Bison clinch playoffs with three game sweep

By Jared L’Attore, Contributing Writer (Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics)

The Bison are playoff bound after concluding their regular season against Southern Nazarene in a three-game series which included Senior Day on Saturday.

The Bison clinched a spot to compete in the Great American Conference (GAC) tournament.

The winner of the tournament will go on to compete in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Senior Zane Gelphman believes that his team has a good shot in the tournament if they do their job on defense.

“In order to go far into the tournament and win, we need to be clean on defense and not allow any free bases. If we take care of the baseball, our hitting and pitching will do their part,” Gelphman said.

OBU has done a splendid job hitting the baseball in the past week. They ended their regular season against Southern Nazarene with a sweep.

Last Friday, Southern Nazarene came into town to take on OBU. The Bison came out roaring through 14 consecutive runs to start the game.

In the first inning of play, junior Jake Gozzo connected on an RBI single. Junior PJ Harris also singled and brought in a run. Senior Matt Poulin connected on a double that brought in two. This was only the beginning of the party for the Bison.

In the third inning, Gelphman hit a line drive down the left field line that went for an inside the park home run. The score was five to nothing through three innings. Senior Josh Timms connected on a double for one run to score. In the fifth inning, the Bison erupted. Poulin hit a single to score in a run.

The Bison also took advantage of errors and scored. They scored on an error, a walk, and a fielder’s choice. Gelphman hit for a double that scored in two, and junior Kaden Betsch also connected on a double that brought in another run.

It was 14-0 after five innings. Southern Nazarene scored three consecutive runs in the sixth inning. In the bottom half of the sixth, Timms, Gozzo, and Gelphman all connected on RBI hits, with Gelphman hitting another double.

Poulin continued his party on a triple with two runs. Junior Brett Bloomfield joined the party on an RBI single. Poulin and Gelphman were on a clinic, going four of five. The Bison won, 20-6. Redshirt Freshman pitcher Caleb Bly earned his sixth win of the season.

In the first game of doubleheader on Senior Day, the Bison trailed one to nothing until junior Brock Carter hit an RBI bunt. Before the bottom 6th, OBU found themselves down 2-1. Poulin scored on a sacrifice fly out from senior Brett Burghammer.

In the seventh inning, Gozzo and Poulin connected on homers. The score was 5-2 at the end of the seventh. In the eighth inning with the Bison leading by two runs, Timms contributed on an RBI after a sacrifice fly out. It was the second run scored from a sacrifice fly out in the game.

Senior Juan Gonzalez hit a home run on his lone hit of the game. The Bison won the first game 7-3.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bison erupted in the scoring column after being down 1-0.

In the bottom first, the Bison found themselves down 1-0 until Gelphman connected on a double for two runs to score. In the third inning, again it was Gelphman this time with an RBI single.

In the fourth inning, the Bison kept pounding with more hits. Bloomfield and junior Garrett McKee contributed to RBI hits. The Bison were up 5-1 at the end of the fourth inning.

Southern Nazarene answered on three consecutive runs. In the bottom of the sixth, the game was tied. Timms hit a clutch two-run homer to give the Bison a two-point lead to eventually win the game 7-5.

The Bison have won four straight games and will be heading to Enid for the GAC championship taking place next Saturday and Sunday.

Lady Bison swept by Ouchita, miss out on playoffs

By Michael Stewart, Assistant Sports Editor  (Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics)

The Oklahoma Baptist women’s softball team wrapped up the 2018 season by traveling to Arkadelphia, Ark. to face off against Great American Conference foe Ouachita Baptist University the last weekend of April. The Lady Bison entered the weekend with the hope of earning a playoff berth; they needed to win three out of the four games.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” senior shortstop Katie Reyes said. “The team really wanted to leave everything that we had out on the field.”

Unfortunately, the Lady Bison struggled offensively and were defeated in all four of the contests. In the first two games on Friday, the Lady Bison played solid defensively, holding their opponent to one run, but couldn’t get on the scoresheet.

“We came out focused and locked in on every play,” sophomore second baseman Shelby Savage said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t drive in runners.”

In the first contest, the Bison had five hits to Ouachita’s six; however, they were all singles by five different players, and no one was driven in for any runs. Ouachita didn’t get on the board until there were two outs in the sixth inning.

“Katie [Long] pitched a great game,” Savage said. “She was doing everything she needed to do. It was an unlucky loss.”

In the second game of the back-to-back, it was a similar storyline. The Lady Bison posted solid defense through five innings to stay in the game, but had a minor hiccup in the sixth inning that would cost them the game.

OBU struggled again to get any offense going, getting four hits to Ouachita’s five. Junior Bry Flanagan was responsible for two of the four, but no runs could be brought in. The final for both games one and two was 1-0 in Ouachita Baptist’s favor.

“I’m really proud of how the team dug in and gave ourselves a chance to win both games,” Savage said. “The team definitely has a lot to be proud of.”

After losing back-to-back games on Friday, OBU were officially out of playoff contention heading into Saturday.

“As a senior, I knew [they were] going to be my last games as a Bison,” Reyes said. “I approached the last games with all I had left.”

In game three, Ouachita came out red-hot, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning, but OBU was able to respond with a run of their own in the top of the second inning after Flanagan smashed a solo homerun to left field.

