The OC graduate personified

Alumni, faculty serve near and far

“Our work began with principles poured into me during college. As an elementary education major, I learned that children and youth are our most valuable, yet underdeveloped resource.”

For many OC alumni, serving not only is part of who we are as OC graduates; it is a lifestyle.

During these difficult economic times, we see alumni who are serving, and serving some more: dentists who donate time and resources to free clinics, doctors who serve in free medical clinics, business leaders who provide their services and or products for free.

Take David Neel. He was at OC in the mid 1980s. He ran in the Chorale crowd and was a business major. After graduating, he went back home to California and now owns Neel Lighting & Controls, Inc., in Ventura.

His company opened a spare office for friends or family of his employees to use to search for employment. He’s had at least one taker, someone who lost his job and his home, who comes in to use a desk, phone, computer and Internet.

Then there’s Amber Foster. She graduated from OC in 2004 and went to Honduras as a missionary. There, she ministers to youth in Tegucigalpa, cheerfully enduring job-related unpleasantries such as head lice, and opening her home time and time again to orphaned children.

Take Ron (96) and Susan Crawford (95). For more than six years, they have served as inner-city missionaries in Oklahoma City. Ron is the youth director for Rock Island, part of Cross & Crown Mission that sits on the corner of NW 10th and McKinley, a part of the inner city that has the unfortunate reputation for prostitution, drugs and other unhealthy choices for the neighborhood’s youth.

“Our work began with foundational principles poured into me at a really impressionable age during college,” Ron said. “As an elementary education major, I learned that children and youth, especially in the inner city, are Oklahoma City’s most valuable, yet underdeveloped resource.”

A year ago, the Crawford family had an opportunity to practice what they preach when they reached out to one of the girls in the Rock Island youth group who was pregnant. They invited the girl and her baby to live with them.

“I think the experience was good for our family because our children learned that God sometimes asks you to sacrifice for His Kingdom,” Ron said. “They also got to see that we were rewarded far more than anything we gave emotionally and financially to her.”

Across town, OC alumni are teeming at Capitol Hill Church of Christ (Iglesia de Cristo Capitol Hill), where there is no shortage of work to do or volunteers to do it.

The congregation, located south of downtown Oklahoma City, is multicultural and multilingual. In addition to worship services and Bible classes, Capitol Hill meets the needs of its neighbors by providing a free medical clinic two nights a week.

Capitol Hill also has a vibrant youth group that participates in basketball leagues, lock-ins and even Leadership Training for Christ.

The youth minister, Matt Brazle (06) was a double major in engineering and missions. Even though he had many career opportunities, he feels God has him where he wants him to be, serving the youth at Capitol Hill.

“It’s an inner-city church and a lot of our kids come from broken homes and situations where they face gangs, drugs and violence daily,” Matt said. “A lot of them have trouble at school and at home with obedience and discipline, and as a result, they have a much greater need for organized discipline and positive correction than your typical church might.”

Alumni and students are not the only ones who serve at Capitol Hill. On Thursday nights, you’ll find Dr. John Harrison, chair of OC’s Graduate School of Theology, and his wife, Sharon, teaching Bible class for elementary kids.

Each story of service is unique, but each shares the evidence of humble submission to God’s will, as alumni diligently follow the two greatest commandments: to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all our soul, and all your mind,” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37 & 39).

By Dawn Shelton (90)