Summer 2018 Ambassador Magazine

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SUMMER 2018 A SOUND FOUNDATION Our continued commitment to teaching the Word of Christ p. 6 THE ACCIDENTAL MISSIONARY Making a difference in Mexico p. 10 WELL DONE Honoring the faithful service of two outstanding couples p. 24

The Authority of Scripture

the magazine of ozark christian college



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CONTENTS TO INSPIRE President’s Perspective Matt Proctor You are what you eat.

Featured Theme Amy Storms

A conversation on OCC’s most enduring core value

How Americans View the Bible

A recent study reveals how Americans see Scripture

Bible Words Jon Kehrer

An in-depth look at the language of Scripture

Ambassador Spotlight: Michelle Zuñiga Amy Storms

How one Ozark grad uses her hands to change the world

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TO INFORM Campus News

Recent happenings at OCC

The Big Picture

A snapshot of life around campus

Meet Your OCC Family

Introducing Ozark faculty member, Gerald Griffin

Coming Soon

Upcoming events at OCC

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TO CONNECT Here’s an Idea

Five tips to memorizing more Scripture

Your Partnership Sergio Rizo

Helpful tools for Christian stewardship

Alumni News Troy Nelson

Updates from alumni around the world

One More Thing Amy Storms

A final thought from our editor

The Ambassador magazine is published three times each year to inspire, inform, and connect the Ozark Christian College family. Design: Lauren White Creative

Contributing Editors: Kathy Bowers, Jill English, Matt Proctor, Amy Storms

Contributing Photographers: Peyton Butler, Mark Neuenschwander, Mitch Piercy

Contact: Ozark Christian College 1111 N. Main Joplin, MO 64801

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The ultimate mission of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The immediate mission of OCC is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education. Ozark Christian College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). OCC is also a Candidate for Accreditation with Higher Learning Commission (HLC).


WHY SO MUCH BIBLE ON THE MENU? Matt Proctor You are what you eat. Physically, it’s true. If all you eat are donuts, you’ll be as round as a donut. (I heard a college student say, “If you are what you eat, then I’m mostly cereal.”) Spiritually it’s true as well. What you feed your mind will shape who you become. That’s why the people of God have always nourished themselves on the Word of God: • “Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ez 3:3) • “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Ps 119:103) • “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” ( Jer 15:16) An old proverb says, “Sow a thought, reap a deed. Sow a deed, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” What you feed your mind determines your destiny. You are what you eat.

Out of the Norm, Even for a Bible College

At Ozark Christian College, our students consume lots of Scripture. It is our milk (1 Pet 2:2), bread (Deut 8:3) and meat (Heb 5:12). Our Bible college accrediting agency mandates 30 hours of required Bible classes in every bachelor’s degree. But at Ozark, we require 50 Bible hours. We are out of the norm, even among Bible colleges, in the amount of Bible on the menu. Dr. Scot McKnight is a seminary professor, New Testament scholar, and award-winning author of over fifty books. After lecturing on our campus, he shared on his blog his observations about Ozark: What impressed me most about OCC was this: it is firmly committed to the Bible. So much so that its undergraduates aren’t required to take Intro to Theology or Systematic Theology 101. OCC requires every student to take



15—count ’em folks—15 courses in the Bible, and these courses are books in the Bible like Romans, Luke, Acts, 1 Corinthians, and Isaiah. What can we do to restore biblical book studies as central to the curriculum of the church and Christian colleges? Why do we not do this as much anymore? What do you think of the model of teaching Bible books and letting theology flow from the books of the Bible themselves? I had lunch with a group of faculty and told them we’d love to have their students at Northern Seminary. Students with a full background in biblical studies…are more prepared for pastoral ministry. I’ll stop with this: We study too much outside the Bible and not enough Bible. To be clear, OCC students take classes in three areas: general education, professional education, and biblical education. General education—English, history, math, science—prepares students to be well-rounded, college-educated people. Professional education equips them with practical, marketable skills in areas like preaching, worship ministry, or counseling. But why do we also require so much in the biblical area? Why feed students so much Scripture? I’ll list a few reasons:

To Shape Their Beliefs

A recent Washington Post article cited a poll showing that nearly half of younger evangelicals (born after 1964) favor gay marriage, compared with 26 percent of older evangelicals (born before 1964). Why don’t younger believers still hold the biblical view of marriage? For the last few decades, Christian young people have had their beliefs shaped by entertainers, educators, politicians, corporate sponsors, journalists, Youtubers, and peers. Too often, however, they have not heard the voice of God. They may have done church, youth group, even mission trips, but—as polls like the one above show—they do not have a biblical worldview. Regardless of the issue, we want our students’ first question to be: what does the Bible say? Their beliefs—on everything from human sexuality to church polity, earth’s origins to women’s roles—should be based not on personal feelings or cultural trends, but on the teaching of God’s Word. As founding Academic Dean Seth Wilson used to say, we want our students to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). That’s why so much Bible.

To Form Their Character

Even more than intellectual growth, we want students to experience spiritual growth, and God uses Scripture to mature us. As Charles Spurgeon put it, “A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone whose life isn’t.” Ozark students memorize lots of Bible, and as they consume healthy portions of Scripture, it gets into their bloodstream and metabolizes into moral muscle fiber—goodness and joy and courage and patience and wisdom. Their lives are transformed. One semester when Katie and I were dating, we memorized Colossians together, quoting a new paragraph each week before

our Friday night dates until we finally recited the entire book. (Some couples get nostalgic when they hear “their song.” We got sappy when a professor quoted Colossians—it was “our book.”) Here’s what happened: When I was tempted to shade the truth, the Holy Spirit would flash into my mind Colossians 3:9, “Do not lie to each other.” When I was tempted to speak impatiently to Katie, Colossians 3:19 would pop up on my mental screen, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” God was sculpting me into the image of Christ, using his Word to chisel away parts of me that didn’t look like Jesus. Colossians 3:17 says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” and when it dwells in our students, their character conforms to his. That’s why so much Bible.

To Guide Their Ministry

Our students read lots of books. (Sometimes they think the amount of reading will kill them. One said, “Have you noticed that the last letters of the word studying spell dying?”) We expose them to outstanding Christian authors—John Stott, Tim Keller, A.W. Tozer, Andy Stanley—to sharpen their thinking and their ministry skills. We want our students familiar with resources on parenting and preaching, evangelism and marriage, money and emotional maturity. But when students go to their bookshelf for ministry wisdom, we want them to pick up their Bible first: • Want to grow your leadership? Read Nehemiah. • Looking for money management advice? Read Proverbs. • Exploring the meaning of life? Read Ecclesiastes. • Dealing with a difficult boss? Read Daniel. • Need to know how to romance your wife? Read Song of Songs. • Want to deepen your prayer life? Read Psalms. • Trying to find joy in trials? Read Philippians. There is an entire Christian bookstore between the covers of the Bible, and God gave the Scriptures “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:17) When our graduates are in ministry, we want them to get—and give—their best guidance from God’s Word. That’s why so much Bible.

