Thursday, May 29, 2008

Back at O. C.

I'm spending the next couple of days on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University. I am attending the Quest workshop the university is hosting and presenting the advertising display for Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. This is a homecoming of sorts for me. I began my college career at Oklahoma Christian, 20 years ago this Fall. This is only the second or third time I have been on the O. C. campus since I was a student here and the first time I have stayed in campus housing since leaving those many years ago.

I lasted only a semester here as a student. There are several reasons for my shortened stay. I enrolled here on a whim. I wanted out of Lubbock, but had some misgivings about my first choice: York College. That was when York was experiencing some real challenges, and there was even some talk about the school going under and not surviving. So, I came to O.C.C. (it had yet to become a university). When I arrived on campus, I only knew one person really well, a girl that had come from Lubbock and with whom I had attended our senior year of high school. I knew three or four others through Camp Blue Haven and Black Mesa Bible Camp, but none of them well. I am shy, naturally, and, so, needless to say, I got homesick and missed my family and friends in Lubbock. Also, I was disappointed that I was not allowed to take Greek as a freshmen (it was a department policy, then, that you had to be a sophomore). Lubbock Christian University did not have that policy. Also, the Bible Department at O.C. did not have a structured Youth Ministry degree when I came here as a student, and a career in youth ministry was my ambition; I would had to have attended summer school to take any courses in youth and family work. But, summers were for summer camps (and other productive ventures), not school! So, at semester break, I packed up my things and transferred home to Lubbock Christian College (it would become a university the next September).

With that story shared, let me say that in many ways I enjoyed my time at Oklahoma Christian. It was a fine school, then, and it is a very god school, today. Of the three Church of Christ colleges and universities I have attended (Harding University Graduate School of Religion is the third), O.C. is perhaps the most "family oriented"; in other words, there is a certain intimacy the students and faculty/staff that I have not found in other places. I think that, in part comes from the small town Oklahoma mentality that I have come to value very greatly. Oklahoma City is a large city and metropolitan area, but it has not lost its small town charm, and the same is true with Oklahoma Christian. I have rediscovered that charm since being on campus today. And, it was at O.C. and the Memorial Road Church of Christ college ministry that I picked up on some important resources and programming ideas that I employed in later years when I served as a campus minister in Lubbock. So, I consider my time here very formative and profitable.

I have always thought that the O.C. campus was beautiful, and that impression was confirmed today. There has been a lot of new construction since my days here as a freshmen, but the recent building activity has enhanced the looks of the campus without diminishing its beauty. You can't beat central Oklahoma in the Spring! Expect, of course the heat and humidity, which after living in the Rocky Mountains for the past several years is getting to me!

I have literally spent my life in a "Christian college atmosphere." The first 25, or so, years of my life were spent living within a block of the Lubbock Christian University campus, and much of my waking moments were spent on that campus, first as a child who saw the campus as my personal playground (and I have the stories of mischief I got into to prove it!), and as a student who spent nearly 30 years of schooling on that campus. Yes, that's right, 30 years! I began Kindergarten in a classroom on the second floor of the L.C.C. Administration Building; attended 2nd thru 4th grades in classrooms in the Green Lawn Church of Christ building (on the campus of L.C.U.); the 5th thru 12th grades on the campus of Lubbock Christian Schools, which at the time was a component part of L.C.U.; then 6 years of undergraduate study (I was a slow learner!); and, finally, 13 years, off and on, of graduate study (again, I' a slow learner, or at least, at that time, a student encumbered with a full-time job in ministry and a growing family). With the exception of the semester I spent at O.C., another two semesters spent at Harding Grad. in Memphis, Tennessee, and my 1st grade year spent in a public school in New Orleans, Louisiana, my educational home has been L.C.U. And, now, of course, my parents still work and live at L.C.U. (they are dorm parents among other responsibilities), so, the "Christian school atmosphere" still remains a large part of my life (in fact, I've spent many more nights in a L.C.U. dormitory as an adult than I ever did as a student!). And, last but certainly not least, my grandfather, George Saunders, spent 40 years as a Trustee of Lubbock Christian University, with is father, Guy Saunders, my great-grandfather, serving as a Trustee before him.

You could say, then, that I am a big believer in our Christian schools, our universities, colleges, and secondary, elementary, and pre-schools. They have blessed so many over the years and continue to do so today. They are not perfect, no human institution is, but they are effective tools in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.

I cannot wait for my three beautiful daughters to arrive at that moment in their lives where they will choose where to attend college. I will be rooting for L.C.U., or O.C., or A.C.U., or York, or Pepperdine, or Harding, or any one of our other fine schools. Just don't tell me what the tuition will be, by then!!!