We use technology to take the library to them!

A subscription service called Perlego provides an online digital library of 800,000 books—including 65,000 biblical and theological texts. Students like Matthew or Becky can access those books without leaving home, dig into God’s truth, take digital notes in the books, and keep those notes when they graduate.

Another subscription service called JStor provides journal and periodical articles—another valuable learning resource—digitally so students anywhere can “pull them off the shelf” as they research and study Scripture.

To provide this digital library for our online graduate (and online undergraduate) students, the cost is $55,000. You didn’t “just fall off the turnip truck,” so you already know what I’m going to ask: would you consider a generous gift to provide these digital learning resources for these online students?

This fall, “Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise,” our grad program will launch, and your gift will prepare a whole new batch of kingdom leaders—many we might not otherwise get to train. Those leaders will reach many with the gospel, which means your gift is fulfilling the Great Commission.

So, thank you for considering a gift to provide digital resources for our faraway students.

My father-in-law is in glory now, but as an early adopter of farm technology, he’d be “grinnin’ like a possum” that we’re “bringing the truck to the hay.” And I think, just maybe, the Lord is too. 

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President

P.S. Your gift would have me “happier than a tick on a fat dog.” (If you didn’t grow up in the country: instead of Wikipedia, you can find such sayings on Hickapedia.com.) Learn more about Ozark’s graduate program at occ.edu/masters. 

Give to OCC resources here.

By:

OCC is excited to share good news regarding our Counseling and Pastoral Care Department. After a careful, prayerful search, we have extended an offer of employment to Laura Porter. Dr. Gary Zustiak will retire in May, and in July, Laura will begin her service at Ozark as program coordinator and full-time faculty for the Counseling and Pastoral Care Department.

Laura is a licensed counselor and knowledgeable teacher with more than 20 years of clinical experience and over ten years of teaching experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree from OCC (1995) and a Master of Science in Counseling from Pittsburg State University (1998). Her husband Dave also graduated from Ozark (1992) with a bachelor’s degree in music ministry, and for the last 24 years, Laura has served alongside Dave in Christian churches in Champaign, Illinois, and Lenexa, Kansas. The Porters have five children.

We look forward to welcoming the Porter family as they join our mission of training men and women for Christian service!

By: President Matt Proctor

Father God,

In Hebrews 13:20, you are called “the God of peace.” You created a world of shalom, a place of perfect peace where your people could live together in unity, and in Genesis 4, before Cain ever raised his hand against Abel, you spoke a word of warning. But he did not listen. We did not listen. Shalom has been shattered, and our sin has led to war, unceasing war—friendships severed, marriages broken, churches split, nation against nation. Forgive us, Lord, for all our enmity and strife.

We know, in this broken world, that you do allow governments to bear the sword, that at times you do allow war to restrain wicked men. But we also know that when brothers take up arms against brothers, your heart breaks. We know, Proverbs 11:5, that you hate “the one who loves violence.” We know, Proverbs 6:17, that you hate “the hands that shed innocent blood.” You long for peace.

And so, you sent Christ. You sent him to be a willing victim of violence, to shed his own innocent blood, to die at the hands of soldiers, to take away that sin, and to usher in again that kingdom of shalom. And we thank you. We thank you for the great promise of your word: that a day now awaits just over the horizon when nations will beat their swords into plowshares, when tanks and missiles will be cast into the furnace and melted down and reshaped into swingsets and slides, tractors and grain bins, bicycles and park benches. We thank you for the promise of that day when nation no longer takes up sword against nation, when brothers dwell together in unity, when children shall play without fear, when the sound of weeping is no more, and when the lion lays down with the lamb.

We long for shalom. But until that day, Father, in this warring world, we ask these things: would you bring a just and peaceful end to the fighting in Ukraine? Would you guide the hearts of rulers like water in your hand? Would you give your protection to the innocent? Give safe travel to refugees as they flee war? Father, would you give comfort to those who lose loved ones? To those who grieve, who’ve been displaced, to those who are shaken by anxiety and fear, give your calming presence. Be their rock, their refuge and fortress in times of trouble.

Father, we have brothers and sisters there, in Ukraine and nearby nations, and we ask you give them wisdom as they labor to show your love. We pray that, even in the midst of suffering, you would open doors for the gospel. We know that kings who make war are no match for the Prince of Peace, so we pray that Jesus Christ would prevail. We pray that the one and only kingdom which advances in this war is the kingdom of our Lord, and we pray that many hearts are invaded by his grace.

In the words of your servant Paul in 1 Timothy 2, please hear our “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving.” We make these, Lord, for “all people, for kings and all those in authority, so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness,” and so that all people might be “saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

By: OCC
By: OCC

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Fall 2021 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Mikayla Aden - Salem, IL
Kyle Anis - Porter Ranch, CA
Meghann Arnold - Carbondale, IL
Kevin Atchison - Olathe, KS
Emma Aubuchon - St. Charles, MO
Kylie Austin - Golden, CO
Cade Bailey - Greenwood, LA
Lauren Ball - Joplin, MO
Andrea Bandy - Weir, KS
Aubrey Barr - Saint Joseph, MO
Joan Bentz - Joplin, MO
Addison Blagg - Carthage, MO
Ruth Bond - Quincy, IL
Haleigh Branch - Prairie Grove, AR
Josiah Branson - Lamar, MO
Lydia Brauch - Louisville, KY
Caleb Brown - Oronogo, MO
Landon Budke - Beloit, KS
John Caldwell - Indianapolis, IN
Melaney Campbell - Joplin, MO
Samantha Capehart - Lamar, MO
Glori Caputo - Seneca, MO
Cameron Carroll - Glidden, IA
Kallee Carson - Afton, OK
Gabriel Carter - Jeffersonvlle, IN
Joshua Carter - Sapulpa, OK
Skylar Clevenger - Galesburg, KS
Colton Cockburn - Correctionville, IA
Emily Colin - Joplin, MO
Natalee Connatser - Papillion, NE
Caleb Cook - Joplin, MO
Clara Cooper - New London, IA
Zane Cotten - Seneca, MO
LanaeLee Crawford - Blanchard, OK
Aaron Creech - Plainfield, IN
Jennifer Crosswhite - Cabool, MO
Justis Davis - Wichita, KS
Emily Dawkins - Sulphur, KY
Matthew Dawkins - Sulphur, KY
Will Deitrich - Carthage, IL
John Denny - Brighton, MO
Tucker Dobson - Colorado Springs, CO
Joshua Dodge - Bella Vista, AR
Aaron Donnelly - Fishers, IN
Anabel Dooley - Clayton, IN
Hannah Dutcher - Jefferson City, MO
Faith Dye - Warrensburg, MO
Desiree Ferguson - Rich Hill, MO
Andrew Fischer - Fenton, MO
Kylie Fisher - Fairfield, OH
Kaleb Foster - Olney, IL
Kara Frech - Frontenac, KS
Jadon Fricker - Collinsville, OK
Jedidiah Fritze - Hackensack, MN
Brady Gallaway - Muskogee, OK
Hope Gardner - Carl Junction, MO
Kamryn Gentry - Broken Bow, OK
Lindsey George - Saugus, CA
Lydia Giesey - Rolla, MO
Adelaide Giles - Berthoud, CO
Isaac Gilligan - Chanute, KS
Matison Goebel - Carl Junction, MO
Jacob Gordon - Jefferson City, MO
Lanaya Gore - Vandalia, MO
Lauren Griggs - Sedgwick, KS
Macy Haas - Larned, KS
Parker Habermehl - Roanoke, TX
Alaina Hager - O'Fallon, IL
Megan Harrigan - Indianapolis, IN
Virginia Hartley - Edwardsville, KS
Brianna Hartwell - Joplin, MO
Jacob Hazel - Brighton, CO
Jessica Henry - Salina, KS
Nicholas Herman - Blue Springs, MO
Gracie Hickson - WaKeeney, KS
Seth Hiebert - Newton, KS
Leah Hilsenbeck - Carthage, MO
Kaitlyn Hoover - Springfield, MO
Matthew Hopkins - Watertown, SD
Rylie Huff - Webb City, MO
Cole Jennings - Tulsa, OK
Ethan Jennings - Guthrie, OK
Gabrielle Johnson - Carthage, MO
Keely Johnson - Webb City, MO
Moriah Johnson - Franklin, IN
Abigail Johnston - Decatur, AL
Jami Joslin - Edmond, OK
Kendall Kadnuck - Highlands Ranch, CO
Monty Kapke - Enid, OK
Madison Konkel - Anthony, KS
Allison Kooser - Derby, KS
Jacob Lane - Cincinnati, OH
Caleb Lankford - Warwick, RI
Anne Lanyon - Carthage, MO
Shannon Largent - Orlando, FL
Layton Lewis - Valley Center, KS
Noah Lewis - Pittsboro, IN
Garrett Majobian - Lebanon, MO
Luke Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Noah Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Justin Matthews - Greenville, IL
Matthew McConnell - Louisville, KY
David McQueen - Indianapolis, IN
Abigail Medsker - Coffeyville, KS
Nicholas Meriwether - Sellersburg, IN
Ian Meyer - Joplin, MO
Peyton Miller - Tulsa, OK
Piper Mills - Garnett, KS
Kenton Moore - Clemmons, NC
Ethan Morton - Ames, IA
Chloe Moss - Richland, MO
Alexia Musselman - Manchester, NH
Reed Nelson - Olathe, KS
Liam Ngo - Hiawatha, IA
Audrey Nichols - Fulton, MO
Emma Oehler - Normal, IL
Ty Paige - Webb City, MO
Keila Palmquist - Joplin, MO
Lucas Palmquist - Joplin, MO
Cale Patterson - Hillsboro, KS
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Alyssa Peppers - Salina, KS
Mitchell Petersen - Tilden, NE
Christopher Peterson - Marshalltown, IA
Alyssa Phares - Owasso, OK
Natalee Phillips - Carthage, MO
Gabriel Piacentini - Carterville, MO
Alora Pittenger - Salina, KS
Melissa Pottinger - Canton, OH
Hope Pratt - Collinsville, OK
Carl Proctor - Joplin, MO
Joy Proctor - Joplin, MO
Joseph Ramirez-Trejo - Collinsville, OK
Jonathan Rathbone - Bartlesville, OK
Mellenie Redick - Shawnee, KS
David Reisner - Cedar Rapids, IA
Nicole Reynolds - Eldon, MO
Mackenzie Richars - Fenton, MO
Joshua Rowe - Marcola, OR
Michael Ryan - Bethel, MO
Samuel Ryan - Great Bend, KS
Erica Sadler - Danville, IL
Haley Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Solomon Sanchez - Joplin, MO
Bila Sanda - Joplin, MO
Peyton Sarver - Elizabethtown, KY
Maddison Schaper - Welch, OK
Zoe Schmitt - Wichita, KS
Marshall Schoen - Houston, TX
Emily Siebert - Mount Pulaski, IL
Aaron Skiles - Carl Junction, MO
Shelby Skorup - Chapel Hill, TN
Gage Smith - Joplin, MO
Marissa Smith - Crestwood, KY
Micah Smith - Marion, IA
Rebecca Smith - Branson, MO
Jasmine Speer - Broken Arrow, OK
Allaina Spencer - Kansas City, KS
Haddon Spikereit - Webb City, MO
Trey Stephens - Edwardsville, IL
Halia Stites - Joplin, MO
Molly Storms - Joplin, MO
John Sullivan - La Grange, KY
Addi Summers - Camby, IN
Seth Teague - Cheney, KS
Garrett Thomas - Joplin, MO
Jacey Thomas - Neosho, MO
Nathanial Titshaw - Browns Summit, NC
Zachary Totaro - Greenville, NH
Alyssa Tournear - Webb City, MO
Olivia Turner - Murfreesboro, AR
Ashton Twyford - Cozad, NE
Jacob Umphreys - Joplin, MO
Benjamin Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Timothy Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Chase Vasquez - Firestone, CO
Preston Vaughn - Papillion, NE
Stanley Wainaina - Joplin, MO
Seth Walczak - Woodhaven, MI
Brianne Warren - Manhattan, KS
Samantha Weaver - Wichita, KS
Owen Weller - Jasper, MO
Robert Weston - St. Peters, MO
Kristen Whaley - Gering, NE
Ethan Wiggs - Whiting, IA
Emmary Williams - Tulsa, OK
Blake Winchell - Jeffersonville, IN
Caleb Witte - Oronogo, MO
Waltham Witte - Oronogo, MO
Bethany Wood - Rohnert Park, CA
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO

By: President Matt Proctor

What does it take to make a minister? At least three ingredients: a minister, a student, and a classroom. I'll ask your help to provide the classroom, but first, Andy Griffith meets Billy Graham… 

“You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.” If OCC wanted to produce ivory tower theologians, we would hire faculty with lots of degrees and little pastoral experience. But if we want graduates with Bible knowledge, practical ministry skills, and a heart for the church, guess who we’d hire?

Gerald Griffin.

For twenty years, Griff preached in Racine, Missouri, population 200. Racine is good ol’ boy country, and the folks there are my kind of people: small-town salt of the earth. In Racine, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John are John Wayne, John Deere, and Johnny Cash, and before they got a Dollar General, Racine’s business district consisted of one gas station…named Guns, Gas, and Groceries. 

But thanks to the Lord, a little band of faithful believers, and Gerald Griffin, Racine also has a church. 

When Griff started preaching there as a 22-year-old Ozark student, the attendance board in the little rock building read 50. “They were a loving, patient bunch,” remembers Griff with a smile. “They were raising a kid preacher.” Twenty years later, Racine Christian Church welcomed 400 worshipers into their new building every week—a vibrant, growing congregation.

You can help reproduce more church builders like Griff, but you’re still wondering about Andy Griffith and Billy Graham…

As a small-town minister, Griff knew almost everyone in Racine. Throughout the county, at high school football games or local coffee shops, Griff would greet folks by name, with humor and a handshake. If Racine was Mayberry, then—like a spiritual Sheriff Andy Taylor—Griff pastored with wisdom and warmth. Then in 2001, he brought that warmth to Ozark’s classrooms as a full-time Bible professor.

“He’s an encourager—a Barnabas,” says one student. When another student’s teenage daughter attempted suicide, Griff “just showed up. He didn’t offer platitudes. He just sat with us.” Another said, “He’s a non-anxious presence when I need it.” 

Griff puts on no airs. He’s an “old school guy” who loves his wife Sally, the St. Louis Cardinals, and Neil Diamond. (Two students once rigged a classroom sound system to blast “Sweet Caroline” when Griff walked in.) One put it simply: “Griff’s just a humble dude who cares.”

But put him behind a pulpit, and Griff transforms. The self-effacing humility becomes a Bible-empowered boldness. At Racine, Griff preached his way through biblical books. “It was a joy seeing the Bible resonate with people’s real life,” he says. “I preached through a gospel every Christmas to Easter, so in twenty years at that church, we went through all four gospels five times. I love preaching about Jesus.” 

And he does so with conviction. “Griff gets fired up about God’s Word,” said one student. “He’s gentle, but when he preaches, he’s a gentle thunder.” Another said, “Griff never gravitates toward the spotlight, but he'll do whatever it takes for people to know Jesus.” One student described Griff as “part good ol’ boy, part gospel advocate.”

In other words, Andy Griffith meets Billy Graham. Not a bad recipe for making a minister.

Students catch Griff’s evangelistic passion. He once told a story in class about a long-haul trucker in Racine—a gruff, colorful character who Griff eventually led to Christ. As a new Christian, he loved the church but was still learning this Christianity thing. After one of Griff’s sermons, the trucker enthusiastically shook his preacher's hand and said loudly for all to hear, “H*** of a sermon, Griff! H*** of a sermon!” 

The students heard the lesson: if you don’t have a few folks who haven’t learned yet not to cuss in church, you’re probably not taking evangelism seriously enough. In the classroom that day, future ministers were shaped. 

But we need your help to update that classroom… 

It’s no surprise that Griff has left a trail of ministers in his wake. They’re pastors and preachers and evangelists, often in their own little towns:

“You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.” So Ozark hires “blue-collar scholars” like Griff—professors with both academic credentials and real-life ministry muscles. My son Luke said, “In every Griff class, I came out loving the church more. I learned the Bible, but with his ministry stories, I also learned that everything ‘going in’ in the classroom was going to come back out in pastoral conversations.” 

Would you help equip that classroom for future students? Two years ago, we renovated one of our two large library classrooms. With your help, students walked into a learning environment including a new paint job and marker board, new ceiling tiles and lights, a new podium with multimedia controls, and a new projector, screen, and sound system.

We’d now like to renovate the other large library classroom, at a cost of $48,000. Since Gerald Griffin is retiring at the end of this school year, I’ll make two requests. 

Remember Guns, Gas, and Groceries? The Christmas story reminds us: God loves small towns. (Bethlehem was a one-gas-station town—Barley, Bagels, Bows and Arrows.) You can help train the next Griff to take the good news to the next Racine. Thank you for considering a gift to produce more “Andy-Griffith-meets-Billy-Graham” graduates.

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President 

P.S. A Christmas gift for you: watch Griff’s December 2011 chapel sermon here. You’ll laugh, hear God’s Word, catch Griff’s heart, and walk away challenged to reach your own “Racine.” (And you’ll see the old Living Christmas Tree behind him!)

Give a gift in Griff's honor toward a classroom to keep making ministers. Make a one-time or recurring gift here. Any funds received in excess of our goal may be used to underwrite OCC's general fund scholarships.

By: President Matt Proctor

READY TO GO: It’s More Than Our Campaign—It’s Our Calling

I love watching heroes-in-the-making.

Of course, I always wanted to be a hero-in-the-making. As a child, I was profoundly unheroic, a glasses-wearing nerdy kid with pencil-thin arms and a paper-thin chest. Do you remember the old TV show Family Matters? I was a white Steve Urkel.

But when Superman swooped into the theaters (the 1978 Christopher Reeve classic), my eight-year-old imagination was captured! I, too, wanted to fly like the Man of Steel, bend iron bars with my bare hands, and watch bullets bounce off my massive Kryptonian chest. Mostly, I wanted pectorals big enough to handle that giant red S. At age eight, my chest could only handle skinny letters like a lowercase l or i.*

Alas, I never became that hero, so instead I watched others become heroic. I tuned in to the TV show Smallville as young Clark Kent gradually came of age and donned the cape. I watched Young Indiana Jones to follow the formation of the future Nazi-fighter and Young Sherlock Holmes to see a teenage stripling slowly become the super sleuth.

Over twelve years and twenty-some films, Marvel Studios told the story of a band of heroes—the Avengers—who battle evil to save the world. But here’s what I kept going to the theater to watch: each hero struggling to become who they were meant to be.

If you’ve seen the movies, you know: Peter Parker grows from tentative teenager to seasoned Spiderman. Black Widow transforms from deceptive spy to loyal leader. Thor starts as arrogant heir to become humbled teammate. Bruce Banner moves from conflicted Jekyll-and-Hyde to integrated Professor Hulk, and Tony Stark matures from selfish playboy into sacrificial protector.

Those movies made over $20 billion, so maybe I’m not the only one who likes watching heroes-in-the-making.

Kingdom Workers Under Construction

Marvel, of course, borrowed their plot from an older, truer tale. The New Testament tells the story of Jesus, but it also tells of a band of heroes—the Apostles—who battle evil to save the world. In Acts 2, we see them filled with supernatural power to begin preaching in Jerusalem, driving back the kingdom of darkness.

Eventually (church tradition tells us) that battle takes Philip to North Africa, Thomas to India, Matthew to Iran, Andrew to “the land of the man-eaters” in Russia, John to Asia Minor, Paul to Greece, and Peter to Rome. They go with the gospel on their lips and the Spirit in their hearts, and ultimately they “turn the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

But first, each had his own life turned upside down.

The recent television series The Chosen tells the story of Christ, but part of the series’ power is its portrayal of the apostles’ transformation. The famous followers aren’t yet ready for their world-changing task, so Jesus shepherds and shapes them. We watch as:

Jesus spent his three-year ministry refining these future faith leaders, and every time I watch an episode of these kingdom workers under construction, I think of our students at Ozark.

This fall, we again welcomed hundreds of students who want to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve watched our students—like the apostles themselves—take the gospel to the globe: Kentucky and Kenya, New York and New Zealand, Boston and Beijing, Alabama and Afghanistan. I’m confident these 2021 freshmen will someday continue that world-changing mission.

But right now, they’re not ready. Like those young Galilean fishermen so long ago, they need taught, encouraged, challenged, healed, and equipped.

Aaron Brockett did.

Before and After Pictures

The Before Picture: Aaron Brockett did not want to be a preacher. A quiet, shy kid, he got Cs and Ds in high school speech, and when his youth minister asked him to pray out loud for the youth group, he refused. Why would he want to talk for a living?

But Aaron had no other plans, so when a friend invited him to Ozark, Aaron shrugged and agreed. Bible college is, as Oswald Chambers said, “where God helps himself to lives,” and during his freshman year, under a conviction from God, Aaron reluctantly accepted an invitation to preach his first sermon at a little church in Arkansas. That Sunday morning, he walked shaking to the pulpit with a 25-page manuscript in hand.

He finished the sermon in eight minutes.

When he sat down afterward, he prayed, “God, that was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. When can I do it again?”

The After Picture: Today, Aaron Brockett is the preacher at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis, and his relevant, straightforward teaching of God’s Word is one reason the church has grown from 2,000 to over 10,000.

Our job at Ozark is to get Great Commission leaders “ready to go,” and one of the great joys of my twenty-five years has been watching “before” pictures develop into “after” pictures: freshmen who didn’t know the name Nicodemus later quoting all of John 3 from memory, cocky teenagers becoming humble servants, timid public speakers becoming powerful preachers, trendy mirror-checking girls becoming selfless missionaries, raw abilities becoming razor-honed gifts, stand-in-the-corner students becoming take-charge-of-the-task leaders, broken lives being healed and then healing others.

When I—often years later—visit these graduates, I see hundreds and thousands of lives changed through their ministries, and I remember back to when they walked in as baby-faced freshmen. My eyes well with tears knowing we got to play a part in preparing them, and my heart swells with gratitude at how God is using them now to save the world.

I love watching heroes-in-the-making.

The Ready to Go Campaign

That’s why we are publicly launching a new three-year capital campaign called “Ready to Go.” The funds raised will help us get more kingdom heroes “ready to go” with the gospel to a lost world. Specifically, the campaign is funding three initiatives:

The Ready to Go campaign’s total goal is $5.9 million. The good news: by God’s grace, we already have $4.7 million committed!

In the campaign’s advance phase, many generous donors shared their excitement for Ozark’s focused vision—training Great Commission leaders—and shared their resources to move that mission forward.

Now as we launch the campaign’s public phase, it’s your turn. I hope you’ll prayerfully consider being a part.

I never did become Superman. But during my student years at Ozark, I did get my own little taste of the hero-making process. Under teachers like Mark Scott and Wilbur Fields, Jackina Stark and J.K. Jones, Harvey Bacus and Kenny Boles, I was stretched and refined. I came in a naïve, shallow, sometimes-self-righteous kid. Five years later, I walked out with a humbler attitude, sharpened gifts, a deeper faith, and a strong commitment to preach the gospel.

I’m still no hero. But Ozark prepared me to play my little part in saving the world, and Katie and I joined the Ready to Go campaign so Ozark can do that for the next generation.

Will you help prepare more heroes-in-the-making?

*Ortberg, John. The Life You’ve Always Wanted. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997.

By: President Matt Proctor

In 1942, a little band of believers in the Ozarks saw a need for more workers to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). They started Ozark Christian College with one mission: training men and women for Christian service. Today, almost 80 years later, we still get students "ready to go."

The "Ready to Go" campaign is a three-year, $5.9 million campaign to help Ozark get students "ready to go" for years to come with the following three initiatives:

  1. Student Grants ($1.7 million)
  2. Graduate Program ($400,000)
  3. Dormitory Renovation ($3.8 million)

Read more about each initiative here. And, praise the Lord! Today as we launch the public phase of the campaign, we've already had $4.7 million committed toward our $5.9 million goal. We thank God for his faithfulness and provision in all things.

Now more than ever, the world needs the gospel...which means the church needs leaders. But the number of schools preparing Great Commission leaders is dwindling. Some have closed their doors, while others with broader missions aren't producing as many as we need. This makes the ministry of OCC all the more strategic. Would you partner with us in training kingdom workers?

You can be God's answer to the prayers of those believers back in 1942, as your partnership prepares more workers for the harvest field. Thank you for your help as we get students ready to go with the gospel of Jesus Christ!

By: President Matt Proctor

Ozark Christian College is excited to announce the launch of an all-new master’s program, with courses beginning one year from now in the fall of 2022. As with Ozark’s undergraduate degrees, the Master of Arts in Biblical Ministry will equip graduate students for effective ministry rooted in Scripture. 

“For over 79 years, OCC has taught Bible and ministry,” says President Matt Proctor, “and now we’ll teach it at the graduate level. Dr. Shane J. Wood will be the dean of our graduate studies, so whether you’re a Bible college graduate or a church leader with no formal biblical education, if you’ve ever wanted to learn more, we’ll help you grow deeper.”

The Master of Arts in Biblical Ministry is accredited regionally and nationally and includes 36-hour concentrations in biblical studies, spiritual formation, and strategic leadership. A 30-hour biblical ministries pathway is also available. 

“The health of our leaders impacts the health of our churches,” says Dr. Wood, “so OCC’s master’s program comes alongside you with effective ministry strategies and deep, biblical training. At its heart, this program is a transformational education community.”

Watch President Proctor's announcement message here. Learn more about OCC’s Master of Arts in Biblical Ministry or apply for free at occ.edu/masters. And will you join us in praying that God would use this new graduate program to produce a great harvest for his glory?

By: President Matt Proctor

If my wife Katie has taught me one thing, it’s this: making room for recreation is making room for relationship. In a moment, I’ll ask you to help Ozark make that kind of room, but first, grain bins and swimming pools…

With her gift of hospitality, my wife Katie loves designing spaces that welcome people. When we remodeled our house in 2007, she built a huge living room that has hosted over a thousand people the last fourteen years. As a children’s minister, Katie designed our church’s new playground last year (including a massive “Jesus boat”) that has already drawn several new families. But her best creation is still our backyard swimming pool…

Katie loves to swim, so when her agribusiness brother offered her a free grain bin, she borrowed a backhoe, dug a deep end in our backyard, and built a swimming pool with it. (Yes, a grain bin swimming pool. Our friends and presidential predecessors Ken and Kaylene Idleman are distinguished and regal—a true Christian gentleman and lady—but Katie and I are full rednecks. As Katie once said, “They’re Ken and Barbie. We’re Raggedy Ann and Andy.”) We even rigged a homemade zipline across the yard that drops into the pool.

The pool is humongous. The steel grain bin is 36 feet across and holds over a quarter-million pounds of water. (My son Conrad dubbed it “the Metal-terranean Sea.”) Over the last five years, that pool has welcomed hundreds of people, and this summer, it will be filled with floaties, teenage boy basketball games, laughter, and friends old and new. The conversations there will encourage and nourish and sometimes nudge someone closer to Jesus. We’ve had at least four baptisms in that pool so far.

Katie’s instinct is right: making room for recreation is making room for relationship. We don’t have a swimming pool at Ozark (unless Katie gets another free grain bin). But we do have recreational spaces—like a weight room, cardio fitness room, racquetball court, and basketball court—for three important reasons.

These spaces promote health. “Physical training is of some value,” said Paul in 1 Timothy 4:8, and wise bodily stewardship matters for ministers-in-training. Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a powerful Scottish preacher in the 1800s, but neglecting his health, he died at age 29. On his deathbed, he regretted his disregard for his body: “The Lord gave me a horse to ride and a message to deliver. Alas, I have killed the horse and cannot deliver the message.”

These spaces relieve stress. Recreation is good for the body, but also the mind and soul. OCC junior Colton Cockburn is busy as a student, grounds crew employee, and weekend preacher: “When I need a break from homework, there’s nothing like a good lifting session in the weight room.” When students get stressed, a basketball game or a treadmill run can release God-given endorphins to refresh their spirits.

But here’s the best reason and why I need your help...

These spaces cultivate relationships. When I was a student, missions professor Harvey Bacus would meet my friend Chris McMichael and me every Saturday morning to play racquetball at OCC. The games we played weren’t very good, but the friendship we built was great. Harvey influenced both of us, and maybe it’s no coincidence that Chris became a missionary and I became a professor.

Over the years, I’ve seen professors like Mark Moore and Peter Buckland lifting with guys in the weight room, staff members like Dawn Lahm and Sara Hill leading girls in cardio workouts, and deans like Chad Ragsdale and Shane Wood playing students in intramural basketball and volleyball. I saw professor Kenny Boles gently humiliate every student that challenged him in racquetball. Like that grain bin pool, the conversations in those spaces encourage and nourish and sometimes nudge a student closer to Jesus.

Katie’s right: making room for recreation is making room for relationship. Over the next few months, we’d like to improve Ozark’s recreational spaces, and we need your help…

We’ve got three projects planned to improve OCC’s recreational spaces, one inside and two outside: 

The total cost for these projects is $38,000. Would you consider a gift to help create and improve these spaces?

When I was a high schooler, Ozark professor Bud Clapp preached at my week of church camp. In one afternoon basketball game, I guarded Bud (who has a shriveled arm from childhood polio). To my surprise, this “disabled” middle-aged guy zipped a few beautiful passes right past me, nailed a jump shot in my face, smiled, and said, “Bet you weren’t expecting that.” I didn’t know Bible college professors were allowed to trash talk! (In Christian love, of course.)

I listened to his sermon that night with new respect because of the connection made on that basketball court. Recreational spaces really do foster relationships. Would you give a generous gift to create spaces for those relational connections to happen?

Thank you for considering a gift toward this $38,000 project, and the next time you’re in Joplin, I hope you’ll visit campus to sit by Turkey Creek or pick up a pickleball paddle. We’re grateful for your partnership in training men and women for Christian service!

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President

P.S. When the Lord wanted to walk with Adam and Eve, he built a garden. Ozark’s recreational spaces aren’t Eden, but God can even use weight rooms and grain bin pools to draw folks closer to him. Thanks again!

