OBU’s spiritual foundation will be missed

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

There are a lot of things for a graduating senior to be anxious about.

First of all, of course, you have to be sure that you do graduate, which means taking care of the schoolwork that remains on your plate.

For many, this includes wrapping up capstones or final theses, meaning that those ideas you’ve had in your head for two years finally have to actually coalesce into something real.

You’re actually going to have to finish – and you’re going to have to do so while writing those final papers or completing those final projects that are a part of the end of every semester, including your senior semester.

Not an easy task.

Then you have to figure out what comes next. Now, I’m not saying this is hard for every senior – there are friends of mine who know exactly what they’re doing after May 17.

Some of them are headed to grad school, and others have jobs and apartments lined up.

They’re going to step seamlessly into their new life, no prob. They’re excited, and I’m excited for them.

But I know just as many others who have no idea what’s happening next. I include myself and my wife in this category.

We have leads, sure. Lines in the water. Eventually, something’s going to bite, and we’ll be fine.

But until that point, what we have is stress. Loads of it.

And we’re not alone.

Even with all of these stressors bouncing around inside my skull for the past few months, I’ve become aware of something else that I’m worried about: losing my spiritual foundation.

That sounds more ominous than I mean it to. I’m not talking about losing my faith or rejecting the church; I’m talking about leaving the strong spiritual environment that I’ve come to enjoy here on Bison Hill, and leaving some of the people that have become mentors in my life.

Because I am leaving. It’s happening.

My wife and I are leaving Oklahoma, we’re headed to a new adventure.

The church that we’ve come to be a part of will be left behind.

Our professors and mentors here on Bison Hill can’t come with us.

We’ll have to find a new church family. A new small group. New people that we can open up to about our faith, that we can encourage and be encouraged by.

And like it or not, I’m going to miss the environment of faithfulness that Bison Hill encourages.

Think about it. First of all, we have chapel. I know that these can be annoying at times – I know that you’re certainly not just amped to go every Wednesday.

But these services, I’ve found, have a way of really sneaking up on you.

Often it was the Wednesdays when I least wanted to be there that I found God speaking to me the clearest – and what He was telling me, often, was to slow down. To focus up.

Then there’s the classes themselves.

It’s an unusual thing to have Christian truths sprinkled into your study, into your disciplines.

This isn’t going to happen at work. My boss isn’t going to stop a staff meeting to make connections to the Gospel.

There won’t be a spiritual life office at my company. There won’t be an RA or an RN asking me how my walk with the Lord is going.

I’m trying to say that we’re inundated with the Christian message around here, and while I know that can feel annoying at times during your college career, it’s a blessing. An unusual blessing.

At no other time of my life will I have all these resources to grow spiritually.

I’m leaving that behind, and it’s a worry to me.

Sure, OBU is a bubble. But there’s a part of me that’s going to miss that bubble

 

RAs provide spiritual mentoring on campus

By Kedrick Nettleton, Faith Editor

At any college, the role of an RA is a hal-lowed one. It is these students who help their younger peers undergo a stark transition: from living at home, to living alone.

But on Bison Hill, or at any university professing faith to Jesus, the RA role takes on a deeper aspect: spiritual mentor.

And this is a respon-sibility that RAs – and the people who train and prepare them – take very seriously.

“To be an RA or CL is to be a servant-leader,” Lanie Allred, the Residence Director for Taylor and the West University Apartments, said. “These students are exceptional in character and are no ordinary stu-dent workers.”

Leavi Everett, a freshman Elementary Education major who was recently selected to be an RA next year, echoes this sentiment.

Everett points to RAs as one of the reasons that residence halls begin to transcend simple living arrangements and become something greater.

“The RAs make the hall feel like it’s a com-munity,” she said. “Through various hall events and Bible studies, the hall eventually starts to feel like a small group, and the residents grow to love this feeling.”

Everett is quick to say what it is that allows RAs to have such spe-cial relationships with their halls: proximity.

“RAs… are never re-ally off the clock,” she said. “Because they live where they work, they are constant mentors to their residents… The RAs are defi nitely always there when you need someone to talk to and walk alongside.”

Another word for this? Intentional. It’s this point that Allred stresses.

“RA’s don’t just plan social events, but they intentionally try to meet each resident where they’re at and support them in a personal, unique way,” she said. “Whether that’s encouraging their hall to maintain good physical health by going to the RAWC, or connecting them to OBU’s Counseling Center to care for their mental health, an RA is there to bring peace while living among the community and being a friend who can point them in the right direction.”

This act of being pointed in the right direction is vital for students, especially for freshman who are trying to ensure a smooth transition to college life.

“There are lots of times, especially as a freshman, when things get really hard and confusing and you just don’t know what to do,” Everett said. “The RAs were completely ready to be there and help guide me back to the Lord.”

