May 4, 2001
With three decades of experience in Christian higher education to glean from, Dr. Omer Hancock stood before a room of Oklahoma Baptist University ministry students who were eager to hear words of wisdom.
Compared to a dark and bland world, he began, his profession is often salt and light.
Hancock, professor of church ministry and director of in-service training at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, was OBU's 2001 Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service alumni award recipient and featured speaker for the annual church vocation banquet, April 23. He and his wife, Judy, are 1964 OBU graduates.
"Christian higher education builds great men and great women," he said. "Christian higher education contributes immensely to the development of leaders."
In the gospels, education is present all around Jesus, Hancock said. Jesus calls himself a teacher, he is called teacher, he is seen teaching and the disciples are referred to as learners.
Following in a great tradition of Christian education, educators and learners can follow a compass and map approach to a Christian life and vocational ministry.
The compass always points north and north never changes, he said.
"Christ is for the Christian what north is for the compass," Hancock said. "The compass is not north itself but never loses its orientation."
The map compliments the compass - it allows for valid options while remaining true to the compass and from it one knows his location, the location of others, and the many roads that connect everyone.
One problem with reading the map, Hancock said, is that it does not speak. It can be confusing and frustrating, he said.
"A relationship with God needs faith," he said. "We are most fully human when we acknowledge and accept God as God in our lives."
Faith leads Christians to discover salvation and salvation makes them whole. The process of growing more complete can be a painful one, Hancock said, but Christians can find strength in the healing.
"Our hearts grow strong in the broken places when we become wounded healers," he said. "We forget our own wounds as we concentrate on healing others."
A career of Christian education teaches the value of things that really matter, Hancock added.
"We do not get everything done we desire to accomplish, but what we do complete can extend far beyond our earthly life," he said. "Each Christian engages in ministry touching lives one day at a time. Each day interfaces with eternity."
A native of Okmulgee, Hancock received a license to the ministry at age 17 and was ordained at First Baptist Church in Okmulgee when he was 27. At OBU, he was a member the Bison Glee Club and senior class president.
He worked as music and youth director at churches in Pauls Valley and Barnsdall, and pastored churches in Guymon, Edmond, and Lexington, Texas.
At HSU since 1981, Hancock has taught courses in Old Testament, world religions, Baptist history, religious cults and pastoral ministry.
Hancock earned his master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.