Ouachita turned around and answered with another run in the bottom of the second to extend their lead to 4-1.

Later, in the top of the fourth inning, OBU scored another run after junior Aspen Grimes drove in sophomore Cheyenne Demaree with a single to left center-field.

This brought the score to 4-2. Once again, Ouachita came right back at OBU with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning to stretch out their lead, 6-2. The Lady Bison would be unable to overcome the deficit.

“Ouachita is a very dangerous team if you let them get things going,” Savage said. “They didn’t leave anyone on base. They did a good job of driving people in.”

In the final game of the series, OBU were the first on the scoreboard. Savage was driven in off a single from Flanagan, giving OBU a 1-0 lead at the end of the first inning.

Ouachita responded with five runs of their own in the bottom of the second inning to overcome OBU’s one run and get out to a 5-1 lead.

Looking to spark a comeback, Savage came out with a solo homerun in the top of the third, bringing OBU within three runs of the opponent.

Ultimately, Ouachita tightened things up from then on defensively and held OBU scoreless through the last four innings.

They were also able to add another run in the sixth, sealing a 6-2 win. This brought the Lady Bison’s season to an end.

“It was a tough way to see our season end,” Savage said. “But, it doesn’t take away from all the things we accomplished this season.”

For the seniors, it was the last game in a Lady Bison uniform.

“I tried my best to leave a positive legacy on this team all year long,” Reyes said. “I tried to focus more on being a better team player, who was there for her teammates and helped others whenever they needed someone. I hope my legacy lives on.”

With this season in the books, all eyes are on the future of Lady Bison softball.

“I know this team has so much potential for the future,” Reyes said. “We have so many talented individuals and are lethal when we put everything together.”

The Lady Bison ended the season with an overall record of 16-31 and a GAC record of 13-26.

 