Often times, an RA can mentor in ways that an RD simply can’t, given that they are going through the same phase of life as the resident and can relate to it on a special level.

“RAs are in an opportune position for the greatest spiritual impact because they’ve established trust with residents and get to do life with them every day,” Allred said.

Micah Lynn is a recent graduate of OBU, but he spent his sophomore year as an RA in the Lodge. He asserts that while the opportunity is certainly there for an RA to help his residents grow, the RAs themselves are often changed the most.

“I hope I was able to make an impact to those on my hall, but also the guys on my hall made a huge impact on me,” he said. “Being surrounded by other guys going through the same walk of life as me, and guys who are Christians and non-Christians, really forced me to think about the conversations I was having with all types of guys on my hall.”

Allred agrees that this personal edification should be a goal for RAs.

“The most important way an RA does his or her job well is by striving after God and personal holiness, by allowing him to work through their own life,” she said. As a Residence Director, her overwhelming feeling towards RAs is pride: pride in what they accomplish and in the way they affect Bison Hill for the better.

“Our RAs and CLs have some of the biggest hearts that desire to serve and love OBU’s campus,” she said. “Just look around – they’re holding nothing back.

Identity found in the Lord, not human image

By Jaden Jennings, Contributing Writer

For me personally, working out has always been a part of my daily routine.

As I was in the gym yesterday though, I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, “wait a minute; why am I doing all of this work to my body?”

I run to get skinny, I lift to look muscular, but when I die, is anyone really going to care how chiseled my abs and legs were?

I do not believe this random thought came from my own mind at Planet Fitness on a Tuesday; Rather, I believe it came from God himself.

Now don’t get me wrong before you continue reading. I believe with my whole heart that working out is important as well as eating healthy.

Nevertheless, I have realized during my journey as a Christian, I was claiming I was exercising for God, when in reality; I was selfishly doing it for the results.

Being toned? A plus, but not my identity.

Rock hard abs and arms? Good for winning a fight, but not necessarily for winning souls.

You probably think that I will never step foot in a gym again, but I am here to tell you that is completely, 100% false.

Our body is a temple for God, and I hope to maintain it to the best of my ability here on this earth.

However, my mindset when going to the gym will no longer be one of selfish desires and comparison, but more so, of an opportunity I have to honor God with my body.

Nevertheless, I did have a small thought that maybe my philosophy to working out could be applied to shopping as well.

Ugh, that hurts to say in the very depth of my soul, but still, remains true.

What if we spent less time focused on designer brands, and more on our hearts?

I love my Louis Viton handbag no doubt, but I have been thinking lately, what is the point of having it?

Did I want it for myself when I bought it?

Maybe so, but I have a hunch that I bought it because of the prestige that came with it.

This column is not discrediting shopping of course, because I am a firm believer in looking good to feel good.

However, our identity should not be about our bodies or the items that cover it, rather, it should be more concerned with spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

That’s what we are here for anyways right?

To be good stewards of hope and worship God. All the rest is just temporary.

If you are reading this column, I would encourage you the next time you go to the gym to change your mindset.

Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself this body is just temporary, and I am working out for God because my soul is eternal.

Or in the dressing room, tell yourself that this article of clothing is just an accessory.

It doesn’t matter if it is from TJ Maxx or Versace. I will not rely on my clothes to define my worth.

If looks were important to Jesus, He would have been one good-looking man here on Earth.

Maybe He was, but the Bible describes His appearance as being common to man.

This alone should give us hope that attraction is not what God holds dear to His heart.

Instead, it is our actual hearts He evaluates.

Imagine what would happen if we exercised our hearts just as much as our bodies?

Or what if instead of buying new clothes every two months, we donated some of our old ones to those in need?

Or what if we stopped comparing ourselves to people on Instagram and started interacting with actual people?

God cares about our physical health and the way we feel when we look good, but you know what? I believe that it goes much farther than that.

I believe that Jesus loves us so much that He could care less about how skinny we are or how much money we spend.

I believe that He just wants us. Period.

We can run as much as we want, but if we do not have Him, we have nothing.

We can spend as much as we want on designer clothes, but if we do not have Him, we are just as empty as our bank accounts.

You see, if you are anything like me, this thought should set you free.

No longer will you have to be measuring up to an Instagram fitness model with an obtainable figure.

No longer will you be worried about the clothes you have on your back because you will know that brands don’t defi ne you.

You are loved just as you are.

No exceptions and no expectations; And that my friends, is a good feeling.

Center for Discipleship seeks to connect students

By Hannah Lounsbery, Faith Co-Editor  (Photo by Hannah Lounsbery/The Bison)

The title of “disciple” carries quite a bit of weight in the mind of believers. Many think of the twelve disciples of Jesus, the men who walked directly beside him as He did ministry here on Earth.

Since June 1, the Center for Discipleship has worked to demystify the title here on campus; the center also encourages students and faculty to answer the call that Jesus placed on the lives of all believers, not just those of his original disciples.