By: OCC

 

 

By: OCC

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Spring 2021 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Britni Addington - Fort Scott, KS
Cooper Allmoslecher - Carthage, MO
Tanner Altic - Kansas City, KS
Jessilyn Anderson - Euless, TX
Kyle Anis - Porter Ranch, CA
Meghann Arnold - Carbondale, IL
Kevin Atchison - Olathe, KS
Danielle Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Emma Aubuchon - St. Charles, MO
Allyssa Betts - Beloit, KS
Addison Blagg - Carthage, MO
Gracelyn Bond - Hollister, MO
Nathan Boone - Grove, OK
Naomi Boswell - Carthage, MO
Lydia Brauch - Louisville, KY
Caleb Brown - Oronogo, MO
Lydia Brundieck - Nixa, MO
John Caldwell - Indianapolis, IN
Brant Caler - Collinsville, IL
Brett Campbell - Mount Vernon, MO
Glori Caputo - Seneca, MO
Kallee Carson - Afton, OK
Joshua Carter - Sapulpa, OK
Colton Cockburn - Correctionville, IA
Samantha Collins - Raymore, MO
Natalee Connatser - Lincoln, NE
Brennan Crossgrove - Livonia, MO
Matthew Crumpacker - Joplin, MO
Noel Davison - Joplin, MO
John Denny - Brighton, MO
Tucker Dobson - Colorado Springs, CO
Joshua Dodge - Bella Vista, AR
Aaron Donnelly - Fishers, IN
Anabel Dooley - Avon, IN
Hallee Doss - Lamar, MO
Kyleigh Dubson - Tolono, IL
Keaton Eisenmenger - Greenwood, IN
Faith Evans - Indianola, IA
Alyssa Foster - Webb City, MO
Alexis Frank - Rolla, MO
Kara Frech - Frontenac, KS
Jadon Fricker - Collinsville, OK
Brady Gallaway - Muskogee, OK
Natalee Gann - Lincoln, NE
Hope Gardner - Carl Junction, MO
Dakota Gayer - Derby, KS
Kamryn Gentry - Broken Bow, OK
Alli Gibson - Claremore, OK
Matison Goebel - Carl Junction, MO
Lanaya Gore - Vandalia, MO
Macy Haas - Larned, KS
Parker Habermehl - Roanoke, TX
Alaina Hager - O'Fallon, IL
Brandon Hair - Papillion, NE
Benjamin Harris - Lewisville, TX
Virginia Hartley - Edwardsville, KS
Abigail Hays - Joplin, MO
Adrienne Herbert - Tulsa, OK
Nicholas Herman - Blue Springs, MO
Gracie Hickson - WaKeeney, KS
Seth Hiebert - Newton, KS
Leah Hilsenbeck - Carthage, MO
Gabriel Hoagland - Corydon, IN
Matthew Hopkins - Watertown, SD
Jeramy Hunter - Muskogee, OK
Kaleb Jackson - Joplin, MO
Anne Jaycox - Bella Vista, AR
Cole Jennings - Tulsa, OK
Ethan Jennings - Guthrie, OK
Jami Joslin - Miami, OK
Kendall Kadnuck - Highlands Ranch, CO
Chandler Key - Georgetown, DE
Kaleb Kimbrough - Elk City, KS
Kaylyn King - Pella, IA
Madison Konkel - Anthony, KS
Aidan Krehbiel - Lamar, MO
Jacob Lane - Cincinnati, OH
Caleb Lankford - Warwick, RI
Isaac Lankford - Warwick, RI
Anne Lanyon - Carthage, MO
Shannon Largent - Orlando, FL
Madison Laws - Webb City, MO
Layton Lewis - Valley Center, KS
Noah Lewis - Pittsboro, IN
Jadeyn Lopez - Crossroads, TX
Kathryn Lyman - Collinsville, OK
Luke Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Nina Mastin - Stillwater, OK
Nicholas Maxwell - Chandler, AZ
Elisha Maxwell - Naples, FL
Pius Mbaru - Thika, Kenya
Matthew McConnell - Louisville, KY
David McQueen - Indianapolis, IN
Noah Mebane - Broken Arrow, OK
Abigail Medsker - Coffeyville, KS
Nicholas Meriwether - Sellersburg, IN
Ian Meyer - Joplin, MO
Phil Meyer - Mulvane, KS
Peyton Miller - Tulsa, OK
Piper Mills - Louisburg, KS
Kenton Moore - Clemmons, NC
Brayden Morrison - Lamar, MO
Ethan Morton - Ames, IA
Chloe Moss - Richland, MO
Brandon Musselman - Oronogo, MO
Audrey Nichols - Fulton, MO
Emma Oehler - Normal, IL
Abigail Owen - Joplin, MO
Keila Palmquist - Joplin, MO
Lucas Palmquist - Joplin, MO
Cale Patterson - Norton, KS
Jordyn Patterson - Monticello, IA
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Samual Pennock - Joplin, MO
Mitchell Petersen - Tilden, NE
Alyssa Phares - Owasso, OK
Alora Pittenger - Salina, KS
Melissa Pottinger - Canton, OH
Hope Pratt - Collinsville, OK
Hope Proctor - Joplin, MO
Joy Proctor - Joplin, MO
Jonathan Rathbone - Bartlesville, OK
Mellenie Redick - Shawnee, KS
Clarissa Rice - Miami, OK
Mackenzie Richars - Fenton, MO
Kennedy Roberts - Amarillo, TX
Michael Ryan - Joplin, MO
Erica Sadler - Danville, IL
Haley Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Solomon Sanchez - Joplin, MO
Bila Sanda - Joplin, MO
Zoe Schmitt - Wichita, KS
Marshall Schoen - Houston, TX
Josiah Schools - Overland Park, KS
Claira Schroter - Carthage, MO
Elias Scott - Indianapolis, IN
Emma Scott - Indianapolis, IN
Ethan Scott - Springfield, MO
Rowan Scott - Noblesville, IN
David Shultz - Leoma, TN
Emily Siebert - Mount Pulaski, IL
Nadya Silva - Joplin, MO
Aaron Skiles - Carl Junction, MO
Ashley Smith - Stillwater, OK
Gage Smith - Joplin, MO
Jacob Smith - Winston-Salem, NC
Marissa Smith - Louisville, KY
Micah Smith - Marion, IA
Tommy Smith - Stillwater, OK
Jasmine Speer - Broken Arrow, OK
Haddon Spikereit - Webb City, MO
Trey Stephens - Edwardsville, IL
Molly Storms - Joplin, MO
John Sullivan - LaGrange, KY
Samuel Swift - Overland Park, KS
Garrett Thomas - Stillwater, OK
Jacey Thomas - Neosho, MO
Joy Thompson - Shiloh, IL
Zachary Totaro - Greenville, NH
Micah Trusty - Fillmore, IN
Olivia Turner - Murfreesboro, AR
Jacob Umphreys - Joplin, MO
Timothy Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Preston Vaughn - Auburn, NE
Ema Velazquez Veloz - Piedras Negras, Mexico
Joseph Volentine - Glenwood, IA
Jordan Walters - Mount Vernon, MO
Kyleigh Wayman - Mexico, MO
Karena Weaver - Hillsboro, MO
Jillian Wedman - Wichita, KS
Jonah Weece - Carrollton, TX
Leland Whitman - Joplin, MO
Blake Winchell - Jeffersonville, IN
Bethany Wood - Rohnert Park, CA
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO

By: President Matt Proctor

Today, we celebrated the Class of 2021 as they completed their training at OCC and began their kingdom service as Ambassadors for Christ. President Proctor prayed this prayer over the graduates as they departed.

Dear Lord, 

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. My heart is full to see these men and women who have answered your call. Thank you for answering our prayers to raise up laborers for the harvest field.

We ask, Lord, that you would give them everything they need for what lies ahead. When they are called to step out of their comfort zone, give them the faith of Abraham. When they face temptation, give them the integrity of Joseph. When they face hard decisions, give them the wisdom of Solomon. When their hearts are filled with fear, give them the courage of Esther.

Lord, they will face trials, so give them the perseverance of Job. When life gets busy and they are surrounded by distractions, sit them at your feet and give them the listening ears of Mary. Wake them up every morning with the missionary urgency of Paul, and through it all, above all, give them the heart of Christ.

And now, oh Lord, send them out. Go with them, we ask, as they go to Kansas and Kentucky, to Kenya and Cambodia, to the four corners of the earth. May they go with a Bible in one hand and a basin and towel in the other, with your grace and your truth. May they go with the gospel on their lips, the church at their side, and the power of the Holy Spirit coursing through their veins.

Go with them, because we know there are evil forces arrayed against them. March them into the very heart of Satan’s territory. Use them as the tip of your spear to pierce the darkness until it bleeds light. May the gates of hell crumble before them.  

And Lord, may the gospel be preached and sin confronted and sinners loved and souls saved and marriages mended and children taught and the grieving comforted and the lonely welcomed and the hungry fed and the wounded healed and churches planted and communities transformed and the nations reached with the good news of Jesus Christ. Use them mightily for your glory and for the world’s good, and keep them faithful until the day they hear you say, “Well done.”

We pray these things in the name of Jesus, amen.

By: OCC

This month marks the most exciting time of year on our campus! Every May, we send a fresh batch of graduates out as “workers into the harvest field.” Here are seven important reminders for our graduates, their guests, and our entire Ozark family:

1. Commencement will be held Saturday, May 15, at 10:00 a.m. in the OCC Multi-Purpose Building (MPB). 

2. All graduates need to arrive at the MPB no later than 8:30 a.m. for pictures, instructions, and a walk-through of the ceremony.

3. Seating is limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the public is welcome to attend online at occ.edu/commencement. Read or download the commencement program at occ.edu/commencementprogram.

4. Masks and social distancing will be required. Please leave chairs open between family/guest groups. 

5. Each graduate may have up to four guests attend in the MPB. Children under two years old are welcome and will not be counted as one of the four guests. 

6. Commencement will also be streamed in the OCC Chapel for additional guests.

7. Tickets are not required, and doors will open to guests at 9:30 a.m.

We're looking forward to another great graduation day at Ozark! Please join us in praying for our graduates, that God will go before them and be with them as they answer his call on their lives. And, join us online at occ.edu/commencement.

Watch Commencement here

By: President Matt Proctor

As part of our upcoming “Ready to Go” fundraising campaign, we recently presented a grant proposal to the Mabee Foundation, asking for $760,000 toward dorm renovation. The Mabee Foundation, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was started in 1948 by Christian oilman John E. Mabee and his wife Lottie to provide aid for Christian organizations, including Christian colleges. In the past, they gave funds for our Mabee Student Center.

Though our last request to the Mabee Foundation (for the Missions Building expansion) was not granted, we were hopeful they would look favorably on this proposal. The good news: the Mabee Foundation did something they rarely do. Instead of $760,000, they offered a $1.3 million grant if we would consider naming a dorm in honor of the Mabees. Such an amount is enough to completely renovate an entire dorm.

Last week, the OCC Trustee Board voted unanimously to accept the grant and rename Dennis Hall as Mabee Hall. In years past when we renamed a dorm—changing Seth Hall to Strong Hall—we were able to continue honoring Seth Wilson with his name now on our library. Likewise, as we change Dennis Hall to Mabee Hall, we will continue honoring Mr. D.O. Dennis (a longtime Ozark trustee from Gilbert, Arkansas) with his name now on our trustee conference room in the Casteel Administration Building.

Dorm names carry sentimental value to those who have lived there, so the OCC leadership did not make this decision lightly. But—perhaps providentially—this decision was reached at the first time in Ozark’s history that an alumna of Dennis Hall sat on the Board. Trustee Karolyn Schrage said this was “an incredible answer to prayer for financial blessing,” and she wrote, “As a former Dennis Hall resident, I would have no hesitation in renaming this dorm, especially for the progress needed for future students.”

Indeed, we are grateful to God for his generous provision through the Mabees. I had the opportunity to communicate both the upcoming name change and forthcoming dorm renovation to the ladies of Dennis Hall and residence directors Kim and Del Camp. As I shared with them, the dorm name may change, but the dorm community will not. This gift simply ensures that the same rich relationships my daughter Lydia experienced in Dennis Hall will be shared for many generations to come—no “maybe” about it.

One final note: while we closed Alumni Hall to renovate the whole dorm at once over the course of a year, we now (thankfully) have too many students to close another dorm for a year. Subsequent dorm renovations—including Dennis-soon-to-be-Mabee Hall—will be done in phases over multiple summers, and the Dennis Hall renovation will begin this summer, at which point the name change will officially occur.

The Lord remains true to his promise in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Please join me in thanking God for generous Christian givers like the Mabees, for the needed dorm renovation these dollars will accomplish, and for the life-on-life discipleship our dorm communities provide as we train men and women for Christian service.

In Christ,

Matt Proctor
President

P.S. For more on our upcoming capital campaign, contact Executive Vice President of Advancement Jim Dalrymple, or give now at occ.edu/give.

By: Chad Ragsdale

A message to current OCC students, from Academic Dean-Elect Chad Ragsdale

Dear Students,

It’s been a long year. We’ve asked you to do a lot of difficult things this year. We’ve asked you to wear masks and maintain physical distance from each other. We’ve asked you to attend hybrid classes, endure quarantines, and have a cotton swab jammed up your nose. We’ve asked you to wash your hands, but honestly, you should have been doing that already. It wasn’t always popular, but we did all these things and more because it was the right and responsible thing to do. Our long year has been a painful year of loss for many people around the world and in our college family. As we near the end of our long year, it’s good to pause and to pray a word of thanksgiving and a word of comfort. 

Witnessing your hard work and perseverance this year has been inspiring. Under difficult circumstances, you continued to study, to serve, and to worship—often with a James 1 type of joy that only comes in the midst of trials. It could be that years in the future, you will look back on this season with a strange sense of pride in what you and your peers were able to overcome. I’ve never been as proud to be a part of the Ozark family as I am this year.

That said, I think we’re all looking forward to turning the page on this year. Personally, I’m excited to become Ozark’s sixth academic dean next school year. I’m humbled by the example of those who have preceded me, and I plan to continue their legacy in leading our Bible-centered academic programs as we continue in our mission to train men and women for Christian service.

I am also excited for a return to normalcy in the next school year. I’m excited about a return to hugs and handshakes, to serving and worshiping together as one family, to cultivating the type of deep, abiding community that has always been a hallmark of our campus. I’m excited about a return to all the things that make Ozark Ozark. This long year hasn’t changed God’s purposes or his calling on our lives. If anything, our task has never been more urgent and more relevant.

As we anticipate school next year, I want you to put April 5 on your calendar. That is the day fall registration opens for those students who have completed 60 credit hours. All other students will be able to register beginning April 7. We also want every student to meet in person with his or her academic adviser in April—even students who think they will not be returning in the fall. Look for an email from your adviser to set up a time to meet. In the meantime, you can read the fall course schedule here. 

God bless you in your studies this semester!

Chad Ragsdale
OCC Academic Dean-Elect

P.S. Watch "Handshakes Returning" here.

By: President Matt Proctor

I once heard a preacher say, “When I think about love, I think about a table.” In just a moment, I’ll ask for your help in protecting Ozark’s “dining table,” but first…

My wife Katie grew up in a large Missouri farming family. The Buntons are a big clan, and…how can I say this? They’re loud. They are passionate, joyful, opinionated, loyal, they argue recreationally, and they’re full of life. Have you seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? That’s my wife’s family, and at the center of Bunton family life was Granny’s table.

As the family farm headquarters, my mother-in-law’s house was where Katie’s brothers and nephews (and our three boys) went to work every day. Our family dropped in often for visits or 4-H, and at some point each day, you ended up at Granny’s kitchen table. You’d come in, take a load off, drink a glass of sweet tea, and grab one of her rolls. When the family gathered for birthdays, Thanksgiving, or Sunday dinner, they congregated around that table.

And what a grab bag of people! Buntons were joined at the table by in-laws—Proctors and Hoevets, Dogotches and Branstetters. Republicans ate with Democrats, Ph.Ds passed potatoes to high school graduates, millionaires carried paper plates behind hourly employees, single career ladies talked with homeschooling moms, and Mizzou grads tolerated Kansas Jayhawks fans. Some were like Katie: an extroverted “salsa” who loves hot, spicy foods. Some were like me: an introverted “vanilla” whose two favorite spices are butter and sugar. So many kinds of different, but the table brought us together.

We dug into the food, and one big grandson ate three or four plates full. (Instead of “beast mode,” he called it “feast mode.”) We talked about hunting and theology, college majors and piano recitals, politics and sports, bushels per acre and Sunday’s sermon (5 stars, 3 stars, 1 star?). Funny stories sparked laughter, tender recollections brought tears, strong opinions stirred debate. Sometimes conversations got a little prickly, and the family tree started to feel like a cactus. But at the end of the day, everybody knew: if you’re at the table, you’re family.

At the table, good-natured ribbing and real talk built relationships. At the table, shared heartache led to impromptu prayer. At the table, kids overheard grownups and caught family convictions. At the table, toddlers and senior citizens were listened to. You might not be the richest guy in the county or the most popular girl at school, but at the table, you were valued, you were cared for, you belonged. When I think about love, I think about that table.

I also think about Ozark’s “dining table,” and to protect it, I’ll need your help.

The Bible begins in Genesis 2 with the command to eat freely, it ends in Revelation 22 with the command to drink freely, and Jesus knew there was something about a meal together that creates communion. Many of our life-and-faith-shaping moments happen around a table, and that’s certainly true at Ozark.

I’ve been eating in the OCC dining hall for thirty years, and I’ve seen a junior set a cafeteria tray down next to a shy freshman and make a friend for life. I’ve seen a guy strike up a first-time conversation with a girl and, fifteen years later, bring their kids back to eat at that same table. I’ve seen students get up from different tables, gather around a seated hurting classmate, place hands on her shoulders, and pray.

I’ve seen professors and students deep in conversation over chicken tenders and golden corn. Doctrines are discussed, guidance is given, encouragement is shared, and when they get up to take dirty plates to the dish room, I’ve seen a little extra spring in the student’s step. I’ve seen extroverts and introverts, Americans and Kenyans and Laotians, kids with new cars and kids with no cars, and just like at Granny’s house, the table brings them together.

When I walk into the dining hall, I hear laughter and stories and debates and songs, and I hear community being formed. Classrooms are where Christ is learned, chapel is where Christ is worshiped, but the dining hall is where Christ is experienced. There, at the table of this family of faith, students know they are valued, they are cared for, they belong.

But right now, Ozark’s dining hall needs some work. The roof has developed leaks, and as Physical Plant Department Assistant Director Justin Wilson said, “We’ve band-aided it as long as we can.” After a recent inspection, the professionals told us the threat of structural damage is real, and it’s time to replace the roof. We also need to replace a kitchen steamer. The cost to replace the roof, the steamer, and repair the water damage is around $83,000.

Would you consider a gift to protect the OCC dining hall as a life-and-faith-shaping place for the next generation?

We want to be good stewards of our physical campus. Ecclesiastes 10:18 says, “Laziness leads to a sagging roof; idleness leads to a leaky house,” and we don’t want to be lazy or idle.

But especially, we want to be good stewards of our students. God has entrusted hundreds of young men and women to our care, and we want to provide spaces where they can learn, worship, and build community. So many come from broken homes, and Ozark’s “dining table” is where they build—some for the first time—life-giving, Christ-centered relationships.

Would you give a generous gift to replace the OCC dining hall roof and steamer? Click here to donate now.

Thank you for considering a gift toward this $83,000 “dining table” project. When I think about love, I think about a table…and your partnership trains men and women who will invite a lost world to the communion table of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President

By: President Matt Proctor

Author John Ortberg tells of a woman he knows who locked her keys in her car in a rough neighborhood. With her cellphone locked inside also, she was at a loss. “God,” she prayed, “send somebody to help me.”

A minute later, a rusty old car pulled up, and a tattooed, bearded man wearing a biker’s skull rag stepped out. She thought, “Really, God? This is who you send?” But she was desperate, so when the man asked if he could help, she asked, “Can you break into my car?” He said, “Not a problem.” 

He got a coat hanger from his car, and in just a few seconds, he had her vehicle open. Ortberg’s friend was overjoyed. “You’re a very nice man,” she blurted out and gave him a hug.

“No, ma’am,” came the reply. “I’m not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I served two years for auto theft, and I’ve only been out a couple of hours.”

She hugged him again, looked to heaven, and exclaimed, “Thank you, Lord! You sent me a professional!”

Could God use messy people for his purpose?

Matthew 1:1-17 holds the answer.

Jesus’ Family Photo Album

For many Christians, the Christmas story starts at Matthew 1:18. We tend to skip the genealogy in 1:1-17, finding the forty-some generations of Jesus’ ancestors either boring or unimportant. But are we missing something? Could there be gospel in this beginning to the Gospel?

One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is sitting with my kids to look at family photo albums. Almost every picture sparks a story: “There’s your Great-grandpa Weede. Oh, he loved to joke. One time, he painted faces on his two big farm fuel tanks. One had a smiley face that said, ‘I’ve got diesel.’ The other had a frowning face that said, ‘I’ve got gas!’ The whole county knew his laugh…and his faith. He prayed every day for every grandkid by name.”

“And there’s your Granny Ruth. A strong lady, and the glue that held the big Bunton farming clan together. For twenty years on her tax forms, she wrote ‘matriarch’ on the occupation blank! But always a servant. She was still teaching the special needs adult Sunday School class at 84 years old.”

The pages turn, the stories flow, my kids learn what kind of people they come from, and they discover God’s hand has been writing our family story for generations.

That’s how Matthew’s Jewish audience feels reading 1:1-17. It is not simply an ancient record of unknown dead guys; it’s their personal lineage. Almost every name triggers stories, emotions, warm memories, and it feels like sitting on the couch with the family photo album.

As Matthew opens the album, he says, “By the way, this isn’t just Israel’s story. It’s the story of Messiah.” Suddenly, his audience leans forward, anticipating, pointing at the pictures:

By the time Matthew flips to the last page—with the photo of baby Jesus in Mary’s arms—his readers know: this child is indeed the Christ, the Promised One of God.

They can also see: though history may seem hodge-podge, random, an endless cycle of births and deaths, it is actually under the careful guiding hand of God. Matthew shows them there is order in the midst of the chaos, a divine master plan at work over the millennia, quietly but relentlessly moving toward a single moment—the arrival of the Savior.

God has been writing a master story all along.

TBN vs. TMZ

But Matthew’s readers notice something else. This story has some unlikely heroes—the women Matthew mentions.

Female names were highly unusual in a Jewish genealogy. Who are these ladies, and how did their pictures get in here? Matthew’s readers might have expected to see Mary’s photo on the last page, but the other four ladies? Completely unexpected. And the women he chose! If Matthew just wanted female representation in his album, he could’ve included the honored Hebrew matriarchs—Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah.

Instead, it’s as if Matthew has rifled through all the old boxes in Israel’s attic until he dug out the four most shocking family photos he could find. These women are all tainted, and his readers can hardly contain their dismay:

These women are not squeaky clean evangelical role models. If they were alive today, you wouldn’t see them on TBN—you’d see them on TMZ! They’re scandal-plagued, notorious. What is Matthew up to here?

Messy People in the Master Plan

Matthew includes these four women—each with a sullied backstory—to communicate a message: God chose messes to bring his Messiah.

For my friend Juliet, that’s good news.  

Juliet was born into addiction—her mom an alcoholic, her dad a drug addict. Her stepdad began molesting her when she was four. Juliet desperately wanted out, so she quit school and, at age sixteen, fled to Las Vegas where she survived as a prostitute. That chapter of her life ended with her beaten-up, used-up, robbed at gunpoint, and left for dead on the street.

Then things got bad.

By age thirty-two, Juliet had been married three times, had two children, and was using and manufacturing methamphetamine. When the Jasper County Drug Task Force kicked down her door and arrested her—for the ninth time—prison seemed a sure bet. But the worst thing: her boys, ages four and eight, were taken from her. For Juliet, that was rock bottom. “I was broken. I fell on my face before God, and I said, ‘I’m sorry, God. I want my babies back. Whatever it takes!’”

Over the next eight months, Juliet surrendered her life to Christ, turned her back on drugs and alcohol, and welcomed her boys back home. Though prison seemed likely, miraculously all charges were dropped. Then she heard God say, “Now I can use you, Juliet. You’re going to serve other women like you.”  

She enrolled at Ozark Christian College, graduated with a counseling degree, and today Juliet leads Guiding Light Ministries, a faith-based residential treatment program for women with addictions. God has used her to free dozens of women from sin’s grip and introduce them to Jesus.

God has a long history of using all kinds of people: the A students and the D students, the eloquent and the slow of speech, the respectable and the scandalous, the dressed-up and the messed-up. Matthew chose these four ladies for his album—stains visible in each photo—to preach good news: God loves using imperfect people to accomplish his perfect plan.

People like tattooed, bearded car thieves. People like Rahab and Bathsheba. People like Juliet. And people like me.

So this Christmas, don’t skip Matthew’s genealogy. There is gospel in the beginning of this Gospel.

And who knows? Someday, when a future generation is flipping through a photo album of God’s children doing his work in the world, maybe they’ll find your picture, too.

By: OCC

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Fall 2020 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Britni Addington - Fort Scott, KS
Cooper Allmoslecher - Carthage, MO
Nicole Ambrose - Joplin, MO
Jessilyn Anderson - Euless, TX
Meghann Arnold - Herrin, IL
Kevin Atchison - Olathe, KS
Sean Atchley - Council Bluffs, IA
Danielle Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Emma Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Allyssa Betts - Beloit, KS
Addison Blagg - Diamond, MO
Nathan Boone - Grove, OK
Caleb Brown - Oronogo, MO
Megan Burr - Joplin, MO
John Caldwell - Indianapolis, IN
Brant Caler - Collinsville, IL
Brett Campbell - Mount Vernon, MO
Samantha Capehart - Lamar, MO
Glori Caputo - Seneca, MO
Cameron Carroll - Glidden, IA
Kallee Carson - Afton, OK
Joshua Carter - Sapulpa, OK
Jesse Chavez - Oronogo, MO
Colton Cockburn - Correctionville, IA
Andrea Collier - Joplin, MO
Samantha Collins - Raymore, MO
Natalee Connatser - Lincoln, NE
Brennan Crossgrove - Livonia, MO
Matthew Crumpacker - Joplin, MO
Darren Cullifer - Macon, MO
Jesse Delk - Mount Vernon, MO
Tucker Dobson - Colorado Springs, CO
Joshua Dodge - Bella Vista, AR
Zachary Dodge - Webster City, IA
Aaron Donnelly - Noblesville, IN
Anabel Dooley - Avon, IN
Miles Dressler - Scranton, KS
Kyleigh Dubson - Tolono, IL
Madison Duff - Ozark, MO
Abigail Ehresman - Lexington, MA
Faith Evans - Indianola, IA
Kylie Fisher - Fairfield, OH
Alyssa Foster - Indianapolis, IN
Alexis Frank - Rolla, MO
Kara Frech - Frontenac, KS
Jadon Fricker - Collinsville, OK
Brady Gallaway - Muskogee, OK
Natalee Gann - Lincoln, NE
Hope Gardner - Carl Junction, MO
Dakota Gayer - Derby, KS
Kamryn Gentry - Broken Bow, OK
Alli Gibson - Claremore, OK
Lydia Giesey - Rolla, MO
Emily Gillispie - Bentonville, AR
Abbey Goebel - Carl Junction, MO
Matison Goebel - Carl Junction, MO
Star Gonzalez - Mercedes, TX
Taylor Goodwin - Enid, OK
Lanaya Gore - San Antonio, TX
Lauren Griggs - Sedgwick, KS
Parker Habermehl - Roanoke, TX
Alaina Hager - O'Fallon, IL
Brandon Hair - Papillion, NE
Zackary Hand - Webb City, MO
Benjamin Harris - Lewisville, TX
Taylor Harris - Oronogo, MO
Virginia Hartley - Edwardsville, KS
Abigail Hays - Joplin, MO
Nicholas Herman - Blue Springs, MO
Brycen Hernandez - Mellott, IN
Josue Hernandez - Jasper, IN
Gracie Hickson - WaKeeney, KS
Leah Hilsenbeck - Carthage, MO
Matthew Hopkins - Watertown, SD
MaKayla Hurd - Thayer, KS
Shelby Jack - Sarcoxie, MO
Kaleb Jackson - Joplin, MO
Anne Jaycox - Bella Vista, AR
Ethan Jennings - Guthrie, OK
Jami Joslin - Miami, OK
Kendall Kadnuck - Highlands Ranch, CO
Chandler Key - Georgetown, DE
Kaleb Kimbrough - Elk City, KS
Kaylyn King - Pella, IA
Madison Konkel - Anthony, KS
Laura Landers - Carl Junction, MO
Jacob Lane - Cincinnati, OH
Caleb Lankford - Warwick, RI
Anne Lanyon - Carthage, MO
Shannon Largent - Orlando, FL
Noah Lewis - Pittsboro, IN
Jadeyn Lopez - Crossroads, TX
Kathryn Lyman - Collinsville, OK
Luke Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Nina Mastin - Stillwater, OK
Nicholas Maxwell - Chandler, AZ
Robert Maxwell - Naples, FL
Pius Mbaru - Thika, Kenya
Matthew McConnell - Louisville, KY
David McQueen - Indianapolis, IN
Noah Mebane - Broken Arrow, OK
Nicholas Meriwether - Sellersburg, IN
Ian Meyer - Joplin, MO
Phil Meyer - Mulvane, KS
Carissa Miller - Salina, KS
Peyton Miller - Tulsa, OK
Piper Mills - Louisburg, KS
Jedidiah Moody - Mt. Vernon, MO
Kenton Moore - Clemmons, NC
Suzanna Moreland - Araguaína, Tocantins, Brazil
Emma Morrell - Joplin, MO
Brayden Morrison - Lamar, MO
Ethan Morton - Ames, IA
Chloe Moss - Richland, MO
Brandon Musselman - Oronogo, MO
Audrey Nichols - Fulton, MO
Morgan Novinger - Carl Junction, MO
Emma Oehler - Normal, IL
Avery Oldfield - Rochester, IL
Abigail Owen - Joplin, MO
Ty Paige - Webb City, MO
Cale Patterson - Norton, KS
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Samual Pennock - Joplin, MO
Alyssa Phares - Owasso, OK
Alora Pittenger - Salina, KS
Melissa Pottinger - Central High, OK
Joseph Potts - Cleveland, OK
Hope Pratt - Collinsville, OK
Hope Proctor - Joplin, MO
Joy Proctor - Joplin, MO
Sarah Proctor - Joplin, MO
Jonathan Rathbone - Bartlesville, OK
Mellenie Redick - Shawnee, KS
Louis Reinhart - La Grange, KY
Clarissa Rice - Miami, OK
Mackenzie Richars - Fenton, MO
Courtney Rucker - Joplin, MO
Garren Ryan - Las Vegas, NV
Michael Ryan - Joplin, MO
Erica Sadler - Danville, IL
Haley Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Solomon Sanchez - Carrollton, TX
Maddison Schaper - Welch, OK
Ryan Schenewerk - Freeburg, IL
Zoe Schmitt - Wichita, KS
Emma Scott - Indianapolis, IN
Ethan Scott - Springfield, MO
Alec Sheets - Jennings, OK
David Shultz - Leoma, TN
Emily Siebert - Mount Pulaski, IL
Aaron Skiles - Carl Junction, MO
Ashley Smith - Stillwater, OK
Gage Smith - Joplin, MO
Marissa Smith - Muskogee, OK
Micah Smith - Marion, IA
Tommy Smith - Stillwater, OK
Samantha Spaulding - Joplin, MO
Jasmine Speer - Broken Arrow, OK
Haddon Spikereit - Webb City, MO
Alexander Steele - Iowa City, IA
Trey Stephens - Edwardsville, IL
Molly Storms - Joplin, MO
Windie Sturges - Miami, OK
John Sullivan - La Grange, KY
Garrett Thomas - Stillwater, OK
Jacey Thomas - Neosho, MO
Brooke Thomason - Owasso, OK
Autumn Thompson - Wann, OK
Samantha Tossell - Hesperia, CA
Zachary Totaro - Greenville, NH
Micah Trusty - Fillmore, IN
Olivia Turner - Murfreesboro, AR
Jacob Umphreys - Council Bluffs, IA
Timothy Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Mallory Vanderveer - McAlester, OK
Preston Vaughn - Auburn, NE
Joseph Volentine - Glenwood, IA
Jordan Walters - Mount Vernon, MO
Kyleigh Wayman - Mexico, MO
Karena Weaver - Hillsboro, MO
Jillian Wedman - Wichita, KS
Jonah Weece - Carrollton, TX
Leland Whitman - Joplin, MO
Patrick Wilbanks - Georgetown, TX
Rebecca Willoughby - Sedgwick, KS
Blake Winchell - Jeffersonville, IN
Joshua Witte - Oronogo, MO
Bethany Wood - Rohnert Park, CA
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO

By: President Matt Proctor

The article title grabbed my attention: “Preachers Matter More Than Presidents.” Presidents matter, it said, but they can’t fix our nation’s deepest problems. The guy in the Oval Office cannot change hearts, but with the gospel, the guy in the church office can. “By the foolishness of preaching,” God saves the world (1 Cor 1:27).

If that’s true, OCC preaching professor Mark Scott has made a bigger eternal impact than any U.S. president—and we need your help to continue that impact. Read on to find out how….

In my first preaching ministry at age 23, I called on some first-time church visitors. The Richards welcomed me into their living room, and I was curious to learn about this young couple. In our eclectic university town, I was used to hearing unexpected questions, but Jennifer Richards’ first question still startled me: “Was Mark Scott your preaching professor?”

“Yes,” I said, unable to hide my surprise. “How do you know Mark? And how in the world did you know he was my teacher?” “Mark has preached at our home church,” said Dale Richards. “When we heard you last Sunday, we looked at each other and said, ‘He preaches just like Mark Scott.’”

