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An Elevator Can Have Transformative Powers

Elevator News Story Photo

An Elevator Can Have Transformative Powers

In a sermon years ago, Kentucky preacher Wayne Smith told about an old hillbilly who took his wife and son to the big city for the first time—so many new things! The hillbilly parked in front of a hotel and took his son into the lobby, where they saw two metal doors opening and closing. Bells rang, and lights flashed. The son asked, “Pa, what’s that?” The father had never seen an elevator before. “I have no idea, Junior.”

They watched as a little 95-year-old lady hobbled up, pushed a button, and when the metal doors opened, she stepped inside. The doors closed, bells rang, lights flashed, and when the doors opened, out stepped a beautiful 25-year-old woman. The old hillbilly turned and said, “Junior…go get your mother.” The church roared, and Wayne laughed loudest.

An elevator can have transformative powers, and I’m going to ask you to help our elevator regain those powers... 

I’ve never seen an elevator restore youth. (I wish. At 54, I can’t stand up without sound effects.) But I have seen an elevator transform three types of people at Ozark.

An elevator can transform discouraged students. In the OCC cafeteria, the downstairs line serves good homestyle food like lasagna or pork chops, alongside veggies, salad, and fruit. But upstairs, the OCC Grill serves comfort food—hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, fries, food that feels like a hug—which might just get someone through finals week.

It did for Katie. When my wife was a little girl, she was a picky eater. (Her mom finally bought 9-year-old Katie a little red skillet to make her own beloved grilled cheese sandwiches.) As an OCC student, Katie sometimes wasn’t feeling the downstairs cafeteria menu, so she went up to the OCC Grill. The patty melts upstairs didn’t just warm her stomach; they warmed her soul.

Katie’s not the only student who ever needed comfort food. When Israel was overwhelmed learning God’s Word, Ezra commanded, “Go, eat the fat, and do not be sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10) I’ve seen students weary from study—and from jobs, ministries, tight finances, family challenges—trudge upstairs in the caf, sit down with a hamburger and fries, eat and laugh with friends, and walk downstairs 30 minutes later with a spring in their step, ready to keep going.

Transformed. But where does the elevator come in? I’ll get there…

An elevator can transform nervous prospective students (and parents). Every Tuesday, prospective students visit campus. With their parents, they sit in a class, worship in chapel, take a tour, grab lunch upstairs in the cafeteria banquet rooms, and consider whether Ozark and ministry are for them. These high schoolers eat with current OCC students and profs, and the table conversation plays a big role in recruiting.

It did for Israel Tuttle and his parents. On their Tuesday Tour, the Tuttle family traveled further than most—all the way from Ireland! (Israel’s parents serve as missionaries there.) Imagine: you’re thinking about sending your child 4,000 miles away. You’ve never visited the campus. You’ve never met the people. I’m guessing you’d feel a bit concerned. You want to know: will this college take care of my son?

In April 2022, the Tuttles took Israel on Ozark’s Tuesday Tour—class, chapel, and lunch in the banquet rooms. Later that day, Israel’s mom posted on Facebook, “Israel has OFFICIALLY decided Ozark Christian College is where he will be attending! We are on our way home now and color me impressed! They went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I’m happy this will be his new home once he graduates and we are an ocean away!”

Transformed. Still wondering where the elevator comes in? Keep reading…

An elevator can transform tired faculty and staff. Every Friday, in the banquet rooms, 100 or so OCC employees eat lunch together. Our weekly schedules are packed. Classes, student needs, parent/alumni/church conversations, government compliance, 200 events each semester, thousands of visitors each year—Ozark life happens at a fast pace, and by week’s end, our folks are tuckered out. How do we keep a healthy culture? Friday lunches.

Every Friday I walk into that upstairs lunchroom. On the walls hang our seven core values. Around the tables, I see coworkers enjoying a hearty meal. Spouses and kids join us—we love buying more high chairs!—and I see a friend holding a coworker’s newborn, smiling from ear to ear. Out-of-town alumni drop in to eat, catching us up on life and ministry. A joyful conversational buzz fills the air and fills my heart. We like each other.

After 30 minutes of a shared meal, we share 30 minutes of program. Announcements are made, encouraging notes are read, funny stories are told. Sometimes we play a game. Every week we pray and hear God’s Word, and every week a coworker shares a devotion:

· OCC admin assistant Melissa tells how God is guiding their family as they plant a church.

· OCC cook Misty tells how God sustained their family through 7-year-old Beckham’s leukemia.

· OCC prof Fred tells how God used a mentor to teach him to pray.

Sometimes laughter erupts. Sometimes tears are shed. Always spirits are encouraged because we “ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2:46) Always souls are strengthened, ready for another week of training kingdom leaders.

Transformed. All because of an elevator?

Yes. What do those discouraged students, those nervous high schoolers (and parents), and those tired employees have in common? They were all eating upstairs in our cafeteria. And the way we get the big, heavy containers of food up there is…our cafeteria service elevator. The elevator makes the meals happen.

An elevator really can have transformative powers. But I need your help. Our elevator lost those powers…

Here’s the problem: the motor on our cafeteria service elevator went kaput. It’s dead, which makes providing those upstairs meals very difficult. The cost for a new elevator motor is $45,000. Would you consider a gift to purchase a new elevator motor?*

Our cafeteria elevator won’t turn a 95-year-old into a 25-year-old, but the upstairs meals it provides really do transform. When a tired cowboy sees the chuck wagon coming, he yeehaws! When weary soldier Jonathan got a bite to eat, he was “refreshed. His eyes lit up with renewed vigor.” (1 Sam 14:27) And when our food-totin’ elevator regains power, it can take a student from struggling to strong, a high schooler (and parents) from uncertain to unwavering, an employee from wrung-out to refreshed.

So thank you for considering a gift to purchase a new motor for our cafeteria elevator. With your partnership, meals will be delivered, hearts will be gladdened, and leaders will be trained. Even better? In those leaders’ ministries, gospel transformations will happen: the lost saved, the hungry fed, the grieving comforted, the lonely welcomed, and the wounded healed.

And a watching world will want to experience that transformation too. “Junior…go get your mother.”

Yours in Christ,

Matt Proctor

P.S. If you know a high schooler who should consider Ozark or ministry, I would love to eat chicken tenders and brownies with them in our upstairs cafeteria on a Tuesday Tour. Sign them up at and come along!

*NOTE: Any gifts above the needed amount will be used for similar campus projects.

Make a one-time or recurring gift securely online today, or explore other giving options.