February 15, 2002
On Oklahoma Baptist University's 92nd birthday, Dr. Mark Brister reminded students that life is short, and encouraged them to make a difference like the people who had influenced the university throughout its history. Brister, OBU's president, led the annual Founders' Day chapel service last week.
Citing the contributions of campus legends, Brister said that life is not just about beginning well, it's about ending well.
"Live your life in such a way as to finish well," he told students.
He listed stories and testimonies of people from OBU's class of 1951. After beginning well, many of those graduates spent the last 50 years living well, he said.
One member of that class, Dr. Milton Ferguson, now the president emeritus of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, strongly supported Christian higher education throughout his career, Brister said. A man who did not attend OBU, Al Geiger, was so impressed with the way Ferguson talked about OBU that he eventually gave the money to build OBU's Geiger Center and other projects.
Another graduate of the class of 1951, Bob Cargill, helped OBU found a strong development program in the late 60s and early 70s, Brister said. His efforts helped develop a base of endowments for scholarships that allow students to attend OBU today. He now owns Cargill Associates, a fund-raising consultant firm that has helped churches and colleges raise more than $3.5 billion dollars in the past 25 years.
Brister also described people who had made an impact on OBU that students might not have heard of before.
The kingdom of God is made up of both seen and unseen givers, Brister said. Students might not have had had the opportunity to get to know some significant OBU personalities before they died, but their contributions still remain.
Brister mentioned the Short sisters, Eunice Jaxie and Willene Fuquay. Growing up on campus while their father was a professor, each of them gave OBU something unique as they grew older, Brister said. Eunice was a long-time administrator, Jaxie a missionary to China, and Willene a campus artist.
He also told students about Jim Taylor, who helped build Talyor Dormitory in honor of his wife, Doris. Taylor, who died in 2001, had a horse ranch where he hosted a therapy program for disabled children.
Psalm 39:4-5 heeds people to experience life to the fullest, Brister said.
"David spoke about how fast life passes," he said. "God measures our lives like a handbreadth. I challenge you to finish well."
To God, our lives our as short as a handbreadth, Brister said. Students must choose their endeavors carefully, because their time on earth is limited.
"What is Christian higher education all about?" Brister asked. "That we would use our minds and our hearts in such a way that our lives and others' lives would be transformed. That we would hold our own intellectually and have compassion."