It still might be the best compliment I’ve ever received. Since I first enrolled at Ozark, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students with:

Mark’s writing, including his Bible study column in the Christian Standard, is widely read, and his preaching at conventions, CIY conferences, and churches large and small has touched hundreds of thousands of lives. But as powerful as his preaching is, I believe Mark Scott’s greatest impact lies elsewhere.…

At age 19, I sat in Mark’s preaching class, and I heard him bleed passion for proclamation: “Preaching God’s Word is like wiring your house with the electricity on—you’re handling live power, so it’s always exciting!” My soul stirred when Mark said, “If God has called you to be a preacher, do not stoop to be a king.” I remember praying, “God, if you can use me as a preacher, I’m yours.”

I believe Mark Scott’s greatest kingdom impact are the students, like me, that he has inspired to preach God’s Word. Thousands of students have passed through Mark’s classes at OCC. Just think: if, over his 35 years, he inspired 3,500 students to preach, and if each student touches an average of 3,500 lives throughout their ministry, that’s 12 million people eternally shaped by the gospel!

I’m grateful for the good work our U.S. presidents do, but the article is right: “Preachers Matter More Than Presidents.” Would you help prepare the next generation of gospel proclaimers?

At the end of this school year, Mark Scott will retire from full-time teaching at Ozark. (Though not from ministry. Like the Energizer Bunny, he just keeps going, so at age 68, he’ll become the preacher at Joplin’s Park Plaza Christian Church.) But OCC’s work of training preachers will continue.

Dr. Jason Poznich now serves as Director of the Biblical Communication Department. (Jason and the other three of us who teach in that department were all once taught by Mark Scott.) This year, we have 42 Biblical Communication majors, and those 42 students receive $65,000 in general fund scholarships. Would you honor Mark Scott in his last year by helping provide that $65,000 in scholarships for our preaching students?

You’ll be helping students like Derieck Lopez. Derieck is a senior and the weekend preacher at Conway Christian Church in Conway, Missouri. Not long ago, Derieck took a freshman with him to Conway, and afterward, Derieck thought, “He has no idea, and he hasn’t even taken a preaching class yet. But someday he will be my successor here.” The fire Mark Scott lit in Derieck’s heart to preach will soon burn in that freshman’s heart.

If the article I saw is right, there is no better investment than training preachers, and the $65,000 in scholarships will help prepare more students like Derieck. In this COVID-shaped year, finances are tight, so your gift will make a big difference. Thank you for considering a gift in honor of Mark Scott to send out the next generation of gospel preachers.

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President

P.S. To express your appreciation to Mark, send him a note at [email protected] And for a blessing, listen to his chapel sermon last year, “Jesus Loves You and Died for Your Sins,” at occ.edu/markscott. Oh, and have a very merry Christmas!

By: President Matt Proctor

Cliff Young is one of my heroes.

Every year, Australia hosts a 543-mile ultra-marathon—a grueling five-day race for world-class athletes. But in 1983, Cliff Young showed up to run: a single, 61-year-old farmer wearing overalls and rubber work boots. Officials thought he was a spectator, but to their surprise, he picked up a race number.

The Runner Who Wore Work Boots
The curious press questioned Cliff, “What are you thinking? You can’t finish this race.” “Yes, I can,” replied Cliff. “I grew up on a farm that couldn’t afford horses, so when a storm rolled in, I’d go round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres, and sometimes I had to run two or three days to gather those sheep. But I always got them. I can run this race.”

When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience chuckled because Cliff didn’t even look like he was running. He shuffled, a slow gait just above a walk, just what you’d expect from a sixty-something. (He competed without his dentures, saying they rattled when he ran.) Many feared for the old farmer’s safety.

The professional athletes knew that to complete the race in five days, they had to run eighteen hours each day and sleep six hours. When they awoke the morning of the second day, to everyone’s disbelief, Cliff was still in the race…because he’d continued jogging all night! Cliff shuffled through the next night as well. He slowly plodded straight through without sleep for five days and fifteen hours—passing all the young, world-class athletes—and took first place, setting a new course record!

Shakespeare wrote, “Small have continual plodders ever won,” but the Bard had never met Cliff Young. The old farmer became a national hero. Australian television turned his story into a movie, and his hometown eventually erected a memorial in Cliff Young’s honor: a big statue of rubber work boots.

The Race Always Goes to the Swift
American culture, on the other hand, reveres the rapid. We do our taxes with QuickBooks, get money from Quicken Loans, use a phone service called Sprint, put pictures on Instagram, diet with SlimFast, and wear swimsuits called Speedo. (Some do; I don’t.) Someone said we are the only nation in the world with a mountain named Rushmore! In our culture, “slow” is not a compliment.

But slow is what I am.

My wife is a speed queen, powerwalking through every store as I diligently trudge behind. In the Disney movie Zootopia, animals run society. In one humorous scene, the Zootopia DMV is staffed solely by sloths, including one ironically named Flash. As we watched, my wife laughed out loud. “Flash” has been her ironic nickname for me since we started dating. It didn’t take her long to notice: I read slow, write slow, think slow, walk slow.

She’s a jackrabbit. Sloths are my people.

Which means ministry conferences have always been hard for me. Such gatherings tend to feature the fast-moving folks, ministry entrepreneurs who move at the speed of opportunity. The stage speakers are all spiritual sprinters, and their bios don’t include phrases like “small, incremental growth over several decades.” Even in Christian academia, the props go to profs who crank out books at a prolific pace. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says the race does not always go to the swift, but sometimes it seems like it does.

I’m grateful for these theological thoroughbreds, but I’m a plow horse, not a racehorse. Is there a place in ministry for guys like me?

Plugging Away Through the Puddles
It’s a question I’ve long wrestled with. So when I saw Warren Wiersbe’s book In Praise of Plodders, I bought it as quickly as I could (which is to say, not quick at all).

It’s okay to be slow, Wiersbe said, if you’re also steady. The word “plod” comes from an old Middle English word meaning “puddle” or “mud pit,” and a plodder is someone who doesn’t quit in the quagmire. “By perseverance,” said Charles Spurgeon, “the snail reached the ark,” and a plodder plugs away through the puddles until he reaches his destination. 

“In this age of quick fixes,” wrote Wiersbe, “it is still the plodders who are getting things done.” They are, he said, like “a postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”

His words were manna for my soul. Usain Bolt won gold medals running almost 28 mph, while Cliff Young ran only 4 mph. But he took home the trophy because he did not give up.

Maybe all is not lost for guys facetiously named Flash. Maybe God could use the slow things of this world to shame the fast (1 Cor 1:27).

God certainly calls people like Paul, The Apostle Who Couldn’t Sit Still—rushing from one church plant to the next, crisscrossing the Roman empire like a revivalistic Road Runner. But he also calls people like Timothy. Paul told Timothy to stay in Ephesus until he turned the church around (1 Tim 3:1), and church historian Eusebius tells us that, after plugging away in Ephesus for 30 years, Timothy did.

There is a place for plodders, and that’s good news. At some point, we are all plodders—sometimes because of personality and sometimes because of pain.

Plodding Because of Personality
Some are plodders by personality, and that’s okay. Jim Collins uses the image of a flywheel to show that small, consistent efforts in a singular direction can make a big difference:

“Picture a huge, heavy flywheel—a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, 5,000 pounds. Now imagine your task is to get the flywheel rotating.

Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.

You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns…four… five…six…the flywheel builds up speed…seven…eight…you keep pushing…nine…ten…it builds momentum…eleven…twelve…moving faster with each turn…twenty…thirty…fifty…a hundred.

Then at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!...its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand.

Now suppose someone asked, ‘What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?’ Was it the first push? The fifth? The hundredth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.”

God sometimes designs certain kingdom assignments for just that approach. Though God delivered Israel from Egypt in one swift stroke, the strategy he gave Israel for defeating the Canaanites in the Promised Land was different. “I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Ex 23:29-30).

“Little by little,” says God. Some projects require plodders.

“That Is My Only Genius”
Paul was reminding Timothy of this principle when he wrote, “Preach the Word...correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim 4:2). “Great” patience is literally “mega” patience, and Paul is saying some change only happens little by little—with lots of time and lots of teaching.

I tell my preaching students: we overestimate what we can accomplish in one sermon and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years of sermons. Not all games are won by the power hitter in a single home run blast. Many are won by guys who just consistently crank out singles. Little by little, they add up.

So if this is your personality, don’t be jealous of other ministers seemingly blessed with great gifts. Just keep preaching, keep pastoring, keep praying, keep plugging away.

When William Carey was a child, no one would have guessed his life’s accomplishments. He had only an elementary education and started life as a cobbler, but William Carey would eventually learn to read the Bible in six languages, found a missionary-sending agency, travel to India, open the first Bible college there, start a press that provided Scriptures in over 40 languages for more than 300 million people, and become known as “the father of modern missions.”

What was his secret? Carey once said, “If after my death anyone should think it worth his while to write my life, I will give you a criterion by which you may judge its correctness. If he gives me credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly. That is my only genius. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.”

Small, methodical, persistent efforts—like turning a flywheel—can, by God’s grace, create powerful kingdom momentum. So “let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).

Plodding Because of Pain
Some, though, are not plodders by personality. Like my wife Katie, you might be hardwired with the need for speed. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” You might be more eagle than turtle.

But a day may come when hardship slows your pace.

Like cancer and conflict and car wrecks, the pandemic of 2020 has reminded us that, in the midst of crisis, even eagles can find themselves grounded, wings clipped. Isaiah 40:30 gives that very warning, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.” Isaiah 40 was written to Israelites in Babylonian exile—people in the midst of trial—who are barely stumbling their way forward.

Sometimes we are plodders because of pain.

Maybe that’s you. Though you usually powerwalk through life, suffering has sapped your strength and shortened your stride.

John Claypool was a well-known minister, a spiritual sprinter who grew churches, wrote books, and worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But when his eight-year-old daughter Laura Lue was diagnosed with leukemia and died, Claypool was devastated.

But he kept preaching. He wrote a book chronicling his painful journey called Tracks of a Fellow Struggler, which includes a sermon he preached in the midst of Laura Lue’s illness. In the pulpit, Claypool freely admitted his struggle, “The last two weeks have been a stretch of darkness…but I have been helped by the famous promise of Isaiah 40:31. Here is the promise of divine help in three different forms.”

“I Am Still on My Feet”
First, said Claypool, “they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” Sometimes God lifts us up to mountaintop moments. Above the forest of fears and the worries of the world, “we soar away in sheer exuberance.”

Second, “they shall run and not grow weary.” Sometimes God empowers us for the mundane moments. Faith isn’t all soaring experiences; it’s more often daily tasks, and God gives us resilience for the routines.

But the third promise is “they shall walk and not faint.” Sometimes God holds us up in the miserable moments. In the crushing pain, he keeps us trudging when that’s all we can do.

“Some feel the sequence of this passage is all turned around,” said Claypool, “that the highest form of God's help ought to be the soaring ecstasy. They think it should read, ‘First you walk, then you run, and finally, you mount up like an eagle.’ Who wants to be slowed to a walk, to creep along inch by inch, just barely above the threshold of consciousness and not fainting?

“But the writer knew what he was doing. In the darkness where I have been, it is the only promise that fits. Here I am this morning, sad, brokenhearted. I confess that I have no wings with which to fly or even any legs on which to run. But by the grace of God, I am still on my feet. I have not fainted yet.”

God’s greatest grace may be to make you a plodder when you can do no other.

Here’s the good news: whether by personality or because of pain, a reward awaits. You may not make the conference stage or get a statue like Cliff Young, but if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, someday you will hear Jesus himself greet you with six blessed words.

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Keep plodding.

By: OCC

Ozark Christian College is excited to announce regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). This adds to Ozark’s national accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), which the college has held since 1988. Ozark began seeking regional accreditation in 2012 and received candidacy status with HLC in November of 2016.

“The Ozark team has worked hard over this eight-year journey,” says OCC President Matt Proctor, “and we're excited to achieve HLC accreditation. We're grateful for the process that helped us improve, excited for how this serves our graduates' future pursuits, and humbled by the affirmation of the quality education Ozark has long provided.”

The Higher Learning Commission accredits degree-granting, post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States, so OCC now shares accreditation with other regional universities like the University of Missouri, the University of Arkansas, and our educational partner Missouri Southern State University. While ABHE accreditation focuses on the quality of higher education institutions that engage students in biblical higher education, HLC assesses an institution's overall quality and evaluates the college alongside other schools within the region.

“Accreditation assures that an institution meets accepted standards of quality and integrity,” says OCC Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness Dr. Teresa Roberts. “Since 1942, our mission and focus as a single-purpose Bible college have not changed. Ozark remains committed to training men and women for Christian service.”

For more on Ozark’s accreditation, read our Accreditation FAQs or contact Vice President of Institutional Research and Effectiveness Dr. Teresa Roberts at [email protected] or 417.680.5626.

By: President Matt Proctor

Father God,
As we approach a national election, we pray first for peace.
We lift up prayers and intercessions, as Paul told us, for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. We seek, as Jeremiah did, the peace and prosperity of the city and the nation in which we live, for if it prospers, we too will prosper. In a time of division, protect us from national upheaval, and give us peace so that we may live in all godliness and holiness. We pray for peace. 

Lord, we pray second for discernment. The issues of our day are many and weighty: racism, abortion, immigration, war and peace, health care, economic justice, the role of government, and the freedom to practice our faith. Help us to understand the truth of your Word, and what we lack in wisdom, we pray you would give generously. With the gospel, form our conscience that we may vote wisely. We pray for discernment.

Lord, we pray third for grace. Open our eyes to see those with different opinions, not as enemies, but as precious souls, made in your image, for whom Christ died. Fill us with a spirit of charity toward those who may see us as enemies, and when we are opposed and even attacked, give us the patience of Christ himself, who asked forgiveness for those who drove the nails. We pray for grace.

Lord, we pray fourth for faith. When fear and anxiety seek to overwhelm us, fill our eyes with a vision of you, our King, on your throne in sovereign power, and may the puny politics of this world, which seem to loom so large, resume their proper size. Remind us of the temporary nature of nations and the eternal nature of your kingdom, and keep our trust in you. We pray for faith.

Lord, we pray finally for repentance. For all the blessings we enjoy, we are a people far from you. Convict us of our personal sins, forgive us of our national sins, and spark revival in the land. May every heart turn toward you and every knee bow before you. May we return to you like the prodigal son, and when we do, crown us with your compassion, cover us with your mercy, and embrace us with your love. We pray for repentance.

And above it all, through it all, we pray that the name of Jesus Christ would be the name on every lip, that his name would be magnified in this nation and in all nations, for your glory and for the world’s good. We pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

By: President Matt Proctor

In 1968—the height of the Vietnam War—my father completed Army basic training and shipped overseas. He never fired a shot, but if it’s true that “an army marches on its stomach,” my dad was one of the unsung heroes. You could be such a hero in the spiritual battle. Keep reading to find out how…

Why would Napoleon Bonaparte say “an army marches on its stomach”? He knew a fighting force needs food as much as weapons:

To win the battle, breakfast is as important as bullets.

That’s why the Army stationed my dad on Okinawa (where I was born in 1969). With a master’s degree in meat science, my dad is a food expert, and he inspected the food supply lines for all four military branches during the war. If an army needs well-fed men as much as well-aimed mortars, then lunches matter as much as launches.

I am grateful for every frontline soldier, and we salute their bravery. The work of a food guy is unseen and unsung, but I believe: my dad was a “supply line hero.” At Ozark—a “kingdom West Point”—our students need a few supply line heroes.

OCC trains leaders for the spiritual battle, and our OCC cafeteria team feeds hundreds of “cadets” every day. Three times a day, week after week, they put out nutritious, delicious meals for our students. It’s a lot of work in a normal year, but during this COVID-19 pandemic, they’re also making dozens of “to-go” meals each day for quarantined students. Our cafeteria crew each deserve a “mess hall medal.”

This past summer, we discovered the cafeteria needed a new industrial-sized grill. The old one had become unsafe, and for our team to keep feeding our troops, it needed replaced. The new grill and hood—with electrical work and fire extinguishing system—was $32,000. That expense was not in our budget, but the work needed done.

The new grill is now installed, and on any given day, food is flying off it to feed hungry Bible college students like...

But these future kingdom leaders need your help. Would you consider a gift to underwrite the new grill’s unbudgeted $32,000 expense?

Do you remember the story in 1 Kings 19? Atop Mt. Carmel, Elijah single-handedly squared off against 400 prophets of Baal. Like a righteous Rambo, he bravely faced what looked like overwhelming odds, and in the Lord’s power, he prevailed. But when Ahab and Jezebel swore to kill him as vengeance, Elijah fled in fear. He ended up under a desert broom tree, hungry, exhausted and despairing: “Take my life, Lord!”

What did God do for his defeated prophet-warrior? He made him take two naps and sent an angel to cook him two hot meals! Elijah needed a heavenly supply line hero. “Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights” (1 Kings 19:8). Even the Lord’s army marches on its stomach.

So—like my dad for his fellow soldiers—would you be a “supply line hero” for our students?

Our mission is training men and women for the spiritual frontlines, and as unsung as supplying a new grill might seem, it really does matter in the “war effort.” Would you please pray about a generous gift to help feed students like Colton, Priscila, and Gavin? You can show your support here.

Thank you for your partnership, and in this extra-challenging year, thank you especially for your prayers.

Yours in Christ,
President Matt Proctor

P.S. Every year, I write four fundraising letters like this one. Last December, you gave $63,000 to renovate our L-13 library classroom. In March, you gave $34,000 to underwrite accreditation expenses, and in June, you gave $46,000 toward COVID-19 costs. THANK YOU—you truly are heroes!

By: President Matt Proctor

Memo to the Ozark Family:

Some of you may have already heard the bittersweet news that Tom Garner, a member of our IT Department, passed away last night at Freeman Hospital. We are grateful that Tom has now been relieved from years of health challenges and received a “rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). But we are also deeply saddened at his absence.

Every day, as I walked past Tom’s office on the way to mine, I saw in his window a picture of young Tom in Vietnam in his army fatigues. “Service” seems a fitting word to describe Tom. After serving our country in the Army for 35 years, Tom and his wife Liz served as dorm parents in both Alumni and Strong Halls. Tom also served for a time as our men’s soccer coach, and throughout his tenure, Tom served in our IT Department, writing software. (After the May 2011 tornado, he quickly wrote a program to schedule the use of our dorm rooms for 3000+ volunteers that summer.)

In fact, when I think of Tom, the phrase “service with a smile” comes to mind because of his joyful attitude, even in difficult circumstances. He was a big, burly ex-military man (my kids—who’ve been in multiple OCC musicals with Tom—say he was always cast as a policeman), but people never felt intimidated by Tom because of his humor, laughter, and every-ready smile. He was a gentle soul, and his service was always given in that spirit of Christ.

Tom’s family was with him last evening, singing “Amazing Grace” as he was ushered into heaven, and though we will miss him, we rejoice because of Tom’s “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3). I assured his wife Liz that the Ozark family would keep their family in prayer. (Tom’s grandson Zach just enrolled as a freshman here at Ozark this fall.) Please join me in thanking the Lord for Tom and asking God to give the Garner family his strength, comfort, and peace.

By: President Matt Proctor

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

In my childhood, it was true. I was blessed with a Christian family, and I won the parent lottery. My mom and dad are saints, but as a scrawny, know-it-all little twit, I could be obnoxious. I’m sure there were times they were ready to be done with me. (“Where exactly is this village? If someone could give me directions, I need to drop a kid off…”)

I Had 100 Parents

Every parent needs help, and as great as my mom and dad are, they didn’t raise me alone. New Testament Christian Church was my village. (I still know the address 35 years later—1578 Hilton Road, Keokuk, Iowa.) There I had 100 parents:

None of those folks were church staff. But they each knew my name, each invested in me, and each helped me grow from an insecure, know-it-all nerd into a genuine Christ-follower.

It takes more than a village to raise a child. It takes a church.

How Kids Took Down the Ku Klux Klan

In the 1940s, author Stetson Kennedy went undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, learning their secret codes and rituals, intending to write an exposé. His resulting book I Rode With the Ku Klux Klan caused a sensation, but that wasn’t why one author called him “the greatest single contributor to the weakening of the KKK.” Instead, Stetson made his biggest impact when he called the popular kids’ radio program The Adventures of Superman.

In 1946, with Stetson’s help, the writers broadcast a 16-episode series with Superman battling “The Fiery Cross Clan.” Kids everywhere suddenly pretended to be the Man of Steel, fighting white-robed racist bad guys. The real-life rituals and codes of the Klan—given to the writers by Stetson—were seen as silly, and even Southern kids saw the organization (that their fathers and grandfathers belonged to) as worthy of ridicule. Recruiting dropped, and the Klan was eventually weakened.

If you want to make a change, mold the children.

The Lord knew that. He made it the last half of his greatest commandment. You remember: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.” (Deut. 6:5-7).

When God made a to-do list for his people, the top item was children’s ministry: “Love God (and teach children to love God.)” The Lord knew that, if he wanted humanity to follow him, he should start with the kids.

The Most Effective Evangelistic Strategy Under Heaven

I was excited when Ozark started a church planting major. I knew the gospel effectiveness of church plants, and I quoted well-known missiologist C. Peter Wagner, “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic strategy known under heaven.”

I was wrong.

I still believe deeply in church planting, and it’s the second-most effective evangelistic strategy known under heaven.

Children’s ministry is the first. A Barna study found that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus do so before age 13, and two-thirds do so before age 18. In other words, the greatest evangelistic success most congregations have—by far—is with young people. They are the field most ripe for harvest. Whether it’s slowing down the Klan or building up the kingdom, kids are key.

If you want to make a change, mold the children.

But how exactly does this faith-molding take place?

Much of the gospel’s influence among kids is due to parents. Ephesians 6:4 tells parents, “Bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” and Barna’s study found that half of those who embraced Christ before their teen years were led to Jesus by their mom or dad. The best ministry a church can have is equipping parents to shape their children’s faith.

But if Barna’s statistics are accurate, that means:

The church plays a huge part in shaping a child’s faith. While Deuteronomy 6—“impress them on your children”—is likely aimed primarily at parents, the passage doesn’t actually begin, “Hear, O parents.” It begins, “Hear, O Israel.” The training of children is the responsibility of the whole people of God.

Why I’m Involved in Children’s Ministry

That’s why children’s ministry matters. I’ve been a children’s church teacher for 25 years for at least two reasons:

I am married to a children’s minister. For three decades, my wife Katie (OCC ’92) has poured herself into hundreds of children. (During the quarantine, she organized an amazing Easter drive-by scavenger hunt. Kids and parents worked through the Bible verse clue list, stopping by nine front-yard displays—including a live donkey, a live lamb, a cross, an empty tomb—that told the story of Passion Week.)

One of Katie’s longtime themes has been: “You’re called to be a little Jesus—to act like Jesus would if he were in your Velcro shoes.” Six-year-old Greg heard those words. The only word to describe Greg’s family was broken, but his grandma made sure he was in church. He grew up to be a huge football lineman, and I choked up not long ago when I heard this hulking man pray, “Lord, help us to be a little Jesus.”

And last month, Greg and his wife drove their two girls through the scavenger hunt. “He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation…should set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:5-7).

If you want to make a change, mold the children.

Every Member a Children’s Minister

In our next issue of The Ambassador, you’ll read about Ozark’s children’s ministry major (and I’m not exaggerating when I say Dr. Teresa Roberts is the best children’s ministry prof in the country). The church needs more biblically equipped children’s ministers, and I’m proud of our program.

But let this article be YOUR call to children’s ministry. It’s not just the job of church staff. Every member is a children’s minister. We aren’t all gifted to teach children’s church, but we can all invest in a kid. The former president of Compassion, International writes:

If God stands a child before you, for even just a minute, it is a divine appointment. You have the chance to launch a life. You never know when you are making a memory. With each child you encounter, you have the power and opportunity to build up…. A life can be greatly influenced with as little as a single word, an uplifting comment, a well-timed hug, a tender prayer, a compliment, the holding of a frightened hand, or the gentle wiping of a tear…

And all of us, with no training, are qualified to do it. No one can say, “Well, children just aren’t my thing—I don’t ‘get’ them.” The truth is, you deserve an honorary doctorate in “childhood.” If you’re an adult, you have done 18 years of “field research” in this complex subject. Having been a child yourself, you’ve experienced firsthand all you need to know....

So put your Ph.D. in childhood to work. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes a church.

By: Doug Aldridge, Executive Vice President of Academics

I am happy to announce that President Proctor, in consultation with the personnel committee of the OCC trustee board, extended an invitation to Brice Wurdeman to become the next Director of Intercultural Studies. Brice will take the helm from Chris DeWelt beginning in the 2021-22 school year. Brice earned his Bachelor of Biblical Literature from Ozark Christian College in 2004 and his Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from Liberty University in 2014.

Brice has served as the executive director and professor at Windward Islands School of Evangelism since 2011. Under his leadership, the college purchased and moved to a new campus, increased enrollment, built a wide network of supporters, paid off all debt, and developed strong partnerships with local churches. Prior to that ministry, Brice served as an instructor at the Sonlight Academy in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and as a youth minister in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Schell City, Missouri.

Brice writes, “During my time in ministry and missions, I have always felt a deep connection and passion for the training of Christian leaders, which Ozark Christian College has long been devoted to doing. I am excited to come to OCC as Director of Intercultural Studies to continue the legacy of pouring into future church leaders and missionaries around the world.” We are excited that Brice has answered the call to serve the Lord with the Ozark family.

Brice and his wife Amanda (Muter) have been married since 2005 and are the proud parents of six children: Naiyah, Beckett, Paxson, Kensington, Greeley, and Rusk. We look forward to having the Wurdeman family join ours as we continue to train men and women for Christian service. Please join me in welcoming Brice to our full-time faculty.

In Christ,

Doug Aldridge
OCC Executive Vice President of Academics

By: President Matt Proctor

President Matt Proctor's recent memo to Ozark Christian College students, faculty, and staff: 

This week marks the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic national address (on June 11, 1963), naming civil rights for black Americans as the country’s most pressing domestic issue. Sadly, this past week also marked our nation’s greatest civil rights unrest since the 1960s—reminding us that, even after 50 years, our country still has much work to do to ensure “liberty and justice for all.”

More importantly, we are reminded that God’s people still have much work to do to see “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). In the fight against racial sin, the American church has an uneven record. On one end of the spectrum, some who claim the name of Christ practice open prejudice, while on the other end, believers actively labor in the name of Jesus for racial justice. Meanwhile, in between, many Christians sit silently. They harbor no hatred, but they offer no help. As uninvolved observers, while they hold only good intentions, they sound like the man who sees a brother without clothes and daily food and “says to him, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs.” (Jam 2:16)

And rather than “they,” I should say “we.” In Daniel 9, the old prophet—in Babylonian captivity for almost 70 years—offers a prayer of corporate confession, clearly and painfully acknowledging Israel’s sin. Here’s what’s remarkable: while he was not part of the previous disobedient generations that led to Israel’s exile and while he is portrayed as “trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Dan 6:4), Daniel uses the personal pronouns “we” or “us” or “our” more than 20 times. Why? Two reasons. First, he recognizes that, even as a person of integrity, he is sinful, sometimes in ways he may not even know. Second, he recognizes his role as representative of the sinful Israelite nation. Thus Daniel confesses “our” transgressions so that Israel may be healed. (Jam 5:16)

So consider this memo my Daniel 9 prayer. A national moment like this challenges us to examine ourselves, both personally and corporately. I certainly do not know the hearts or deeds of all the many thousands in the Ozark Christian College family. But I know my own heart, and I know enough of Ozark’s history to recognize that OCC is not unlike the American church. At times, some of us have practiced open prejudice, while others of us have actively labored for racial justice. Meanwhile, I know that many of us—myself included—have too often sat passively in the middle, content to cheer the kingdom efforts of others, and I know that “if anyone knows the good he ought to do and does not do it, it is sin.” (Jam 4:17) I recognize both my own sinfulness and my role as a representative of the beloved, imperfect Ozark family, so—with the full support of OCC’s executive leadership and trustee board—I offer this prayer of confession. On this Lord’s Day, I hope you’ll join me in praying.

O Lord, you are great in mercy and full of grace, slow to anger, and abounding in love. You are a God who “holds no partiality” (Acts 10:34), who “created all races of people” (Acts 17:26), who “made them in his own image” (Gen 1:27), and who seeks “a great multitude…from every nation, tribe, people, and language.” (Rev 7:9) As your people, you command us in your Word to “show no partiality as [we] hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jam 2:1) and to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matt 28:19) Yet we confess, Lord, that we are sinful and that, in your perfect love for all people, we have “fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) We repent of any racial prejudice of which we have been guilty—whether consciously (Ps 19:13) or unconsciously (Lev 4:27)—when we have “discriminated among [ourselves] and become judges with evil thoughts.” (Jam 2:4) We repent for the times we have failed to live out the gospel’s work of racial reconciliation in Christ who “himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” (Eph 2:14)

O Lord, your love extends to all people, and you especially remember those the world forgets. You are a God who “upholds the cause of the oppressed and…lifts up those who are bowed down.” (Ps 146:7-9) You are a “mighty King [who] loves justice. You have established equity. You have exercised justice and righteousness.” (Ps 99:4) As your people, you command us in your Word to “speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed.” (Prov 31:8) Yet we confess, Lord, that we are sinful and that, in your perfect justice for all people, we have “fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) We repent of our indifference and our failures to “see that justice is done…and help the oppressed” (Is 1:17), specifically among our neighbors of other races, and to confront the sin of personal and systemic racism when it has crouched outside the door. (Gen 4:7)

Now, O Lord, we ask for your forgiveness. “Give ear, our God, and hear…because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen. O Lord, forgive.” (Dan 9:18-19) “Have mercy on [us], O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out [our] transgressions…Create in [us] a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within [us].” (Ps 51:1,10) Fashion us, we pray, as an “instrument for noble purposes, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim 2:21) Use us to rescue others “from the kingdom of darkness” and deliver them “into the kingdom of [your] beloved Son.” (Col 1:13) Make us “a light for the nations” so that your “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6)—so that redeemed people of all races may stand together as “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17) and so “there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) We pray all these things in his name. Amen.

We do not offer this prayer in a spirit of political expediency, but in a spirit of biblical obedience, a love of neighbor, and a fear of God. Because Ozark exists to prepare the Lord’s servants to reach a racially-diverse and spiritually-broken world, this is central to our mission. We realize confession is a good place to start, but a poor place to finish. We recognize there is much more to do—that we have a long way to go toward a more diverse faculty, a more diverse administration, and students more fully prepared for “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18) in a racially-divided world. We are committed to doing that work. This next school year, under the leadership of Matthew McBirth and our Diversity Department, we will include concrete opportunities for greater engagement with this kingdom issue. Until we gather again on campus this fall, please join me in continuing to pray for our nation and to pray for that day “when the times reach their fulfillment” and God “brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Eph 1:10)
______

By: President Matt Proctor

The pandemic isn’t the first crisis OCC graduate Jocelyn Zauche has lived through. As a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner, Jocelyn deals every day with children battling cancer. But in a recent note, Jocelyn described the extra challenges she now faces in the Wichita hospital where she works:

Work has been at a different pace. Kids don’t take a break from cancer, and we are seeing many kids getting sick. On top of normal patient care, a lot of my time lately has been spent with terrified mommas…cautioning them that their child is in the 10% of children who have more trouble with COVID. But I’m also trying to share hope, and that’s led to many sweet moments at the bedside, prayers with families, and conversations about God.

God is opening doors for gospel conversations—and not just with patients and their families. Jocelyn’s co-workers have noticed something different about her:

One of my nurses asked how I was remaining so calm through all this. She asked if I felt nursing school or grad school prepared me for this the best. Without hesitation, I said, “Well, Bible college prepared me for this the best. I get to come to work knowing God is still in control, and my job is to just care for my next patient with love and compassion.” I learned from wonderful teachers what a disciplined life looks like, the importance of my early Bible reading appointment, a heart of compassion, an understanding of grace, and how to share that hope with others—all lessons I attribute to Ozark.

Keep reading to find out how you can train more gospel-centered leaders like Jocelyn…

This isn’t the first crisis Ozark Christian College has lived through, either. In my years as president, we’ve weathered the Great Recession of 2008 and the Joplin tornado of 2011, and after each, I can say three things are true.

So how is Ozark doing in the pandemic? I can say those same three things.