Bison football grows through spring

Albert Monge, Contributing Writer  (Courtesy photo/Bison Athletics)
The Oklahoma Baptist University football team is one of several athletic programs on campus that is relatively new. The Bison are completing just their sixth season since the program’s restart in 2012. In that time they have moved up from NAIA to full members of NCAA Division II.
In the last three seasons as Division II participants, the Bison football team has been home to a great deal of adversity, with quite a few coaching changes as part of that process. But, the team looks to this spring as an opportunity to make the necessary progress for being a big-time competitor for the 2018-2019 season in the Great American Conference (GAC).
Grant Gower will enter his third season calling the plays this year, as the program’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Gower, who is the all-time leader in wins in Deer Creek High School football history, came to the Bison in the spring of 2016 to take the driver’s seat on the offensive side of the ball.
Last year, the Bison saw quite a few opportunities in games where the score was relatively close at halftime, but then faltered somewhat after the intermission.
Gower stressed the need for consistency as the key to closing out games.
“One of the things we always look to do is maintain consistency,” Gower said. “That is, from season to season, from game to game, from half to half, from quarter to quarter and from series to series. That is what it really came down to.”
One cause of the lack of consistency in games stemmed from quarterback play, as a result the Bison offense saw the transition of starting quarterbacks last year, going from senior Dezmond Stegall, three-year starter from Searcy, Arkansas, to Preston Haire, a redshirt freshman from Trophy Club, Texas.
“The thing that was probably the best was the way that both of those men handled the situation,” Gower said.
Haire would emerge as the full-time starter in game six of the season, but the adversity would not stop there for the team. The Bison’s leading rusher, Isaiah Mallory, junior from Fort Worth, Texas, suffered a season-ending injury in game 10.
“Of course, with Isaiah being Isaiah Mallory, he is just unbelievably focused, [has a] work ethic, and [is] a vocal leader. He is just off the charts,” Gower said.
Gower spoke highly of both Haire and Mallory, who will be vital pieces to the returning offense, with high aspirations for both men.
Haire, who played high school football at Byron Nelson High School, took last year as a learning experience.
“It was definitely different, you know, being one of the youngest guys on the team,” Hair said. “Having integrity was one of the biggest things for me, but being a follower of Christ definitely helped with that.”
Haire said that being able to learn how to finish games is going to be the biggest thing for the Bison as a team to be successful. Haire said that he looks to the spring as an opportunity to build the comradery as a team, so that in the fall, they can focus on winning games, and less on becoming the team that they already are.
“Seeing how [Gower] leads both on and off the field is really inspiring for us, as a quarterback group, and as an offense;” Haire said. “I think even as a whole team, everyone can look up to him and be better based off of him, not only as a football team, but in life.”
Haire said that the biggest key for him was to not get complacent from the success he saw in his freshman year. He said that belief in each other and having faith in each other as a whole team would propel them to success.
Mallory, who played high school football at Aledo High School in Texas, is seeing this spring from a different perspective. Mallory is still in the process of rehabilitation, resulting from tearing both the ACL and MCL in his knee last year against Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
“It was a really hard time. Attribute here It was a time for me to realize the blessings I have in my life, and what God can give you, and take away,” Mallory said.
Mallory is adjusting to his new role as his injury will have him sidelined for the remainder of the spring. He said he is trying to take the positives out of the situation. He said this would be an opportunity for him try to encourage others through the leadership role that he holds.
Mallory, who has been the team’s leading rusher for the last two seasons, said he looks to keep the positivity flowing throughout the entirety of the spring season. Mallory also said he sees the character of the team changing, saying that everyone being more and more dependable as the semester progresses on.
“If we can keep each other accountable, it will translate into the fall,” Mallory said.
Mallory looks to keep himself accountable as well, saying that he plans to work hard to get back to the form that he was at before the injury, acknowledging that he is going to have some competition next fall.
Joining the quarterback and running back duo, the receiving core for the Bison will see quite a few returners that saw significant time last year, including Josh Pettijohn, Cagney Roberson, Noah McGraw, Nick Hinkley and Emmanuel Adesokan.
Joining Mallory in the backfield will be Darrien Moss, who shouldered quite a bit of the load following Mallory’s injury, as well as Reuben Thompson. Seth Glasscock and Reece Gilbert look to keep things strong behind the offensive line, both returning at the tight end position.
Up front, the offensive line will return Brian Cornell, Zachary Blevins, John Calhoun, Creede Wright and Jake Foshee.
On the other side of the ball, the defense saw a leadership change mid-season last year, after the resignation of Defensive Coordinator Paul Smith, with Brandon Morris being promoted to the Defensive Coordinator position. In his first full semester on the job, Morris said that this transition has been a huge learning experience, but is excited for what is to come.
“We are pretty young when it comes to on-field experience,” Morris said. “But at the same time, being young can help when it comes to changing the mindset and the culture of the defense.”
This ‘young’ defense that Morris talked about saw the loss of quite a few key contributing seniors who played significant time in games last year.
The list would include Dante Foster and Chris Hosanna in the defensive backfield, and Houston Tyler, Daniel Moniz, and Dennis Nguyen all graduating on the defensive line.
But, Morris said he chose to look at this from an opportunistic perspective, also saying that there would be a lot of competition this year at every position.
He said that one of the main keys of the spring session was to make sure that all facets of the defense are understood by everyone. This would include two key returners from last year’s squad, redshirt sophomore Josh Arnold and senior defensive lineman Ashton Vickers.
“Josh Arnold is a key component in what we do,” Morris said. “He’s taken to this defense like a fish to water, and he does everything that we ask him to do. He’s a leader both on and off the field, and I have the utmost confidence in Josh.”
Arnold, who was a redshirt freshman last year, played in all 11 games at the linebacker position, and has the support of Morris behind him to be at the helm this spring, and next year.
Morris also talked about Ashton Vickers, one of the few returning seniors for the Bison defense next year.
“Ashton has made strides that are pretty remarkable,” Morris said. “I’m excited about the guys that I’ve seen make plays on Saturday, and Vickers is definitely in that category.”
Morris noted that the biggest driving force to take from this spring into the fall of the 2018-2019 season is a culture of a success. He said that the guys must use their talents to go out and make plays and breed success through that culture.
Josh Arnold, a redshirt freshman from Collinsville, Oklahoma, said he saw playing in all 11 games last year as a learning opportunity.
“I felt a little bit of pressure the first couple of games, but after that it felt like I was where I supposed to be.”
Arnold said that he viewed this spring as the most productive spring since he’s been on campus.
He acknowledged the loss of a few key defensive players in the seniors that graduated, but he said that it would be a good opportunity for the younger guys to step up and play a big role.
Arnold also said he recognizes the new components of the defense come with the coaching changes, as well as integrating the new guys into the scheme of the defense. He said in the first few days of spring practice, things were a little bit difficult, but after the initial introduction, things have gone fairly smoothly.
“The biggest thing going from the spring to the fall is the mindset that the coaches are trying to instill in us,” Arnold said. “You have to establish a winning culture in the way you do everything.”
Leading the charge in front of Arnold will be Vickers, from Vian, Oklahoma. Vickers, who played both offense and defense in high school, was recruited to OBU as an offensive lineman, and made the transition to the defensive side of the ball not long after he got here.
“We have a lot of young players, and a lot of guys coming back. I think we have what we need. We just need to put games together,” Vickers said.
Vickers said that despite the result of last season, he feels hopeful for what is to come in the next year. Vickers started eight games last year for the Bison and played alongside the group of graduating seniors during that time.
“I think myself and some of the other seniors have big roles to fill. But, I think it’s crucial for us to have senior leaders on the team. When things get tough, we have to be the guys to look to, and to lean on,” Vickers said.
Vickers was quick to mention other senior leaders, and said that this group of guys will be the ones to lead the charge. Despite the senior leadership, Vickers acknowledged the younger look of the defense, noting that there would be some guys who would be seeing playing time that they hadn’t seen before. He said his biggest advice for those guys would be to play with confidence and not nervousness.
For many university football teams, spring is used as a time for transition and team bonding.
“I think it’s a time for us to build the chemistry [of the team],” Vickers said. “I’d say I’m a lot closer with the offensive guys than I have been in the past. I think that’s important because it’s not just offense and defense, it’s the whole team.”
Vickers said he thinks the biggest key for seeing success in the future of next season is building on the momentum of the last three games of the 2017-2018 season. The Bison won two out of the last three games they played last season, and Vickers noted that it is important for the team to build on that starting in the spring, to take into next fall.
“Enjoy the moment, because it will be here and gone before we know it.”
The Bison will conclude their spring session with their spring game on May 5th at 1 p.m., at Crain Stadium at OBU’s Hurt Complex.
The Bison will return to practice in August to prepare for their first game of the 2018-2019 season August 30 in Ada, Oklahoma versus the Tigers of East Central University.

