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Bring the Truck to the Hay


“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…

  • Matthew Pannell in North Carolina, a microbiologist and dad to 8-year-old triplet boys! He loves teaching at his church, so his minister challenged him to study Scripture deeper.
  • Debbie Mitchell in New Mexico, just retired from a CPA firm. She wants to grow her Christian leadership as she heads her church’s missions team.
  • Brandon Michel, a 26-year-old police officer near St. Louis. With the encouragement of one of his home church preachers, he wants to enter full-time ministry.
  • Becky Brass, wife, mom, and staff member at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. She has always wanted a formal biblical education to undergird her ministry.

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

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 Learn more about Ozark’s graduate program at