We’ve experienced a lot of change. We monitored the pandemic carefully, and in mid-March, we sent students home and moved all classes online (along with chapel and life groups) for the rest of the semester. Spring on-campus events were canceled, along with summer overnight events such as Creative Arts Academy and Ambassador Sports Camps.

Our finances were certainly affected. The portion of OCC’s reserve funds invested in the market saw large unrealized losses, and after giving $375,000 in room and board refunds, Ozark’s financial picture shifted significantly in a short time.

Our future finances will likely be affected, too. Spring and summer are prime recruiting seasons. But spring campus tours weren’t possible, and many summer camps and conferences where we recruit have been canceled. Many higher ed experts are planning for a 20% drop in enrollment. That’s one reason we’ll need your help. Keep reading to learn how…

In changing circumstances, God remains faithful. We’ve seen his providential hand guiding our team. We live by the beatitude, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape,” and Ozark’s team has been amazingly resilient. Our Online Department prepped our profs well for the move to distance learning, and in graduate exit interviews this month, many said, “You couldn’t have done it any better.”

We’ve seen God’s generous provision. One friend sent a $12,000 gift to purchase a larger Zoom license for our suddenly-all-online classes. Another donor sent a check for $150,000. What a blessing and encouragement our many partners are! We also recognize God’s fingerprints on the $250,000 in institutional aid we received through the congressional CARES Act.

Ozark is in our ninth year debt-free, so we’re blessed with enough financial margin to weather these storms. With the $150,000 gift and the $250,000 government aid, our $375,000 loss in room and board refunds was covered, and we should end the fiscal year on June 30 in the black. Praise the Lord!

But we do still need our friends. Ozark remains as mission-focused as ever. This month, we just sent another 149 graduates into the harvest field—preachers, youth ministers, church planters, Bible translators, missionaries—and we can’t wait to welcome new students this fall. But that mission faces two new challenges.

First, we’ve had to adjust our 2020-2021 budget down. Our recruiting team is working hard (and creatively) in new circumstances. But in light of potential enrollment drops, we’re making hard choices and budgeting $500,000 less than planned for next year.

Second, we’re planning for pandemic contingencies. Proverbs 27:12 says, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions,” so while we’re committed to on-campus instruction this fall, we’re preparing for the possibility of moving online in case of a recurrence. That’s where we need your help. Would you consider partnering with us in these three preparation projects?

These three projects will prepare us for the new reality, but they total $41,000 in new expenses (as we’re reducing next year’s budget). Would you consider a generous gift today to prepare Ozark for next school year?

In difficult seasons, friends like you have come alongside us in amazingly generous ways, and I think I know why. You believe in our mission. You want to send kingdom workers like Jocelyn Zauche into the harvest field. By the way, here’s how she concluded her note:

Several of us at work have been going through Psalms. Last week while putting on our "space gear" (as we call it in the pediatric world) to go into another sick room, one of my colleagues asked what the psalm of the day was. It was Psalm 91, a beautiful reminder that, while we are putting on all this stuff to keep us safe, our security is already sure. Our protection has nothing to do with a scrub hat, mask, face shield, gloves, or footies. Our refuge is the Lord. So even though this semester is ending in a much different way for you, please know that your ministry at Ozark is so essential (and that is coming from an essential worker...haha). My career as a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner has been shaped because Ozark invested in my life.

Thank you for considering a gift to Ozark, and thanks for sending leaders like Jocelyn into the world with the good news of Jesus!

Yours in Christ,

President Matt Proctor

P.S. OCC has a birthday coming soon! On June 12, Ozark will celebrate our 78th birthday with "Ambassador Day." Watch Ozark's social media on Friday, June 12, for more!

By: President Matt Proctor

Like many of you, as I watched the video of George Floyd this week, I was appalled, grieving, and angry. Appalled at the disregard for this man’s life. Grieving for his loved ones. Angry at the darkness in human hearts (including my own) that leads to racism, apathy, injustice, and pride.

To combat the darkness, there are things we should do beyond praying. Yesterday in Kansas City, my daughter Lydia joined a peaceful protest, and Ozark’s Diversity Department and chapel team are already rescheduling a multiethnic panel (which the pandemic forced us to cancel this spring) to discuss the ministry of reconciliation. We must not only lament; we must listen, learn, and labor for change.

But to combat the darkness, there is nothing we should do before praying. Prayer is always our first and best response. So using Psalms as our guide, please join me this week in taking a day to fast and pray for:

By: OCC

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Spring 2020 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Britni Addington - Fort Scott, KS
Paola Alcantara - Shelbyville, KY
Benjamin Allen - Cedar Hill, TN
Cooper Allmoslecher - Carthage, MO
Faith Atkins - Fillmore, MO
Danielle Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Emma Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Cade Bailey - Greenwood, LA
Lauren Ball - Joplin, MO
Autumn Barroeta - Webb City, MO
Kacie Barron - Farmington, AR
Stormi Blevins - Sand Springs, OK
Gracelyn Bond - Hollister, MO
Nathan Boone - Grove, OK
Naomi Boswell - Carthage, MO
Lacey Boze - Pineville, MO
Tyeisha Brock - Lee's Summit, MO
Brianna Brotzman - Louisville, KY
Caleb Brown - Oronogo, MO
Lydia Brundieck - Nixa, MO
John Caldwell - Indianapolis, IN
Brant Caler - Collinsville, IL
Samantha Capehart - Lamar,  MO
Glori Caputo - Seneca, MO
Cameron Carroll - Glidden, IA
Kallee Carson - Afton, OK
Colton Cockburn - Correctionville, IA
Samantha Collins - Raymore, MO
Darren Cullifer - Macon, MO
Hannah Davis - Archer City, TX
Tyler Davison - Oronogo, MO
Tucker Dobson - Colorado Springs, CO
Zachary Dodge - Webster City, IA
Anabel Dooley - Avon, IN
Hallee Doss - Lamar, MO
Zackery Douglas - Fairplay, CO
Andrew Doyle - Carl Junction, MO
Macie Dressler - Scranton, KS
Madison Duff - Ozark, MO
Jacob Earls - Amarillo, TX
Lauren Eaton - Richards, MO
Abigail Ehresman - Mechanicsville, IA
Kylie Fisher - Fairfield, OH
Alyssa Foster - Indianapolis, IN
Jake Franks - Grapevine, TX
Jadon Fricker - Collinsville, OK
Brady Gallaway - Muskogee, OK
Natalee Gann - Lincoln, NE
Hope Gardner - Carl Junction, MO
Dakota Gayer - Derby, KS
Alli Gibson - Claremore, OK
Star Gonzalez - Mercedes, TX
Lauren Griggs - Sedgwick, KS
Lane Gruwell - Norton, KS
Brandon Hair - Papillion, NE
Zackary Hand - Webb City, MO
Benjamin Harris - Lewisville, TX
Jordan Harris - Lowell, IN
Virginia Hartley - Edwardsville, KS
Adrienne Herbert - Tulsa, OK
Nicholas Herman - Blue Springs, MO
Karlee Hitchcock - Loganville, GA
Gabriel Hoagland - Corydon, IN
Matthew Hopkins - Watertown, SD
Karin Hounshell - Webb City, MO
Alexis Hundley - Corunna, MI
MaKayla Hurd - Thayer, KS
Shelby Jack - Sarcoxie, MO
Kaleb Jackson - Joplin, MO
Anne Jaycox - Bella Vista, AR
Michael Johnson - Chatsworth, CA
Samantha Jones - Webb City, MO
Jami Joslin - Miami, OK
Jeren Joslin - Joplin, MO
Megan Joslin - Marion, IA
Kendall Kadnuck - Highlands Ranch, CO
Sydney Kamm - Brownstown, MI
Brianna Kane - Erie, KS
Selah Kendall - Webb City, MO
Chandler Key - Georgetown, DE
Allison Kooser - Derby, KS
Aidan Krehbiel - Lamar, MO
Daniel Langley - Shenandoah, IA
Caleb Lankford - Warwick, RI
Colton Leinbach - Newton, KS
Layton Lewis - Valley Center, KS
Olivia Loghry - Saint Libory, NE
Derieck Lopez - Granada Hills, CA
Jadeyn Lopez - Crossroads, TX
Katelyn Lowe - Neosho, MO
Kathryn Lyman - Collinsville, OK
Caleb Maddux - Warsaw, OH
Jessica Maddux - Broken Arrow, OK
Sean Mallett - Kalamazoo, MI
Luke Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Ali Marzano - Anthem, AZ
Nicholas Maxwell - Chandler, AZ
Robert Maxwell - Naples, FL
Marcus McCarthy - Johnstown, CO
David McQueen - Indianapolis, IN
Noah Mebane - Broken Arrow, OK
Abigail Medsker - Coffeyville, KS
Horace Melton - Lake, MS
Nicholas Meriwether - Sellersburg, IN
Ian Meyer - Joplin, MO
Phil Meyer - Mulvane, KS
Avery Michaels - Alta, IA
Carissa Miller - Salina, KS
Corey Miller - Miami, OK
Jedidiah Moody - Mt Vernon, MO
Kenton Moore - Clemmons, NC
Suzanna Moreland - Webb City, MO
Emma Morrell - Carl Junction, MO
Brayden Morrison - Lamar, MO
Jessica Morton - Owasso, OK
Makenzie Mullin - Goshen, KY
Brandon Musselman - Joplin, MO
Morgan Novinger - Carl Junction, MO
Abigail Owen - Cape Coral, FL
Cale Patterson - Norton, KS
Jordyn Patterson - Monticello, IA
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Carlene Persinger - Seymour, IN
Christopher Peterson - Marshalltown, IA
Alyssa Phares - Owasso, OK
Enoch Phillips - Lee's Summit, MO
Jose Ponce - Mazatenango, Guatemala
Hope Pratt - Collinsville, OK
Hope Proctor - Joplin, MO
Patrick Prodger - Owasso, OK
Abbie Rains - Wichita, KS
Jonathan Rathbone - Bartlesville, OK
Mellenie Redick - Shawnee, KS
Carson Reed - Joplin, MO
Louis Reinhart - La Grange, KY
Abigail Rinehart - Hillsboro, MO
Jena Risewick - Norton, KS
Brian Rocker - Webb City, MO
Giovanni Rosales - Sylmar, CA
Courtney Rucker - Coffeyville, KS
McKenzie Russian - Miami, OK
Delaney Ryan - Coventry, RI
Michael Ryan - Joplin, MO
Erica Sadler - Danville, IL
Tanner Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Solomon Sanchez - Carrollton, TX
Maddison Schaper - Welch, OK
Ryan Schenewerk - Freeburg, IL
Claira Schroter - Carthage, MO
Devin Scott - Hammon, OK
Emma Scott - Indianapolis, IN
Malachi Scott - Joplin, MO
Olivia Scrowther - Des Moines, IA
Eric Severson - Papillion, NE
Alec Sheets - Jennings, OK
Oliviah Shoults - Festus, MO
David Shultz - Leoma, TN
Katelyn Skrdlant - Norton, KS
Ashley Smith - Stillwater, OK
Gage Smith - Tonganoxie, KS
Jacob Smith - Winston-Salem, NC
Marissa Smith - Muskogee, OK
Tommy Smith - Stillwater, OK
Anna Souder - Joplin, MO
Elizabeth Souder - Joplin, MO
Samantha Spaulding - Joplin, MO
Jasmine Speer - Broken Arrow, OK
Alexander Steele - Iowa City, IA
Emma Stein - Garfield, AR
Sarah Sullivan -  Louisville, KY
Samuel Swift - Overland Park, KS
Dylan Tate - Damon, TX
Garrett Thomas - Stillwater, OK
Jacey Thomas - Neosho, MO
Jaden Thompson - Shelbyville, KY
Samantha Tossell - Hesperia, CA
Andrew Trotter - Joplin, MO
Emily Trotter - Joplin, MO
Charis Trusty - Fillmore, IN
Taylor Tucker - Durham, MO
Jacob Umphreys - Council Bluffs, IA
Timothy Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Mallory Vanderveer - McAlester, OK
Tyler Van Wey - Marion, IA
Ema Velazquez - Piedras Negras, Mexico
Alexia Voyles - Newburgh, IN
Stanley Wainaina - Joplin, MO
Emily Waldrop - Neosho, MO
Jordan Walters - Mount Vernon, MO
Karena Weaver - Hillsboro, MO
Jonah Weece - Carrollton, TX
Phillip Werner - South Haven, MN
Leland Whitman - Macks Creek, MO
Abigail Whorlow - New Palestine, IN
Daryn Wiley - Fort Scott, KS
Rebecca Willoughby - Sedgwick, KS
Sarah Wilson - Eagle Grove, IA
Blake Winchell - Jeffersonville, IN
Victoria Wingertsahn - Friedens, PA
Joshua Witte - Oronogo, MO
Bethany Wood - Rohnert Park, CA
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO
Cody Wright - Joplin, MO
Keila Zamudio - Amarillo, TX

By: OCC

We had different plans for the Class of 2020 today—OCC's 2020 Commencement is now scheduled for Saturday, September 5—but God in his faithfulness is still sending out Ambassadors into his harvest field, trained for the kingdom assignment he has in store. Read President Proctor's Commencement Prayer below.

Dear Lord, 

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So our hearts are full as we see these who have answered the call. Thank you for raising up laborers for the harvest field.

Now we ask, Lord, that you give them everything they need for what lies ahead. When they are called to step out of their comfort zone, give them the faith of Abraham. When they face temptation, give them the integrity of Joseph. When they face hard decisions, give them the wisdom of Solomon. When their hearts are filled with fear, give them the courage of Esther.

Lord, we know they will face trials, so give them the perseverance of Job. When life gets busy and they are surrounded by distractions, sit them at your feet and give them the listening ears of Mary. Wake them up every morning with the missionary urgency of Paul, and through it all, above all, give them the heart of Christ.

And now, oh Lord, send them out. Send them out to Kansas and Kentucky, to Kenya and Cambodia. Send them out to the four corners of the earth. Send them out with a Bible in one hand and a basin and towel in the other. Send them out with your grace and with your truth. Send them out with the gospel on their lips, the church at their side, and the power of the Holy Spirit coursing through their veins.

And you go with them, Lord, because we know there are evil forces arrayed against them. March them into the very heart of Satan’s territory. Use them as the tip of your spear to pierce the darkness until it bleeds light. May the gates of hell crumble before them.  

And through these graduates, Lord, may the gospel be preached and sin confronted and sinners loved and souls saved and marriages mended and children taught and the grieving comforted and the lonely welcomed and the hungry fed and the wounded healed and churches planted and communities transformed and the nations reached with the good news of Jesus Christ. Use them mightily for your glory and for the world’s good, and keep them faithful until the day they hear you say, “Well done.”

We pray these things in the name of Jesus, amen.

Watch a message to the 2020 graduates here

By: OCC

Ozark Christian College is excited to announce the addition of two new trustees. Earlier today, Karolyn Schrage and Lito Solorio were selected by unanimous vote to serve on the OCC board.

Karolyn Schrage grew up on the mission field with her parents, Ziden and Helen Nutt. She met and married Mike Schrage, and both attended OCC. The Schrages lived in Kenya for 20 years, where Karolyn helped run an orphanage and medical clinic. Today, Mike serves as the executive director of Good News Productions International, and Karolyn is the executive director of Choices Medical crisis pregnancy center in Joplin.

Lito Solorio was raised in California. He served in several roles at Cross City Christian Church (formerly Northside Christian Church) with David Rutherford in Fresno. In 2016, Lito, his wife Tiffany, and their four children moved to Wichita, Kansas, where Lito now serves as the lead pastor at Countryside Christian Church.

We're excited for the godly leadership that Karolyn and Lito will bring to OCC. Please join us in welcoming them to the OCC board and in praying for them as they keep us faithful to our mission of training men and women for Christian service.

By: OCC

June 4, 2020

Ozark Christian College is committed to providing in-person, residential classroom instruction in the fall while maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Ozark has developed a cautious, compassionate, and comprehensive plan for the wellbeing of our entire community. The COVID-19 Operations Plan, which will be implemented during the fall 2020 semester, adapts our normal campus procedures to accomplish the ongoing work and mission of the college.  

_____
June 3, 2020

In compliance with the Higher Ed Emergency Relief Fund reporting requirements:

Ozark Christian College signed and returned to the Department the Certification and Agreement. OCC has issued 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students.

Ozark Christian College received $489,464 from the Department pursuant to the institution’s Certification and Agreement [for] Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students.

OCC has designated $244,732 of Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of the date of submission.

OCC estimates that 440 students are eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

As of May 24, 306 students have received a total of $158,025 in Emergency Financial Aid Grant to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act.

OCC determined which students received Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act based on a calculation of need determined through the FAFSA and student enrollment status. 

Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants.

Students received an email notification from the Executive Vice President letting them know that we have received funds for Emergency Grants.

Student Financial Services emailed a notice of award to eligible students that included what the funds could be used for as well as instruction for acknowledging that they had experienced expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus.

_____
May 1, 2020

Executive Vice President Damien Spikereit shared three important updates with OCC students regarding our CARES Act grant funds, our plans for on-campus summer events, and our preparations for students' return in the fall. Read the entire memo here.

In light of this memo, OCC will not host any overnight on-campus events this summer, including Creative Arts Academy and Ambassador Sports Camps. (Instead, we will host two sessions of volleyball camps for junior high girls. Find out more at occ.edu/sportscamps.)

Ozark Christian College is committed to providing in-person, residential classroom instruction in the fall while maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Here are six steps we’re taking to facilitate your safe, on-campus experience next semester:

_____
April 11, 2020

Of all the hard decisions we've had to make in recent weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, the decision to postpone this year's Commencement may have been the most difficult. Class of 2020, while we wish we could celebrate your accomplishments in May, we're looking forward to being with you for your 2020 Commencement on Saturday, September 5, at 10 a.m. in the Multi-Purpose Building. Read more at occ.edu/2020commencement.

_____
March 20, 2020

CLASSES MOVING TO ONLINE FORMAT
Beginning Monday, March 30, all OCC residential classes will move to an online format for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. (Spring Module 2 online courses will continue as scheduled.) We’re thankful that our Online Learning Department and faculty already have the structure in place to make this change. Your professors will communicate next steps for your courses by no later than Thursday, March 26.

RESIDENCE HALLS 
Starting Saturday, March 28, the OCC residence halls will be open by permission only for students who must stay on campus, including international students, essential OCC student employees, students without online access at home, and students who are unable to return home. If given permission to remain in a residence hall, you may be required to relocate to a different dorm and/or room.

Students checking out of dorms will be scheduled a move-out time/day between March 21-April 3, to avoid large crowds on campus. Your residence director will contact you to arrange your move-out time and date. 


ALL RESIDENTIAL STUDENTS MUST COMPLETE THIS FORM BY 5:00 PM ON FRIDAY, MARCH 27.


ROOM & MEAL REFUND
All dorm students (except those given permission to remain on campus) will receive a $1,000 room and meal refund applied as credit to their school bill. The refund will be reflected on your student account by May 1.

STUDENT EMPLOYMENT
Most student employment positions are suspended for the rest of the semester. We want to encourage students to remain home and under the care of their family and trusted healthcare provider. Your on-campus supervisor will contact you if your position has been deemed essential. 

CAMPUS ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
All OCC campus events and all events hosted on OCC’s campus have been canceled through Thursday, April 30. This includes the cancellation of public chapel services. The Seth Wilson Library, OCC Mail Center, and the Academic Resource Commons will remain open only to staff and current students. The OCC Bookstore will remain open to the general public. The Multi-Purpose Building/Fitness Center, Chapel Building, Missions Building, and Student Center will be closed. Residence hall lobbies will be open only to students who have received permission to remain in that dorm. Food services will be takeout only from the Dining Hall for students who have been given permission to remain in the dorms. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Please continue to watch your OCC email and this webpage for the latest information regarding OCC’s response to the outbreak. We are praying for your health and peace in the weeks to come. We are so proud of the way you’re letting this time of uncertainty build your faith and bring glory to God. Now more than ever, you truly are Ambassadors for Christ! 

_____
March 16, 2020

All OCC events and all events hosted on OCC's campus are canceled through April 30. See occ.edu/events for more.

_____
March 12, 2020
An update from President Matt Proctor

Dear Ozark Family,

For the last several weeks, OCC’s administrative leadership has been monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, and in consultation with local and national health experts as well as other colleges and universities, we have sought to communicate with you appropriate preventative measures. Though there are no known cases in Jasper County, we as leaders care deeply about guarding both your health and the health of the larger regional community, and we are grateful for your patience and flexibility as we respond to this evolving situation. Our goal is to make proactive—but not premature—decisions that will, first, ensure the safety of our college family and second, continue our educational mission in the most effective way possible. 

To accomplish this, we have developed a Coronavirus Response Plan flexible enough to adjust to changing circumstances, and our leadership team is meeting regularly to decide when to implement each next phase in the plan. In our meeting this morning, we decided to extend OCC’s spring break by one week, through Saturday, March 28. This extra week will allow us to monitor the situation and determine the best way for classes to resume on Monday, March 30. Please check your my.occ.edu email and this coronavirus webpage daily over the next two weeks for updates as they are communicated.

If you are a student, what does this mean for you practically?

If you are an employee, what does this mean for you practically?

If you are a faculty member, what does this mean for you practically?

We are making this decision to guard the health and safety of our OCC family, but we also want to exercise our neighborly and civic responsibility to prevent the potential spread of this illness in our larger community. There may be more decisions necessary in the days ahead, so may I close by asking three things of you?

We here at OCC are blessed with a gifted and godly team who are working hard on behalf of our students and employees, and I count it a privilege to work alongside them. We will keep you updated on developments in the days ahead. In the meantime, enjoy your spring break!

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President 

_____
March 11, 2020

OCC students and employees:

In the days to come, many of our Ambassadors will be traveling during Spring Break. Due to the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), OCC is requesting the following actions from all students and employees:

  1. Follow the recommended protective measures. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jasper County. However, please follow these precautions from the World Health Organization:
    • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub (hand sanitizer).
    • Keep your distance from individuals who are coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. When using a tissue, dispose of it immediately after use.
    • If you have a cough, fever, or any trouble breathing, seek medical care early. Stay home (isolated) if you’re feeling unwell.
  2. Consider your travel plans. Please use caution when traveling overseas, to large cities, or to affected areas. Consult the CDC’s travel recommendations here, and consider this global map of confirmed cases. As of Wednesday, March 11, OCC has not issued a travel ban to our students or employees.
  3. Stay informed. This is a rapidly evolving situation. Watch for updates via email and on this webpage, and read the most current information about the virus from the CDC and from the Missouri Department of Health.
  4. Contact OCC.

As always, your health and wellbeing are our priority. Thank you for your continued diligence and discernment as this situation continues to evolve.

_____
March 2, 2020

A word to OCC students, employees, and families about the coronavirus:

Some of you know that one of our spring break trips, a trip to Japan to survey Mustard Seed Network, has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus (and because Japan has closed its schools and churches for the time being). Intercultural Studies Director Chris DeWelt is working with Mustard Seed and our students to reschedule the trip for a later date. In the meantime, though we have no direct reason to be concerned for our students and campus regarding this pneumonia-like illness, we do prioritize your health. Here are a few links and resources for the OCC family.

  1. Information: Click here for the most current information about the virus from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, including how COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads and simple steps to protect yourself from respiratory viruses.
  2. Travel: Please use caution when traveling overseas or in large cities. If you plan to travel abroad during spring break or in the immediate future, consult the CDC’s travel recommendations here.
  3. Precautions: Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are available in common areas across campus. OCC’s custodial staff has increased their normal daily cleaning procedures to include even more disinfecting of all door handles and frequently touched surfaces. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water, cough and sneeze into your elbow (not your hands), and avoid touching your eyes.
  4. In case of illness: As always, if you develop flu-like symptoms, contact Health Services Coordinator Sara Wood or your preferred health provider. You can also take advantage of OCC’s telemedicine service, DirectConnect. Access DirectConnect on the Health and Wellness section of your Student Life portal tab.

Questions? Contact Health Services Coordinator Sara Wood at [email protected]

By: OCC

2020 Commencement Postponed

Dear Class of 2020,

Of all the hard decisions we've had to make in recent weeks as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the decision to postpone your graduation may have been the most difficult. As you heard in our recent Zoom call and in our April 10 email, we will not have Commencement on May 9, as originally planned. Instead, we have rescheduled your 2020 Commencement for Saturday, September 5, at 10 a.m. in the Multi-Purpose Building. This is Labor Day weekend, and our hope is that a long weekend will allow more travel time to those of you who are coming from a distance. Watch for more details about Commencement soon, but for now, mark your calendar for September 5.

Additionally, we’ve had to cancel the Graduates Dinner that was scheduled for April 23. However, we still want to celebrate and congratulate you on a job well done! Watch for a package in the mail, headed your way in the weeks to come, that will include your cap and gown and a special gift from us.

To make sure you receive your gift, we must have your current physical address. Please take a minute right now to update your address at the “Address Correction” form on the Student Life tab of the portal. Update the Spring-Summer 2020 Address Update section with the mailing address where you currently live—even if you’re just crashing on a friend’s couch for the rest of the semester—so that we can make sure your cap and gown and gift reach you. (If you move somewhere else this summer, you can update the form again.) 

So, mark your calendar for September 5, update your mailing address, and watch your mailbox for your gift. Contact Lisa Witte if you have any questions or if we can do anything for you. We’re proud of you, and we're praying for you as you persevere toward the finish line. We can't wait to see you walk across the stage on September 5!

Updated July 13: OCC's 2020 commencement services (Saturday, September 5, at 10 a.m. CT) will not be open to the public, but each graduate may invite a limited number of guests to accompany them. Masks will be required for all who attend. Services will be streamed live for the public at occ.edu/commencement.

By: Randy Gariss

by Randy Gariss, director of OCC's Life and Ministry Preparation Center

The phrase of the day is social distancing, but ironically we are also very tightly secluded with others. The question we must each wrestle with is this: “Will these people be deeply loved by me?”

Invited season or not, there is a privilege in being able to spend long, extended, intensive time with the people we love. It is no exaggeration to say that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Great moments come from great challenges” may sound like a fortune cookie tagline, but it is also very true.

So how do you love deeply these housemates of yours?

There are four decisions you will have to make:

1. You will have to choose to love.

If loving came naturally, then every house on every block would just naturally stumble into it. If it were just instinctive, then eventually everyone would finally find it, give it, receive it, and we would have an abundance of it. But I have been to the store, I have seen the foster child, I have read the paper. Love is never just a natural happy accident. It is a relentless, courageous, daily decision.

2. Own your own maturity.

Immaturity requires nothing from you. It has no standards and makes no demands.

It is only love that makes claims on you. Love is not bashful. It demands high attributes and classy behavior. Love has standards like:

James 3 says that “We all stumble in many ways.” Love will always be one stumbler loving another stumbler. So if love is really going to happen between any set of stumblers, then someone has to be healed enough by Jesus to control his own immature emotions. And to borrow from Jesus the maturity love requires. Chasing after wholeness is essential to love.

3. Cultivate gratitude.

Thankfulness is always the highway upon which love travels. “We love because he first loved us” is not a catchphrase or a wall plaque, but an entry point to everything else. The great lovers have chosen to be grateful people—grateful to God, and grateful for these people.

Grateful to God...

Grateful that he would love, grateful that he is at work. Grateful he weeps too. Grateful for his gift of hope. Grateful he redeems whatever sin steals. Grateful his “mercies are new every morning.”

(It is interesting how much clarity there is for the “attire” one must wear in order to come into the presence of God—which is pretty much everywhere. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving...enter his courts with praise.” Gratitude is the dress of the day.)

...and Grateful for These People

Yes, they have their weaknesses and flaws, but no amount of sin—neither theirs nor mine—can take away the wonder of their being made in the image of God. They have beauty and creativity, worth and value, honor and dignity, promise and potential. They are sons and daughters of God. May I share his eyes and his heart for them today.

4. Invest much.

Where your investment is—that is also where your heart will be. It's a principle as old as Eden. The great paradox God wired into life is that giving your life into the lives of others—for his sake and their sake—gives your life back to you transformed. Investing in love creates character in you. It awakens your heart, it reflects God in you, it establishes a mature man or woman, it increases your affection, and it changes the world…one life at a time.

So go invest. Serve, play, love, listen, ask, relieve, care, talk, walk, include, forgive, offer, clean, help, surprise, encourage, compliment, and wherever else your creativity takes you.

The story your family tells after this lockdown will be simple: in the worst of times, it was the best of times.

By: President Matt Proctor

Ben Cross (OCC ’11) just wanted to study preaching. After soaking up every Ozark preaching class he could, he wanted to keep growing. But the educational door was shut. We need your help to “open the door” for Ozark students like Ben. Read on to find out how…

Ben Cross came from New Mexico to study at Ozark. He loved chips and green chili, excelled as a student, preached at Irwin Community Church, and served as Preaching Professor Mark Scott’s grader. On Facebook, he listed a favorite quote, “There are three types of preachers: those to whom you cannot listen, those to whom you can listen, and those to whom you must listen.” Ben longed to proclaim Christ in a way that others “must listen.”

After graduation, he applied for the master’s preaching program at Candler School of Theology. But despite his stellar

academic record, Ben was denied admittance. Why? His degree from Ozark wasn’t regionally accredited (although it is nationally accredited). Other alumni have had similar experiences—denied entrance to master’s programs and, in some states, turned down for substitute teaching because their degree was not regionally accredited.

So eight years ago, OCC’s leadership wrestled with a question—should we seek regional accreditation? We considered the facts:

Despite the costs, the OCC trustees decided in 2012 to pursue adding regional accreditation. Now, eight years later, we’ve almost completed the process, and you can help us finish strong. Why did our leaders seek regional accreditation? Two reasons.

The first reason: it will make us a more effective ministry school. Academically, our alumni have flourished in grad programs at universities like Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge, as well as seminaries like Lincoln, Southern Baptist, and Gordon-Conwell. Practically, our graduates have served fruitfully in thousands of churches and mission fields. We’ve been doing good work…but we could always do better.

The trustees knew: the accreditation process would challenge us to greater excellence with wise advice from seasoned educators (many of them faith-based). Proverbs 11:14 counsels, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” We wanted all the good help we could get because we’re training workers for the Great Commission. Our mission matters too much to risk mediocrity.

The second reason: it will open doors for our graduates. When alumni like Ben Cross sense the Lord’s leading to further studies, we wanted them to have as many opportunities as possible. While regional accreditation is never a guarantee of credit transfer or degree acceptance, it does increase the likelihood.

So for the last eight years, we’ve walked through the process. It’s helped tremendously, and in 2016, we were granted “candidate for accreditation” status with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Earlier this month, an HLC peer review team visited our campus, and by the end of 2020, we hope to be granted full regional accreditation status.

Here’s where we need your help: the process carries financial costs. This year, we’ve budgeted $36,700 for accreditation purposes. Would you help cover the $36,700 in accreditation expenses—to sharpen Ozark in her mission and open doors for her graduates?

You are such an important part of Ozark’s ministry. In his providence, God has gathered a particular group of people—including you—as partners in this mission of training men and women for Christian service. You’ve heard me say this before, because it’s very true: We can’t do this work without you.

So would you consider a generous gift to help with these expenses? Click here to give now. We believe that $36,700 will be money well-spent—not just for regional accreditation approval, but because it will help us be a school “approved unto God” (2 Tim 2:15). We want to prepare the best workers we can for the Lord’s harvest field. Thank you for partnering with us in that great mission!

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor, President

P.S. I forgot to finish the story: Ben Cross did earn a master’s in preaching from Spurgeon’s College in London. He now serves with the preaching team at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he’s helped preaching ministers Dave Stone and Kyle Idleman and coached their ministry residents in preaching. Thanks for considering a gift and for preparing kingdom servants like Ben!

GIVE NOW

By: OCC

By: President Matt Proctor

"We got next."

In college, I loved playing pick-up basketball. (I wasn’t good. When I tried to imitate Michael Jordan, I almost bit off my tongue.) In the gym bleachers, I’d put together a team with other guys waiting to play. When the game on the court finished, those were the words we used to announce we were the next team in line—the words to claim our spot as successors.

“We got next.”

That’s what Luke wants us to say when we read Acts. Luke tells amazing stories of those first believers:

In Acts, we see the church saving the lost, feeding the hungry, comforting the grieving, confronting the compromised, welcoming the outcast, raising next-generation leaders, transforming lives by the thousands and ten thousands.

