OBU Leads in Alums Serving with IMB

OBU is again listed as the undergraduate university with the most alumni currently serving under appointment with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Of the 30 universities listed in a report recently released by the IMB, OBU led with 240 current missionaries –- serving as career, International Service Corps, Journeyman and Apprentice personnel –- under appointment with the board.

“We are delighted that OBU continues to lead all colleges in the number of alumni serving through the International Mission Board,” said OBU President David Whitlock. “We are grateful for a tradition of global engagement, and we are thankful for the faithful support of Oklahoma Baptists who with our staff and faculty nurture a missions mindset among our students.”

Other universities in the top five included Ouachita Baptist University with 225 alumni serving through the IMB; Baylor University, 215; Samford University, 186; and Hardin-Simmons University, 182. Other universities in Oklahoma listed in the top 30 were the University of Oklahoma with 116 alumni under appointment, and Oklahoma State University with 63 alumni currently serving.

“OBU has a long history of missions involvement,” said Dale Griffin, OBU dean of spiritual life. “The relationship between OBU, Falls Creek and the churches of Oklahoma continues to be a tool in the hands of God as he calls, trains and blesses missionaries through the International Mission Board.

“The announcement that OBU has more graduates serving with the IMB than any other university has provided great refrain for the close of the Centennial Celebration at Oklahoma Baptist University. To God alone be the glory!”

Missions involvement at OBU is fostered through the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach, which seeks to partner with students, faculty and staff to engage a diverse world. The Center for Global Outreach, or GO Center, provides opportunities for students to reach out to people in Shawnee, in Oklahoma, across the United States and around the globe. Griffin said students’ global perspective is challenged through the integration of faith and education.

The center was named in honor of Dr. Avery T. Willis Jr., a renowned leader in global missions. He retired from the International Mission Board as senior vice president for overseas operations in 2004. An Arkansas native, Willis was a 1956 OBU graduate. He and his wife, Shirley, served as missionaries to Indonesia for 14 years before returning stateside in 1978. He died July 30, 2010, after being diagnosed with leukemia in January. He was 76.

OBU’s long-standing focus on missions is also evidenced by alumni such as Rosalee Mills Appleby, a leader among Oklahoma Baptist youth in the early 20th century. She was the first person to make a decision for missionary service at the inaugural session of Falls Creek in 1917. She graduated from OBU in 1920. She and her husband, David Appleby, went to Brazil where she continued serving after her husband’s death in 1925. She is a legend among OBU missionaries, and the quality of her life and ministry is remembered every year when the Rosalee Mills Appleby Award -– formerly called the Life Beautiful Award –- is given in her memory to a deserving female student at OBU.

For more information about OBU’s Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach, click here.