I have devoted at least one column every two years to encouraging parents and grandparents to promote Christian education for their children and grandchildren.
Sixty years ago this August, I moved to Bartlesville, Okla., to re-enter college after dropping out of my hometown university when I found myself unchallenged in all the courses except Spanish, which was to be my major. I dreamed of learning Spanish and going to Mexico to work as a missionary, but I soon realized I could not hear or make some of the sounds. My entrance to Central Christian College was a life-changing event. I met a professor who would be my lifelong friend and mentor, Stafford North. I was also inspired to be a serious Bible student by Roy Lanier Sr. and Hugo McCord. James O. Baird, the dean, became the source of inspiration for many of my life goals. I made friends who have gone around the world for the sake of Christ. Because the college was new and had no reputation, the entire faculty worked extremely hard to make courses strong and challenging.
Four years later, Joyce and I returned to Central Christian where I would have my first experience as an English teacher. Even though I was a novice, I think I made a difference in the lives of many students who are still good friends as they continue their journeys of faith. After two years I returned to graduate school as the college moved to Oklahoma City and became Oklahoma Christian College and then University. I completed a doctorate and taught at two other major universities where I realized the unique place of Christian education. I returned to OC in 1966 where I have had a wonderful career as professor and chief academic officer. I had a chance to know the people at other Christian universities and their dedication to lives of faith and service for themselves and their students. The Christian education communities are all different but united in this effort.
I believe Christian institutions offer quality education that is superior to the education of typical secular institutions. That superiority grows from a desire of the Christian faculty members to offer interesting and challenging classes. We try harder because we want our graduates to excel when they go on to graduate schools or into professions. Most faculty members think of themselves as mentors of the whole student — intellectual, spiritual and social. They give of their time in and out of class so that they can have meaningful relations with students. Christian universities usually have smaller classes, especially for upper division students, and that arrangement allows faculty to know students better.
At a time when Bible knowledge seems to be decreasing with each generation, Christian universities offer students the opportunity to learn with outstanding scholars of the Word and to learn not only how to study the Bible but also what the Bible teaches. They understand that no question is off limits, and so with dedicated teachers they search for fuller understanding of eternal truths. Since the religious world seems extremely confused about what is most important, the great Bible teachers of Christian universities are keys to the next generation’s intellectual and spiritual growth.
The environment of student life at Christian universities offers great opportunities to serve, to develop leadership skills, to begin lives of scholarship and to make friends. No one at Christian universities is perfect, but most come seeking to find a place where spirituality is valued and where doing the right thing is the commonly accepted standard. Students lead mission organizations, group Bible studies, tutorial sessions for other students, student government, club organizations, professional organizations and humanitarian efforts. The environment of Christian universities is right for helping students mature in many ways. Perhaps the greatest value is making friends with good men and women who will be lifetime friends and encouragers.
Christian universities can help families prepare their children for dedicated service to God and mankind. CONTACT [email protected]