In the fall of 1976 I was a student at Northeastern Oklahoma State University, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, a small town and campus nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northeastern Oklahoma. I wasn’t sure what my major would be, though I had this brilliant idea that I wanted to major in Indian Studies, and be a social worker, helping Native Americans. How, I wasn’t sure, but at least I had a goal, even if it was farfetched.
I was raised Catholic, and did all the Catholic stuff; Holy Communion, Confirmation, picking a Saint. I had a Catholic religious education for most of my schooling, but at college, I wasn’t very much into religion. I knew about God, I didn’t know much about the Bible, but I accepted Jesus being born and dying on the cross, you know, Christmas and Easter, not much more.
It was in the early weeks of the fall of 1976 that I’d just gotten out of a Sociology class. I usually scheduled all my classes in the morning, so that I’d have the rest of the day off, to study or just hang around and I usually just hung around putting off my studies until the last minute. Not a smart move, but when you’re a freshman at college you tend to do some stupid things.
Usually when I got to the cafeteria, the lady at the desk would help me go through the line, I enjoyed hamburgers, french fries, pizza, typical college food, things that were easy to get and have people help me with, but on this day things were different. The lady wasn’t able to help me, so she got four students to help me through the line. They were very polite and nice and asked me to sit with them at their table. I hadn’t been asked that very much before. I guess other students felt uncomfortable seeing someone blind and with a cane. They probably couldn’t relate. These students were different. In fact, one of the guys lived in the same dorm as me and had seen me before, and we’d talked for a while.
This was the first lunch that I really enjoyed. We talked, shared about our majors, where we lived in the dorms, where we were from, the usual things to get to know each other and break the ice. It was really nice; the students were really outgoing, but they were also really sincere. It surprised me a little, but it came at a good time.
Just before lunch ended one of the students asked me if I’d like to come to what they called the “student center” to enjoy pizza, play volleyball and meet other students. I jumped at the chance and said yes, who in their right mind would turn down free pizza, and I’d hadn’t had any pizza for quite a while. The guy that lived in the dorm said he’d come pick me up. So I was excited, not really knowing what the “student center” was or that it was called the “Bible Chair.” That really made me open my eyes, but I went anyway. I was interested because these kids were different, I didn’t know why and couldn’t lay a finger on it, but what I saw I liked and wanted to learn more
I was picked up around 6 P.M. and went over to the Bible Chair and met more students, just like the ones in the cafeteria. Again, there was something different about them, but I couldn’t figure it out. Their language, their conduct, and how they treated each other and related to each other was a lot different than in the dorms.
We played lots of volleyball. I was allowed to be my team’s server, and it was fun. I don’t recall if my side won or not, but it was lots of fun, and later we had pizza.
Then, the most interesting thing happened, we had a Bible study. I’d never really been to one and didn’t know what it was going to be about. All I knew was that they talked about Jesus dying for our sins. It was an enjoyable time. It really didn’t leave a huge impact on me, but I thought that it was nice, and if I were asked to come back again, I would go mainly to meet more students, have more friends, play volleyball, and to enjoy pizza. But if I weren’t asked, it was at least something that I took part in, something I’d at least experienced, and it was nice.
But apparently, God has other plans, I knew nothing about them, and didn’t expect them to take place so soon. But they were there right in front of me.
I’ve always loved singing, and I’d sung in the choir in high school, four part harmony, I sang tenor and loved it. And O my Goodness, when I heard these new friends that I’d made, singing songs to God in rich and beautiful four-part harmony, I was hooked. I might not know lots about Jesus, how to receive and accept him, but I was going to learn the songs, specifically the tenor part so that I’d be able to blend in and sing. I worked on that really hard, I continued to come to the Bible Chair and eventually in the middle part of October, I gave my life to Christ, it was a student retreat at Petti-John Springs, Oklahoma, where I was baptized in a creek, by Marcus Brown, the campus minister. I had no idea what they did. I guessed that they just helped college students. Marcus led me to Christ and baptized me. I know that I took part in lots of other Bible studies, and I know that I must have learned a great deal because I knew that my life wasn’t going in the proper direction. I cried so much after being baptized and I got lots of hugs and congratulations. I really hadn’t planned on being baptized, though I’d been thinking about it and talking it over with many of the students there at NSU. I’m sure that God knew what would lead me to wanting to have Christ in my life, the best decision I could have made.
I received my first Braille Bible from the Bible Chair at Tahlequah and I read that thing until I wore it out, especially the New Testament. But I really believe that what led me to Christ was the fact that I loved acapella music and God knew that he was going to use this to help me come to him, and I’m sure glad that he did.
I don’t know where any of the students from Tahlequah, Oklahoma are, or the Campus Minister and his wife, I transferred to OU (Oklahoma University) a year later, and many good and wonderful things happened, but I accepted Christ in a most unique and wonderful way. Being baptized in a creek was really special and my love for acapella music opened up my heart to receive the Love of Christ and what he did for me and why he did it by dying on the cross. I’m sure that I went through lots of Bible studies and learned quite a lot to get me ready to accept Christ and be baptized, but it all goes together. It’s a wonderful life and because of it, I’ve many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, especially my preacher buddies who I give a hard time to, but only because I love them.