Luke wants to light a fire in our hearts to do the same today.

William Booth felt that fire. In the mid-1800s, Booth longed to reach the poor of East London. His revival ministry converted thousands and sparked compassion ministries to relieve their suffering—eventually becoming the Salvation Army. When he died, 150,000 people filed by his casket, and today the Salvation Army shares the love of Christ with 30 million people in 130 countries each year.

Where did this remarkable work start? The book of Acts. Stanley Mooneyham writes, “It is said that as William Booth would read the book of Acts—reliving the victories of the early church, sensing the power that transformed the apostles from timid men into bold witnesses, feeling the impact of the gospel upon pagan cultures—he would drop his head onto the pages of his Bible as he sobbed out this prayer, ‘Do it again, Lord, do it again!’”

That’s our prayer for this week’s Preaching-Teaching Convention. I hope you'll join us on campus, and as we study Acts together, let’s ask God to change the world in our generation—to “do it again” through us.

“We got next.”

By: President Matt Proctor

Chad Ragsdale Named OCC Academic Dean-Elect

by President Matt Proctor

I’m writing to share exciting news about a change next year in the Academic Dean’s Office. Since 2011, Doug Aldridge has served as OCC’s executive vice president of academics and academic dean. He has provided outstanding leadership—guiding the college through the addition of an online program, the pursuit of regional accreditation, and the planning of a graduate program. Doug has built an excellent academic leadership team, strengthened our faculty, and made needed adjustments to our curriculum. Former Academic Dean Mark Scott once said the dean’s job is “to guard the mission like a junkyard dog,” and Doug has fiercely guarded OCC’s mission of training men and women for Christian service.

Over two years ago, Doug shared with me his thoughts about his eventual succession. Specifically, he would continue as dean through the 2020-2021 school year, then hand the baton to his successor on June 30, 2021. This would allow him to take us through the completion of the regional accreditation process in November 2020 and allow his successor to be in place before the planned graduate program launch in the fall of 2022. Thankfully, Doug shared that he would not be riding off into the sunset. Like previous deans Seth Wilson, Lynn Gardner, and Mark Scott, Doug would step out of the dean’s office and step back into the classroom to teach fulltime.

In our conversation, Doug also shared his belief that Chad Ragsdale would be an excellent choice as OCC’s next academic dean. In 2005, Chad moved from his Illinois preaching ministry to join Ozark’s faculty as a professor of Bible, and since 2013, he has served as assistant academic dean. Chad has the biblical foundations of a theologian, the pastoral experience of a preacher, the cultural engagement of an apologist, and the scholastic bent of an academician. More importantly, he has a genuine faith in Christ, a deep commitment to his family, a demonstrated love for the church, and a firm belief in Ozark’s mission of training men and women for Christian service. He has my confidence, the confidence of OCC’s faculty, and—after his interview in our recent board meeting—the unanimous support of Ozark’s trustees.

“Ozark is a special place,” Chad says. “I’m looking forward to carrying on the legacy of great leaders like Seth Wilson, Lynn Gardner, Mark Scott, and Doug Aldridge.”

Doug adds, “It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life to lead the faculty for the last nine years. I am confident in and excited for the leadership Chad will bring to the Academic Dean's Office. He is talented, gifted, and, most importantly, committed to keeping OCC a ‘Jesus School’.”

Mark Scott says of Chad, "I think about all the academic officers who have led us, and in many ways, Chad represents so much of what they all had: history, philosophy, exegesis, linguistics, theology. He has the whole package, and we'll need it in the years ahead."

In the fall of 2020, Chad will be on sabbatical as he completes a Doctor of Ministry degree at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. In both this spring semester of 2020 and the spring semester of 2021, Chad will have the opportunity to shadow current Dean Doug Aldridge more closely in preparation for his upcoming succession. Then on July 1, 2021, Chad will become the sixth academic dean in the 78-year history of Ozark Christian College. As we have prayed, those of us in Ozark’s leadership have sensed the Lord’s providential hand guiding throughout this process, and we will continue to seek his wisdom and help. In the days ahead, please join me in expressing your appreciation to Doug Aldridge for his exemplary leadership, and join me in praying for Chad, his wife Tara, and their children Logan, Adeline, and Ryane as he embraces this new kingdom assignment.

By: President Matt Proctor

Everybody loves a picture-perfect Christmas.

Christmas According to Hallmark

Over the last few years, my girls have fallen in love with Hallmark Christmas movies. Have you watched these? If so, you know the plot is always the same.

There is always a big-city career woman named Susan or Lauren. She’s always played by an actress from the 1990s, usually from the show Full House, and she’s always too busy for love. But she always has to go back to her small hometown because the family business is in trouble, and the town always has a heartwarming Christmas-y name. These are actual town names from Hallmark movies: Garland, Alaska; Hollyvale, North Dakota; Evergreen, Vermont, and—I am not making this up—Cookie Jar, New York. There are no Hallmark movies set in Skidmore, Missouri.

When big-city woman gets back to small hometown, she always meets a handsome local bachelor who wears sweaters, drives a pickup truck, and drinks hot chocolate. (If Hallmark movies were scratch and sniff, they would smell like cinnamon, pine needles, and hot chocolate.) Handsome local man and former 90s actress meet awkwardly, engage in fun verbal banter, experience minor relational conflict, then eventually team up to save the family cookie store, toy store, Christmas tree farm, ski lodge, or holiday theme park. Along the way, she realizes she’s been too big-city busy, he teaches her the true spirit of the holiday, it starts snowing, they kiss, and there is always a dog.

These movies are cheesy, mushy, and predictable, and if you seriously think I’m going to sit down during a busy month to watch these with my girls, then you’re absolutely right. Of course I am, because we all love these warm images at Christmas. We love perfectly staged Christmas scenes in store windows. We love Norman Rockwell paintings and Christmas cards and Hallmark movies, because everybody loves a picture-perfect Christmas.

A Perfect Picture Spoiled

But in the Bible’s most famous Christmas text, there is a word that spoils picture-perfect. Luke is the only writer in the New Testament to use the word. It’s the word manger—meaning an animal feeding trough—and it shows up three times in Luke 2.

“She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.” (Luke 2:7)
“This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
“They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:16)

We all love a picture-perfect Christmas, so in depictions of the nativity—Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus in the manger—you’ll see crisp colors, clean hands, soft glow, warm light, fresh hay, spotless surroundings. We have such a painting in Ozark’s chapel lobby, and it’s a beautiful piece of art. But art does not always imitate life.

My 17-year-old son Carl raises livestock. At the Proctor homestead, we have chickens, pigs, sheep, and a donkey, and in the pasture behind my house is an actual feeding trough. If you’ve spent much time around an actual manger, you know: it’s not made for a Hallmark movie. It is not picture-perfect. It’s dirty, with leftover food scraps inside, and while I have no desire to be crass, every manger is surrounded by manure.

In a devotion on Luke 2 I once gave, I brought a quart-size baggie of actual sheep droppings and a gallon-size baggie of donkey droppings. (Sheep poop marbles; donkeys poop tennis balls.) I told them: if the nativity scene were scratch and sniff, it would smell like manure.

I’m sure Joseph and Mary cleaned up the manger as best they could. I imagine they tried to line it somehow to make a little bed for the Christ child. But in real life, there’s no way to romanticize or sanitize this word manger. A manger is an unhygienic, untidy, messy, dirty feeding trough for slobbering, pooping animals. The first Christmas was not a picture-perfect Christmas.

So why does Luke keep focusing his camera on the manger? If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what is Luke communicating with this not-so-perfect picture?

What’s in Your Headboard?

My brothers Mark and Mike and I grew up on a small Iowa sheep farm, which wasn’t easy for our mom. Our mother is a neat freak, and it’s hard to keep a farmhouse clean with three boys. But every week, we mopped, sprayed, wiped, scrubbed, vacuumed, and dusted until every surface shone. My mom cleaned her cleaning supplies! Our house was spotless. Or so she thought.

When I was ten and Mark was seven, there was a girl on our school bus—her name was T.J.—that we did not like. People at church thought we were the best behaved little boys, but the truth: at age ten, I was a judgmental, arrogant little twit. I decided that T.J. was a braggy, obnoxious blowhard who needed to be taught a lesson.

Mark agreed with me, and one day, he had an idea. He went out to our pasture with a sandwich baggie, scooped up some sheep poop—little round brown droppings—and put them in the baggie. His plan: he would give the bag to T.J. and tell her they were chocolate chips in the hope she would eat one.

We were not the nice boys people thought we were.

So Mark put the baggie in the sliding door compartment in his bed headboard…and then forgot all about it. I don’t know how many days it sat in there, but one day while we were at school, my mom was doing her usual housecleaning and opened the little sliding door on Mark’s headboard. To her shock, what did she find? A bag of sheep poop.

I’m sure at that moment she felt two things. First, she had to be horrified to find this filth in her house. But second, she had to be confused: “What in the world? What strange things are my boys up to? What voodoo could you do with this doo-doo?”

Long story short: when we got home from school, we had a full confession session. Mark ended up getting in trouble, I escaped punishment like a good older brother, and T.J. remained blissfully unaware of our devious plan.

In Scripture, one of the images for human sinfulness is excrement. In Malachi 2, God says to disobedient Israel: I will smear animal dung across your face as a sign of your sin. In Philippians 3, Paul speaks of his good works as a Pharisee, but because those seemingly good deeds were outside of God’s grace, he says they are skubala. That Greek word—often translated “garbage” or “rubbish”—does not mean crumpled up paper in a trash can. The word skubala literally means dung or excrement.

It’s a shocking word, and it’s not the way I like to think about myself. I’m a Christian, and what’s more, I’m in Christian ministry. I like to think of myself as a pretty good person. But I also know: the chief occupational hazard of ministry is pride. Every day I get to do things that advance the kingdom of God, things that matter for eternity. I get to change people’s lives for Jesus! That’s heady stuff, and if I’m not careful, I can start to think I am better than I actually am. I overestimate my virtues and underestimate my vices, and I think my life looks pretty good.

But here’s what the manger does: it pulls back the sliding door on the headboard of my life, and it shows me I’m actually full of skubala. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” The manger reminds me that I am deeply, desperately sinful.

The Manger Was A Deliberate Choice

After all, Jesus didn’t have to be born in manger. This wasn’t a random accident. God had centuries to prepare for this birth. Example: to fulfill Micah’s prophecy of Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem, God sovereignly ordained an empire-wide census. He prompted the most powerful man in the world, Caesar Augustus, to order everyone to go to their hometown to register. God rearranged the lives of millions of people—just to get Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. (Talk about overkill!)

So as John Piper says, if God can wield an empire to move one woman 80 miles down the road, he could have arranged for an available guest room in Bethlehem. If God can plan a global census, he could have planned an open bed.

But God arranged for Jesus to be born right where he wanted: a feeding trough. The Father did not want him born in an antiseptic hospital or a warm, clean bedroom in someone’s house. The manger was planned, and it was by God’s design that one of the first things Jesus experienced on earth was the smell of manure.

Why? Maybe it was a reminder of the kind of people he came to save.

We are people with skubala behind the sliding doors of our lives. Jeff Walling says we’re all a mess, and that’s why we need a Mess-iah. From his first human breath, Jesus was reminded of exactly what he was getting into—a world full of messy, manure-filled, not-so-picture-perfect people.

But here’s the gospel: Jesus chose it anyway.

Jesus knew the manger was the first step onto the Via Dolorosa, and he knew that at the far end of that road stood a cross. And still he chose it.

He entered humanity’s mess. There was no Hallmark movie director to perfectly stage that first nativity scene. Jesus didn’t send an angel team ahead to sanitize his surroundings, no heavenly housekeepers to clean the manure from around the manger. No, Jesus stepped right into the muck and mire of our world—because he knew that only if he walked in could he walk us out.

So we say: Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for taking that first long step down from heaven to Bethlehem. Thank you for entering our skubala-stained world. Thank you for choosing the way of the manger.

That first not-so-picture-perfect Christmas…was the perfect picture of love.

Merry Christmas!

Click here to give to OCC

By: OCC

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Fall 2019 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Britni Addington - Fort Scott, KS
Paola Alcantara - Shelbyville, KY
Alaina Allen - Fort Scott, KS
Benjamin Allen - Cedar Hill, TN
Cooper Allmoslecher - Carthage, MO
Danielle Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Cade Bailey - Greenwood, LA
Ryan Baker - Wichita, KS
Kacie Barron - Farmington, AR
Skylar Beard - Lexington, KY
Gracelyn Bond - Hollister, MO
James Bond - Joplin, MO
Nathan Boone - Grove, OK
Lacey Boze - Pineville, MO
Caleb Brown - Oronogo, MO
Megan Burr - Marion, IA
John Caldwell - Indianapolis, IN
Brant Caler - Collinsville, IL
Samantha Capehart - Lamar, MO
Glori Caputo - Seneca, MO
Cameron Carroll - Glidden, IA
Joshua Carter - Sapulpa, OK
Matthew Carter - Springfield, IL
Haven Casey - New Braunfels, TX
Colton Cockburn - Correctionville, IA
Samantha Collins - Raymore, MO
Brennan Crossgrove - Livonia, MO
Elexa Dagnan - Webb City, MO
Hannah Davis - Archer City, TX
Tyler Davison - Oronogo, MO
Tucker Dobson - Colorado Springs, CO
Colt Doherty - Joplin, MO
Hallee Doss - Lamar, MO
Madison Duff - Ozark, MO
Josiah Dumsday - Jefferson City, MO
Lauren Eaton - Richards, MO
Abigail Ehresman - Mechanicsville, IA
Keaton Eisenmenger - Greenwood, IN
Rebecca Fellows - Tracy, CA
Alyssa Foster - Indianapolis, IN
Emily French - Dixon, MO
Jadon Fricker - Collinsville, OK
Natalee Gann - Lincoln, NE
Hope Gardner - Carl Junction, MO
Alli Gibson - Broken Arrow, OK
Dimitri Gilbert - Joplin, MO
Destiny Goble - Indianola, IL
Madeline Goracke - Joplin, MO
Lauren Griggs - Sedgwick, KS
Madison Hardwick - Joplin, MO
Benjamin Harris - Lewisville, TX
Jordan Harris - Lowell, IN
Virginia Hartley - Edwardsville, KS
Samuel Hartwell - Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Christian Hay - Tulsa, OK
Adrienne Herbert - Tulsa, OK
Karlee Hitchcock - Loganville, GA
Gabriel Hoagland - Corydon, IN
Matthew Hopkins - Watertown, SD
Denni Horstman - Bland, MO
Karin Hounshell - Webb City, MO
MaKayla Hurd - Thayer, KS
Shelby Jack - Sarcoxie, MO
Kaleb Jackson - Joplin, MO
Anne Jaycox - Bella Vista, AR
Michael Johnson - Chatsworth, CA
Jared Johnston - Oklahoma City, OK
Jami Joslin - Miami, OK
Kendall Kadnuck - Highlands Ranch, CO
Sydney Kamm - Brownstown, MI
Selah Kendall - Webb City, MO
Chandler Key - Millsboro, DE
Allison Kooser - Derby, KS
Aidan Krehbiel - Lamar, MO
Daniel Langley - Shenandoah, IA
Christopher LaRue - Apple Valley, CA
Alicia Levitt - Bella Vista, AR
Layton Lewis - Valley Center, KS
David Livesay - Joplin, MO
Jadeyn Lopez - Crossroads, TX
Kathryn Lyman - Collinsville, OK
Eric Maddux - Webb City, MO
Rebecca Maddux - Warsaw, OH
Sean Mallett - Kalamazoo, MI
Luke Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Ali Marzano - Anthem, AZ
Nicholas Maxwell - Chandler, AZ
Robert Maxwell - Naples, FL
Ian McAdams - Tulsa, OK
Beau McKinzie - Enid, OK
David McQueen - Indianapolis, IN
Noah Mebane - Broken Arrow, OK
Nicholas Meriwether - Sellersburg, IN
Ian Meyer - Joplin, MO
Carissa Miller - Salina, KS
Melissa Miller - Panora, IA
Marissa Montano - Santa Fe, NM
Jedidiah Moody - Mt. Vernon, MO
Kenton Moore - Clemmons, NC
Emma Morrell - Carl Junction, MO
Brayden Morrison - Lamar, MO
Jessica Morton - Owasso, OK
Makenzie Mullin - Goshen, KY
Brandon Musselman - Joplin, MO
Morgan Novinger - Carl Junction, MO
Logan O'Hare - Joplin, MO
Abigail Owen - Cape Coral, FL
Hannah Owen - Cape Coral, FL
Ty Paige - Webb City, MO
Samuel Parker - Joplin, MO
Cale Patterson - Norton, KS
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Christopher Peterson - Marshalltown, IA
Jessica Peterson - Marshalltown, IA
Alyssa Phares - Owasso, OK
Joseph Potts - Cleveland, OK
Hope Pratt - Collinsville, OK
Gianna Presta - Elizabethtown, KY
Hope Proctor - Joplin, MO
Patrick Prodger - Owasso, OK
Jesse Rasico - Bentonville, AR
Mellenie Redick - Shawnee, KS
Carson Reed - Joplin, MO
Brian Rocker - Webb City, MO
Courtney Rucker - Coffeyville, KS
McKenzie Russian - Miami, OK
Michael Ryan - Monroe City, MO
Erica Sadler - Danville, IL
Solomon Sanchez - Carrollton, TX
Nicholas Sarin - Queensland, Australia
Ryan Schenewerk - Freeburg, IL
Tali Schwiethale - Joplin, MO
Devin Scott - Hammon, OK
Emma Scott - Indianapolis, IN
Olivia Scrowther - Des Moines, IA
Eric Severson - Papillion, NE
Alec Sheets - Jennings, OK
Oliviah Shoults - Festus, MO
David Shultz - Leoma, TN
Aaron Skiles - Carl Junction, MO
Ashley Smith - Stillwater, OK
Derek Smith - Joplin, MO
Gage Smith - Tonganoxie, KS
Marissa Smith - Muskogee, OK
Tommy Smith - Stillwater, OK
Elizabeth Souder - Joplin, MO
Jasmine Speer - Broken Arrow, OK
Alexander Steele - Iowa City, IA
Emma Stein - Garfield, AR
Nathan Storms - Joplin, MO
Sarah Sullivan - Louisville, KY
Dylan Tate - Damon, TX
Garrett Thomas - Stillwater, OK
Jacey Thomas - Neosho, MO
Autumn Thompson - Wann, OK
Jaden Thompson - Shelbyville, KY
Rachel Tibbles - Joplin, MO
Samantha Tossell - Hesperia, CA
Taylor Tucker - Durham, MO
Michael Tunnell - Stockton, MO
Spencer Tweedy - Gladbrook, IA
Jacob Umphreys - Council Bluffs, IA
Timothy Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Tyler Van Wey - Marion, IA
Ema Velazquez Veloz - Piedras Negras, Mexico
Dalton Vetter - Gretna, NE
Alexia Voyles - Newburgh, IN
Emily Waldrop - Neosho, MO
Jessica Watson - Camdenton, MO
Jonah Weece - Carrollton, TX
Phillip Werner - South Haven, MN
Brandon West - Joplin, MO
Leland Whitman - Macks Creek, MO
Abigail Whorlow - New Palestine, IN
Rebecca Willoughby - Sedgwick, KS
Nicholas Wilson - Newberg, OR
Sarah Wilson - Eagle Grove, IA
Blake Winchell - Jeffersonville, IN
Bethany Wood - Rohnert Park, CA
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO
Cody Wright - Joplin, MO

By: OCC Administrator

By: President Matt Proctor

Would you help prepare a piece of “holy ground” for the next generation?

For Moses, it was a scraggly Sinai bush. For the shepherds, it was a Bethlehem manger, and for Paul, it was a dusty Damascus road. For me, it was an OCC library classroom.

I walked into that basement classroom at 7:00 a.m. on an August Tuesday in 1988. A university transfer, I didn’t know what to expect in my first Bible college class. Would the theological terms turn my brain to mush? Would the professor drone on about Greek words? And why so early?! (There are two kinds of people: those who love the morning and those who hate…those who love the morning. I did not love the morning.) “Not even God is up at 7:00 a.m.,” I thought. “How will I stay awake?”

The answer: Wilbur Fields.

I’d never met anyone like him. Brother Fields had the mind of a scholar, the heart of a shepherd, the imagination of a child, the vocal range of an opera singer, and the manic physical energy of Jim Carrey. He told Bible stories like he was on fire—flinging his body around the room, crackling his voice up and down five octaves, re-enacting biblical events. (Old as he seemed, was he actually reliving memories?) Wilbur hid in the Garden like Adam, hammered nails like Noah, blew trumpets like Gideon, slung stones like David, and I never fell asleep in that 7:00 a.m. class. (I can’t say the same for 1:30 p.m. World Geography class.)

In Old Testament History, Brother Fields turned that lecture hall into more than a classroom:

Within those four walls, we met God, and that classroom became holy ground (Ex 3:5).

If you attended Ozark, maybe you had the same experience. Maybe in those library basement classrooms, you finally understood Christ’s priestly ministry in Kenny Boles’ Hebrews class. Maybe you learned how to radically pursue Jesus in J.K. Jones’ Christian Life class. Maybe you wept at the foot of the cross in Matthew class with Mark Scott.

Over the years, one of my great joys has been seeing Ozark grads return to show their kids around campus. I see the emotion on their faces as they step back into L-13 or L-15. Sacred memories wash over them, and I’m sure their grade schoolers wonder, “Why are mom and dad getting weepy over a bunch of desks?” But for thousands of students, those ordinary basement classrooms became a place to “take off your sandals” as they found themselves in the presence of God. Would you help prepare that holy ground for the next generation?

This past May, Brother Fields went to be with the Lord, so a new generation of professors now stands in those classrooms. (Except for Mark Scott—he’s still going like the Energizer Bunny.) Teachers like Gerald Griffin and Bob Witte and Michael DeFazio still lead students into “burning bush moments” as they walk through God’s Word.

Playing piano and showing Holy Land slides, Wilbur made learning a multimedia experience, and these professors do too. But it’s time to update their teaching technology. The library basement lecture halls are the largest classrooms on campus, and plans call for each to get:

The cost to update one classroom is $38,000. Would you consider a gift to help prepare a piece of “holy ground” for the next generation?

Jesus used flowers, birds, coins, fig trees, fishing nets, and loaves of bread as teaching tools. The teaching tools in these classrooms are different, but the goal is the same: to grab students’ imagination and plant God’s Word deep in their soul. Someday those students will plant that same Word in the hearts of thousands around the world, so the $38,000 investment in these classrooms helps bring a global kingdom harvest.

We hope to make these updates to classroom L-13 over Christmas break, before classes begin again January 13, 2020. As you consider your year-end giving, would you pray about a generous gift toward Ozark’s mission of training men and women for Christian service?

This January, as we welcome new students, another university transfer like me will enter a library basement classroom, wondering, “What in the world am I walking into?” I know the answer. That room is a scraggly Sinai bush, a Bethlehem manger, a dusty Damascus road, and that student will walk out thinking, “Surely the Lord is in this place” (Gen 28:16). Thank you for considering a gift to help that future kingdom leader find holy ground. You can make your donation here.

P.S. We believe our partners can blow past $38,000! Anything beyond this year-end project goal will go to our need-based student grants—helping fill those classroom desks with young men and women ready to serve Christ. Thanks again…and merry Christmas!

CLICK HERE TO GIVE TO OCC

By: OCC

Ozark Christian College recently received a donation from the Arvest Foundation. The $5,000 grant will help fund OCC’s need-based grants for students.

“Academically qualified students sometimes face a financial challenge to enrolling in college, and Ozark's need-based grants help bridge that last gap between those students and a great education,” says President Matt Proctor. “We are very grateful for the Arvest Foundation’s generous investment in the preparation of future leaders here at Ozark Christian College.”

“OCC is grateful to Arvest Foundation for their investment in our need-based grant program,” says Executive Vice President of Administration Damien Spikereit. “This program allows our students to receive a quality education at an affordable price, graduating with less debt than the national average.”

By: Doug Aldridge, Executive Vice President of Academics

OCC is happy to announce that Jason Poznich has accepted President Proctor’s invitation to teach full-time at OCC in the areas of Biblical Communication and New Testament.

Since 2014, Jason has served as professor and head of the Preaching Department at Central Christian College of the Bible. Previously, he served in preaching and youth ministries in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Pittsburg, Kansas. Jason has also taught at numerous camps, conventions, and conferences around the country.

Jason will complete his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Talbot School of Theology in May 2020. He has earned a Master of Divinity from Lincoln University (2014), a Bachelor of Bible and Ministry from Ozark Christian College (2008), and a Master of Business Administration (2005) and a Bachelor of Business Administration (2004) from Pittsburg State University.

Jason will begin teaching at OCC in the fall of 2020. We’re excited to have Jason and his family with us at Ozark as together we train men and women for Christian service.

By: Amy Storms

Planting Gospel-Centered Churches in Urban Japan

Yuuki is an evangelist—and, according to his pastor, a “fierce” evangelist, at that. A professional drummer from Japan, Yuuki organizes concerts to share the gospel at his Osaka restaurant gigs. To date, Yuuki has played a part in leading seven other Japanese men to Christ. He has preached a few times at his church, and he leads apologetics classes where he vigorously defends the faith.

But it wasn’t always this way.

When Yuuki first came to the church in Osaka, he was an atheist with several hard questions. But “the cross finally gripped his heart,” his pastor says, and in December, Yuuki was baptized. The thing that pushed him over the edge in following Jesus? Yuuki says it was the gospel message of grace—God’s unmerited gift of salvation to sinners. Grace, Yuuki says, most baffled his logical mind and made him believe that this message must have come from God and not men.

The baffling message of grace turns atheists into evangelists. The baffling message of grace changes professional drummers into faith defenders. And the baffling message of grace…the good news of Christ’s work on our behalf…is what led Yuuki’s pastor, Ozark grad Jay Greer, all the way from Joplin to Japan.

A World Away
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Colorado and Missouri, Jay Greer grew up in the church, a world away from Yuuki and Osaka. Jay’s parents, OCC’s Kevin and Debbie Greer, brought up their sons in the truth of the gospel. Jay was baptized at just eight years old, and in 2003, he headed to Ozark for college.

“My freshman year, I was learning to be an adult rather than a teenage doofus,” Jay recalls. “I remember at the beginning of my first semester barely passing a few classes, playing video games, and saving money for punk rock t-shirts and concerts. But by the end of my first year, I was done with video games, and I was spending all my time learning. In May, my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said, ‘Money to buy commentaries.’ The transformation of my values was enormous. The gospel made me repent. The rigor of OCC forced me to grow up. The whole environment at Ozark made me a serious learner of the Bible.”

“I came to college rather aimless, but that changed when I experienced the power of preaching. During an internship, I preached my first sermon to the youth group at the First Christian Church in Champaign, Illinois, and after seeing it lead some to repentance, I realized that this—preaching—is how God wants to change people” (1 Cor 1:17-2:5).

As a student, Jay served part-time as a minister with the First Christian Church in Cassville, Missouri. “The practice of learning the Bible in class and then teaching on Sundays and Wednesdays made me a better student, hungry for more truth so that I could continue to feed the church.”

Jay met and married Caitlin Vallely during their time at OCC. After graduating in 2007, the couple attended Japanese school for 18 months in Okazaki, Japan. From there, they served on the church planting team with Mustard Seed Christian Church Nagoya—the first Mustard Seed church, planted by OCC’s Mike Ackerman and currently led by grad Andy Rodriguez. From Nagoya, the Greers served at Mustard Seed Christian Church Osaka for nearly eight years. Today, Jay is preparing to serve as the lead pastor of Mustard Seed Christian Church Tokyo, which will officially launch in March. Jay also serves in leadership with Mustard Seed Network, an organization that seeks to glorify God by making disciples through planting gospel-centered churches in urban Japan.

12 Churches in 12 Cities
“Gospel proclamation to the unreached is the heartbeat of Mustard Seed Network,” Jay says. “Romans 1:16—the truth that the gospel is the power unto salvation—is so important. Our character or kind deeds are not the power unto salvation. Our acts of service, morality, winsomeness, or cleverness are not the power unto salvation. Faith comes by hearing the message of what Jesus has done (Rom 10:17). Therefore, our ministry is filled with sharing the gospel with as many people as we possibly can.”

“The biggest need in Japan,” Jay continues, “is the good news of what Jesus did to reconcile us to God forever.” To meet that need, Mustard Seed began a campaign to plant 12 churches in 12 major cities in Japan.

“Planting in these 12 cities will put 78.6 million people—or 62% of the second largest unreached people group in the world—within reach of Mustard Seed Network churches. Each of these 12 churches will become ministry hubs to catalyze further church planting in their regions. Less than 1% of the 126 million people in Japan claim to have faith in Jesus. Japan needs more gospel proclamation, more churches, and more disciples shining the light of Jesus in Japan’s massive cities. By God’s grace and through the prayers and financial support of gospel partners, we endeavor to complete this task by 2025.”

It was the gospel that transformed Yuuki. It was the gospel that made Jay repent in his student days. Only the gospel is the power unto salvation, and only the gospel—that baffling message of grace proclaimed from gospel-centered churches—can change unreached, urban Japan.

“Japan needs more gospel proclamation,” and Mustard Seed Network is making an eternal impact, thanks to the transforming gospel proclaimed by Jay Greer—and Yuuki, the fierce evangelist.

To partner with Mustard Seed Network as they plant 12 churches in 12 cities, visit mustardseed.network.

To partner with OCC as we train students like Jay, give to the Alumni Phonathon today. We’re raising $60,000 by November 7 toward our need-based grants.

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This article first appeared in the most recent issue of The Ambassador magazine. Read the entire issue here.

By: OCC Administrator

By: Administrator

By: OCC Administrator

By: OCC Administrator

By: President Matt Proctor

A lot of prayer + a little help + no excuses...

That’s the recipe Luckner Jean is using to make a difference. “A little help” is the ingredient you could provide for other international students like Luckner. Keep reading to see how…

Born into a preacher’s family in Haiti, Luckner is the third of nine children. “Growing up, life was very difficult,” says Luckner. “In Haiti, preachers don’t get paid. You just do it because you love Jesus. So feeding nine children was not easy.” He dreamed of an education, though school was miles away and required tuition. 

But no excuses. “We didn’t have money to pay for school, but if you recruited five paying students, the school gave you a scholarship. So I found other students.” He walked hours back and forth to school each day. Luckner smiles, “I made it all the way through my senior year.”

“Since childhood,” says Luckner, “my dream was to preach Jesus. As John 15 says, I want to be a productive branch for the Lord.” As a teenager, Luckner attended seminars at Haitian Christian Mission, led by Etienne Prophete. A 1974 Ozark graduate, Etienne’s ministry has started 57 churches gathering 15,000 weekly, 12 schools feeding 4,000 kids daily, and a medical clinic serving 14,000 annually. Luckner hoped to attend Ozark also, though the finances would be a challenge. 

But no excuses. He applied for OCC’s International Student Grant—which provides tuition for qualifying international students—and then prayed hard. “I contacted Ozark, explained my passion for ministry, and I was accepted!” Luckner moved in with a host family and began working for OCC’s custodial crew to provide living expenses. (Though he only makes minimum wage, he sends much of it to his family back in Haiti.)

The language barrier was a challenge. Luckner had to improve his English and decipher American expressions. He laughs at one example. “My co-worker Elijah and I were going to ride in a van to go clean a dorm. He said, ‘Do you want shotgun?’ I thought, ‘Is he gonna shoot me?’ Then he explained why the passenger seat is called ‘shotgun.’ Now I understand.” Of course, taking college classes in a foreign language was difficult.

But no excuses. Luckner worked hard, and his English is now outstanding. “I have loved my preaching class with Professor Damien Spikereit and my personal evangelism class with Professor Gerald Griffin,” says Luckner. “I probably learned the most in my Principles of Interpretation class with Professor Doug Welch. Ozark has been amazing.”

Recently married, Luckner and his wife Stessy (also from Haiti) dream of a ministry that, like Haitian Christian Mission, can reach thousands in their homeland. The needs in Haiti—physical, emotional, educational, financial, spiritual—are so great it can seem overwhelming.