To Color Their Communication

Ozark’s preaching classes have three goals: to teach students to preach from the Bible, through the Bible, and like the Bible. Wait—preach like the Bible? Yes. We not only want students to communicate the powerful message of Scripture, but also with the powerful methods of Scripture. I heard a well-meaning church planter describe his approach to preaching, “I want to get my truth from the Bible and my creativity from Disney.” I understood his sentiment, but I thought, “Why not get your creativity from the Bible too?” After all, God is the greatest communicator in the universe. The Bible teems with attention-gripping stories, soul-stirring

Matt Proctor has served as president of Ozark Christian College since 2006.

poetry, conscience-convicting commands, and imaginationshaping visions. The words of Scripture are seared into the memory of the human race, and even non-Christians talk about “David and Goliath” contests, “swords being beaten into plowshares,” and hospitals named “Good Samaritan.” Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message, says he learned the liveliness of biblical language in the small Montana town where he grew up. The people he lived among, he says, “were poor. Few had gone past eighth grade. But they were faithful Bible readers and brilliant storytellers.” Though not welleducated, they had been so shaped by Scripture that they could tell stories with the same verve Jesus did. We want our students to learn to communicate from God himself. That’s why so much Bible.

To Strengthen Their Soul

Our students will face trials in life and ministry. Sickness, finances, cultural hostility, church conflict, and the Enemy himself will conspire to sap their strength and steal their joy. Discouragement knocks more people out of ministry than immorality does. What will give our students the power to endure? What will send spiritual adrenaline surging through their weary souls? God’s Word. Romans 15:4 says, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.” As a missionary to China, J. Russell Morse was arrested in the 1940s for preaching Christ. He spent 15 months in a Chinese Communist prison. In telling the story of Morse, OCC Academic Dean Seth Wilson wrote, “He endured severe tortures and terrific strain supported chiefly by his memory of the Bible. He testifies that the promises and precepts of God’s Word came to him in memory and gave strength, wisdom, and hope which were sorely needed. Therefore he urges all his brethren to fill their minds with that living and powerful Word.” That’s why so much Bible. OCC students will keep taking general education classes and professional education classes, but biblical education will always be the biggest portion on their plate. A billboard sponsored by the cattlemen’s association read, “Eat beef. The West wasn’t won on salad.” The world won’t be won on salad either—students won’t be equipped for planet-changing ministry by nibbling on the Bible. They will only have God’s wisdom, God’s character, God’s power if they dig into the meat of God’s Word. You are what you eat. TO INSPIRE




Interview with Doug Aldridge, Dr. Mark Scott, Michael DeFazio, and Jon Kehrer

“A sound foundation of Bible knowledge,” read Ozark’s college catalog in 1947, “is the best foundation for any education, or for any career for a Christian…. Ozark Bible College was founded with the purpose in mind of training loyal preachers and teachers who will not be ashamed to preach the Word.” Three quarters of a century later, that purpose remains. Recently, Academic Dean Doug Aldridge and President Matt Proctor sat down with professors Dr. Mark Scott, Jon Kehrer, and Michael DeFazio to discuss God’s Word as an Ozark essential. Here’s part of their conversation. Since Ozark’s inception, one of our core values has been to teach the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ. What does that entail?

DA: Teaching the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ is not just teaching the Word, but living it. We teach logos—the content. But we also live the Word, which leads to a characterproducing ethos, that results in a pathos—a passion. MD: It’s Colossians 1:28—“Him we proclaim.” Jesus is always the subject, and the Scriptures always drive what we say. My goal in the student is not just to impart information, but to transform. Colossians 1:28 also includes admonishing and instructing.—The negative, “Be careful about the direction you’re going,” and the positive instruction, “Come back to him.” MS: Hermeneutically, it means that we look at the Bible with a Christ-centered lens. In Luke 24, Christ exegetes the Old Testament and says, “This is about me.” And John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures…and it’s they that bear witness about me.” Formatively, this phrase means learning the mind of Christ, and



acquiring an unselfish, others-first lifestyle. Pastorally, it means that we do Bible work in the right spirit—that we’re more of a healing balm than a hammer. We don’t take the heart out of people—“a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3) We start and end with grace. JK: In an opening lecture in Messianic Prophecy class, we discuss the Emmaus Road encounter. If Jesus is the master hermeneutics professor, what can we learn from him? Emmaus Road gives us a paradigm for interpreting the Old Testament. So much of Messianic prophecy is trying to read the Old Testament through the teachings of Christ. Ozark requires over 50 hours of Bible curriculum in our 4- and 5-year degrees, with 35 of those as exegetical Bible hours. The Bible is the core of our curriculum, and our exegetical classes are the core of our Bible courses. Why so much Bible? Why not liberal arts courses or more practical ministry training?

DA: Other colleges might have liberal arts at their core, and everything else builds on that. But in our curriculum, the Bible is the core. Our professional studies build on the Bible, and our general studies help students communicate the Bible. The Bible is central, and it ties all our curriculum together. Bible education prepares students for life. We teach them to contextualize biblical principles, even in practical ministry classes. If we just teach a ministry method, it’s outdated in three years. Students need to be able to contextualize the principle. We hold to an exegetically driven approach because the Bible prepares students for everything—for ministry, for marriage, for parenthood, for life. MD: We have 35 hours of just walking through the text. The Bible—this book that is designed with aims that transcend the classroom—is what we organize our classroom around. Ozark

is unique in this, but we’re not setting out to be unique. We’re just trying to teach the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ. We can’t eliminate the hard lessons of practical ministry that students will get out on the field, but we can create space for the Spirit to transform them through repeated meditation on the Word and wise instruction. They’re not just practicing—they’re being changed. MS: What does a minister need more than the Bible? I can think of a lot of things he needs that we don’t have time to teach—but none at the expense of the Bible. Whatever the class, whatever the curriculum, it all comes back to Scripture. Theology and exegetical classes proved the most practical for me in ministry. JK: If we really believe that the Word is the authority, then it will give us what we need for ministry. It’s strange, yes, that a book on your shelf can give you what you need for life, for the rest of your life. But it happens. You will never exhaust the riches of this book. It will continue to teach you and instruct you and form you and transform you and be everything you need. I praise the Lord that I had lots of Bible in Bible college, because it’s always applicable.

You will never exhaust the riches of this book. It will continue to teach you and instruct you and form you and transform you and be everything you need. JON KEHRER

Talk about the past and the future. How has Ozark’s teaching of the Word changed since our early days? As Ozark pursues regional accreditation, a master’s program, and an organizational leadership major, what’s on the horizon for biblical education?