Column: Learning to appreciate chapel

By Nicholas Dingus, Sports Editor

The first time I walked through the doors of Raley Chapel on move-in day in August 2014, I knew that I would be spending a lot of time there over the next four years. Every Wednesday – and some Mondays and Fridays – I would walk through those doors into the cavernous expanse of Potter Auditorium.

I thought I would spend hours examining the details of the stained-glass windows that line the outer walls, taking in the story that each one tells. Spiritual Life and chapel services are two of the things that drew me to OBU initially.

97 chapels in four years didn’t seem like a daunting task. People told me all the time, “Oh yeah, if you go to every chapel, you can finish your chapel credits by Christmas sophomore year.” It all seemed so simple at the time. I was rolling along during the first semester of my freshman year; I went to every single chapel for the first two months of the semester.

Eventually, I fell into a routine and became comfortable. While I started out strong, when I got comfortable I began to slack. I would think to myself, “I’ve already been to a lot of chapels this semester. I can miss one and sleep in.”

This attitude got much, much worse during the spring of my freshman year. I had a difficult Christmas break that year, and over J-Term I had started hanging out with people who were not building me up spiritually. Other than my roommate, I had very few positive influences in my life.

In addition to that, I had begun to work as a resident facility officer at OBU, working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the front desks in the dorms.

Working nights wrecked my sleeping schedule, and coupled with the fact that I didn’t have class on Monday, Wednesday or Friday until 11 a.m, I started sleeping through chapel on a weekly basis. I had stopped caring. I just thought that I would make it up the next year and end up finishing my chapels during my junior year.

I entered my sophomore year with a very similar attitude to the previous semester. I would go to a chapel every now and then, but largely I would elect to sleep in before my 12 p.m. class on chapel days. I never really thought about it honestly; I always had two more years to complete my chapel credits.

Junior year started, and I kicked myself into high gear. I went to nearly every single chapel during the fall semester. The chapel theme that semester was “Prayer: Beseeching the Lord through the Prayers of the New Testament.” I found myself really getting into these chapels; I remembered the appreciation that I held for chapel when I was a freshman, and I began to learn and grow spiritually. Unfortunately, this didn’t last.

Starting in the spring of 2017 I began to work at Visit Shawnee Inc. I needed this job not only for the job experience it was providing for me, but I also needed the money I was making to help pay for that semester’s tuition.

I had been working at OBU for the last two years as an RFO and as a teaching assistant in the communications department. The difference was that my jobs at OBU were scheduled around my class schedule, which allowed me to attend chapel.

VSI, however, required me to work 9-5 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I realized that this meant that I would not be able to attend nearly any chapels that semester. At that point, I had about 60 to 65 chapels left. I knew that I would be hard-pressed to complete the required credits the next year and resigned myself to the fact that I might have to write a few chapel papers.

I began this year intending on going to every chapel in order to lessen the number of papers I would have to write. I started out well for a while, until I started to get busy. I thought I had been busy the year before, but it was nothing compared to what I experienced during the fall of 2017.

I started having to miss chapels in order to have meetings before I had class and work in the afternoon.

While I went to every chapel I was able to go to, I didn’t get as many as I was hoping. The same thing happened at the start of this semester. At the beginning of March, I fully realized my situation, and haven’t missed a single chapel since then.

Despite my efforts, I was told that I would still be required to write a total of 39 chapel papers in order to graduate in May. While I know other people have had to deal with a more daunting number (I know of at least one person that will be writing over 80 to graduate), it was no small task.

I met with Dean Griffin at the beginning of April to discuss my situation. He encouraged me and told me to look at each paper as a personal devotion time. He told me to look at the papers as a way to learn something and try to get something out of each one just as if I had actually attended the chapel. I am so thankful for this advice. While writing these papers I was able to take away so many great lessons for leading a Godly life and was repeatedly encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone to allow myself to be used by Christ.

As I was writing these papers, I remembered the times I didn’t go to chapel for nearly whole semesters, and I realized the things that I had missed out on and all of the messages that could have spoken to me in times of need. I look back to the chapel series about the role and importance of the church and see my struggle to find a church home. I had no idea how large of a role the church plays in the life of a believer.

I have immensely enjoyed my time here at OBU and would do it over again in a heartbeat, but my one regret is not having made time for chapel while I still had time to go. I do not regret missing chapels because of work or meetings, but it was that those times during freshman and sophomore year when I made a conscious decision to sleep instead of going to chapel. I missed out on much of the spiritual growth aspect of OBU that I so greatly appreciated for almost two years.

If I were going to give any advice to underclassmen as I get ready to graduate, it would be this: go to chapel. When you’re tired and just want to sleep or you feel overwhelmed by classes or by life, go to chapel. Chapel is an important part of life at OBU and an institution that we are very blessed to have. Sure, it’s nice to get the credits so that you
can graduate, but nothing can replace being spiritually uplifted in the middle of the week. Don’t walk into Raley every week and treat chapel like a chore; it’s all about your attitude, and if you enter chapel each week with openness and a willingness to let
Lord speak to you, chapel will become one of the best parts of your week.