But no excuses. Luckner is already building a team. He recruited his cousin Vladimir Louis-Jeune, a medical doctor, and his friend Sadrac Bathard, a counseling major, to come from Haiti to Ozark. Both men are current OCC students, getting the biblical foundation to serve their countrymen. Most of all, Luckner is trusting in the Lord. “God has called me, and I keep praying to the Lord for power and faithfulness.”

A lot of prayer + a little help + no excuses.

Not a bad recipe to make a difference. But Luckner and international students like him can only provide two of those ingredients. Someone else has to supply “a little help.” Would you be that someone?

Last year, OCC’s International Student Grants provided $161,600 for 16 students from places like Haiti, Kenya, New Zealand, Burundi, Guatemala, Thailand, and Costa Rica. That’s a yearly average of $10,100 in tuition dollars per student. That’s the “little help” these men and women need to prepare for a lifetime of ministry.

Would you consider a gift for OCC’s International Student Grants, preparing leaders to “make disciples of all nations”?

I have seen the return on this investment. In Brazil, I’ve seen the hundreds Nonato Silva (OCC ’89) has influenced for Christ. In Mexico, I’ve seen 16,000 believers mobilized for prayer by Berenice and Luis Antonio Escobedo (OCC ’07). Thousands in Jamaica have heard the gospel, thousands have studied God’s Word at India Christian Bible College, thousands in Asia can read the Bible in their own Lisu language because of Ozark’s international alumni.

“A little help” can go a long way. 

The recipe works. These men and women come with lots of prayer and no excuses. Would you supply the final ingredient needed for their kingdom success?

Thank you for considering a generous gift as “a little help.” It would make all the difference for a student like Luckner. 

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
OCC President

P.S. Please pray for Vladimir, Sadrac and all our international students. Ask God to meet their needs, deepen their knowledge, sharpen their skills, and strengthen their faith!

By: Administrator

OCC is excited to join the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, a higher education association of more than 180 institutions whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. The CCCU’s mission is "to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth."

President Matt Proctor stated, "As a friend of other CCCU presidents, I’ve long been grateful for CCCU’s strong advocacy in the public square for Christian education, but we at Ozark Christian College are most excited for the professional development opportunities and networking now available to us. We’re excited to learn from Christian brothers and sisters doing excellent work in other institutions, and we’re grateful to be a part of this fellowship of colleges." Read more...

By: OCC Administrator

By: Administrator

New for your church, from OCC's Frontline Collective

We're excited to share the latest original song from OCC's Frontline Collective! "Deliverance" is based on Psalm 32:7—“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Students in Frontline, an auditioned team of musicians led by Ozark's Isaac Schade, contributed to the song:

Interested in singing "Deliverance" in your church or youth group? Download the song, chord charts, accompaniment track, and more for free from Frontline's resource page. 

By: OCC Administrator

By: President Matt Proctor

Dear Ozark Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that one of our students, Jace Smothers, was killed Friday, June 28, in an accident near Paducah, Kentucky. Jace was serving on staff with Christ In Youth this summer, and the CIY van in which he was riding was rear ended by an 18-wheeler. Another Ozark student, Brandon Musselman, escaped with minor injuries. The three other CIY interns in the van—Katie Danhour, Andie Montgomery, and Tyler Conway—are also recovering.

Many of you had the privilege of knowing Jace—as a student, classmate, Strong Hall brother, or friend—and you will remember his big smile, loud laugh, and huge heart for Jesus and teenagers. He was a youth ministry major and a local Young Life volunteer. Jace had just finished his freshman year at Ozark and loved his experience here. In a recent Instagram post, he wrote, “Study tip: Laminate your notes so the tears roll off. My first year of college was a dream! If I'm being honest...I was doubtful about God placing me at Ozark. But after classes started and I met these people...the entire game changed. God met me in a new way.” We are grateful to have known Jace, but we grieve deeply his absence.

I’m sure more details about the accident will be forthcoming in the days ahead, but in the meantime, I want to be sure that you, as the OCC family, know these three things: First, you are not alone. I know that many of you who knew Jace personally will feel his loss deeply, and we want to encourage you to talk about your grief with a trusted counselor. God’s Word wisely calls us to “bear one another’s burdens,” and wherever you are this summer, we don’t want you to bear the burden of grief alone. We here at OCC are praying for you and are available, and we encourage you to seek out someone with whom you can talk and pray.

Second, your prayers are needed. I have spoken with Jace’s parents already, expressing on behalf of the OCC family our sorrow and love. I assured them that hundreds of Ozark folks would be lifting them up. Please pray for Jace’s parents Terry and Sharon Smothers and the entire family. Of course, there are many others grieving: Jace’s home church in Norton, Kansas, Jace’s roommate Sam Kiefer and his dorm brothers in Strong, his CIY teammates, and the young people he served at Young Life. Please pray for the other CIY interns in the accident—Brandon, Katie, Andie, and Tyler—as their minds and hearts will need healing along with their bodies in the weeks ahead. And do not forget to lift up the truck driver on this tragic evening. Psalm 34:18 promises that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted,” so ask God to make his presence known to all these folks as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. 

Third, while we grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). It is certainly right and healthy for us to grieve. Death is not our friend, and there is no shame or lack of faith in tears of sorrow at times like this. Even Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. But the powerful promise of the gospel is this: we have in Jesus Christ the firm and wondrous hope of heaven. A day is coming when we shall see our brother Jace in a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain, a place where God makes all things new. That is the hope we hold on to and the gospel we are preparing men and women to proclaim.

As we learn details about memorial services for Jace, we will be sure to communicate those to the Ozark family, and when the 2019 fall semester begins, we will have a time of remembrance together in chapel. Until then, may “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles” give you his grace today (2 Cor 1:3-4).

By: President Matt Proctor

You have to learn the language to communicate Christ.

Preaching once in Nicaragua, I tried my limited Spanish, but instead of the epistolas de Pablo (“the epistles of Paul”), I accidentally said the pistolas de Pablo (“the pistols of Paul”). I also mistakenly referred to mi esposa (“my wife”) as mi esposo (“my husband”).

Failure to learn the language is muy peligroso (“very dangerous”).

It May Be English, but It’s Greek to Me

Language learning isn’t just important in other countries. Right here in America, each subculture has its own way of talking.

In Denver you “wash the car,” in St. Louis you “warsh the car,” and in Boston you “pahk the cah” and then “wahsh it.” (You knew that because you’re “wicked smaht.”) In the Midwest, that carbonated beverage is a “pop,” in the Northeast a “soda,” and in the South a “Coke.” Whether the differences are regional, ethnic, or generational, you’ve met people who were speaking English, but it sounded like Greek to you.

Tom Long, a Georgia native living in New Jersey, describes the difference in how those two cultures communicate:
 
     Listen to this rather ordinary conversation between two Southerners. One of them has paid an afternoon visit to the other, and the hostess says, “Would you like something to drink?”
     The other person says, “Oh no, don’t go to any trouble” (which virtually every Southerner knows is code for, “Yes, I would like something to drink”).
     The hostess, knowing the code, says, “It’s no trouble. I’ve got coffee, tea, and Coke. What would you like?”
     “Whatever you’re having. Don’t fix anything just for me” (which is code for, I have something in mind, but I’m not sure it’s all right to ask for it).
     “Oh no, the coffee’s brewed, the tea water’s hot, and the Coke’s in the fridge. It’s no trouble at all.”
     “How nice. Well then, I’d like a cup of coffee.”
     “Fine. Sugar? Cream?”
     “Oh, don’t mess with all that.” (In other words, one sugar and a little cream.)
     This kind of conversation drives New Jersians crazy. Ask natives of New Jersey if they would like something to drink, and they will say, “Yes, I’m thirsty. I want some juice.” But…we in the Southern culture…spend much of our time saying what we do not mean, or rather, saying what we do mean indirectly with nuances, hints, winks, and verbal inflections. (Thomas Long,
The Senses of Preaching, Westminster John Knox, 1988)

Thinking Like a Missionary…Even in Montana

Whether across the world or just across a few state lines, you have to learn the local language to communicate Christ. Missions professors call this cultural agility: the ability to understand and connect with people in different cultural contexts.
 
The apostle Paul had cultural agility. As a missionary, he studied a people group, learned their vocabulary, then packaged the unfamiliar gospel in familiar terms they could understand. In Acts 17, preaching to pagan Athenian philosophers, Paul quotes the pagan poets Epimenides and Aratus and echoes the pagan orator Seneca, all to communicate biblical truth.
 
Jesus had cultural agility. The ultimate missionary, Jesus traveled from heaven to earth, followed the local Galilean customs, ate local foods, wore local clothes, spoke the local dialect, and told familiar stories of everyday Palestinian village life. Though he was from an entirely different place, Jesus connected so deeply with the human experience—specifically, the first century Jewish experience—that they thought he was one of their own. “Jesus was so thoroughly a part of his culture that, when being betrayed by Judas, he had to be identified by a kiss.” (Ed Stetzer, “Monday is for Missiology: Some Thoughts on Contextualization,” christianitytoday.com)
    
My friend Roger has cultural agility. An OCC graduate, he once invited me to preach at his church on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. I arrived at the church early Sunday and asked if we could talk through the morning service. But—not thinking about my cultural context—I used a word I’d often used before:
 
“Hey Roger, can we go to your office to pow-wow?”
 
He steered me to his office and there gently explained that, among Native Americans, a pow-wow was a solemn cultural ceremony. Using that word for an everyday conversation could accidentally sound disrespectful. A small thing, he said, but he wanted to be considerate of the people he was trying to reach.
 
When it comes to cultural agility, I have a lot to learn.

Why Create a Multicultural Campus?

Our students have a lot to learn as well. That’s why OCC has long sought to be a multicultural campus.
 
Over thirty years ago, our trustee board funded the International Student Grant, providing financial support for international students to study at OCC. We’ve welcomed students from places like China and the Congo, Mexico and Myanmar, Haiti and Honduras.
 
About seven years ago, we made plans to welcome, not just international students, but more U.S. students who represented ethnic and cultural diversity. We created a Diversity Department and set up scholarships that did for ethnically diverse American students what International Student Grants did for students from other countries.

Why? What motivates decisions like these? Three reasons.

The first reason is theological: a multicultural campus better reflects God’s heart. God desires a people from every ethnic group (Matt 28:18-20). Since the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, the world had been divided by language, culture, and race. But Christ’s death reconciled us with God and with each other—especially other ethnic groups (Eph 2:15-16).
 
So in Acts 2, the reversal of Babel began, and that very first church was made up of believers from at least 15 different people groups (Acts 2:9-11). Different skin colors, clothes, foods, and languages, yet “all the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44). We want Ozark to look the same. In a world where prejudices run high, a multiethnic community of believers is a compelling testimony about the heart of God.

“This Feels Like Family”

The second reason is practical: a diverse campus better recruits future students. When I was president of the 2013 North American Christian Convention, I invited sisters (and OCC alums) Brittany Bolt and Brianna Bolt Bushnell to help lead worship. They love Jesus deeply, and their voices could draw tears from stone. They’re also black.
 
One evening at the convention, I met two new Orchard Group church planters. They’d never been to the NACC before. Both young men were African American, and one said, “We have really enjoyed this week’s convention! To be honest, when we first walked into the auditorium, we weren’t sure this place was for folks like us. [The vast majority of NACC attenders were white.] But then we saw those ladies singing on stage, and we thought, ‘Okay, this feels like family.’”
 
We want to cultivate a multicultural campus so that, when minority students come, they won’t feel like an out-of-place guest but like an expected part of the family.
 
In our most recent issue of The Ambassador magazine, you’ll read about the great work Director of Diversity Matthew McBirth has done, growing OCC’s minority student population from 9% to 17%. But we still have a ways to go. In 2016, 51% of all public elementary and secondary school students in the U.S. were nonwhite. America is growing more diverse, and I want those future college students to hear God’s call to ministry and come prepare at Ozark!

“All Things to All Men”

The third reason is missional: a multicultural campus better prepares evangelistic leaders. Our mission is training men and women to reach the world with the gospel, and a culturally diverse world is best reached by culturally discerning leaders.
 
The apostle Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor 9:22). To the Jews, he became like a Jew, to the Romans like a Roman, to the Greeks like a Greek. When he was arrested in Acts 21, Paul surprised the Roman commander by speaking his language and thus got permission to address the rioting crowd. Turning to the threatening mob, he got their attention by switching to their dialect. “When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet” (Acts 22:2). Paul then proceeded to preach Jesus.

You have to learn the language to communicate Christ.
 
That’s why we want a multicultural campus. When our students build diverse friendships—with peers from Mexico and Manhattan, Latvia and Los Angeles—their cultural agility begins to grow. They start to think like a missionary. Whether they end up in Nicaragua, New Orleans, or North Dakota, they learn to speak like a local so they can speak about the Lord.
 
Take it from me: without that skill, ministry is muy peligroso.

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This article first appeared in the most recent issue of The Ambassador magazine. Read the entire issue here.

By: Administrator

By: OCC Administrator

By: Professor Jon Kehrer

Socrates, in an extended debate with Glaucon, illustrates a point about learning with an example from life. Someone can’t recognize a letter of the alphabet, Socrates explains, let alone the image of a letter reflected in water, if that person hasn’t learned their letters to begin with. Recognizing a reflection requires knowledge of the original image.

The word Socrates uses for “image” is eikōn (ei-CONE), meaning “representation” or “likeness.” That same word is used in the Greek translation of Genesis 5:1, where it says, “In the day God made ‘Man,’ he made him in the image of God.” We “image” our Creator; God designed it that way!

Furthermore, “male and female he created them, and he blessed them, and he named them ‘Man’ when they were created” (Gen 5:2). God intended diversity to reflect the image of God, and the more we know God, the more we see his image in us.

However, cultures tend to separate groups based on how we look, how we sound or how we think. Anything “different” feels dangerous, so we live increasingly isolated from those different from us.

But there is one place on earth where those differences are celebrated as th eimage of God: the church! Paul says that in Jesus, we put off our old selves and put on the new, which is being renewed in the eikōn of its creator (Col 3:10). In fact, it is in that image “where there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Barbarian or Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all!” (Col 3:11)

Paul’s point is not that diversity disappears within the church. Instead, our manufactured labels disintegrate as our distinctiveness actually “images” God. Praise God for our differences! Together, may we increasingly reflect our Creator.

By: President Matt Proctor

Kesli Worrell was hungry...and we need your help to feed more like her.

The 22-year-old had a long list of impressive accomplishments. A senior on the University of Louisville swim team, Kelsi had already won four NCAA championships, broken two world records, and won an Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games. 

But Kelsi wanted something more. “You have made us for thyself, O Lord,” said St. Augustine, “and our hearts are restless till they rest in thee.” Kelsi was hungry for God and his Word, and when she ended up at Louisville’s Southeast Christian Church, OCC grads Justin and Ashley Weece knew just where to point her.

In 2016, Ozark started producing free online teaching videos called NextLevel resources. These Bible studies feature OCC profs like Kenny Boles on the Gospel of John, Mark Scott on Jesus’ parables, Michael DeFazio on Philippians, and Shane Wood on Revelation.

The videos took Kelsi on a deep dive into Scripture, and she got so excited, Kelsi watched all 63 videos online at the time. That’s what I call devouring God’s Word!

Kelsi Worrell is not the only one who’s hungry. We’ve now produced 25 different biblical teaching series—that’s 198 free online videos—and a growing number of church classes, small groups, student ministries, and individuals are tuning in. These videos already have almost 50,000 views in all 50 states and 33 countries.

Ozark has long served the church with strong biblical teaching. Faculty members like Seth Wilson, Don DeWelt, Julie Gariss, Mark Scott, Mark Moore, and Beth DeFazio have traveled millions of miles to teach and preach in camps, conventions, and churches around the world. They’ve written articles, books, curriculum, and commentaries read by countless people—and the NextLevel videos are simply the newest way we are “teaching the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ.”

In April 2019, God opened another door for OCC’s teaching ministry. Our NextLevel videos were picked up by RightNow Media (an online video library of discipleship resources)—expanding our potential audience to over 3 million people and 16,000 churches.
 
It’s an amazing opportunity! But we need your help.

Over the next year, we want to expand our NextLevel resources in at least two ways:

Would you give a generous gift to underwrite OCC’s NextLevel ministry of teaching God’s Word?

I just put out to pasture a 2004 Honda Accord. I put a quarter-million miles on that trusty steed, driving around the country to preach and teach, and our faculty will still wear out vehicles, traveling highways to hundreds of churches with Bible in hand.

But these NextLevel videos will take our professors and their Bibles to more and farther places than they could ever hope to drive. 

In Jeremiah 15:16, the young prophet says to the Lord, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” Kelsi Worrell knows exactly how Jeremiah felt. The scriptural insights she found in the NextLevel resources were a delicious joy. God is now opening doors for thousands—even millions—more to devour the faithful, relevant teaching our professors can provide.

Would you prayerfully consider a gift toward OCC’s NextLevel ministry—to help us feed more like Kelsi?

Thank you for your generosity, your prayers, and your partnership in the ministry of Ozark Christian College. I am grateful for you, and as Psalm 34:8 says, I pray you too will “taste and see that the Lord is good!”

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor
President

P.S. If you have an appetite for God’s Word, you can watch (and share) the fantastic NextLevel video resources at occ.edu/nextlevel. Let us know what you think!

GIVE TO OCC'S NEXTLEVEL

By: President Matt Proctor

In Ireland, the most popular greeting is, “What’s the craic?” Craic means “news, gossip, banter,” and the greeting means something like, “What’s the news? What’s happening?” So here’s the craic at Ozark: last fall we welcomed Dr. Rick Cherok as our new church history professor. That’s good news because: 

Celtic Christian Mission

My favorite: he’s got a Great Commission heart. In 2012, Rick founded Celtic Christian Mission, an outreach ministry to Ireland. Like the rest of post-Christian Europe, Ireland has discarded its Christian past. Faith among young people is at an all-time low, and as a British professor wrote, “Christianity as a default is gone. The new default setting is ‘no religion.’” 

But for several years, Rick Cherok has traveled with student groups to the Emerald Isle. This month, Dr. Cherok will lead a group of twenty college students—taking prayer walks, doing service projects, working with Irish youth, and casting a vision for Ireland’s need for kingdom workers. These students will have a “wee” bit of fun, meet some new “mates,” and when asked, “What’s the craic?” they can share the best answer: the good news of Jesus.

When you partner with OCC, you help faculty members like Rick Cherok train the next generation of Great Commission leaders. You are preparing students who will someday make disciples in America and Mexico, Uganda and Japan, Brazil and Australia, Turkey and Ireland (Matt 28:19-20). Thank you for your partnership! We are grateful for you, and as they say in Ireland, “Sìochàn leat.” (“Peace be with you.”)

Partner with OCC

By: Administrator

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Spring 2019 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Lauren Adams - Joplin, MO
Danielle Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Emma Aubuchon - O'Fallon, MO
Ryan Baker - Wichita, KS
Kacie Barron - Farmington, AR
Stormi Blevins - Sand Springs, OK
Gracelyn Bond - Hollister, MO
James Bond - Joplin, MO
Naomi Boswell - Carthage, MO
Lacey Boze - Pineville, MO
Megan Burr - Marion, IA
Jillian Canterbury - Neodesha, KS
Glori Caputo - Seneca, MO
Cody Chapman - Joplin, MO
Micah Clark - Joplin, MO
Colton Cockburn - Correctionville, IA
Andrea Collier - Joplin, MO
Ashley Cornforth - Mt. Vernon, MO
Chloe Cromley - Joplin, MO
Brennan Crossgrove - Livonia, MO
Addie Davis - Overland Park, KS
Hannah Davis - Archer City, TX
Tyler Davison - Oronogo, MO
Tucker Dobson - Colorado Springs, CO
Colt Doherty - Joplin, MO
Alissa Dutcher - Jefferson City, MO
Lauren Eaton - Richards, MO
Allyson Edwards - Florissant, MO
Keaton Eisenmenger - Greenwood, IN
Rebecca Fellows - Tracy, CA
Kayla Fletcher - Tulsa, OK
Rachel Foulke - Stillwater, OK
Emily French - Dixon, MO
Brady Gallaway - Muskogee, OK
Hope Gardner - Carl Junction, MO
Kelsey Geminden - Johnstown, CO
Lydia Giesey - Rolla, MO
Caroline Gitonyi - Joplin, MO
Star Gonzalez - Mercedes, TX
Madeline Goracke - Wichita, KS
Lauren Griggs - Sedgwick, KS
Jada Hamilton - Collinsville, OK
Tyler Hanson - Alexandria, MN
Madison Hardwick - Joplin, MO
Benjamin Harris - Lewisville, TX
Julie Hartman - Garnett, KS
Samuel Hartwell - Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Nathan Hawkins - Marion, IA
Kasey Hendrix - Phillipsburg, MO
Adrienne Herbert - Tulsa, OK
Gabriel Hoagland - Corydon, IN
Matthew Hopkins - Watertown, SD
Karin Hounshell - Joplin, MO
Jeramy Hunter - Muskogee, OK
Caleb Isaacs - Valley Center, KS
Shelby Jack - Sarcoxie, MO
Annie Jaycox - Bella Vista, AR
Michael Johnson - Chatsworth, CA
Jared Johnston - Oklahoma City, OK
Baylie Jones - Unionville, MO
Hunter Jones - Joplin, MO
Jeren Joslin - Miami, OK
Brianna Kane - Erie, KS
Chloe King - Webb City, MO
Leah Knaul - Roscoe, IL
Aidan Krehbiel - Lamar, MO
Christopher LaRue - Apple Valley, CA
David Livesay - Webb City, MO
Rebecca Maddux - Warsaw, OH
Sean Mallett - Kalamazoo, MI
Luke Martin - Fort Scott, KS
Nicholas Maxwell - Chandler, AZ
Robert Maxwell - Naples, FL
Noah Mebane - Broken Arrow, OK
Abigail Medsker - Coffeyville, KS
Jacques Meiring - Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Delaney Melaven - Webb City, MO
Nicholas Meriwether - Sellersburg, IN
Avery Michaels - Alta, IA
Brittany Miller - Celina, TX
Carissa Miller - Salina, KS
Melissa Miller - Carroll, IA
Jedidiah Moody - Mt. Vernon, MO
Suzanna Moreland - Joplin, MO
Makenzie Mullin - Goshen, KY
Michael Murphy - Florissant, MO
Abigail Owen - Joplin, MO
Ty Paige - Webb City, MO
Lucas Palmquist - Mt. Vernon, MO
Samuel Parker - Joplin, MO
Cale Patterson - Norton, KS
Jordyn Patterson - Monticello, IA
William Payne - Broken Arrow, OK
Jessica Peterson - Marshalltown, IA
Bethany Pierce - Galion, OH
Jose Ponce Valenzuela - Mazatenango, Guatemala
Gianna Presta - Elizabethtown, KY
Levi Pretzer - Elmdale, KS
Benjamin Proctor - Indianapolis, IN
Clara Proctor - Joplin, MO
Courtney Rucker - Coffeyville, KS
Michael Ryan - Monroe City, MO
Tanner Salva - Cranberry Township, PA
Solomon Sanchez - Carrollton, TX
Luke Sayre - Converse, TX
Tali Schwiethale - Joplin, MO
Devin Scott - Hammon, OK
Alec Sheets - Jennings, OK
Nicholas Shellenbarger - Duenweg, MO
David Shultz - Leoma, TN
Aaron Skiles - Carl Junction, MO
Derek Smith - Joplin, MO
Gage Smith - Tonganoxie, KS
Marissa Smith - Muskogee, OK
Tommy Smith - Stillwater, OK
Elizabeth Souder - Joplin, MO
Philip Sperling - Olathe, KS
Alivia Staggs - Webb City, MO
Alexander Steele - Iowa City, IA
Nathan Storms - Joplin, MO
Sarah Sullivan - Louisville, KY
Mary Cruz Tellez Lopez - Joplin, MO
Shaina Thompson - Iberia, MO
Samantha Tossell - Hesperia, CA
Charis Trusty - Fillmore, IN
Taylor Tucker - Webb City, MO
Jacob Umphreys - Council Bluffs, IA
Timothy Vaipan - Fresno, CA
Tyler VanWey - Marion, IA
Alexia Voyles - Newburgh, IN
Stanley Wainaina - Mombasa, Kenya
Emily Waldrop - Neosho, MO
Jonah Weece - Carrollton, TX
Sydney Weidlick - St. Louis, MO
Alec Welch - Joplin, MO
Kelsey Wheeler - Claremore, OK
Leland Whitman - Macks Creek, MO
Abigail Whorlow - New Palestine, IN
Austin Wickum - Apple Valley, CA
Patrick Wilbanks - Leander, TX
Rebecca Willoughby - Sedgwick, KS
Sarah Wilson - Eagle Grove, IA
Aislyn Wright - Joplin, MO
Cody Wright - Joplin, MO

By: President Matt Proctor

This morning, OCC sent another graduating class of Ambassadors into the harvest field, ready for the kingdom assignments God has for each of them. As they left, President Proctor prayed these words:

Dear Lord, 

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So our hearts are full as we see these who have answered the call. Thank you for raising up laborers for the harvest field.

Now we ask, Lord, that You give them everything they need for what lies ahead. When they are called to step out of their comfort zone, give them the faith of Abraham. When they face temptation, give them the integrity of Joseph. When they face hard decisions, give them the wisdom of Solomon. When their hearts are filled with fear, give them the courage of Esther.

Lord, we know they will face trials, so give them the perseverance of Job. When life gets busy and they are surrounded by distractions, sit them at your feet and give them the listening ears of Mary. Wake them up every morning with the missionary urgency of Paul, and through it all, above all, give them the heart of Christ.

And now, oh Lord, send them out. Send them out to Kansas and Kentucky, to Kenya and Cambodia. Send them out to the four corners of the earth. Send them out with a Bible in one hand and a basin and towel in the other. Send them out with your grace and with your truth. Send them out with the gospel on their lips, the church at their side, and the power of the Holy Spirit coursing through their veins.

And you go with them, Lord, because we know there are evil forces arrayed against them. March them into the very heart of Satan’s territory. Use them as the tip of your spear, to pierce the darkness until it bleeds light. May the gates of hell crumble before them.  

And through these graduates, Lord, may the gospel be preached and sin confronted and sinners loved and souls saved and marriages mended and children taught and the grieving comforted and the lonely welcomed and the hungry fed and the wounded healed and churches planted and communities transformed and the nations reached with the good news of Jesus Christ. Use them mightily for Your glory and for the world’s good, and keep them faithful until the day they hear You say, “Well done.”

We pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

By: President Matt Proctor

I was saddened this morning to learn of Wilbur Fields’ passing, and I’m confident generations of Ozark students will share memories like mine:

You were a blessing and a joy, Wilbur, and I am grateful for your example of faithfulness to Jesus, his Word, and his Church. I’m glad you now get to be with your Lord and your Louise. We appreciated you, dear brother.

By: OCC Administrator

By: Dr. Teresa Welch

Ozark Christian College has been granted Reaffirmation of Accreditation with ABHE (Association for Biblical Higher Education) Commission on Accreditation. This ten-year reaffirmation of accreditation is effective through 2029.

ABHE is a national accrediting agency consisting of approximately 200 postsecondary institutions specializing in biblical ministry formation and professional leadership education. Ozark Christian College has been accredited by ABHE since 1988.

The college was also granted continued Candidate for Accreditation status from the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency. The college will host an initial accreditation visit from an HLC visit team in March 2020.

For more information, visit occ.edu/accreditationfaqs.

By: Professor Jon Kehrer

After a commissioning by one of God’s prophets, the commander-turned-insurrectionist Jehu makes a beeline toward his former boss, King Joram. Concerned by Jehu’s erratic driving, Joram, the wicked son of Ahab and Jezebel, rides out to meet him, asking, “Is it peace, Jehu?” Jehu answers, “What peace is possible while your mother’s evil practices continue?” (2 Ki 9:22) Those are the last words Joram hears before Jehu shoots an arrow through his heart.

A messenger's words can change everything. They can bring news of life (Gen 43:27) or death (1 Sam 4:17-18). Unsurprisingly, one of the most common ways to inquire of a messenger in the Old Testament was to ask this question: “Is it peace?” (Gen 29:6, 2 Sam 18:32, 20:9, 1 Ki 4:26, 9:11, 17-18, 31)

The word for “peace” in Hebrew is šalôm (sha-LOME). It is a word that can characterize a state of well-being, wholeness, and completeness—the feeling that all is right with the world.

Speaking to a lost and hopeless people, Isaiah describes a future in which God is no longer angry with them (57:16), healing them even though they don't deserve it (57:18). This life-changing message is then declared: "Peace, peace!" (57:19) The messenger proclaims a whole, complete at-rest-ness that will characterize a sinful people now forgiven.

Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians: God has reconciled the world to himself through Christ (5:19)! Yet for us who are saved, we are given the ministry of reconciliation (5:18). The task of proclaiming God's šalôm falls on us, the ambassadors of the King (5:20).

The world around us longs to know, "Is it peace?" Our message of šalôm changes everything.

By: Jim Dalrymple

Here Are 5 Opportunities from OCC...Plus 1 More! 

Ozark Christian College is committed to equipping the church with biblical training and resources, in and out of the classroom. Here are five opportunities you won't want to miss, plus an exciting announcement!

1. April 4: Exploring the Enneagram
Join Shane J. Wood for this week's free webinar, "Exploring the Enneagram." Shane will discuss the enneagram as a tool for personal growth and effective discipleship. Not able to watch live? We'll send a recording to everyone who registers. The webinar will be held this Thursday, April 4, at 2 PM CDT. Register for free at occ.edu/webinar.

2. April 5-6: Women's Conference
Ladies, "Return to Rest" this weekend at OCC's Women's Conference, with main speaker April Kehrer and worship with Sara Wood. Take this chance to be refreshed and have fun. You still have time to register at occ.edu/wc. 

3. May 27-31: Branson Conference
Especially for adults 55+..."We Are Christ's Ambassadors!" Join us at Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Missouri. We'll hear from President Matt Proctor, Dr. Mark Scott, and Jon and April Kehrer. Receive an early bird discount when you register by April 8. Details at occ.edu/branson.

4. June 9-14: Creative Arts Academy
Know an artistic high school student? Tell them about Creative Arts Academy, held each summer on the campus of OCC. Students in grades 9-12 learn from professional artists in 12 different tracks (filmmaking, music, theater, writing, and more). Find out more at occ.edu/caa.

5. June-July: Sports Camps
OCC's summer sports camps give your future Ambassador a place to play the sport they love while they grow in their faith. Basketball, volleyball, and cross country camps are available for grades 3-12. Register at occ.edu/sportscamps.

*6. New in April: RightNow Media
Here's an exciting "bonus" announcement...beginning this month, OCC's NextLevel videos will be available on RightNow Media! This enormous library of streaming Bible study videos serves more than 16,000 churches, and we're excited to share OCC professors' teaching with an even wider audience. All our NextLevel Online videos will continue to be available on Ozark's website, too, as a free resource for you and your church. occ.edu/nextlevel

We at Ozark Christian College are so grateful for your partnership in the gospel. It's our privilege to serve you!

In Christ,

Jim Dalrymple
Executive Vice President of Advancement

By: OCC Administrator

By: Administrator

OCC is happy to announce our new residence director for Alumni Hall, Debbie Greer. Debbie (OCC '13) has served as a chaplain for Freeman Hospital since 2012, and she brings forty years of ministry experience in church, parachurch, hospital, and public settings. Debbie is the wife of Kevin Greer, OCC’s Director of Student Ministry. Their sons, Jay, Levi, and Ethan, all graduated from OCC and serve in ministry.

We are excited for all that Debbie will offer our students, especially the ladies of Alumni Hall. Debbie and Kevin will move into the Alumni Hall apartment this summer, upon completion of the dorm's million-dollar renovation project. Please pray for the Greers as they prepare to serve in this important ministry. Pray also for the continued progress of the dorm renovation (more on how you can help here). And most of all, pray for all our students, as we continue to train them for Christian service.

By: President Matt Proctor

“The saddest word in the English language,” someone said, “is almost.” How discouraging to see a marathon runner quit at mile 25, a carpenter build most of a house that’s never finished, or an author write most of a book that’s never published.