DA: The exegetical part of our curriculum hasn’t changed. We’ve added a few more doctrine classes to tie things together, but the Bible curriculum hasn’t changed since we were students. As the church has become more specialized, our professional studies courses have become more specialized. But it’s all still building on the Bible core. MD: What’s in the future? More of the same. In a master’s program, we’ll get different “soil”—students who are in a different place—but we’ll be Ozark, and do what we do from our Bible core. Those exegetical Bible hours won’t change. It’s our identity. MS: Those new programs fit the mission, so they belong here. The real danger would be if we taught them like other schools. But we’ll make sure the Bible remains strong. JK: With our new organizational leadership degree, it’s the same core. Students won’t take less Bible. It’s just like when we train them for youth or children’s ministry—with the same Bible core.

Share some Colossians 1:28 blessings—stories of students becoming “fully mature” as we teach the Word of Christ in the Spirit of Christ.

DA: Years ago, a graduating senior told me, “If you come to Ozark and fit in—” and by that he meant, if you attend class, go to chapel, and embrace what we have here— “you cannot help but be changed.” It’s about transformation. MD: I love when a student is at a place in their walk with the It’s the gospel taking Lord, and this book intersects with what root. It changes me the Spirit is doing still ... It never stops in them. As they exegete Romans, I doing what we expect love when something it to do in them, they’ve heard for years—that God loves even in me. them in spite of their imperfections—just MICHAEL DEFAZIO clicks. It’s the gospel taking root. It changes me still. I’m more grateful for grace every time we finish Romans. It never stops doing what we expect it to do in them, even in me. MS: I remember a non-traditional student who started taking Life of Christ online. He was drawn to it, so he moved his family to Joplin to study here, and he’s now a church planter in California. It was the Bible that put him over the edge. Getting a taste of real exegetical study tripped his trigger for ministry. JK: I enjoy watching students encounter the text—some of them for the first time. When I first required them to read the whole Bible in one semester, I did it because I thought it was good for them. I did not expect them to love it…and they loved it. I saw it change them. That’s not anything I’m doing. They’re just sitting with the Word of God and taking it in. The power of the Word of God changes them.



HOW AMERICANS READ THE BIBLE A recent study revealed the various views Americans have on Scripture. At OCC, we believe the Bible is the true and authoritative Word of God and our final rule of faith and practice. We want our students to be biblically grounded, knowing and valuing the content of the Bible as well as the principles of its study and application. This biblical foundation will form in students a Christian worldview and philosophy of ministry to guide them for years to come.




DABAR Jon Kehrer

What’s in a word? A lot, it seems. We know the power of a word because, for decades, Kenny Boles has illuminated biblical words for us. Along with you, I will miss his wit and wisdom in this column. But Kenny’s words were always based on God’s Word, and thankfully, God’s Word contains an endless supply of encouragement and challenge for the future. So perhaps it is fitting to start my words in this column with a word about “word,” a dabar (dah-VAR) in the Old Testament and a rema (RAY-muh) in the New. The biblical prophet Isaiah knew a fair amount about words, including worthless words from people (see Isaiah 8:19, 37:6) and harsh words from God (1:10-11, 9:8-12). But in Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah speaks to those on the brink of hopelessness: “the word (dabar) of our God will stand forever.”

At first glance, this doesn’t seem like much encouragement. But God has announced comfort (40:1-2) and that he is coming to save (40:3-5). The message is clear: “God has not abandoned you, and you can trust him.” That’s a good word. So when the apostle Peter writes to a group of believers on the brink of hopelessness, suffering persecution on the outside and harsh treatment from others on the inside (have you ever been there?), he quotes this verse from Isaiah 40:8. Then, he follows it by saying, “this word (rema) is the good news proclaimed to you” (1 Peter 1:25). At first glance, this may not seem like much encouragement. But Peter says that the good news of Jesus is proof of God’s reliability. The message is clear, for them and for us: “God has not abandoned you, and you can trust him.” For all of us, that’s a good, and powerful, word indeed.

Download previous “New Testament Words” by Kenny Boles at

Jon Kehrer teaches Hebrew, Old Testament, and hermeneutics at OCC.





Amy Storms

“If my life were a book,” 2002 grad Michelle Zuñiga admits, “I think it would be titled, Tales of the Accidental Missionary. I was never supposed to be a missionary.” But in God’s plan, there are no accidents, and for 15 years, God has used Michelle as just that—a missionary. Michelle is, quite literally, God’s hands to the Deaf community of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Raised in a Christian home in Northeast Ohio, Michelle was baptized at age 11. The second of three children and close to both her parents, Michelle says her mom taught by example how to love and serve others. Michelle attended Ozark from 1997 to 2002, earning both a Bachelor of Christian Education with an emphasis in Deaf Ministry and a Bachelor of Biblical Literature in Psychology. “God used several professors to shape me during my time at OCC,” Michelle notes. “Dru Ashwell’s excitement for godly living and Scripture memorization had a great impact on me, Mary Alice Gardner is one of the most humble people I’ve ever known, and Peter Buckland’s wisdom on family and counseling was a great help.” Michelle also credits Ozark with teaching her three main lessons: the importance of building a strong biblical foundation for ministry, the importance of memorizing and applying Scripture, and the importance of serving—of daily putting into practice Mark 10:45, “…not to be served, but to serve.” “Servant leadership means being humble enough to clean a toilet without having to announce it to others,” Michelle says. “The world says leadership equals ego and entitlement, but Ozark taught me that biblical leadership is loving God and loving people.” During her senior year at OCC, Michelle was one of several students who traveled with Mary Alice Gardner to the Mexican



border, where they helped at a Deaf orphanage and visited Deaf schools. As the trip concluded, Mary Alice instructed the group to write letters to themselves, as reminders of what they’d experienced. Michelle wrote a prayer, asking God to let her come back to visit someday. Little did she know…her next visit would become a long-term ministry—15 years and counting.

“Why Am I Here?”

In February of 2003, Michelle again arrived at the TexasMexico border. Knowing little Spanish and not knowing a single English-speaking person, Michelle’s assignment was a three-month internship—three months volunteering at local schools and surveying for missionaries who were to arrive soon. A month later, though, Michelle learned that missionaries weren’t on the way. She was alone. Michelle called her mom in tears. “Why am I here? What hope am I giving these kids? If anyone figures out that I don’t know what I’m doing, they’ll kick me out!”