Patience, faith needed to hear God’s calling

By Mya Hudgins, Contributing Writer  (Courtesy photo/Mya Hudgins)

Growing up, children often daydream about what they want to do when they “grow up.” Some kids wanted to be doctors, teachers or even the President of United States.

My dream seemed to always be a bit different from the others around me. My first goal was an astronaut and then a veterinarian. In third grade, we had to do this craft where we made this paper person and dressed them up in clothes that represented what we wanted to be in the future.

At this point in life, my dream was to be a garbage woman. I saw the position as highly respected and everyone seemed to like them. Perhaps the main reason I wanted this job so badly was so I could ride on the back of the truck. I wouldn’t have to buckle up or worry about getting in and out of the car. I kept that dream alive for a long time; unfortunately, I never realized that particular goal. As you grow older you start to learn about other occupations, and this new information changes how you see the world and your place in it.

At the age of 11, I found my true calling half way across the world during my first mission trip. We went to Peru for a week, and I worked in the orphanages with a local pastor. This mission trip changed my life in ways I didn’t quite understand at the time.

As an eleven-year-old, it was really hard to wrap my brain around all these people who had nothing and lived in shacks with dirt floors and one bed. These orphans had no one to love on them, and I just couldn’t understand why no one cared about them. Leaving the country and its people broke my heart; I wanted to stay and help, but I had to return to my own life and responsibilities. Once I got back home, I decided that I wanted to go on another mission trip that summer.

I signed up with an organization called Awestar, and I went to Panama for fourteen days. We stayed in the city for some of the time and traveled to more rural places occasionally. At one point, we took a canoe ride out to the jungle for a couple of days, and it was there, I heard something I have never heard so clearly before in my life.

I heard the Lord tell me that I would devote the rest of my life to mission work. This was such a huge commitment and calling that the magnitude of it frightened me; I didn’t know what pursuing mission work would involve or how it would manifest in my life in other areas.

From that point on my passion was serving and helping others, and I knew that would have a profound impact on me—and require my dedication and perseverance.

Fast forward eight years, and the Lord has continued to show His blessings as he has called me all over the place. That passion for helping others brought me to my major in college.

I am working on completing a degree in news and information, or journalism. Before being accepted to OBU, I wasn’t sure how I would apply my calling to my education. I just knew I wanted to tell stories and I wanted to serve. Those two goals work together rather well, and I am learning to make documentaries. My goal is to travel abroad, telling stories of different tribal groups, cultures or people groups and use media as a platform to share the Gospel. These documentaries or short videos would record the needs of different cultures, both physically and spiritually—this information would then be used by different churches in America so they could see where a need is and how their aid is applied.

So far, just taking photos or video has opened doors for me. One of the best ways to get into a closed country or a certain tribe is to bring a camera along—taking those photos show these people they are important, their stories are worth being heard and they are loved by people who may have never met them. The camera symbolizes the connection we all have to one another, and my commitment to them in particular.

Often times I would bring out the camera to take one picture and all of a sudden, I would be taking photos of everyone in the area. Seeing that always brings joy to my heart, and I know it’s the calling the Lord has placed on my heart.

I know I am lucky to have heard God’s voice so clearly, to know my calling early on and have my commitment confirmed over and over again. I know many pray for discernment and wisdom, and they try many paths listening for that clear Voice.

Maybe you’ve changed your major a couple of times, are still seeking a focus or maybe even you’ve decided on a major but don’t really know how you are going to use it. Don’t let that journey discourage you. Don’t be overcome with the worry and uncertainty. The Lord has a plan for your life; you may not know what it is yet, but when you remain faithful to His timing, He will reveal it.

We live in a world that offers instant communication, immediate news and worldwide access. We want things quickly, and we want resolution instantly. However, we have to learn to be patient and trust that Christ will take care of our needs and wants in His timing.

We have to learn to let go of our need for complete control. Craig Groescel, founder and senior pastor of Life Church, once said something that really resonated with me.

“Stop trying so hard and just trust more,” he said.

I think this is a statement everyone should live by, or at least try to. When you trust Christ, He won’t lead you astray—if your intent and heart is rooted in Him, the details will work themselves out.

Matthew 6:25-27 also advises us to trust in His vision and not waste time worrying.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life; what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life worth more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Verses 33 and 34 then tell us where we can place our focus instead of worrying.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Obviously, we all need to make plans and prepare for the future as much as we can, but we should not feel panicked if we don’t see the entire picture just yet. He sees it, and He knows it will be revealed to you when it needs to be.

Why an Evangelical should visit Catholic churches in Israel

By Anna Dellinger, Editor-in-Chief  (Photo by Anna Dellinger/The Bison)

Many Evangelical Christians dream of visiting Israel, and as the birthplace of our religion, that dream makes perfect sense. Upon visiting the country, however, many Christians may not anticipate the extreme amount of historical and biblical significance found in Catholic churches throughout Israel.

Often, evangelical Christians have an aversion to the word “Catholic.” This avoidance of anything related to Catholicism can at times even edge on obsessive, with it being 500 years since the church split, and there is no foreseeable chance of it getting back together again. Nevertheless, the animosity remains.