For some working in the Spiritual Life office, the launch of the Center for Discipleship has been anticipated for quite some time.

“The OBU Center for Discipleship has been a dream for a number of years,” Dale Griffin, assistant vice president for spiritual life and dean of the chapel, said. “The current dean of students, Odus Compton, and I have been talking about how to launch a center within the last ten years.”

The realization of this dream comes from a donation specifically for the project.

“These things are dependent on donors,” Griffin said. “We had a donor come on the scene maybe two years ago, and we began a conversation about what it would look like to launch a center, and he committed to three years of support.”

Those three years of support are split into three specific stages: Discovery, Design and Deployment.

“The first year is what we’re calling Discovery,” Clay Phillips, director of student ministry, said. “That’s where we’re really finding out what all the needs are at OBU, and how many people are currently in discipleship relationships, and we’re also encouraging students to be in discipleship relationships.”

Molly Munger, OBU alumnae, serves as the logistics coordinator for the center, helping to keep track of people on campus seeking discipleship, like the women who attended the IF:Gathering.

“The women that came [to IF] filled out a piece of paper saying that they were being discipled, desiring to be discipled, discipling somebody or wanting to disciple somebody,” she said. “And so we’re able to kind of gauge where women are at on campus discipleship-wise, and some people maybe aren’t interested right now, but there’s a lot of people who are.”

The first year of donor funding has allowed the center to find 350 to 400 students who are either already involved in discipleship or are interested in getting involved.

While the center does help connect people who want to disciple and be discipled, a large part of their ministry is providing assistance and guidance to those already in discipleship relationships.

“We want to be here to invest in the people who are investing,” Munger said. While the center provides resources, it doesn’t provide a pre-packaged, step-by-step guide to discipleship.

“We’re not a discipleship program,” Phillips said. “We’re not telling students how to do or what to do–a method. We’re a center, so we’re a resource for people doing discipleship… We want to foster discipleship, so we want to encourage discipleship. We want to teach people about discipleship, and a lot of students have questions about discipleship, so we want to help them in that.”

While those resources are helpful, they aren’t the key to a healthy discipleship relationship.

“It’s too easy to think that if I go through a curriculum then I’ve been discipled, when actually I need a relationship with Christ that’s encouraged through a relationship with another person. That’s where discipleship takes place,” Griffin said. “The purpose of the center is to foster those relationships on campus and to find ways to engage faculty in discipleship with students, engage churches in discipleship with students, engage students further down the road than other students in discipleship with their peers, and then to foster relationships where students on campus are discipling people in the Shawnee area and around the world where we’re making disciples of all nations. I mean, that’s what it’s about.”

Speaking about discipleship as a community responsibility can help keep the relationships from being the foundation for one’s Christian growth.

“I think that’s the beauty of discipleship,” Phillips said. “It’s not propping up on one person, so nobody gets the credit except Christ, and it multiplies well and it changes lives. I think certainly it’s inevitable if we have true discipleship, it will change the campus.”

This change does not come easily, however. Griffin said the word ‘discipleship’ can be intimidating to some, making misinterpretations as to what discipleship looks like in real life a major roadblock.

“Personally I believe it’s the biblical foundation of Christianity,” Phillips said. “The Great Commission, one of the last things Christ commanded his followers, was to go make disciples of all nations. So at its heart, it’s reproducing the gospel… Discipleship acknowledges the fact that the gospel changes lives and as we go through life and as we’re going, we transfer the gospel to other people by doing life with them.”

The concept of ‘doing life’ with others isn’t the only defining factor of a discipleship relationship.

“[Discipleship] is community where we’re saturated in God’s Word and we love each other,” Griffin said. “Any discipleship relationship I think I’m in has to have the mark of scripture, and if it doesn’t have the mark of scripture then really we’re just talking…and the mark of the activity of the Holy Spirit in our midst is that we love each other.”

Within a discipleship relationship, part of that love is shown through challenges to grow in Christ.

“Those people are valuable; the people who will kind of put themselves aside and sit and listen to you and challenge you and press you to grow,” Munger said. “That, I think, is the conversation that we want to have, and we would encourage students to do and be a part of.”

With the help of the Center for Discipleship, this conversation no longer has to be a difficult one.

“While there are so many people on campus, like staff and faculty, who are willing to have this conversation with students, now there’s kind of a place maybe where we try to be in conversation and communication with people all across campus,” Munger said.

Those working within the center are passionate about discipleship not only because of its potential to make change, but because of their own experiences. Munger’s mentor during her time on campus showed her how important these relationships can be.

“Seeing her love for Jesus made me want to love Him too,” she said. “I think discipleship is important because we’re not alone.”

For resources or to get involved in discipleship, email molly.munger@okbu.edu or visit in person in the Spiritual Life Office in Montgomery Hall.