Yesterday we dedicated the OBU at NLC facility in Conway. Honored guests from Ouachita, the Conway Chamber of Commerce, other Conway colleges, and our very own NLC family joined us for the ceremony and reception. Below is a transcript of the comments I shared during the ceremony.
OBU at New Life Church is not the first-ever partnership between a church and a university. These are not the first two organizations to recognize that Christian colleges and local churches share a mission of training young difference-makers to serve Christ and our neighbors in a way that brings about lasting change in our communities and around the world.
So why are our students wearing t-shirts that say “Make History”? What is historic about today? What are we doing that has never been done?
First of all, beginning this fall in the facility we are dedicating this afternoon, Ouachita Baptist University will offer fully accredited associate of arts degrees in general studies and Christian studies for the very first time. For more than 125 years, Ouachita has equipped students with a world-class Christian education in the liberal arts tradition. With students from about 30 states and 30 nations, OBU has made a global impact through exceptional Christian education. Today they continue to make an impact with this new program. The two-year liberal arts degree offered by OBU at NLC has never been offered before, and it is not offered anywhere else. This is an historic moment for Ouachita.
This partnership marks an important first for New Life Church as well. NLC has an extraordinary gift for identifying and equipping young leaders to do the work of life-giving ministry. The church has operated a successful ministry training program in the past that has enabled the church to plant 9 campuses in just over 13 years. OBU at NLC will allow New Life Church to expand its ministry reach even further. Beginning this fall, students can continue to receive focused leadership training from NLC staff while completing their general education requirements. This is an historic moment for New Life Church.
But what makes this moment truly significant is that OBU at New Life Church offers more than an associate’s degree. It offers more than hands-on ministry training. It offers students something neither institution can provide on its own. OBU at NLC combines Ouachita’s 128-year heritage of excellence in Christian higher education and New Life’s commitment to innovative and life-changing ministry to form students into fully devoted followers of Christ. Some of them will enter ministry as their career. Others will be teachers or doctors or small-business owners. Whatever they do for a living, the foundation for their future of learning and Christian service will be laid here.
Our prayers for our students are represented by the facility we are dedicating today. OBU at NLC students will learn and worship and serve all on one campus. The things they learn in the morning they’ll have opportunity to put into practice in the afternoon. The 7,000 square-feet of brick and steel behind me represents our belief that excellence in the classroom plus experience serving others will make our students difference-makers in our communities. They will learn to honor the best of the past as they seek new solutions for the future. They will embody the integration of faith and learning, of theory and practice, of heritage and innovation.
Ouachita and New Life Church are committed to keeping the cost of this program affordable so more students can have access to this life-changing education. I am thrilled and grateful to announce that generous supporters have made it possible for us to offer competitive scholarships to our first class of students. Inside you’ll find a press release that gives details about OBU at NLC scholarships, as well as information about becoming a supporter. You’ll also find cake. I know you’re excited about cake.
Personally, I believe that what we’re doing here is much bigger than Ouachita Baptist University or New Life Church or any of us. Across the country,
churches are struggling to disciple and educate their young people in the basics of biblical faith before sending them out into the world as adults. Likewise colleges are struggling to prepare students for the demands of the ever-changing workplace. We just might be able to do both here. And while the eyes of the world may not be upon us now, I believe we’re setting an example that other churches and universities will follow. So look alive, people. There’s nowhere to go now but into the future.
We’ve asked a pioneer class of students to join us on this journey, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far. The students here with us today, along with those who have yet to join us, are poised to make history. Students, savor this moment. You’re an integral part of something huge. We are all blessed to be a part of God’s work in your lives.
Brandon J. O’Brien
Director, OBU at New Life Church
Contact Josh Rauls, admissions counselor, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the program.