Born and raised Southern Baptist, daughter of a pastor and granddaughter of missionaries for Wycliffe and the International Mission Board, I never thought I would find myself encouraging other evangelical Christians to visit Catholic churches in the Jewish Holy Land, but here I am with seven reasons.

1. There are no ancient Protestant churches.

First and foremost, it is easy to forget there is no such thing as an “ancient Protestant church.” They do not exist, because Protestants did not exist until around the time Martin Luther publicly posted his 95 Theses in 1517. The Reformation broke up the Catholic church into what are now known as the Catholic and Protestant churches. Therefore, if someone is going to visit a church building in Israel any older than 500 years, that church is almost certainly “Catholic.”

2. Present-day holy sites are often built upon already-existing holy sites.

Many Holy sites have been used by multiple religions and sects throughout the centuries. One of the most striking examples of reuse are the third-holiest Islamic holy sites of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, built upon the Temple Mount, the foundations of the Jewish temple built by Herod the Great in the time of Jesus.

Archaeologists have discovered multiple layers of civilization at Bethesda. On top, the Church of St. Anne still stands in pristine condition, along with ruins of buildings, all of which were constructed by the Crusaders between the 11th and 13th centuries. Buildings from the Byzantine era are found in the next layer down, and the furthest layer down contains Roman architecture and a deep pool.

In the same way, these centuries-old Catholic churches are often built upon sites with vast historical Christian significance. For example, one of the most visited holy sites in the world, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is thought to be built upon the sites of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Another example is seen at Capernaum, where St. Peter’s Church – with the vague appearance of a spaceship – hovers over the remains of what many deem to be Simon Peter’s house. Catholic mass is held in the modern-looking church building while tour groups peer underneath the church’s foundations into the ruins of 2,000-year-old Capernaum. Inside the church, there is even a glass floor to enable visitors to look straight down at the ruins.

The Franciscan order of the Catholic church now maintains many of the Catholic churches within Israel, preserving centuries-old buildings and cultivating gardens for visitors to enjoy. More examples of these Catholic churches at biblically significant sites include Har HaOsher at the Mt. of Beatitudes and Duc In Altum at Magdala.

3. Required silence interrupts the daily busyness of life.

Modern churches today are often chaotic and full of people and programs. People rush to and fro grabbing coffee, passing out bulletins and greeting each other. In contrast, many of the Catholic churches are silent buildings, and can better allow a person to focus on the God they are praying to. They lend an air of serenity and create a moment of sacred time amidst the busyness of a tour of the Holy Land.

4. Singing can be more meaningful than silence.

In contrast to the silent churches, visitors are encouraged to sing in the Church of St. Anne at Bethesda. At the Pools of Bethesda mentioned in John 5, a church was built. Today it is known to have some of the best acoustics of any building in the world. An African American tour group got on the steps leading up to the altar and sang their hearts out. Worshipping in song with a group there was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire time in Israel. Additionally, only singing is allowed in the church building (several people including myself got shushed by the priest for talking).

5. Extravagant art and architecture brings glory to God.

These churches allow any visitor to see the beauty of art and architecture God can inspire within human beings. Archways, stonework, statues, paintings, mosaics and stained glass are all exhibited to bring glory to God. While I may not agree with some depictions of biblical figures at Catholic churches, the extravagance and talent on display cannot be denied.

6. A collaboration of many countries is a reminder of the transcendence of Christianity.

At least two Catholic churches in Israel demonstrate the unity of the church across borders. Next to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of all Nations stands peacefully. Its majestic domes and mosaics were donated by many different countries including Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Italy, France, Spain, England, Belgium, Canada, Germany and the United States.

Mosaics from many nations across the world line the walls surrounding the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. From Singapore to South Africa, each mosaic is unique and features the Virgin Mary, for this basilica claims to be the place in which Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel who foretold the birth of her son Jesus as seen in Luke 1.

7. Seeing pilgrims from all over the world can strengthen personal faith.

Religious pilgrims visit these sites, coming from dozens of countries across the world. Many of them have dreamed for years of visiting the Holy Land and seeing the sites honoring the saints and the Virgin Mary.

While my personal faith does not require me to visit such sites, it was inspiring to see people pouring out their hearts and fulfilling their dreams. I was encouraged to be more dedicated to praising and serving the God I love.

Visiting these sites reminded me that God’s kingdom is seen in different places throughout the world. These Catholic churches created for me a realization that God has been moving since the world began, and that my way of worshiping and honoring God is not the only way to worship and honor God.

In silence and singing, in wondering at beautiful artwork and architecture, my mind and heart could not help but be drawn to the God I serve in the Catholic churches of Israel.

Bison Jazz Orchestra to travel to FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

The Bison Jazz Orchestra (BJO) will travel to the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer to partner with local ministries during the event, June 13-24.

The World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world. According to Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the 2014 World Cup in Brazil had over five million individuals participate in some part of the festivities.

The soccer games of the tournament itself was had over 3.25 million attendees.

This year, the World Cup is in Russia, and huge crowds are expected once more and, because of the tournament’s size, it provides a huge opportunity for ministry outreach.

“The Bison Jazz Orchestra will partner with St. Petersburg Christian University for a week of mission work and events during the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” assistant professor of music Justin Pierce said.