But how soul-stirring to see someone finish…and finish well! At age 110, Joshua’s last words inspire, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15). In his final prison cell, Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). In a shout of triumph from the cross, Jesus cries out, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

At the 2019 Preaching-Teaching Convention, we gave three Seth Wilson Outstanding Alumni Awards to Ozark alums who are finishing well. In their 138 combined years of faithful kingdom work:

Finishing well matters. That’s why, at the President’s Banquet at last month’s convention, we also unveiled the 2019 Alumni Project called the Finish Campaign. (Whether or not you're an OCC alumnus, I want to invite you to join in a special complementary goal. Details coming in just a moment…) This one-year, $100,000 campaign will help us finish three initiatives:

  1. $25,000 to finish renovating Alumni Hall. With last summer’s generous $1 million gift, we were able to start this much needed $1.25 million project, updating this 56-year-old women’s dorm. With money in hand, we can reopen in fall 2019 with the dorm 98% completed, but we’d love to re-open with plans 100% accomplished. Will you help us finish the renovating?
     
  2. $25,000 to finish funding the Missions Building addition. We’re excited about adding a larger lobby and an elevator to make all three floors of our main classroom building accessible to students like Desiree Ferguson in her wheelchair. We hope to break ground in May on this $400,000 project, and we’ve had $375,000 generously committed. But we don’t want to sign with a contractor until we’re at $400,000 in pledges. Will you help us finish the funding?
     
  3. $50,000 to finish recruiting financially-challenged students. Last fall, we launched a new need-based student grant. Every year, we have prospective students who want to prepare for ministry at OCC. But even after calculating federal financial aid and earnings from a student job, there’s still a gap in funding. In past years, those students often simply couldn’t enroll, but now the need-based student grant closes the gap and allows them to come. We want to fund that last step in getting them here. Will you help us finish the recruiting?

Now for a God story…

Five days before unveiling this campaign at the President’s Banquet, we had $0 pledged toward the $100,000 goal. Then came an email from an Ozark alum. He had a $16,000 gift for the college, and did we have a good place for it? Yes, we said, it would make a great lead gift for the new alumni project. A great start!

On the night of the banquet, I was enjoying the delicious roast beef when Vice President of Development Sergio Rizo found me. One of our alums, Class of 1983, had read the table card about the three initiatives in the Finish Campaign. He was so compelled that he wanted to make a challenge that very evening. He would match up to $20,000 any gifts made or pledged that night! I told Sergio, “Ok, then! I’ll rewrite my speech right now.”

I shared the challenge with those at the banquet, they made their commitments, and the banquet concluded. As we cleared the tables and reset the chairs for the evening Preaching-Teaching service, our team counted the gifts.

By the time the service began, I had the total in hand and stood on stage to announce the number: “$30,344!” With the $16,000 lead gift, $20,000 matching gift and $30,344 in banquet pledges, we were $66,344 toward our $100,000 goal, and the campaign was officially one hour old.

The crowd broke out in thunderous applause. OCC junior Nathan Storms immediately texted his mom, OCC Communications Director Amy Storms: “HOLY COW.” “Pretty cool!!!” she replied. He texted back, “Why am I crying? That’s so crazy.” Like any good mom, she answered, “Because you love God. And now I’m crying.”

It was definitely a God moment.

But we need your help to finish this God story well. I’m confident our alumni will sign on for the $34,000 to complete the Finish Campaign. As a friend of the college, I want to ask you to help meet an additional $50,000 goal for the need-based student grant.

In the alumni project, we’re raising $50,000 toward the need-based student grants, but this year alone, we disbursed $134,000 in grants to over 70 students. So the additional $50,000 goal for friends of the college will further underwrite those grants. Would you prayerfully consider making a commitment here?

These gifts help recruit worthy students—the next Freeman and Carolyn Bump or Chuck and Mary Terrill. These gifts help house those students in a warm and welcoming dorm. These gifts help every student get to class in the Missions Building and be equipped to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

That’s a task we must finish…and finish well.

Yours in Christ,
Matt Proctor

P.S. Check out these story videos on the Bumps, the Terrills, and Jill English. You’ll laugh, be inspired, and give thanks to God for these faithful kingdom finishers!

By: President Matt Proctor

Not Just a Tattoo

Carson Wentz represents.

The Pro Bowl quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Wentz has seen great success on the football field. He won two national championships in college, sports a Super Bowl ring, and when he runs onto the field, seventy thousand Philly fans roar. But tattooed on his right wrist are two letters and a number—AO1—that declare who he’s really playing for. AO1 stands for “Audience of One,” and Carson explains, “At the end of the day, we’re not playing for the fans, we’re not playing for the media. We are playing to please the Lord.” [1]

Since giving his life to Christ in college, Wentz has actively shared his faith in magazine articles, radio interviews, on his cleats, in churches and on mission trips to Haiti. (On one trip, he met Maddie Oberg, an OCC alum working in a Haitian mission, and now they serve Christ together as husband and wife.) Though some criticize his outspoken Christianity, Wentz is not deterred. “The NFL is a big stage. I have a lot of eyes on me. I want to do my best to take the eyes off me and redirect them toward Jesus.”[2]

An ambassador represents a higher authority, and Carson Wentz knows: he is an ambassador for Christ.

Not Just a Jersey

Elijah Connatser represents.

When Elijah got in trouble as a kid, his parents’ discipline was exercise: “Go run around the block.” Eventually, the tactic lost its effectiveness because Elijah took to running like a fish to water. His punishment became his passion. A standout high school cross country runner, he chose to continue his athletic career at OCC. Last fall, as a freshman, Elijah won the NCCAA Division II national championship in cross country—the first NCCAA champion in OCC history.

“[Olympic runner] Steve Prefontaine said, ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift,’” quotes Elijah. “‘That God has given’ is my own little add-on. You do your best because God gave you this talent, and when you use it, you are giving it back to him.” He says with a laugh, “Coach Butler always says, ‘If you walk in my jersey, I’ll rip it off.’ We run hard in those Ozark Christian College jerseys because we’re not just running for Ozark. We’re running for Christ.”

An ambassador represents a higher authority, and Elijah Connatser knows: he is an ambassador for Christ.

Not Just a Mascot

I represent.

Confession: when I enrolled at OCC at age 18, I didn’t like our mascot. Tigers, Hawks, Warriors—any of these teams would have been easy to cheer for, but an “ambassador” didn’t seem very fierce. Ambassadors bargain with other nations, so what was I supposed to holler at basketball games? “Go, Ambassadors! Work out a compromise!” I imagined the cheerleaders: “Two! Four! Six! Eight! What can we negotiate?” Our mascot didn’t seem inspiring.

But over the years, I’ve learned better. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We are Christ’s ambassadors.” An ambassador represents a higher authority, and we want every student-athlete at Ozark—indeed, every student—to know they who they represent. They are a walking advertisement for Jesus, a constant commercial for Christ, and their lives must always point to him. As one of our coaches likes to say, “Students today, alumni tomorrow, Ambassadors forever.”

In our most recent issue of The Ambassador, we focused on OCC’s athletic program, and I love it that our sports team bear that name. I can think of no better lifetime label for Ozark alumni, and thirty years after enrolling at OCC, I now wear that word with a sense of gratitude, responsibility and pride.

I am an Ambassador.


[1] Maaddi, Rob. Birds of Pray, Zondervan, 2018, pp. 47-51.
[2] Ibid.

By: OCC Administrator

By: Matthew McBirth

This week at OCC, we're excited to hold Black Culture Celebration Days. Under the direction of Ozark's Diversity Director Matthew McBirth, these two days will highlight and celebrate Black culture. 

Black Culture Celebration Days will include an art show, movie night, basketball and tennis games to highlight Black athletes, and a student talent show. All events will celebrate contributions, creativity, and beauty of the Black community.

Black Culture Celebration Days are held in February during Black History Month. OCC's Diversity Department holds 1- to 2-day events each month of the semester. The events are led by Matthew McBirth and students from underrepresented ethnicities at OCC.

For more on OCC's commitment to cultural and ethnic diversity for the sake of the gospel, contact Matthew McBirth or visit occ.edu/diversity.

By: OCC Administrator

By: President Matt Proctor

I’ve never been a fan of wrapped presents.

First, the paper makes an unnecessary mess. Second, I’m terrible at wrapping. If you get a present someday that looks like it was wrapped by a toddler, that’s from me. Three weeks ago, our church held a wedding shower for my daughter Lydia. Everyone watched as she and her fiancé opened gifts from a table stacked high with beautifully packaged presents. But at the end of the table sat one plain cardboard box, no wrapping paper, held together with white duct tape. I could feel the judgmental stares, and I could hear their thoughts, “He didn’t even try.”

They were right. I didn’t.

I’ll admit: there are two good moments when you’re wrapping Christmas presents. The first is when you come to the end of a roll of wrapping paper because, no matter how old you are, an empty tube is always a light saber. The second is when you’re cutting wrapping paper and your scissors start to glide. You know what I’m talking about—it’s an amazing feeling! That moment is like crack cocaine: intense satisfaction…followed by chaos and destruction. That’s how wrapping presents always ends for me.

That’s why God invented gift bags.

And maybe that’s why, in the Christmas story, I’ve always skipped over one particular word. You know the word: swaddling.

Jesus was swaddled. Until recently, I’d never stopped to meditate on that word. How many times have I read it and missed the implication? It means I was wrong: God is not into gift bags. God made sure the very first Christmas present was wrapped. 

Is that word swaddling an important detail in the story? Why does Luke take pains to mention it? To mention it twice, in fact? Does it have anything to teach us? The more I ponder it, the more I think it does.

A Swaddled Savior Is a Selfless Savior 
Mothers have swaddled their babies for centuries, wrapping them in long cloths, snug and tight, to give them a sense of security. But not all babies like it. With our six kids, my job was often swaddling them for bed, and five of them loved it—put them right to sleep.

But not Carl. Carl is my active child. He can’t sit still, always drumming on the table, always dribbling a ball in the house, jumping up to touch every doorframe he walks through. His middle initial is ADD, and he’s always on the move. As a baby, wrapped tightly in his blanket for bed, he would always fight his way loose, wrestling an arm out to find freedom. He did not like being restricted.

If any baby had an instinct to resist restriction, it would have been Jesus. After all, he was Almighty God, the second person of the Trinity. He was used to filling the cosmos with his presence. From eternity past he had been infinite, without boundary. But in the incarnation, Jesus willingly allowed himself to be restricted.

Omnipresent, but now he limited his “everywhereness” by taking on a human body, suddenly confined to one small geographical space. Omniscient, but now he limited his “allknowingness” by experiencing normal human growth, including a gradually growing intellect (Luke 2:52). Omnipotent, but now he limited his “allpowerfulness” by experiencing all of human weakness. He got tired, and he got hungry. He got runny noses and bug bites and headaches. When young Jesus got cut, he bled real blood, and it hurt.

And even at the beginning, as a baby, the one who had walked across the universe stepping from galaxy to galaxy like stones across a stream, was now swaddled—“unable to move in any direction, held fast like a prisoner in a straitjacket,” his world narrowed to a single tightly wrapped blanket.[1] Surely this moment is included in Philippians 2, “Though being in very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be held on to, but made himself nothing.” A swaddled Savior is a selfless Savior.

A Swaddled Savior Is a Loving Savior
Why would Jesus allow himself to be restricted in this way? At an OCC Christmas party, I played a game with our employees in which they had to open tightly wrapped Christmas presents while wearing oven mitts. It’s exasperating! They did so because I asked them to…and because I am their boss. But a person doesn’t ordinarily volunteer for that. I doubt you open your Christmas gifts at home that way.

So why would Jesus submit himself voluntarily to frustrating limits? Why did Jesus choose this of his own accord? The simple answer is: love.

I have an image in my mind. Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. He can run 28 miles an hour, faster than any recorded human in history. If you’ve watched the past three summer Olympics, you can picture him, 6’5” with long strides, blazing down the track.

But now imagine he has a son, three years old. They are at a birthday party together, father and son, and one of the games is a three-legged race. So Usain Bolt ties his leg to his three-year-old son’s, and the fastest man in the world is now running a race at two miles an hour—tiny little strides, all of his innate abilities severely restricted. But he is smiling and laughing. He volunteered for this limiting because he wanted to enter his son’s world, to be with him. It’s all because of love.  

Jesus entered our world, and from his very first moment, he submitted himself to the limits of swaddling cloths because he wanted to be with us. It’s all because of love. A swaddled Savior is a loving Savior.

A Swaddled Savior Is a Trusting Savior
If love is why he did it, then trust is how he did it. I’m sure baby Jesus was able to lay perfectly still, bound, immobilized because of trust in his mother Mary. But even more true: Jesus chose to step down into Mary’s womb, to be swaddled in human flesh, because he trusted his Father. He gave up control because he knew his Father was in control. His Father would work it all out for good, so Jesus could rest still and secure. A swaddled Savior is a trusting Savior.

And the Father made good on Jesus’ trust. That little swaddled baby was a sign of things to come. Jesus grew up, and on the last night of his life, the swaddling cloths gave way to cords as he was once again bound, dragged from trial to trial (John 18:12). On the cross, the cords gave way to nails, pinning him to that wood, immobilizing him on our behalf.

In the end, the nails gave way once more to cloths, swaddling his dead body tight. Jesus was once again carefully, lovingly wrapped by his mother, and his body again was laid down—not in a manger, but in a tomb. 

But the good news is: the story doesn’t end there. The story ends with an empty tomb. The story ends with a risen Lord! The story ends with grave cloths folded and left behind, never to bind the Savior again (John 21:6-7).

Ok, ok, ok, I guess I am grateful for wrapped presents after all. I’m grateful for the swaddled baby in the manger. But I’m most grateful for the gift unwrapped: the risen Savior, bound no more, free to reign in triumph forever.

From all of us at OCC, have a merry Christmas, and thank you helping us take that unwrapped gift to the world.

 

[1] “My Swaddled Savior,” Jeff Peabody, Christianity Today, November 27, 2018.

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By: OCC Administrator

The following Ozark Christian College students were named to the Dean's List for their academic achievement during the Fall 2018 semester. The Dean's List recognizes the achievement of students semester by semester and is reserved for students enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours who have earned a 3.67 GPA or higher for this academic term. Well done, Ambassadors!

Lauren Adams
Tyler Alarid
Benjamin Allen
Jessilyn Anderson
Angela Ash
Danielle Aubuchon
Emma Aubuchon
Colin Baker
Ryan Baker
Blake Barnhart
Kacie Barron
Madison Beasley
Carson Beck
Madelynn Blakley
Gracelyn Bond
Nathan Boone
Lacey Boze
Cassidy Brust
Megan Burr
Jillian Canterbury
Glori Caputo
Cody Chapman
Colton Cockburn
Ashley Cornforth
Brennan Crossgrove
Addie Davis
Hannah Davis
Tyler Davison
Ashtyn DeRoin
Devin Dixon
Tucker Dobson
Zachary Dodge
Sarah Dodson
Colt Doherty
Aislyn Dryg
Kayla Dubois
Alissa Dutcher
Lauren Eaton
Allyson Edwards
Keaton Eisenmenger
Rebecca Fellows
Kayla Fletcher
Alyssa Foster
Rachel Foulke
Emily French
Brady Gallaway
Hope Gardner
Taylor Gaudet
Jacob Gibson
Kaycie Gibson
Lydia Giesey
Star Gonzalez
Madeline Goracke
Lauren Griggs
Benjamin Harris
Samuel Hartwell
Nathan Hawkins
Christian Hay
Darin Hays
Kasey Hendrix
Gabriel Hoagland
Matthew Hopkins
Alexandrea Houk
Karin Hounshell
Caleb Isaacs
Anne Jaycox
Michael Johnson
Jared Johnston
Baylie Jones
Hunter Jones
Jeren Joslin
Brianna Kane
Chloe King
Leah Knaul
Aidan Krehbiel
Christopher LaRue
Colton Leinbach
Tiana Leiva
David Livesay
Raven Mack
Eric Maddux
Rebecca Maddux
Sean Mallett
Alyssa Marcus
Kyla Marlin
Luke Martin
Nicolas Martinez
Nicholas Maxwell
Robert Maxwell
Pius Mbaru
Ian McAdams
Noah Mebane
Jacques Meiring
Mariah Menefee
Nicholas Meriwether
Avery Michaels
Brittany Miller
Jedidiah Moody
Suzanna Moreland
Jarod Osmotherly
Abigail Owen
Ty Paige
Lucas Palmquist
Samuel Parker
Cale Patterson
Jordyn Patterson
William Payne
Jessica Peterson
Bethany Pierce
Gianna Presta
Levi Pretzer
Benjamin Proctor
Hannah Randleman
Jonathan Rathbone
Mitchell Reitz
Bryce Resor
Courtney Rucker
Garren Ryan
Michael Ryan
Shaylee Salisbury
Tanner Salva
Solomon Sanchez
Luke Sayre
Josiah Schools
Nathan Schultz
Devin Scott
Olivia Scrowther
Alec Sheets
Nicholas Shellenbarger
Oliviah Shoults
David Shultz
Aaron Skiles
Gage Smith
Jacob Smith
Marissa Smith
Tommy Smith
Elizabeth Souder
Jasmine Speer
Flint Spencer
Alivia Staggs
Alexander Steele
Nathan Storms
Sarah Sullivan
Mary Cruz Tellez Lopez
Jordan Terford
Cassidy Thomason
Andrew Trotter
Charis Trusty
Jacob Umphreys
Timothy Vaipan
Tyler VanWey
Alexia Voyles
Stanley Wainaina
Emily Waldrop
Jonah Weece
Sydney Weidlick
Alec Welch
Austin Wickum
Patrick Wilbanks
Daryn Wiley
Rebecca Willoughby
Nicholas Wilson
Sarah Wilson
Joshua Witte
Hannah Wood
Cody Wright
Keila Zamudio Nava

By: OCC Administrator

By: Jon Kehrer

Leadership is full of tough choices, but it often begins with a simple decision.

In Judges 4, when Deborah urged Barak on behalf of God to go and conquer Sisera’s army, timid Barak would only go if Deborah accompanied him. Even then, Deborah had to exhort him: “Get up, because this is the day Yahweh has given Sisera into your hand! Did not the Lord already go out before you?” (Judg 4:14). The message is clear: “get up, because God is on the move!”

God frequently admonishes his people throughout the Scriptures to “get up” using this Hebrew command, qûm (koom). He uses it to motivate Abram (Gen 13:17), Jacob (Gen 31:13, 35:1), Moses (Deut 2:13, 24), Joshua (Josh 1:2, 7:13, 8:1), Samuel (1 Sam 16:12), Elijah (1 Ki 19:5, 7), Jeremiah (Jer 13:4, 18:2), Ezekiel (Ez 3:22), and even Jonah (Jon 1:2, 3:2). God often uses the word when someone knows what he or she should do but needs some encouragement to actually do it. Yet when God says qûm, he has already laid the groundwork necessary for the task ahead. He just waits for his people to say yes.

Isaiah speaks to the battered people of God with these words: “Get up!” (51:17), “Shake yourself from the dust and get up!” (52:2), “get up, shine, for your light has come and the glory of Yahweh has shone on you” (60:1). Despite their history, God’s mission is bigger than their shame, and he waits to use their lives for his glory.

Perhaps this can encourage us as well. Today, God asks us to be the light of the world, but this leadership starts with a simple decision: will we get up?

By: Amy Storms

AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT: Michelle Zuñiga

“If my life were a book,” 2002 grad Michelle Zuñiga admits, “I think it would be titled, Tales of the Accidental Missionary. I was never supposed to be a missionary.”

But in God’s plan, there are no accidents, and for 15 years, God has used Michelle as just that—a missionary. Michelle is, quite literally, God’s hands to the Deaf community of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. 

Raised in a Christian home in Northeast Ohio, Michelle was baptized at age 11. The second of three children and close to both her parents, Michelle says her mom taught by example how to love and serve others. 

Michelle attended Ozark from 1997 to 2002, earning both a Bachelor of Christian Education with an emphasis in Deaf Ministry and a Bachelor of Biblical Literature in Psychology. 

“God used several professors to shape me during my time at OCC,” Michelle notes. “Dru Ashwell’s excitement for godly living and Scripture memorization had a great impact on me, Mary Alice Gardner is one of the most humble people I’ve ever known, and Peter Buckland’s wisdom on family and counseling was a great help.”

Michelle also credits Ozark with teaching her three main lessons: the importance of building a strong biblical foundation for ministry, the importance of memorizing and applying Scripture, and the importance of serving—of daily putting into practice Mark 10:45, “…not to be served, but to serve.” “Servant leadership means being humble enough to clean a toilet without having to announce it to others,” Michelle says. “The world says leadership equals ego and entitlement, but Ozark taught me that biblical leadership is loving God and loving people.”

During her senior year at OCC, Michelle was one of several students who traveled with Mary Alice Gardner to the Mexican border, where they helped at a Deaf orphanage and visited Deaf schools. As the trip concluded, Mary Alice instructed the group to write letters to themselves, as reminders of what they’d experienced. Michelle wrote a prayer, asking God to let her come back to visit someday.

Little did she know…her next visit would become a long-term ministry—15 years and counting.

“Why Am I Here?”

In February of 2003, Michelle again arrived at the Texas-Mexico border. Knowing little Spanish and not knowing a single English-speaking person, Michelle’s assignment was a three-month internship—three months volunteering at local schools and surveying for missionaries who were to arrive soon. A month later, though, Michelle learned that missionaries weren’t on the way. She was alone.

Michelle called her mom in tears. “Why am I here? What hope am I giving these kids? If anyone figures out that I don’t know what I’m doing, they’ll kick me out!”

But after much prayer, Michelle sensed God’s call to say.  

“I was a 24-year-old, single white girl, launching a new ministry on my own. Once I made the commitment to stay long-term, Workers for Mexico Mission provided me with an abandoned facility across town. I felt like God was directing the ministry to become a resource center for the Deaf in town—a one-stop shop for education, counseling, and other needs. I specifically asked God to not make me run an orphanage, because the thought of all that responsibility scared me.”

Today, 15 years later, Michelle serves as founder and co-director of Con Mis Manos (With My Hands) Deaf Ministry in Matamoros, the easternmost border city between Mexico and the United States. The 750,000 people in Matamoros include an estimated 1,800 Deaf children and adults. Because the government no longer provides Deaf education nor recognizes the rights of Deaf people, the Deaf community experiences high rates of abuse, human trafficking, and isolation. The state doesn’t provide protection for a Deaf person who has been the victim of a crime, and a statute lists Deaf people as “incompetent”—and therefore not recognized as citizens with full rights. Even more, the city itself is a hotbed of violence in Mexico’s drug wars—gunfire, grenade explosions, and sniper helicopters circling the neighborhoods are common.

A Four-Pronged Ministry

Yet in this darkness shines Con Mis Manos, a four-pronged ministry providing education, job training, family support, and evangelism and discipleship:

And in answer to Michelle’s prayer to not run an orphanage…today, the Con Mis Manos property also includes two homes—one for Deaf boys, and one for Deaf girls—where a loving Christian couple serves as dorm parents. 

“At some point in this journey,” Michelle laughs, “I stopped telling God what I didn’t want to do, because it soon would be exactly what I needed to do.” 

Weak that Confound the Wise

Michelle’s ministry has both challenges and rewards:

“Teaching someone about God is hard enough in another language,” she says, “but our main problem is teaching a person about God when they have no language at all. Most of our students arrive literally without knowing they have a name. This has been the case for students in their teens and twenties who come to CMM and receive their first chance at education.” 

“The best days of ministry are when we baptize someone and see the certainty of their decision,” she continues. “Most days, though, ministry is a lot of conflict resolution and crisis management…like filling the empty soap container in the bathroom, tracking down who stole the toilet paper again (because their family doesn’t have any at home), bandaging scraped knees, and teaching a child to count to ten.” 

Michelle’s husband, Chuy, whom she met through the local church, co-directs CMM with her. Michelle is still the only full-time “foreigner” on staff. She now employs eleven other people, including a teacher who was one of her first students.  

“I was never supposed to be a missionary,” Michelle repeats. “I was not supposed to be here, and the concept of Con Mis Manos should not have worked. The entire existence of the ministry is a testimony to God using the weak—me—to confound the wise—all the formally trained, experienced people.”

“Con Mis Manos is not the story of a well-planned mission that launched after a board of directors made a five-year plan. Con Mis Manos is as ‘grass roots’ as they come, developed literally by God opening a door, us walking through, and then God opening another door. I’d never say Con Mis Manos is the blueprint of the correct way to establish a mission. I can only say God is a God of mercy and patience…and a sense of humor.”

Learn more about Con Mis Manos at conmismanos.org.

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This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of The Ambassador magazine. Read the entire issue here. Read past issues at occ.edu/ambassador.

By: Amy Storms

Our hearts are saddened at the passing of our friend and beloved former academic dean and professor, Dr. Lynn Gardner. Dr. Gardner served at OCC from 1973-2006 (1981-1998 as academic dean). 

President Matt Proctor writes, "As a family man, Lynn Gardner was a steady shepherd to his wife, kids, and grandkids. As OCC's academic dean, Dr. Gardner was a steady leader, keeping us true to our mission. As a colleague, Dr. Gardner was a steady encourager to me and countless others, and as follower of Christ, he was a steady example of faithfulness even in suffering. I am deeply grateful for his life and legacy."

Former Academic Dean Dr. Mark Scott writes, "Lynn Gardner (known to many as Mr. Bibliography) was the epitome of the ideal Bible College Professor. He was a man of many virtues, uncompromising values, and deep convictions. He was tough-minded, tenderhearted, and servant directed. His work in evidential apologetics was intellectually refreshing in a world of mushy truth claims. His godly wisdom and precise thinking were sanity checks for all those who worked alongside him. He believed that OCC was not just a Bible College but a vision of teaching the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ. He loved his wife Barbara with total fidelity, and he had a humble pride in his children and grandchildren. He possessed the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) so that Christ could be formed in the rest of us (Gal. 4:19)."

Academic Dean Doug Aldridge writes, "Dr. Lynn Gardner left an indelible mark on OCC, with his steadfast leadership and keen mind. A mind that was transformed by Christ, shaped by Scripture, and informed by history. I am forever grateful for his investment in my life and the life of the college."

Last April, President Proctor wrote about Dr. Gardner—"The Marshmallow Iron"—in his weekly message to students. Read his thoughts here. While we grieve Lynn's absence here, we rejoice that he is in the presence of the Lord he loves.

By: Amy Storms

“A sound foundation of Bible knowledge,” read Ozark’s college catalog in 1947, “is the best foundation for any education, or for any career for a Christian…. Ozark Bible College was founded with the purpose in mind of training loyal preachers and teachers who will not be ashamed to preach the Word.”

Three quarters of a century later, that purpose remains. Recently, Academic Dean Doug Aldridge and President Matt Proctor sat down with professors Dr. Mark Scott, Jon Kehrer, and Michael DeFazio to discuss God’s Word as an Ozark essential. Here’s part of their conversation.

Since Ozark’s inception, one of our core values has been to teach the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ. What does that entail?
DA: Teaching the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ is not just teaching the Word, but living it. We teach logos—the content. But we also live the Word, which leads to a character-producing ethos, that results in a pathos—a passion. 

MD: It’s Colossians 1:28—“Him we proclaim.” Jesus is always the subject, and the Scriptures always drive what we say. My goal in the student is not just to impart information, but to transform. Colossians 1:28 also includes admonishing and instructing.—The negative, “Be careful about the direction you’re going,” and the positive instruction, “Come back to him.” 

MS: Hermeneutically, it means that we look at the Bible with a Christ-centered lens. In Luke 24, Christ exegetes the Old Testament and says, “This is about me.” And John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures…and it’s they that bear witness about me.” Formatively, this phrase means learning the mind of Christ, and acquiring an unselfish, others-first lifestyle. Pastorally, it means that we do Bible work in the right spirit—that we’re more of a healing balm than a hammer. We don’t take the heart out of people—“a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3) We start and end with grace. 

JK: In an opening lecture in Messianic Prophecy class, we discuss the Emmaus Road encounter. If Jesus is the master hermeneutics professor, what can we learn from him? Emmaus Road gives us a paradigm for interpreting the Old Testament. So much of Messianic prophecy is trying to read the Old Testament through the teachings of Christ.

Ozark requires over 50 hours of Bible curriculum in our 4- and 5-year degrees, with 35 of those as exegetical Bible hours. The Bible is the core of our curriculum, and our exegetical classes are the core of our Bible courses. Why so much Bible? Why not liberal arts courses or more practical ministry training?
DA: Other colleges might have liberal arts at their core, and everything else builds on that. But in our curriculum, the Bible is the core. Our professional studies build on the Bible, and our general studies help students communicate the Bible. The Bible is central, and it ties all our curriculum together. Bible education prepares students for life. We teach them to contextualize biblical principles, even in practical ministry classes. If we just teach a ministry method, it’s outdated in three years. Students need to be able to contextualize the principle. We hold to an exegetically driven approach because the Bible prepares students for everything—for ministry, for marriage, for parenthood, for life. 

MD: We have 35 hours of just walking through the text. The Bible—this book that is designed with aims that transcend the classroom—is what we organize our classroom around. Ozark is unique in this, but we’re not setting out to be unique. We’re just trying to teach the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ. We can’t eliminate the hard lessons of practical ministry that students will get out on the field, but we can create space for the Spirit to transform them through repeated meditation on the Word and wise instruction. They’re not just practicing—they’re being changed.

MS: What does a minister need more than the Bible? I can think of a lot of things he needs that we don’t have time to teach—but none at the expense of the Bible. Whatever the class, whatever the curriculum, it all comes back to Scripture. Theology and exegetical classes proved the most practical for me in ministry.

JK: If we really believe that the Word is the authority, then it will give us what we need for ministry. It’s strange, yes, that a book on your shelf can give you what you need for life, for the rest of your life. But it happens. You will never exhaust the riches of this book. It will continue to teach you and instruct you and form you and transform you and be everything you need. I praise the Lord that I had lots of Bible in Bible college, because it’s always applicable. 

Talk about the past and the future. How has Ozark’s teaching of the Word changed since our early days? As Ozark pursues regional accreditation, a master’s program, and an organizational leadership major, what’s on the horizon for biblical education?
DA: The exegetical part of our curriculum hasn’t changed. We’ve added a few more doctrine classes to tie things together, but the Bible curriculum hasn’t changed since we were students. As the church has become more specialized, our professional studies courses have become more specialized. But it’s all still building on the Bible core. 

MD: What’s in the future? More of the same. In a master’s program, we’ll get different “soil”—students who are in a different place—but we’ll be Ozark, and do what we do from our Bible core. Those exegetical Bible hours won’t change. It’s our identity.

MS: Those new programs fit the mission, so they belong here. The real danger would be if we taught them like other schools. But we’ll make sure the Bible remains strong.

JK: With our new organizational leadership degree, it’s the same core. Students won’t take less Bible. It’s just like when we train them for youth or children’s ministry—with the same Bible core. 

Share some Colossians 1:28 blessings—stories of students becoming “fully mature” as we teach the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ.
DA: Years ago, a graduating senior told me, “If you come to Ozark and fit in,” —and by that he meant, if you attend class, go to chapel, and embrace what we have here— “you cannot help but be changed.” It’s about transformation.

MD: I love when a student is at a place in their walk with the Lord, and this book intersects with what the Spirit is doing in them. As they exegete Romans, I love when something they’ve heard for years—that God loves them in spite of their imperfections—just clicks. It’s the gospel taking root. It changes me still. I’m more grateful for grace every time we finish Romans. It never stops doing what we expect it to do in them, even in me. 

MS: I remember a non-traditional student who started taking Life of Christ online. He was drawn to it, so he moved his family to Joplin to study here, and he’s now a church planter in California. It was the Bible that put him over the edge. Getting a taste of real exegetical study tripped his trigger for ministry.

JK: I enjoy watching students encounter the text—some of them for the first time. When I first required them to read the whole Bible in one semester, I did it because I thought it was good for them. I did not expect them to love it…and they loved it. I saw it change them. That’s not anything I’m doing. They’re just sitting with the Word of God and taking it in. The power of the Word of God changes them. 