But after much prayer, Michelle sensed God’s call to stay. “I was a 24-year-old, single white girl, launching a new ministry on my own. Once I made the commitment to stay long-term, Workers for Mexico Mission provided me with an abandoned facility across town. I felt like God was directing the ministry to become a resource center for the Deaf in town—a one-stop shop for education, counseling, and other needs. I specifically asked God to not make me run an orphanage, because the thought of all that responsibility scared me.” Today, 15 years later, Michelle serves as founder and codirector of Con Mis Manos (With My Hands) Deaf Ministry in Matamoros, the easternmost border city between Mexico and the United States. The 750,000 people in Matamoros include an estimated 1,800 Deaf children and adults. Because the government no longer provides Deaf education nor recognizes the rights of Deaf people, the Deaf community experiences high rates of abuse, human trafficking, and isolation. The state doesn’t provide protection for a Deaf person who has been the victim of a crime, and a statute lists Deaf people as “incompetent”—and therefore not recognized as citizens with full rights. Even more, the city itself is a hotbed of violence in Mexico’s drug wars— gunfire, grenade explosions, and sniper helicopters circling the neighborhoods are common.

A Four-Pronged Ministry

Yet in this darkness shines Con Mis Manos, a four-pronged ministry providing education, job training, family support, and evangelism and discipleship: • Education: Three days a week, CMM provides classes in general school subjects such as math, language, science, health, and art—all based in Mexican Sign Language (LSM). • Job training: CMM students are equipped with employable skills like cooking, carpentry, sewing, hairstyling, and computer training, in hopes of changing the future for Deaf adults who often end up begging on the streets or being sold to drug cartels for trafficking or prostitution. • Family support: The largest component of the ministry, CMM’s family support provides weekly sign language classes, counseling, medical care, legal advocacy for students who have been abused, and a free clothing pantry. • Evangelism and discipleship: CMM offers the only area church option (other than one Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation) that includes sign language in the worship service. Over the years, 15 Deaf people have been baptized at the church.

Michelle sensed God’s call to stay. “I was a 24-year-old, single white girl, launching a new ministry on my own.”

And in answer to Michelle’s prayer to not run an orphanage… today, the Con Mis Manos property also includes two homes— one for Deaf boys, and one for Deaf girls—where a loving Christian couple serves as dorm parents. “At some point in this journey,” Michelle laughs, “I stopped telling God what I didn’t want to do, because it soon would be exactly what I needed to do.”

Weak that Confound the Wise

Michelle’s ministry has both challenges and rewards: “Teaching someone about God is hard enough in another language,” she says, “but our main problem is teaching a person about God when they have no language at all. Most of our students arrive literally without knowing they have a name. This has been the case for students in their teens and twenties who come to CMM and receive their first chance at education.” “The best days of ministry are when we baptize someone and see the certainty of their decision,” she continues. “Most days, though, ministry is a lot of conflict resolution and crisis management…like filling the empty soap container in the bathroom, tracking down who stole the toilet paper again (because their family doesn’t have any at home), bandaging scraped knees, and teaching a child to count to ten.” Michelle’s husband, Chuy, whom she met through the local church, co-directs CMM with her. Michelle is still the only fulltime “foreigner” on staff. She now employs eleven other people, including a teacher who was one of her first students. “I was never supposed to be a missionary,” Michelle repeats. “I was not supposed to be here, and the concept of Con Mis Manos should not have worked. The entire existence of the ministry is a testimony to God using the weak—me—to confound the wise— all the formally trained, experienced people.” “Con Mis Manos is not the story of a well-planned mission that launched after a board of directors made a five-year plan. Con Mis Manos is as ‘grass roots’ as they come, developed literally by God opening a door, us walking through, and then God opening another door. I’d never say Con Mis Manos is the blueprint of the correct way to establish a mission. I can only say God is a God of mercy and patience…and a sense of humor.” Learn more about Con Mis Manos at



CAMPUS NEWS Introducing OCC’s Organizational Leadership Major

Beginning this fall, OCC will offer Organizational Leadership as one of eleven majors available in our Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry. This degree will uniquely train students in ministry leadership skills as they learn from professors experienced in ministry and business contexts. As with all majors in this degree, the Organizational Leadership major will require 50+ credit hours in Bible courses.

Frontline Expands

Beginning this fall, the Worship and Creative Arts Department will expand Frontline and elevate our chapel worship teams. Rather than having one Frontline group and two chapel teams, three auditioned Frontline teams will lead worship in chapel and periodically lead at events upon request during the school year. Students will also audition to travel with Frontline over the summer months.

The group will add a creative component for songwriting and recording. OCC’s Isaac Schade will continue to direct Frontline and chapel services. Current and prospective students can audition for Frontline teams online at Listen to Frontline’s latest album, “With Every Heartbeat,” on Spotify or iTunes, or purchase a CD at

Conference Champs

Congratulations to our 2017-2018 men’s basketball team for earning the title of conference champs in the Midwest Christian College Conference tournament in February. The Ambassadors were coached by Athletic Director Chris Lahm, Skip Walker, and Kyle Wicklund.



Exegeting the City

In April, nine students headed to New York City for OCC’s “Exegeting the City” seminar. They spent the weekend with Ozark grads and learned to analyze and engage urban culture with the good news of Jesus Christ. Led by Professor Mike Ackerman, the seminar seeks to cultivate situational awareness and cultural agility in students, using New York City as a “laboratory” for experience and reflection.



At the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year, Dr. Tom and Linda Lawson concluded their service at OCC. Tom accepted a preaching position at Bridges Christian Church in Russell, Kentucky. We appreciate the Lawsons’ tireless commitment to our mission for the past 15 years as Tom taught Bible, Worship, and Church History and Linda taught children’s and women’s ministry. While we’ll miss their leadership and influence at OCC, we’re excited for the Lawsons in their new role in the local church. As Tom leaves, we’re excited to welcome Rick Cherok to the faculty. Rick has a Ph.D. in History from Kent State University, a Master of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts in History from The University of Akron, and a Bachelor of Theology and Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Kentucky Christian University. Since 1998, Rick has served as professor of Church History at Cincinnati Christian

University. He has also taught adjunct at Hope International University and Mid-South Christian College. Rick has served as senior minister of the New Burlington Church of Christ since 2014. He has also served as a youth minister, residence director, head baseball coach, and a substitute school teacher. He is the founder and executive director of Celtic Christian Mission, through which he leads students on annual summer service trips to Northern Ireland. Rick has taught at numerous conventions and conferences around the country, but most of all, he has a heart for students and a passion to serve Jesus Christ. We’re excited that Rick has agreed to serve at OCC, teaching Church History and U.S. History full-time beginning this fall.