While the World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, game tickets are not cheap, ranging from $20 to more than $1000, with most of the tickets costing between $50-100, per game. Ticket prices rise for games closer to the final.

The cost for each student the cost was approx. $3700.

The students raised money to cover the costs. Individuals interested in supporting BJO’s ministry efforts in Russia this summer can visit https://www.okbu.edu/global-outreach/giving.html to donate.

“I was blessed with many donations,” junior instrumental music education major and BJO trumpeter Jonny Dean said.

So for the most of the visit BJO will perform for those fans not actually inside the stadiums.

“Events will include World Cup watch parties, where the BJO will perform and the Gospel will be shared,” Pierce said. “Since World Cup games are so expensive, many fans attend these watch parties, so they can watch the games together in an exciting environment.”

However, the Bison Jazz Orchestra students will get the full experience.

“The members of the BJO will attend a World Cup game in-person, as well,” Pierce said.

For some members of the group it will be a very new experience.

“This’ll be my first immersion into soccer,” Dean said.

The main purpose of the trip, though, is ministering to the people coming to the tournament and to the local churches.

“Some of the mission components will include work in a Christian orphanage and concerts at area churches,” Pierce said.

These missions give students a chance to grow in their own faith through ministering.

“Trips like this seem to be very good for re-orienting ones desires to those of Christ. They help you to see the world He sees and not just the small bubble we usually live in. I want to gain His vision and His heart from this trip so that I can better have His vision and heart locally for those that maybe are not normally in my own bubble,” junior music composition major and trombonist Isaac Reel said.

Because of the costs and the time frame of the trip, the members of BJO who will go to Russia is slightly smaller than the usual group.

The students going on the trip include Hannah Key and Madison Trammell on saxophone, Jonny Dean on trumpet, Isaac Reel and Jonathan Deichman on trombone, Demarcus Baysmore and Nathan King on guitar, Graham Griffin on piano and Tyler Smothers on drumset.

Pierce, director of BJO, will be traveling alongside the students.

Alongside the ministry opportunities of the trip and the fun of attending a game, the trip offers the chance to interact with a diverse range of event attendees.

“For both the students and myself, I hope [we will gain] for an appreciation and awareness of other world cultures,” Pierce said. “Most of the world will be represented at this event.”

This intercultural aspect will offer one of the opportunities for the trip.

“I’m honestly looking forward the most to going to a different country and getting to be immersed in a culture that’s quite a bit different from my own, in a city that I hear is gorgeous, beautiful,” Dean said.

The trip was arranged through several of Pierce’s sports ministry connections, including Bryan Doyle of sports missions.co.

“When Bryan found out about the BJO, he thought we would be a great fit for this trip,” Pierce said. “After presenting it to our Spiritual Life office, they thought it was a great idea. We presented it to the students, and now we are on our way. It is fascinating to see how God orchestrated this series of events”

Review: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, A stunning and emotional Part One of MCU finale

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor  (Courtesy photo)

It’s been called the biggest crossover event in movie history, and “Avengers: Infinity War” doesn’t disappoint. Almost every Marvel superhero that’s alive makes an appearance, and while one would think that’d make the movie too busy and strain character development, it actually works perfectly.

The main villain is Thanos, an alien from the planet Titan. His mission, after seeing his planet die from overpopulation, is to wipe out half the population of every planet in the universe to save them from extinction. He plans to do this by using the Infinity Stones, all-powerful objects from the dawn of time, which we’ve seen hinted in past MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films.

That is a horrific plan, but the way the film portrays him makes Thanos genuinely look like he cares about the universe.

It’s especially evident he believes what he’s doing, and that he has feelings, when he retrieves the Soul Stone (no spoilers on how he does that!).

Sometimes, no matter how bad his plan is, or how much you hate to, you just have to feel sorry for him.

Now, for the heroes.

Of course, with so many heroes, some get a little more screen time than others, but the ones with the most airtime get to shine when before they didn’t.

Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, is a standout from the beginning. During her first scene, Wanda and Vision have to fend off two of Thanos’ goons, and Scarlett Witch gets her moment to shine when she has to protect an injured Vision.

She is also an integral part in the movie since her abilities were given to her from an Infinity Stone, so she is the only hero as strong as they are.

We also get to see the relationship between her and Vision develop. Her personal development in this movie is stronger than any other she’s been in.

The Guardians of the Galaxy also had a stronger part to play, and they still brought their signature humor.

Groot is a teenager in this film, and as such he’s moody and standoffish.

Mantis brings a great naiveté to the film, as well as some great one-liners.

Drax is bit of the comedic relief to the Guardians, but sometimes you kind of wonder what he’s really adding the film.

Gamora plays a huge role in the film. In “Guardians of the Galaxy,” we learn that she is the adopted daughter of Thanos, and that is integral to the plot.

Their relationship throughout the movie is so interesting to watch, and Zoe Saldana plays the heart-wrenching role perfectly.

“Infinity War” has a central conflict, the fight against Thanos, but several characters, as mentioned, are fighting their own battles. This would seem like it would get busy, but it’s just enough to make the film one that you have to watch over and over.

I don’t know how I’m going to wait a year for Part Two.