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This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of The Ambassador magazine. Read the entire issue here. Read past issues at occ.edu/ambassador.

By: President Matt Proctor

You are what you eat.

Physically, it’s true. If all you eat are donuts, you’ll be as round as a donut. (I heard a college student say, “If you are what you eat, then I’m mostly cereal.”) Spiritually it’s true as well. What you feed your mind will shape who you become. That’s why the people of God have always nourished themselves on the Word of God:

An old proverb says, “Sow a thought, reap a deed. Sow a deed, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” What you feed your mind determines your destiny. You are what you eat. 

Out of the Norm, Even for a Bible College

At Ozark Christian College, our students consume lots of Scripture. It is our milk (1 Pet 2:2), bread (Deut 8:3) and meat (Heb 5:12). Our Bible college accrediting agency mandates 30 hours of required Bible classes in every bachelor’s degree. But at Ozark, we require 50 Bible hours. We are out of the norm, even among Bible colleges, in the amount of Bible on menu.  

Dr. Scot McKnight is a seminary professor, New Testament scholar, and award-winning author of over fifty books. After lecturing on our campus, he shared on his blog his observations about Ozark:

What impressed me most about OCC was this: it is firmly committed to the Bible. So much so that its undergraduates aren’t required to take Intro to Theology or Systematic Theology 101. OCC requires every student to take 15—count ’em folks—15 courses in the Bible, and these courses are books in the Bible like Romans, Luke, Acts, 1 Corinthians, and Isaiah.

What can we do to restore biblical book studies as central to the curriculum of the church and Christian colleges? Why do we not do this as much anymore? What do you think of the model of teaching Bible books and letting theology flow from the books of the Bible themselves?

I had lunch with a group of faculty and told them we’d love to have their students at Northern Seminary. Students with a full background in biblical studies…are more prepared for pastoral ministry. I’ll stop with this: We study too much outside the Bible and not enough Bible.

To be clear, OCC students take classes in three areas: general education, professional education, and biblical education. General education—English, history, math, science—prepares students to be well-rounded, college-educated people. Professional education equips them with practical, marketable skills in areas like preaching, worship ministry, or counseling. But why do we also require so much in the biblical area? Why feed students so much Scripture? I’ll list a few reasons:

To Shape Their Beliefs

A recent Washington Post article cited a poll showing that nearly half of younger evangelicals (born after 1964) favor gay marriage, compared with 26 percent of older evangelicals (born before 1964). Why don’t younger believers still hold the biblical view of marriage?

For the last few decades, Christian young people have had their beliefs shaped by entertainers, educators, politicians, corporate sponsors, journalists, Youtubers, and peers. Too often, however, they have not heard the voice of God. They may have done church, youth group, even mission trips, but—as polls like the one above show—they do not have a biblical worldview.

Regardless of the issue, we want our students’ first question to be: what does the Bible say? Their beliefs—on everything from human sexuality to church polity, earth’s origins to women’s roles—should be based not on personal feelings or cultural trends, but on the teaching of God’s Word. As founding Academic Dean Seth Wilson used to say, we want our students to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). 

That’s why so much Bible.

To Form Their Character

Even more than intellectual growth, we want students to experience spiritual growth, and God uses Scripture to mature us. As Charles Spurgeon put it, “A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone whose life isn’t.” Ozark students memorize lots of Bible, and as they consume healthy portions of Scripture, it gets into their bloodstream and metabolizes into moral muscle fiber—goodness and joy and courage and patience and wisdom. Their lives are transformed.

One semester when Katie and I were dating, we memorized Colossians together, quoting a new paragraph each week before our Friday night dates until we finally recited the entire book. (Some couples get nostalgic when they hear “their song.” We got sappy when a professor quoted Colossians—it was “our book.”)

Here’s what happened: When I was tempted to shade the truth, the Holy Spirit would flash into my mind Colossians 3:9, “Do not lie to each other.” When I was tempted to speak impatiently to Katie, Colossians 3:19 would pop up on my mental screen, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” God was sculpting me into the image of Christ, using his Word to chisel away parts of me that didn’t look like Jesus. Colossians 3:17 says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” and when it dwells in our students, their character conforms to his.

That’s why so much Bible.

To Guide Their Ministry

Our students read lots of books. (Sometimes they think the amount of reading will kill them. One said, “Have you noticed that the last letters of the word studying spell dying?”) We expose them to outstanding Christian authors—John Stott, Tim Keller, A.W. Tozer, Andy Stanley—to sharpen their thinking and their ministry skills. We want our students familiar with resources on parenting and preaching, evangelism and marriage, money and emotional maturity. 

But when students go to their bookshelf for ministry wisdom, we want them to pick up their Bible first:

There is an entire Christian bookstore between the covers of the Bible, and God gave the Scriptures “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:17) When our graduates are in ministry, we want them to get—and give—their best guidance from God’s Word.

That’s why so much Bible.

To Color Their Communication

Ozark’s preaching classes have three goals: to teach students to preach from the Bible, through the Bible, and like the Bible. Wait—preach like the Bible? Yes. We not only want students to communicate the powerful message of Scripture, but also with the powerful methods of Scripture.

I heard a well-meaning church planter describe his approach to preaching, “I want to get my truth from the Bible and my creativity from Disney.” I understood his sentiment, but I thought, “Why not get your creativity from the Bible too?” After all, God is the greatest communicator in the universe. The Bible teems with attention-gripping stories, soul-stirring poetry, conscience-convicting commands, and imagination-shaping visions. The words of Scripture are seared into the memory of the human race, and even non-Christians talk about “David and Goliath” contests, “swords being beaten into plowshares,” and hospitals named “Good Samaritan.”

Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message, says he learned the liveliness of biblical language in the small Montana town where he grew up. The people he lived among, he says, “were poor. Few had gone past eighth grade. But they were faithful Bible readers and brilliant storytellers.” Though not well-educated, they had been so shaped by Scripture that they could tell stories with the same verve Jesus did. We want our students to learn to communicate from God himself.

That’s why so much Bible.

To Strengthen Their Soul

Our students will face trials in life and ministry. Sickness, finances, cultural hostility, church conflict, and the Enemy himself will conspire to sap their strength and steal their joy. Discouragement knocks more people out of ministry than immorality does. 

What will give our students the power to endure? What will send spiritual adrenaline surging through their weary souls? God’s Word. Romans 15:4 says, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.”

As a missionary to China, J. Russell Morse was arrested in the 1940s for preaching Christ. He spent 15 months in a Chinese Communist prison. In telling the story of Morse, OCC Academic Dean Seth Wilson wrote, “He endured severe tortures and terrific strain supported chiefly by his memory of the Bible. He testifies that the promises and precepts of God’s Word came to him in memory and gave strength, wisdom, and hope which were sorely needed. Therefore he urges all his brethren to fill their minds with that living and powerful Word.”

That’s why so much Bible.

OCC students will keep taking general education classes and professional education classes, but biblical education will always be the biggest portion on their plate. A billboard sponsored by the cattlemen’s association read, “Eat beef. The West wasn’t won on salad.” The world won’t be won on salad either—students won’t be equipped for planet-changing ministry by nibbling on the Bible. They will only have God’s wisdom, God’s character, God’s power if they dig into the meat of God’s Word.

You are what you eat.

_

This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of The Ambassador magazine. Read the entire issue here. Read past issues at occ.edu/ambassador.

By: Jon Kehrer

What’s in a word? A lot, it seems. We know the power of a word because, for decades, Kenny Boles has illuminated biblical words for us. Along with you, I will miss his wit and wisdom in this column. But Kenny’s words were always based on God’s Word, and thankfully, God’s Word contains an endless supply of encouragement and challenge for the future.

So perhaps it is fitting to start my words in this column with a word about “word,” a dabar (dah-VAR) in the Old Testament and a rema (RAY-muh) in the New. The biblical prophet Isaiah knew a fair amount about words, including worthless words from people (see Isaiah 8:19, 37:6) and harsh words from God (1:10-11, 9:8-12). But in Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah speaks to those on the brink of hopelessness: “the word (dabar) of our God will stand forever.”

At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much encouragement. But God has announced comfort (40:1-2) and that he is coming to save (40:3-5). The message is clear: “God has not abandoned you, and you can trust him.” That’s a good word. So when the apostle Peter writes to a group of believers on the brink of hopelessness, suffering persecution on the outside and harsh treatment from others on the inside (have you ever been there?), he quotes this verse from Isaiah 40:8.

Then, he follows it by saying, “this word (rema) is the good news proclaimed to you” (1 Peter 1:25). At first glance, this may not seem like much encouragement. But Peter says that the good news of Jesus is proof of God’s reliability. The message is clear, for them and for us: “God has not abandoned you, and you can trust him.” For all of us, that’s a good, and powerful, word indeed.

By: President Matt Proctor

We're excited to announce that on August 1, OCC received a gift of $1 million from longtime friend of the college Rick Bronson. Rick, his wife Kat, and his son Chad (OCC ’11) believe deeply in Ozark’s mission and trust that God will use their gift to inspire others to give. “This is just our five loaves and two fishes,” said Rick. “Like that little boy with his lunch, we’re putting it in God’s hands to multiply it.” We are grateful for Rick and Kat—for their faith, their generosity, and their desire to see men and women trained for Christian service.

We're also excited to announce that this gift will allow us to renovate Alumni Hall during the 2018-2019 school year.

Work on Alumni Hall will begin in early September, and we're grateful for the flexibility from Judie and our Alumni ladies, allowing this project to proceed. “This all seems like God’s timing,” said Judie, “and I know he’s got it all covered.” Please join me in thanking God for this generous gift, for the Bronson family, and for God’s faithful provision throughout Ozark’s history. Pray also for the renovation as it begins, and as students arrive on campus in the next few weeks, let’s ask for God’s continued guidance in preparing workers for his harvest field.

Watch President Proctor talk about the Alumni Hall renovation.

Read more about the Alumni Hall renovation in the Joplin Globe.

By: President Matt Proctor

As an OCC student, I learned a proverb, “Methods are many, principles are few. Methods always change, principles never do.” For over 75 years, Ozark has stayed true to one unchanging mission—training men and women for Christian service—but our methods have often changed. One method that served us well for many years was no Monday classes. But when school starts in a few weeks, OCC will offer classes Monday through Friday. Why the change? Two reasons:

This change reflects the changing rhythm of students’ weekly ministry. Our commitment to ministry remains strong, as 98% of our students serve in some kind of ministry. But rhythms change. 

The new five-day class week loosens Wednesday’s schedule and creates more margin for students with mid-week ministries.

This change reflects the changing rhythm of students’ weekly classes. Our curriculum remains Scripture-saturated, as students still take 50+ required hours in Bible classes. But rhythms change.

A five-day class week allows students to more easily take a full load each semester, helping them graduate on time and with less debt.

Neither our Bible college accreditors nor regional accreditors have asked for this change. Rather, amid changing rhythms, it’s driven by a desire to serve our students well as they prepare for ministry. So please join me in praying for our incoming freshmen as they begin classes Monday, August 20. Since 1942, OCC has given students a Bible-based, Christ-centered, ministry-focused education, and we’ll keep doing that—five days every week. 

By: OCC Administrator

By: Samantha MacIntyre

OCC senior Samantha MacIntyre spoke to faculty and staff at a recent personnel luncheon. Read her message below. We're so proud of Samantha and the 150+ other graduating seniors who have trained well for the kingdom assignment God has for them.

I am a movie buff. In fact, my friends once gave me the superlative award, "Most Likely to Have More DVDs than a Redbox." I’m the person who leans over during a movie and whispers, “Did you know...” and offers some random fact about the scene that I learned while watching the director’s commentary or reading an article. That’s me.

And while I have a wide range of films that I enjoy watching, my favorite movie has not changed since I was three years old: The Sound of Music. Growing up, I was obsessed with this movie, and my dream was to be Maria von Trapp. In fact, a few weeks ago, when I took senior pictures with a friend, I had the idea to take a few as Maria. Here is a picture of the queen herself, Julie Andrews...and here is 21-year-old Sam MacIntyre, living out her childhood dream. 

When I saw this picture, I realized...I am Maria. I am in the same place that she was at this point in her story, and I identify so much with the lyrics she sings here.

Did you know that Maria was a real person? Movie buff that I am, I have not only visited her home in Austria, but I have also read a few of her autobiographies. When Maria entered college, she was an atheist. She spent most of her time in school trying to persuade others to abandon their faith. But just a few months before graduating, she was won over by Christ. Maria spent those last months frantically seeking out everyone she had turned away, and she tried to bring them back to Jesus.

After she graduated, Maria and her friends went on a trip to climb some of the surrounding mountains. Two days into their four-day trip, they came upon a breathtaking view. As she stood there taking it in, Maria knew that she needed to give Christ her whole life. She walked off that mountain right then, went into town, and asked to be pointed in the direction of the strictest abbey, because she knew she would need it in light of her rebellious spirit. After being at the abbey for some time, Maria was sent by the Mother Superior to tutor a local girl with six siblings and a widower for a father. That’s where we pick up in the movie.

As Maria begins to sing the song pictured here, she looks around at the place where she came to grow in love, knowledge, and likeness of Christ. And now, she was being sent out to serve. As she makes her journey to the family's house, Maria sings these words:

“What will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder. I have always longed for adventure. Now here I am facing adventure! Why am I so scared? I must stop these doubts--all these worries. I must dreams of the things I am seeking. I am seeking the courage I lack. The courage to serve them with reliance--face my mistakes without defiance. Let them bring on all their problems. I’ll do better than my best. I have confidence in me.”

I find myself in the same place. Here I am, looking around at this campus--this place where I've come for the last four years to grow in love, knowledge, and likeness of Christ. I, too, am being sent out to serve. I'm going to work with youth, so some of Maria's thoughts in these lyrics hit me hard. Three weeks from now I'll be in the car with my dad, driving off to start a residency, and I'm wondering, "What will my future be?" And like Maria, while being a little scared, I have confidence. Maria says, “I have confidence in me.” To that I say, yes and no. 

Yes, I have confidence in me. I have been trained well at Ozark Christian College. I am confident that I can put together a good scope and sequence, thanks to Dr. Teresa Welch and Peter Buckland. I'm confident that I can plan trips and retreats and lead a great youth ministry, thanks to Kevin Greer. I am confident that I can keep my head above water when students come to me in their hurt, thanks to Dr. Gary Zustiak. I'm confident that I can exegete Scripture well, thanks to Doug Welch, Chad Ragsdale, Jim Dalrymple, Gerald Griffin, and so many others. I'm confident that I can communicate the truth of that text, thanks to Beth DeFazio and Dr. Mark Scott. I'm confident that I can serve in worship ministry, thanks to Matt Stafford and Isaac Schade. You have trained me well. I am confident in my ability to perform the tasks I will face in ministry.

And, no. I don’t have confidence in me. I have been trained well here, so my confidence lies less in me, and far more in the One who is sending me. And for that, I'd like to thank all of you. Thank you for every day living out Seth Wilson's words--"Who we teach you to love is more important than what we teach you to know." Those words are more than just a saying to you. Thank you for showing me that you care far more about me knowing God than about me knowing the right answers on a test. Thank you for showing more care for me as your sister in Christ than as just another paper to grade. Thank you for leading by example in going about all things in prayer, reverence, and submission to Christ. Thank you for helping this truth sink in: that as I leave here, I don't go do all these things you've trained me to do in my own power. Thank you for teaching me that it is, in fact, not about me. It is all about Christ. 

So, now I go. Physically, I will likely look like Maria, carrying a guitar in one hand and a suitcase in the other. But really, I leave with a Bible in one hand and a basin in the other. I'm going, "not to be served but to serve." I am going to teach others to love Christ, as you have so faithfully taught me these last four years. Thank you.

By: Dr. Teresa Welch

Ozark Christian College will host a comprehensive accreditation visit by a team of evaluators from the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) April 24-26, 2018, to determine its compliance with the standards for accreditation. During the visit, representatives of the ABHE team will entertain comments from the public. Any members of the public interested in making a presentation regarding the College to the team should contact the College at 417.626.1234 ext. 2045 or [email protected] to determine a meeting time. Persons wishing to submit third party comments related to the institution may send them to Director, Commission on Accreditation, 5850 T. G. Lee Blvd., Suite 130, Orlando, FL, 32822. Persons interested in reviewing the standards for accreditation will find them on the ABHE website at abhe.org. They appear under “about accreditation.” The institution is subject to the Institutional Accreditation Standards.

By: Ozark Christian College

At times, OCC’s views on homosexuality have been questioned. In light of this, we want to clarify two important commitments. First, we are committed to treating each person with the love of Christ. We believe every person is created by God in his image and should be treated “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Even when we disagree, we want to show each person the kindness of Christ. Second, we are committed to upholding the truth of God’s Word. We respect others’ freedom to express their views, and we want to genuinely listen. As Christians, however, our highest priority is understanding and obeying the Bible. For further understanding of OCC’s views on this issue, the following questions and answers may be helpful:

  1. How does OCC respond to former students now living a gay lifestyle?
    We believe every person is created by God in his image, worthy of dignity and love. We recognize this is a difficult subject, and we are saddened to hear of pain any former students have experienced. We want to treat each student with respect and care, and we are always seeking to listen, learn, and grow. Our longtime motto and goal is still, “Teaching the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ” which is a spirit of humility, grace, and love.
     
  2. How does OCC interpret the biblical passages addressing homosexuality?
    OCC’s understanding of the Bible’s teaching is the traditional understanding of the Church: God forbids sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman, including homosexual activity.
     
  3. Does OCC admit students who are homosexual?
    As a private Christian college, OCC’s policies include a commitment to avoid any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman, including homosexual activity. While some realize we are not the right college for them, we welcome any students who are willing to follow our policies.
     
  4. Does OCC practice conversion therapy?
    We do not practice conversion therapy. When OCC students experience same-sex attraction, we recognize that they may not be able to change that attraction, but we believe they can choose to obey God’s Word.
     
  5. Is OCC exempt from Title IX?
    OCC operates under Title IX, a federal civil rights law against discrimination in education. However, Title IX includes a religious exemption, and OCC is one of many private Christian colleges that have been given that exemption (for things like admissions and employment) based on our religious beliefs. 
     
  6. What do you say to those who advocate that you should change your policy?
    OCC respects other’s freedom to express their views, and we hope others respect our freedom as a private, religious institution—with hundreds of other such institutions—to operate consistently with our religious beliefs.
     
  7. How should the church respond to the LGBT community?
    When we discuss the issue of homosexuality, we are talking about people—brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers—whom God loves deeply. Our best response to these precious people is to love them as well and to point them to Jesus who came “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Bible says we are all sinners, and we all need the grace and truth of Christ (Romans 3:23-24).
By: OCC Administrator

For decades, Kenny Boles authored “New Testament Words,” a regular column of Greek word studies, for OCC’s Compass and Ambassador magazines. Kenny's wisdom and wit made his articles a favorite feature of every issue. Today, OCC professor Jon Kehrer continues the column with both Hebrew and Greek words.

We've compiled Kenny's past contributions here and included links in the main index. Read or download "New Testament Words" by Kenny Boles here.  

By: OCC Administrator

By: President Matt Proctor

Each week, President Proctor writes a brief message for OCC students. Read this week’s message about Martin Luther’s greatest accomplishment...

Five hundred years ago, you would have been an outlaw.

You probably have a Bible in your backpack, but 500 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church forbade ordinary folk from owning a Bible. In fact, they outlawed the translation of Scripture into other languages. Only the official Latin version—which virtually no one understood—was allowed.

But 500 years ago, everything changed. On October 31, 1517, a young German monk took hammer in hand and began to build a different world. Nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door, Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation—of which we as evangelical Christians are a part—and the world was never the same. Why? Martin Luther put God’s Word in the hands of the people.

Martin Luther was “wicked smart”—a theological prodigy and university professor at age 29. But as the son of a miner, Martin never forgot his blue collar roots. Though branded an outlaw by the Catholic Church, Luther decided to translate the Greek New Testament into the rough-and-tumble German of his people.

He was rough-and-tumble himself. Martin Luther loved Jesus fiercely, but he was no stain-glassed saint. His language was blunt and—at times—too colorful. (My wife Katie keeps a “$5 Jar,” a stiff penalty for inappropriate words. If Luther visited our house, he’d run out of five dollar bills faster than you can say weinerschnitzel.) But God used Luther’s plain-spokenness. Better than any other preacher of his time, Luther spoke the language of the people.

Luther detested pulpit ministers who wanted to sound intellectual, talking above people’s heads. Someone said, “Christ called us to feed his sheep, not his giraffes,” and Martin Luther put God’s Word down on the bottom shelf where regular German farmers and milkmaids could understand it. “Preachers must speak in church like we do at home, in the unvarnished mother tongue,” he wrote. “Let lawyers and other sophisticated people employ unusual words. People would rather hear a plain preacher they can comprehend.”

Luther’s intellectual wingspan—his ability to argue eloquently with biblical scholars, yet joke earthily with common laborers—equipped him perfectly for his Bible translation project. In just eleven weeks, he rendered the New Testament in the simple, lively German heard every day on the streets. Martin Luther’s German Bible spread across Europe like wildfire and, despite the Catholic Church’s opposition, inspired Bible translations in many other languages, including English. It’s not a stretch to say: Martin Luther is the reason you have a Bible in your backpack.

And that changed the world.

Today, on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reformation, remember the power of putting God’s Word plainly for people. As a Bible college student, you might be tempted to show off your education, tossing out fancy theological terms and needlessly quoting Greek words. Don’t do it. Doug Aldridge likes to say we are preparing “blue collar scholars”—graduates who study God’s Word deeply but who speak it simply. Be like Jesus—“the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37).

Feed his sheep, not his giraffes. 

 

INTERESTED IN OCC?

By: President Matt Proctor

1. Preach on the need for full-time kingdom workers.
All Christians are ministers, no matter their vocation. There is no clergy/laity distinction in God’s church, and all believers are called to witness, lead, and serve. “You got into the ministry when you got out of the baptistery.” May we never water down the biblical teaching on the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9).

But this too: may we never water down the need for vocational Christian leaders. Preach on the need for those who will give their working lives to leading the church, reaching the lost, preaching the Word (1 Corinthians 9:14).

I have a “road sermon” I’ve preached in many churches on Matthew 9:37, 38. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Too many times, after challenging the church to raise up vocational Christian workers, people say to me, “I’ve never heard a sermon on that before.”

Remind your church that without full-time kingdom leaders, most Bible translations would never exist and most pioneering mission work would never happen. Without vocational leaders, too many churches are never planted, too many congregations never grow, too many children are never taught, marriages never mended, addictions never broken, hungry never fed, nations never reached, and souls never saved.

The harvest is still plentiful; the workers are still few. Preach the need.

2. Make this a dial on your church’s dashboard.
Every church has a set of stats they monitor—worship attendance, offerings, baptisms, small group participation, volunteer numbers—to check their congregation’s health. Add a dial to your dashboard: number of young people sent into vocational ministry.

We measure what matters, so count how many students you’ve sent to Bible college in the last three years. Then decide to raise that number. Put “kingdom recruiter” on everybody’s job description, and set a goal. As Andy Stanley says, “Clarify the win.”

For 35 years, Henrietta Mears taught the college Sunday school class at First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California. Five foot four inches tall, thickset, with “Coke-bottle” glasses and a deep love for Christ, this passionate woman made “vocational ministers raised” a measure of her ministry. She sent out more than 400 young men and women into Christian service. Among them: Young Life founder Jim Rayburn and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright. Those two leaders alone represent hundreds of thousands of lives reached for Christ!

That’s a win.

3. Plant seed thoughts in the minds of potential kingdom leaders.
They might be the brightest students in the youth group, because God’s mission in the world needs the best leaders. Or they might be the C students, because God has a habit of choosing unlikely folks to make a big difference (1 Corinthians 1:27). Wherever you find them, plant the idea that God might be calling them to ministry. Say something.

Eighty-year-old D.P. Shaffer was still preaching in Conneautville, Pennsylvania, when he heard a first grader quote a large portion of John 14 in front of the congregation. After the service, D.P. patted the boy’s head and said, “You are going to make a good preacher someday.”

That little boy’s name was Bob Russell, who never forgot those words and went on to lead Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, to great kingdom impact.

Never underestimate the power of your words.

4. Speak of the joys of ministry.
Yes, ministry is hard, people can be frustrating, and the paycheck can be small. But don’t let difficulties be the only things young people overhear about ministry.

Let them also hear of the blessings. In 25 years of ministry, I’ve helped a child find John 3:16 for the first time. I have held the hand of a precious saint as she passed out of this world and into the arms of Jesus. I have lowered an obedient body into a liquid tomb and brought him back up to new life.

I have stood to preach on an ordinary Sunday—with 10,000 angels leaning over the balconies of Heaven, holding their breath, 10,000 demons glaring up through the gates of Hell, human eternities hanging in the balance—and I have seen proud spirits broken, wounded hearts healed, spiritual adrenaline surge through weary souls, and final destinies forever changed. Glory to God! In the great drama of the ages, we get to play a part!

Let young people hear: there are greater paychecks than those you cash at the bank. Speak of the joys of serving Jesus.

5. Involve young people in ministry now.
Take prospective kingdom workers on mission trips. Let them lead worship. Take them with you on a hospital visit. Help them prepare a lesson or sermon. A taste of ministry may whet their appetite for full-time service.

At a megachurch minister’s conference, Bob Russell was assigned the topic, “If I Had My Ministry to Do Over Again.” He mentioned seven things he’d do differently. One of them: Bob would start a junior high preacher’s club to recruit future ministers. Not a bad idea.

When Christian school principal Larry Leathermon saw preaching potential in a skinny, smart-alecky seventh grader, he assigned him a topic to preach in the school chapel. That junior higher may be the only person in church history to preach his first sermon on the subject of “Jesus: A High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek”! But that eight-minute, very forgettable sermon lit in his heart a passion to preach which still burns today.

That young man was me.

6. Connect them to kingdom heroes.
Our culture holds up athletes, models, business tycoons, and entertainers as heroes. Who will the young people in your church aspire to be?

Bring in missionaries to share their stories. Invite Bible college professors to preach in worship or youth group. Introduce young people to kingdom servants—at Christ In Youth gatherings and camp and conventions—and tell your students the backstory on each one. I know a church whose main hallway is lined with 8-by-10-inch photographs of each Timothy the congregation has sent out over the last 35 years.

I’ve had my own children read biographies of great saints of the past, taken them to a local nursing home to meet one of my spiritual mentors, and included them on trips to meet ministry leaders I admire.

An ancient Greek proverb says, “A people are known by the heroes they crown.” Connect your young people to men and women who have given their working lives to kingdom work.

Teenagers worship at an Ozark Christian College weekend event planned especially for them. Ozark hosts three such events each year—two for older teens and one for younger teens. The events not only help the teens dig deeper into the Word and faith, but also introduce them to a Christian college campus.

7. Take young people to visit a Bible college.
Let them sit in classes, worship in chapel, and sleep in the dorm. Introduce them to college students who will share their stories of God’s call. Sit in a professor’s office or two, and let them paint a picture of how God uses Bible colleges to shape people for life and ministry.

Young people who had never considered ministry suddenly find themselves immersed in a culture focused on full-time kingdom leadership. A vision is caught, and these teenagers begin to ask, “Would God want to use me in this way?”

Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest, was also a Bible college professor. The purpose of a Bible college, he wrote, is “for God to help himself to lives.”

That can even happen on a campus visit.

8. Challenge parents to give their children to the Lord.
It’s often harder to convince parents to consider ministry than to convince students. Many are unsettled when their child shows interest in leadership ministry.

“Ministry is so stressful.” “The pay is so small.” “You need a degree that will help you in the real world.” “What if you (and my future grandchildren) are called to Africa?” It’s one thing to send a check to the mission field; it’s another thing to send a child.

Part of discipling the parents in your church will be challenging them to give their children fully to the Lord. Listen to their concerns. Then remind them of God’s care for their children. Give them a good ministry biography to read. Connect them to kingdom heroes, and share the joys of ministry. Connect them to other parents who have a child in ministry. Challenge them to pray, and pray with them.

Help parents set their children free to respond to God’s call in their lives.

9. Support ministry studies financially.
West Point trains leaders for our nation’s battles, and we as taxpayers underwrite a cadet’s education because a prepared military leadership matters. The church has Bible colleges and seminaries to train leaders for the spiritual battle, and it is fitting that the church underwrite that education because a prepared spiritual leadership really matters.

Financially support the schools themselves, but also consider paying for a particular student’s education.

Lexington preacher Wayne Smith once led a young man in the U.S. Army to the Lord and wrote faithfully to him during his enlistment, asking him to consider ministry when he was finished. When the soldier was discharged, he discovered Wayne had already enrolled him at Cincinnati Bible Seminary and paid for his first year’s tuition! That young man’s name was Joe Wright, who saw thousands come to Christ during his ministry at Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas.

Kingdom leaders are a good return on investment.

10. Pray.
Jesus commanded, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” Do you pray this prayer?

My testimony: I grew up knowing I was called to be a preacher. But when I was named a National Merit finalist in high school, I pulled a Jonah and ran from God’s call. I enrolled at the University of Iowa as a journalism major. (Tom Brokaw went to the University of Iowa.) I was going to make my name in the world, and that year at the university, I was a prodigal son in a far country.

The following summer, I worked at a Christian camp—dishwasher, trash collector, woodchopper—and during the evening chapel services, I would stand in the back during worship. I liked the music and thought the band was cool, but when the preacher stood to preach, I would leave. I didn’t want to hear it.

During the ninth grade camp, the week’s preacher was an unassuming little guy named Bob Martin. Bob was not what you’d call a dynamic youth speaker, but when he began to preach, I couldn’t leave. His words reached out and grabbed me, and the Holy Spirit began a weeklong blitz on my heart.

At Thursday night’s invitation, after Bob’s message, a crowd of crying ninth grade girls walked down the aisle to rededicate their lives to Jesus (for the 17th time), and so did one college freshman guy. In front of that camp, I repented. It was time to get right with God and follow his call. I was heading to Bible college to be a preacher.

What I did not know at the time: Bob Martin knew my story. (My hometown preacher was his brother-in-law.) He knew I was a Jonah.

What else I did not know at the time: Bob had fasted that entire week and prayed for me every single day by name.

The only reason I’m writing this article is because Bob Martin prayed me back into the kingdom...and right into ministry.

Who is waiting for you to pray them into ministry?

_
This article was first published in the Christian Standard (August 2016).

By: OCC Administrator

By: Peyton Butler, OCC senior

This is the moment I've anticipated since that night seven years ago, when I accepted the call into ministry: it's the beginning of my final year as a student at OCC. In this place, I've been trained and equipped to live on mission for and with the Lord. In this place, I've come to know who I am because I know who he is. In this place, I've been challenged--in every sense of the word--to grow: in wisdom, in character, and in conduct (but unfortunately not in stature, for this 5'3" grad-to-be). When I consider the impact this place has had on my life, I'm overwhelmed. The books read, the words typed, the hours spent, the tears shed, the laughs shared, the fun had, the love found. 

This place has given me the closest of friends--friends who know me and love me and challenge me to grow. They sit with me, cry with me, and pray over me when life's burdens are too much. They sing with me, dance with me, and laugh with me when life's joys overflow. My first semester at Ozark, I sat by a blue-eyed, light-haired girl in orientation. We both had upperclassmen for roommates, and by the end of the year we'd become best friends (and roommates ourselves). We've spent hours dancing in our room, jamming in the car, eating french fries, and staying up too late laughing. Now, we walk into our senior year together, and I can't believe how much I've learned about love from just one of many friendships made here.

This place has given me the opportunity to be mentored and trained by phenomenal ministry leaders. My freshman year, I sat in awe of the wisdom and grace I found in Dr. Teresa Welch. Now, we sit down over dinner to talk about life. This place has not only given me an extremely valuable academic experience, but an extended family as well.

As a 14-year-old girl, I dreamed about attending a "Jesus school," to learn from and serve with Jesus people. In all my dreaming, I never anticipated the rich blessing this place has been. God has grown me beyond what I could've imagined. "Thankful" and "blessed" don't go far enough to describe my gratitude for this place, this town, these people.

This place has taught me what it means to love God and love people and abide in him every single moment. This place is sacred to me--and to many others--because this is not just a school. This is home. This is OCC.

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