Donna Richardson

Donna Richardson, longtime accounts payable coordinator at OCC, concluded her service with the college in May. Donna has served at Ozark for 26 years, beginning part-time in the bookstore and soon transitioning to full-time in the Business Office in the accounts payable role. Donna has been a friend and role model during her years of service. Her example of Christ’s love will be greatly missed on campus. As Donna leaves, we’re excited to welcome Molly Livesay to the OCC team. Molly has served as an accounting clerk for six years. She and her husband, Sam, live in Joplin.

Kurt Fluharty

After 21 years at OCC, Kurt Fluharty closed his service to our IT Department this spring. Kurt has equipped our campus with technology infrastructure, invested in students, and encouraged his colleagues. We’re grateful for Kurt’s faithful service and his deep commitment to our mission of training men and women for Christian service.

Linda Eubanks

Linda Eubanks will retire this summer, after serving for ten years in the development department. Linda’s attention to detail and gracious spirit are an encouragement and help to everyone she encounters. We’re grateful for her faithfulness and service.

John Hunter

After 12 years at OCC, John Hunter will retire this summer. John has faithfully served as library director, library research assistant, and custodian during his time at OCC. His commitment to our mission and heart for our students will be missed. As John leaves, we’re excited to welcome Derek Moser to replace John as library director. Derek has served as assistant circulation supervisor at the Joplin Public Library. He has an M.A. in Religious Studies from Missouri State University, an M.S. in Library Science from the University of Kentucky, and a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry from MidAmerica Nazarene University. Derek and his wife, Michelle, have two children. TO INFORM



HONORED GRADS Congratulations to 2018 graduates Lydia Proctor and Michael Hinnen, who were selected by a faculty vote to speak at Commencement in May.

New Admissions Counselors

We’re excited to welcome three full-time admissions counselors to our team. Sara Van Dam, Sarah Rhodes, and Becca Snell will contact prospective students and represent Ozark at college events. Sara Van Dam joined the Ozark staff part-time in August 2017 as our campus visit coordinator and has recently moved to this full-time role. Sarah Rhodes will focus on athletic recruiting, while Becca Snell will recruit students for our online learning department. As Becca begins this role in online learning, Christian Shultz will transition from the online learning department to become OCC’s assistant marketing director.

New Athletics Coaches

This fall, we’ll welcome Whitney Bond as our interim women’s volleyball head coach, Sarah Rhodes as volleyball assistant coach, Kyle Wicklund as men’s basketball assistant coach, and Nate Wesley as assistant men’s soccer coach. Follow all five of our sports teams on Twitter and at

Lydia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry (Biblical Communication). She will serve in a year-long residency with LifeChoices in Joplin.


Join the conversation between Michael DeFazio, Chad Ragsdale, and Doug Welch on their podcast, Every Thought Captive. Each week, the three professors discuss theology, culture, and the intersection of the two.

Michael earned a Bachelor of Theology (Old Testament) and serves as associate minister with Berlin Christian Church in New Berlin, IL. He is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Lincoln Christian University.

Available now! Subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher

HEARD IN CHAPEL Each week, our college family is challenged by outstanding messages in our chapel services. Watch the messages at or on Ozark’s YouTube channel. Here’s a taste of what we heard last semester.

This slavery is actually true freedom. It’s freedom to live the way we were designed to live and be the kind of people we long to be. Mike Ackerman

Called To: Belong | 2.27.18

We’re not here to teach you church tricks. Church tricks come too easy. To live incarnate is the call. Randy Gariss

Jesus Is Calling You to Ministry: Prayer | 3.27.18

Lead people to the Good Shepherd–not to yourself. Feed them the Word of God–not your words. Guest Speaker Morgan Weece

Jesus Is Calling You to Ministry: Shepherding | 4.3.18 TO INFORM



As a Great Commission college, OCC trains men and women to GO. In May, 154 more Ambassadors left the classroom to enter the harvest field as preachers, children’s ministers, Bible translators, youth ministers, and more. Watch President Proctor’s end-of-semester charge to students at


Griff became a full-time professor at OCC in 2001, teaching mostly Bible, Speech, and Evangelism.

Outside the classroom, Gerald enjoys reading— especially biography and history—and baseball—especially the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I also enjoy playing the guitar and singing (I do both just fine for an empty living room) and working around my yard as if I knew what I was doing.”

“I love the reminder in Ecclesiastes to not miss God in the ‘everydayness’ of life. Food to eat, drink to drink, people to care about, and things to do: ‘This is from the hand of God.’”


“WHO LOVES YOU MORE THAN GRIFF?” Gerald Griffin grew up in Memphis—and a few years in Missouri—as a preacher’s kid. Crediting his parents as the biggest influence on his faith, Gerald has been in the Joplin area since 1975, when he came to Ozark Bible College as a student. “Griff ” earned a Bachelor of Theology in New Testament from OBC, and an M.A. from Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary. After school, Gerald preached at Racine Christian Church in Racine, Missouri. “I am amazed,” he says, “when I recall the church and elders who accepted me and grew me up as a 22-year-old minister. Thank you to Clifford Whitehead, Jack Kraft, Richard Van Dorn, and Don Hutcheson, who along with their wives, accepted Sally and me and helped us know that serving Jesus in the church was

doable. I’ve read over some of my old sermons and want to say (apologize) to them: ‘Oh, my. Thanks for sitting still, and thanks for sticking with us. You were God’s gift to Sally and me and our family.’” After 20 years with Racine, Gerald joined the faculty of OCC full-time in 2001. Since then, he has taught Bible (Old and New Testament), Speech, and Evangelism. His blend of wisdom and humor in the classroom make him a beloved favorite among students, as he often asks them his trademark question, “Who loves you more than Griff ?” Gerald and his wife, Sally, will celebrate 40 years of marriage this August. Their daughter Bethany, son Micah, and their families live nearby in Seneca, Missouri, and in Joplin. TO INFORM




TUESDAY TOURS THIS FALL Juniors, seniors, and transfer students, join us on campus this fall for a Tuesday Tour! Tuesday Tours start at 8:00 a.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. You’ll sit in on a class, attend chapel, meet President Matt Proctor, and picture yourself at OCC. You can also schedule a personal meeting with a professor, coach, financial aid counselor, or admissions counselor. Youth ministers, contact us at if

you’re interested in coming for a youth group tour. We think you’ll enjoy your Tuesday Tour so much, we’ll put our money where our mouth is: every junior, senior, or transfer student who registers in advance, attends a tour on one of these dates, and applies to OCC will receive a $1,000 Ozark scholarship!

SEPTEMBER 4, 11, 25 OCTOBER 2, 9, 18, 30 NOVEMBER 6, 13 DECEMBER 4


THE EVENT Bring your high school students (grades 9-12) to The Event, with Chad Monahan (main speaker) and Carrollton Band (worship). Register by October 19 for a reduced rate and an event t-shirt. Housing is guaranteed for the first 800 registrants.