Festival of Fools Improv is growing

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor  (Courtesy photo/The Bison)

Festival of Fools, the OBU improv troupe, is expanding their number of performances.

May 4-5 will be the second time they will offer two shows back to back sharing the same theme.

Bayleigh Platter, Hunter Vicars and Garrett Wheeler are three freshman theatre students who have been part of Festival of Fools since the Fall 2017 semester.

Q: Why did you join Festival of Fools?

Platter: “I went to the first show that they had to recruit, and they just looked like they were having so much fun onstage and you could tell that they were like a family and the way they interacted with each other and I was really excited about that. I just felt really led to be a part of Festival of Fools.”

Hunter: “I had absolutely no intent of joining improv after I saw the show but then one of the captains was like you should try out and I did and here I am and I love it.”

Wheeler: “I saw that there was an improv troupe at OBU. I thought ‘wow, they’re doing improv here, that’s so cool. I have to get in on this.”

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned from your first year in Festival Fools?

Hunter: “What you’ve got is what you’ve gotta to run with; whatever idea you have, you take it and you do what you can with it. And I’ve applied that not just to improv but to classes as well.”

Platter: “I’ve always struggled with confidence. And so like from where I started improv to where I am now my confidence has grown immensely. And that’s not just in improv, that’s like with auditions for theatre, that’s in my grades, and how I look at myself in the morning. Like confidence all around has just boosted extremely because of the people that surround me in improv, the people who support me.”

Wheeler: “It’s probably a teamwork aspect. […] I tend to just kind of act as someone who’s trying to carry everyone, but improv has shown me that it is definitely a team effort. I rely on my scene partner as much as they rely on me. And it’s definitely a yin and yang situation and that’s what makes scenes, as well as life, interesting and work.”

Q: How is the new two-show format been different?

Wheeler: “You kind of know what to expect and not know what to expect at the same time, if that makes sense. You walk in and you kind of know ‘okay I kind of know where we’re going to go’ in terms of what exact we’re going to do but what exactly is going to happen it’s just like no idea, and I feel like that’s really the thrill of having two nights. Each night is such a different environment.”

Hunter: “The back-to-back was really scary at first because with any show that your doing in the theatre world you have to keep the energy up, especially in improv because it’s such an energy involved show that we give. […] The second night you go in and you have to go in with the mindset that you have that same amount of energy because you want to give your best for the audience and for your fellow teammates because if your not giving your best your not making them look good and that’s your ultimate goal is to make your scene partners look better.

Although the shows share the same theme and games, they will still remain quite different.

Rather than a script, the performances will use improvisation games to provide a format.

Festival of Fools fans could attend both nights without seeing very many of the same jokes.

“I would encourage people to come both nights,” Platter said. “I think if you go just one
night that’s fine, but I think it’s very important to remember that it is improv so nothing will be the same. It will be the same format but genuinely when you watch improv you’re not thinking about the format of the game, you’re thinking about the content of what’s being said. And genuinely if you come both nights, it will be two different shows. It’ll be two different feelings, two different emotions, two different atmospheres.”

The shows will be in Sarkeys Black Box, Friday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 5, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $2 and popcorn $1.

OBU hosts annual Late Night Breakfast, May 14

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor (Courtesy photo/Heather Horner)

With looming deadlines and coffee-induced study sessions, it’s no secret that finals season is coming. However, there is a calm before the storm.

Monday, May 14th at 10 p.m., OBU hosts the annual Late Night Breakfast in the cafeteria.

The purpose of Late Night Breakfast is to not only celebrate the end of the semester, but also give faculty and staff the chance to serve the student body.

“[Late Night Breakfast] is a unique experience that helps define OBU,” assistant dean of students Melissa Stroud said. “It is just one of many examples of positive connections between our students and our faculty and staff. At Late Night Breakfast, we are the Bison family celebrating with each other.”

The food and drinks for the evening are contracted through Chartwells.

It is on a volunteer basis, and the invitation is open to all faculty and staff.

“We invite faculty and staff to serve and our student development team contributes to the other roles of emcee, welcome, cleanup, etc.,” Stroud said.

Lindsey Panxhi, assistant professor of English, has volunteered for Late Night Breakfast and said the only downside is having to wear a hairnet.

“I like to be involved as much as possible with campus life, and Late Night Breakfast is a fun, unique opportunity to get involved,” Panxhi said. “I know finals is a very busy and stressful time for students, so I’m happy to be part of a fun event that gives them a break from their (surely) diligent studies.”

Late Night Breakfast not only provides students a chance to take a break from studying, but also gives faculty a chance to meet new people as well.

“From faculty perspective, Late Night Breakfast is a neat way for those of us who are in different departments to work together,” Panxhi said. “Often, faculty get so busy that we don’t get to spend time with colleagues in other disciplines, so I always enjoy seeing and working with fellow faculty from across campus,” she said.

“Also, Late Night Breakfast is great for OBU because it’s in many ways the last big event of the semester (besides graduation), and it brings together students for both fun and fellowship.”

Late Night Breakfast is a long-standing tradition that makes an impact with everyone on Bison Hill.

“I love seeing the students excited to be together, taking a moment to pause and enjoy the company of others during a stressful week,” Stroud said. “It is also great to watch the staff and faculty willingly serve in this way. Everyone has a great time.”