“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:
- Freeman and Carolyn Bump have helped plant more than 25 churches in Mexico.
- Dr. Chuck and Mary Terrill have led three small town churches into flourishing ministries.
- Jill English has kept most of OCC running and encouraged thousands of Ozark alumni.
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:
- $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?
- $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?
- $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,
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!