Students in grades 6-8 won’t want to miss Getaway at OCC this fall, led by main speaker Taylor Brown and worship leader Madison Christian. Register by September 14 for a reduced rate and an event t-shirt. Housing is guaranteed for the first 800 registrants.


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MISSIONS This year’s International Conference on Missions, “Unhindered,” led by 2018 ICOM president and OCC grad Kevin Dooley, will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Come see OCC at booth #463 and at our Alumni & Friends reception on Friday evening.



Christmas is a special time at OCC. Each year, we welcome hundreds of guests from Joplin and the surrounding area to campus as we celebrate the birth of Christ through worship and performance arts. This year, we’re excited to present the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Details coming soon.




2018-2023 STRATEGIC INITIATIVES Under the direction of our board of trustees, OCC’s strategic plan for the next five academic years includes the following five initiatives. Will you join us in prayer as we seek to accomplish the plans we believe the Lord has established? (Proverbs 16:3) Read more at, and partner with us to accomplish these goals at 1. Increase Enrollment • Implement strategic recruitment plan, including department restructure • Develop student success plan to improve retention • Revise scholarship program for improved recruitment and retention 2. Expand Resource Base • Create advancement advisory group • Develop clear communication strategy for Endowed Scholarship Fund • Create major gifts strategy 3. Launch Graduate Program • Present the graduate program for ABHE and HLC approval • Implement graduate program marketing plan • Recruit first group of graduate students 4. Modernize Campus Facilities • Create Campus Master Plan, including ADA compliance and dorm renovations • Improve IT infrastructure in classrooms and offices • Improve campus recreational spaces 5. Promote College Through Targeted Initiatives • Implement comprehensive marketing strategy • Leverage the NextLevel program and church resources • Promote faculty service for coordinated opportunities







Founding Academic Dean Seth Wilson said, “The work of the church is done just where the Word of God is planted in the hearts of people to take root and take control of their lives so that Christ lives in them.” Here are five tips to memorizing Scripture as you let God’s Word take root in you.

Learn it together.

Enlist your spouse, friends, kids, or small group to memorize a passage together. You’ll be encouraged by the accountability of your community.

Write it down.

Studies show that we remember 10% of what we hear, and 70% of what we write. Grab a 3x5 card and write it down.

Hear it.

Read the passage aloud several times. You might also want to listen to it on an audio Bible, such as YouVersion.

Sing it.

There’s a reason that advertisements have jingles, and that you can still sing the songs from your childhood. Put your passage to music.

Repeat it.

As President Proctor says about the power of repetition, “Six till it sticks!” Repetition will help Scripture take root in your heart and mind.


Sergio Rizo serves as vice president of development at OCC.


Sola Scriptura. Martin Luther popularized that Scripture alone was sufficient for all people. He once said, “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so.” Have you ever thought about the community that emboldened and fanned into flame Martin Luther’s thinking? Dr. Tom Lawson, who taught church history at Ozark for the past 15 years, explained that Luther’s primary drive in writing the 95 theses in response to the church indulgences was a pastoral heart. Luther was concerned that his sheep were being deceived. Luther spent the latter half of his life in the town of Wittenburg, where he pastored and taught at the University of Wittenburg. An interesting

thought: a Martin Luther may not have happened without a University of Wittenburg, and certainly not without his church in Wittenburg. We often say that Ozark exists to serve the church—and if the church ever stops needing the college, we’ll all go serve in the local church. We love the church. But since there continues to be a need for strong ministry leaders, we’re privileged to be a Wittenburg for OCC students. The college provides an environment where men and women can study the Scripture, be challenged by the Scripture, and be changed by the Scripture. Then, students go out with the boldness of Scripture to carry out the many good works prepared for them. What was true of Martin Luther is

true of our students. The combination of the local church and OCC provides an environment emboldened by Scripture. Your generous gifts to our annual Difference Fund make a difference in our students’ lives. With your gifts, OCC prepares students for the kingdom assignment God has for them. Thank you for being the breeze that fans into flame the service of our students.


DECEMBER 22, 2017-MARCH 21, 2018 MEMORIAL GIFTS: Ronald Briggs Lenora Briggs Dr. Paul T. Butler M/M Randolph Sells Clarence & Etta Cain M/M Allen Cain Lynn Cain Lucille Vest Mary Christensen M/M Woody Wilkinson Jim Dobyns Roy Roberts Carlos & Nelda Elmore M/M Richard H. Steckler Gregory Gardiner Nancy Gardiner Wayne Gardiner Nancy Gardiner Charles Greer M/M Richard M. Haden

Glenn Jackson Evelyn Jackson Margaret Moberly M/M DuWayne Abrahamson D. Jeanne Ansley Chestnut Street Church of Christ (Hoopeston, IL) M/M David Childress M/M Mike Johnson Gladys I. McBride Elaine Moberly M/M John Morris M/M Malcam Moberly M/M Mark Moberly Mervyn Moberly North Grand Christian Church (Ames, IA) M/M Irvin Schoelkoph M/M Leonard Tipping Debra Pope Bob A. Lyttle Adam Ransom M/M James B. Ransom

Earl & Anna Roberts Roy Roberts Deborah Stock Joyce Stock Dale Storms M/M Ronald W. Carter Dale & Arlene Storms M/M Ronald W. Carter M/M Randolph Sells D. Lloyd Thomas Betty Thomas Joy Vernon Bill Vernon Janice Wallis M/M Woody Wilkinson Fran Watson M/M Jeffrey L. Bennett M/M Mark Shaner M/M Clifford E. Wert M/M Keith Wilkins M/M Woody Wilkinson M/M Robert Willcoxon

Roy Weece Roy Roberts M/M Kevin D. Perdew Roy Wheeler M/M Murrell Latimer John Williams Roy Roberts Charles & Dorothy Wittenborn M/M David Wittenborn HONOR GIFTS: Gordon Clymer Roy Roberts Loretta Dobyns Roy Roberts Bryan Hampton Family M/M Donald Hampton Bob & Helen Roberts Roy Roberts Dale Roberts Roy Roberts Norma Williams Roy Roberts





2018 SETH WILSON OUTSTANDING ALUMNI AWARD RECIPIENTS Named for OCC’s founding academic dean, Seth Wilson (1914-2006), this award is presented annually at the President’s Banquet during the Preaching-Teaching Convention. Recipients are graduates who have demonstrated outstanding Christian service in the local church, overseas, or in other areas. The award selection is made by OCC alumni officers, staff, and administration. In February, we were excited to honor two special OCC couples, Mark and Barbara Moore, and David and Joyce Embree. Mark and Barbara served at OCC for 22 years and now serve with Christ’s Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. David and Joyce Embree have faithfully served in campus ministry at Missouri State University for 40 years. Congratulations and well done, good and faithful servants!

