“What do you need?” and “How can we help?” You might find these questions asked of you or me when we take our vehicle to the garage for service. However, I think these are important questions to ask when we think about Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU).
Recently, I was working with industry leaders in banking and engineering as they wanted help with their companies. I simply asked, “What do you need in your workplace? How can OBU help you?” You cannot believe the ways in which the conversations opened up at that point! These leaders and their companies are now looking to OBU to be a resource for ingenuity, workforce and support. As I reflect upon that experience, it reminds me why OBU exists in the first place.
Our Baptist forbearers founded OBU 112 years ago to meet needs and offer help. They believed that the great need of the new state of Oklahoma was a distinctively Christian university education—training that equipped its students to live out their Christian faith in every sphere of society: law, healthcare, education, technology, government, the arts, church, community life and science. They audaciously asserted that followers of Jesus, equipped at OBU to add value in every sphere of life, would provide a public good in the public square. They believed that followers of Jesus, equipped through OBU, would make Oklahoma better. I believe that today, as well.
OBU’s purpose is crystal clear—to equip the next generations of future shapers to live all of life, all for Jesus. And God is blessing that purpose today just as He has done over the past century. Just last weekend, we hailed the class of 2022 during our Spring Commencement on May 21. These world-changers are going into a confused and confusing world. Instead of adding to the confusion, we send out our graduates to live all of life, all for Jesus.
Our world needs the hope and peace that only Jesus provides. Recognizing this need, OBU is stepping in to help through global and local engagement with the light of Christ. OBU Global Outreach teams will journey to England, Greece, North Africa, Israel, Zambia and the Middle East, among other places. Students and employees will travel to Ecuador on a Study Abroad GO trip. Another group will engage Israel. Global marketplace engagement majors currently are preparing for study in the Middle East, in Central America and in Oklahoma. Other students will serve in New York, Africa, Germany and the Middle East. This is not to mention all the other students serving in camps, ministries, internships and outreaches throughout the nation this summer, including Falls Creek and more.
In light of the 4.7 billion people who have never heard the Good News of Jesus, OBU is providing help through the Tom Elliff Center for Missions at OBU. The Elliff Center introduces OBU students to key mission leaders, provides a means for churches to support their students as they study, provides scholarship dollars to students, and partners with OBU’s Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach to provide hands-on experience on the mission field. This incredible process will make OBU the strategic training ground to tactically engage lostness around the globe with Gospel advance. Students learn from leaders who share the passion to reach the lost: Tom Elliff, former president of the International Mission Board (IMB), Elbert Smith, who personally trained thousands of IMB missionaries during his career, and Mike Hand, former IMB church missional strategist. OBU is poised to impact global lostness for generations to come.
Our state has a need to see lives changed behind prison walls. OBU will help through the Prison Divinity Program at Lexington Assessment and Reception Center (LARC). Thirty-five students study at LARC and work towards becoming chaplain assistants by earning a Bachelor of Arts in Christian studies through OBU. Taught by OBU professors, the students at Lexington receive the same instruction students receive on Bison Hill. Under the leadership of Bruce Perkins, this program is equipping these students to leverage their lives for Christ in the prisons. We are grateful this ministry was made possible through partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Oklahoma Baptists, and Oklahoma Baptist University. We are eternally grateful to the generosity of donors who made this program possible.
To help meet needs, OBU continues to plan and work strategically. Currently we are executing on a 36-month Multiply Strategy, an initiative we launched in 2021. This Multiply Strategy is rooted in John 6:1-13, and we are asking the Lord to multiply into OBU excellence, influence, service and value. This is a three-year plan in which the entire campus joins together to complete 10 key strategic projects that touch all areas of OBU and seek to reach students and families, realize OBU’s financial potential, and refocus the OBU as we move into the future. Our Multiply Strategy helps us meet our state’s needs and provide relevant assistance in terms of workforce, industry leadership, and innovation. I am grateful for the hard work of our staff and faculty as we advance together.
“What do you need?” “How can we help?” Two questions that drive us to prayer and greater dependence upon the Lord. Whether in engineering, education, sciences, research or ministry, please join OBU as we ask the Lord to open doors and allow for new opportunities for OBU, so that the name of Jesus might be lifted higher and higher in all of life. Please pray for favor as we make decisions and as we continue the good work that began here more than 112 years ago, to foster a distinctively Christian liberal arts University for the kingdom of God and the good of the world.
Photo by Clinton Sinclair