Mark and Barbara Moore in recognition of your mutual investment in thousands of students, for your teaching and mentoring ministry at Ozark Christian College, for preaching the gospel faithfully, for sacrificially serving the Church, and for always lifting up the name of Jesus, your service is highly commended.

David and Joyce Embree in recognition of over forty years of campus ministry serving as professor, campus ministers, mentors, evangelists, and disciple-makers on a university campus, your service is highly commended.

Watch their full stories at and




Vice President of Development and Community Relations Sergio Rizo at the President’s Banquet.

Academic Dean Doug Aldridge awards a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry degree to Dave Embree.

Mark Moore greets Shane and Sara Wood.

Randy and Julie Gariss serve at the President's Banquet.

Class of 1993 25-Year Reunion

Alumni Relations Director Troy Nelson at the President’s Banquet.

Class of 1968 50-Year Reunion




Troy Nelson serves as alumni relations director at OCC.

SHAPING THE HEARTS OF CHURCH LEADERS Thursdays are my favorite day of the week. As OCC’s alumni relations director, most Thursdays find me loading up a thermos of coffee and fresh baked goods from Ozark’s Dining Hall and hitting the road to visit our alumni. I call these trips simply, “Coffee and Conversations.”

Here are some things to pray for: •

As we talk, there’s a common question our alumni often ask:

“What can I do to help our leaders grow as shepherds of the church?” The best answer I have is this: Pray together for the church. The primary means of influence in the church has always been prayer.

• • •

Pray for the spiritual growth of your congregation and for the believers to live under the lordship of Christ. (Eph 1:17-18) Pray for love, unity, and spiritual discernment in the church, and that the believers will be pure and blameless. (Phil 1:9-10)

Pray for people to know the will of God and that their conduct pleases God. (Col 1:9-10) Pray that people will fulfill God’s purpose. (2 Thess 1:11) Pray for the physical and emotional needs of people. ( James 5:14; 3 John 2)

I’ve noticed two effects when these things are prayed regularly:

1. Leaders will grow in spiritual wisdom. These prayers cause leaders to be attentive to God’s answers and direction. 2. Leaders will grow in motivation. As they grow more attentive to the congregation, leaders will pastorally care for people’s needs more.

The answer “pray together” could be received with a yawn, but it really is that simple. Prayer has the power to bring life to a congregation and its leaders.

I’d love to have a “Coffee and Conversation” with you or hear how I can pray for you and your church. Contact me at or 417.626.1234 ext. 2106.

JILL ENGLISH TO RETIRE Jill English, Alumni Relations administrative assistant, will retire later this year in December. For 33 years, Jill has served our single largest constituent group of thousands of alumni and worked alongside alumni directors Meredith Williams, Dru Ashwell, and Troy Nelson. Jill has served the various directors well but has also made a tremendous impact on our alumni in her own way, ministering to them by keeping track of their life milestones like weddings, births, and passings. Jill has been an encourager and pastor to



thousands of OCC graduates for more than three decades. President Matt Proctor writes, “Jill has represented the college with integrity, compassion, and excellence. Very few employees have touched as many lives as she has. Not only has her ministry been wide. It’s been deep. We are exceptionally grateful for Jill and for her service.” Drop a note of congratulations and thanks to Jill at or 1111 N. Main, Joplin, MO 64801.


CONGRATULATIONS Garrett and Judy Osborn (15) Baugher on the birth of Judah Harvey on December 15 in Joplin. The Baughers live in Carthage, MO, where Judy serves as children’s minister with First CC.

Chad (11) and Bailee Bronson on the birth of Ava Marie on February 11 in Grove, OK.

Skyler (15) and Stephanie Moyers (15) Elmer on the birth of Titus Christopher on March 12 in Litchfield, IL, where Skyler serves as lead minister of the Christian Church of Litchfield.

Austin (13) and Savannah Wilcoxen (11) Hedge on the arrival of Sophie Darlene Wren on January 8 in Baltimore, MD.

Sy (12) and Monica Lanzone (11) Huffer on the birth of Chandler Joy in Joplin on February 21. Sy serves as lead minister with College Heights CC. Jim (12) and Jackie Landis on the birth of Isaac (Ike) James on March 19 in Muskogee, OK, where Jim serves as youth minister with the Boulevard CC.

Matthew (16/current staff ) and Allison Scott (11/15) McBirth on the birth of Asa Parker on December 16 in Joplin. Matthew serves as OCC’s diversity director. Glen (01) and Kathryn Miller on the birth of Maximillian Andrew on January 17 in Waco, TX.

Justin (16) and Shiann O’Dell on the birth of Logan Tyler on February 13 in Grand Rapids, MI, where Justin serves as student minister with the Kentwood CC.

David (96) and Bettina Powers (attended) Logsdon have been ministering in Cleveland, OK, since June 2005. For the last two-and-a-half years, they have been fostering three girls that they adopted at the end of July 2017, making them a family of nine. Their children are Jalen (19), Brenna (18), Bella (13), Kidan (8), Josiah (8), Kylee (7), and Mikyla (4). Tony (04) and Angel Hastings (08) Otero on the arrival of Adleigh Elynne on February 11 in Joplin.

Jim and Elizabeth Amigo (10) Rogers on the birth of Elias Asian on February 11 in Rogers, AR.

Casey (99) and Debbe Andrews (00) Scott on the birth of Efram Mark on March 7 in Indianapolis, IN. Casey serves as lead minister of the Chapel Rock CC in Indianapolis.

Josh (10) and Elyse Howard (07) Squibb on the birth of Lorelei Brielle on Novemebr 9 in Katy, TX. Josh serves as an R.N. with Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Katy. James (attended) and Jamey McElravy (attended) Tenorio on the arrival of Jireh Nathaniel on December 6 in Grand Prairie, TX. Tyler and Rebecca Culver (06) Turner on the birth of Henry Owen on February 11. The Turners live in Olathe, KS.




OUR DEEPEST SYMPATHY Please lift up in prayer the families of the following alumni who have passed away in recent weeks. Rosemary Burlison Almy passed away in Loris, SC, on January 13. Jim Haenig (attended) passed away in Springfield, MO, on January 23 from complications of heart disease.

Margaret Hiebert Moberly (attended) passed away on December 27, 2017, in Hoopeston, IL, following a massive stroke she suffered on December 18. Following an illness, Frank Powers (56) passed away in Pryor, OK, on January 13.

David Real (attended) passed away in Tulsa, OK, on February 5 from complications of ALS.

Following a short illness, Jim Sturdy (77-M) passed away in Edmond, OK, on January 7.

Thelma Sack Snell (attended-M) passed away on February 20 in Lexington, OK.

After a courageous battle with cancer, Fran Yount Watson (attended) passed away in Joplin on January 17.

Gary Salmon (79) passed away in Joplin on February 27 following a battle with cancer.

Eugene Stipe (57/former staff-M) passed away on December 27, 2017, in Yukon, OK.

Vance Wartick (71) passed away in Urbandale, IA, on January 20 following a battle with cancer.



On December 17, 2017, Gene Weece (57) was recognized for 25 years of service with the First CC in Unionville, MO.

After being senior minister of Capital West CC in Jefferson City, MO, for the past 25 years, Ken Harland (82) is transitioning from that role. He will stay on staff at Capital West full-time as the administrative minister.


Best wishes to Roy Roberts (83) who retired from Empire District Electric on October 31, 2017, after 37 years of service. Roy lives in Baxter Springs, KS. Larry Osborn (86) began serving as connections/outreach coach for LifeSpring CC in Star, ID, on April 1. Larry had been serving this congregation as youth minister. Larry has served as a youth minister in several churches for the past 38 years.


Don (70) and Fran Walker (attended) Smith celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on January 13. Don continues as a part-time campus minister with Campus Christians in Pittsburg, KS.

Tim Worstell (77) is serving as minister of the First CC in Leroy, KS.

Dr. Susan Honey Knell (79) a professor of education at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS, recently received an appointment to the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award Committee. Over her years in education, Susan has gained an international reputation in the field of children’s literature.



Toney Salva (95) has closed his ministry with Discovery Church in Cranberry Township, PA, and will be serving as the Northeast Regional Executive for Stadia Church Planting. Travis Hurley (98/former staff ) earned a Doctor of Ministry for Pastoral Leadership in Multiethnic Contexts from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Travis serves as director of development with Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission in Joplin.

2000s Bryce Hansen (01) is now serving as an experience specialist with Schuber Mitchell Homes in Webb City, MO, after closing an eight-year student ministry with College Heights CC in Joplin.

Nate Whisler (06) is serving as minister of the Clay City CC in Clay City, IL.

Rachel Hahn Zavala (07) is serving as a missionary in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she works with World Gospel Outreach. Her husband Otniel is the field director for World Gospel Outreach.




Charlie Landis (10) is serving as city life pastor with Hope City Church in Joplin, leaving a ministry in New Albany, IN.

Christian Standard

Samantha Simala (12) married Micah Melugin in Wichita, KS, on March 9.

Andrew Zoll (13) is serving as the associate adult ministries pastor with Christ’s Church of Flagstaff in Flagstaff, AZ. Nick Enabnit (15) has left a youth ministry in Albuquerque, NM, to become middle school minister with College Heights CC in Joplin.

Cassandra DeFazio (15/former staff ) Lowe began serving as the children’s minister with Glendale CC in Springfield, MO, in January. Her husband Philip (17) and son Aiden join her for this adventure. Thomas Montgomery (16) recently began working with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services as a child welfare/protection officer assigned to the Tulsa area. Mark Bujarski (17) is serving as the men’s minister with Christian Campus House at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. Mark and Kori Evans (17) were married on June 10, 2017, in Springfield.

Jeremiah Jones (17) and his family have moved to Sapulpa, OK, to be a part of Cedar Ridge CC, Broken Arrow - Sapulpa campus. He serves as a worship and creative arts pastor. He is doing master’s work at Tabor College in Ministry Entrepreneurship and Innovation.


“The Dot.” by Jerry Harris (84) APRIL

“The Bold Invitation” by Kevin Dooley (85)

“If Christ Be Not Raised” by Mark Moore (86/former faculty) “‘Soul Winning’ Made Simple” by Dudley Rutherford (80)

“Drama of the Gospel” by Mark Scott (76/current faculty)


Marcus (17/former staff ) and Caitlin Mueller (17) Schaeffer recently relocated to Lexington, KY, where Marcus has accepted a position at Southland Christian Church as a middle school pastor for their Lexington campus.

Better Together: Discover the Power of Community by Rusty George (94)

Joe Szklarski (17) and Hope Joyner were married on March 2 and are making their home in Johnson City, TN.

Ian Worstell (17) and Breanna Watt (16) were married on January 27 and are making their home in Joplin.

Dancing in No Man’s Land by Brian Jennings (98/current trustee)

ATTENDED Congratulations to Keith and Alice Gardner on the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary on March 8. The Gardners live in Shelbina, MO.

Jim Rutherford and his wife, Sheila, recently celebrated their tenth year of ministry at God’s Shining Light Church in Tulsa, OK, where Jim is an associate preaching pastor and Sheila, with her band Broken Yokes, is the primary worship leader. Jim also serves as associate director of Wings of Freedom, a faith-based, sober-living program. He is also the CEO of Faith Financial Solutions, providing donation platforms for churches and nonprofits.

Stand Firm by Monte Shepherd (70) Spirits in Our World by Monte Shepherd (70) As I Go by Bob Vernon (51)



Looking for a Bible study or training series for your staff or small group? OCC NextLevel Online has free video resources for you and your church!


1111 N Main St Joplin, MO 64801 Change service requested

Non-Profit Organization U. S. Postage PA I D Joplin, MO 64801 Permit No. 62


A final thought from our editor Amy Storms is a wife, mother, Strong Hall dorm mom, and director of marketing and communications at OCC.

PSALM 119 Amy Storms

My first Bible had a picture of Jesus and children and animals on the cover. Jesus smiled kindly, and the kids seemed to like him. Next I had a pocket-size, paperback New Testament, also with a picture of Jesus and kids. In it, I drew highlighter circles around my favorite verses. My dad had a big, brown New American Standard that fell open just right as he preached. I remember it most often on our kitchen table, where he read it every morning. Years later, I’d read the Word around the table to my kids, too. We’d put actions to Bible verses and recite them over and over in funny accents—“Now let’s say it like a cowboy!”—until we knew them by heart. (Psalm 119:9-11) I’ve had sweet nights singing the Word to made-up tunes over little ones while they slept, and precious mornings studying the Word before anyone else was up, when the truth dawned on me like the sun. (Psalm 119:147-148)


Romans 9:25

I’ve had long seasons of anxiety, doubt, temptation, and disobedience when the Word rescued me and literally changed my mind. Times when I didn’t understand, but the Word enlightened. Times when I couldn’t distinguish truth from lies, but the Word illuminated. (Psalm 119:129-135) I’ve had a lifetime—well, 42 years and counting—with the Word that is not bound by time, or by its embossed leather cover. A lifetime of coming to know the Word—first to earn gold stars on Sunday School charts, and then for help and light and comfort and freedom and peace. A life spent in the Word, to realize that the Word is life. (Psalm 119:89-91) “May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your Word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your Word sustain me.” (Psalm 119:171-175)