Editor's Note: Oklahoma Baptist University alum Chuck King, a 1980 graduate, is a 2008 recipient of the OBU Alumni Association's Profile In Excellence Award. The award is given to a former student who has "demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University." Each year, Profile In Excellence recipients are featured in OBU Magazine.
In the 1980 Oklahoma Baptist University yearbook, Yahnseh, senior performing arts major Chuck King stated he planned to pursue a job in California, New York or Dallas. But God had other plans for King, who instead landed a job with a children's theatre troupe in Oklahoma City. It was the first step toward fulfilling his life call -- a call which has taken him around the world to his adopted home of Israel.
King's first job out of college was with the Oklahoma State Arts Council. He said the experience was fantastic -- but even more, it was life-changing.
"The Lord used it to bring me around to the original call I felt as a teenager that I was dedicated to serve Him with my whole life, that whatever gifts or talents I had belonged to Him and were reserved for His purposes."
King and his wife, Louann -- a 1981 OBU nursing graduate -- continue to live focused on using their talents and gifts for the eternal good of God's Kingdom. King directs the musical activities of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, serves as a worship leader and ministers as a recording artist. Louann volunteers her nursing skills a few times a week, making home visits to the elderly and destitute in Jerusalem. The couple also hosts a home group of Christians who depend upon one another for encouragement and support as they live out their faith in Jerusalem.
As a new freshman, King said he felt he was moving a world away to attend OBU, when in reality he was traveling only 35 miles from nearby Oklahoma City. Until college, his life had revolved around the same house, the same school district and the same group of kids.
"OBU was my first real opportunity to get outside of my very narrow world and experience a broader community - to study and live among peers with backgrounds, ideas and opinions that were different from my own," King said.
He credits a broad-based education on Bison Hill with giving him the foundation and confidence to serve in the church, as well as the skills and language he needed to work in various musical and performance settings, even in the professional world. Because of the relatively small size of the student body, opportunities abounded for 'on the job' training in music and theatre venues including the Bison Glee Club, Shawnee community theatre and other outlets. A promising future While King pondered where God's leading would take him career-wise, he felt immense support from the OBU faculty to fulfill his potential.
"Jeri Graham Edmonds was a great vocal coach, but more importantly, she was the one who really challenged me to pursue my passion and to follow my heart," he said. "Dr. Michael Cox was an outstanding conductor and choral technician. I learned so much by just observing him and sitting under his baton in the Glee Club.
"Brack Marquette, the chairman of the speech and theatre department, was a person with a sense of professionalism and leadership savvy that I wanted to emulate. He became a good friend, was always available as counselor and advisor, but was able to keep the proper boundary between faculty member and student.
"Rhetta Mayfield was just a total inspiration, and very down-to-earth as well," King recalled. " She helped me to believe in my own abilities as a performer."
Landing the job with the children's theatre troupe immediately after graduation, it would be nearly a decade before King first traveled to Israel. In 1989, he attended the Christian celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. It changed his life.
"I was just blown away," King said from his home. "I knew I had a destiny here."
It was a seven-year process before the King family changed their address to Jerusalem, but the couple - along with children Jacob, Kaitlyn and Jessica - took the steps of faith to relocate following God's call. They now live among more than 1 million Russian and Ethiopian Jews who have migrated to Israel in recent years.
"That is a modern-day miracle, and we've been able to be a part of it," King said.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was founded in 1980 by Christians from around the world as an act of solidarity with the Jewish people's 3,000-year-old claim and connection to Jerusalem. The embassy represents millions of believers from more than 125 countries who share a love and concern for Israel and the Jewish people. Its ministries are to comfort Israel, educate the Church, celebrate God's faithfulness and confront anti-Semitism.
"My prayer is that we can remain faithful to the calling to 'comfort Israel' at any cost," King said. "We hope that our testimony to Israelis, our Jewish friends and neighbors, is that we are true and uncompromising believers in Jesus who can show unconditional love and support in spite of the horrific history of the Church as it relates to the Jewish people."
The ICEJ is best known for hosting the annual Christian celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was the event that first caught King's attention, and it is now the focal point of his year-round work. The celebration is a multicultural event which draws thousands of pilgrims from more than 70 nations for a week of teaching, worship and prayer during the Jewish holiday of Succot. It's the largest annual tourist event in Israel.
With King's travel schedule and parenting a daughter in high school, the couple rarely finds a dull moment in their life in Israel. However, the family cherishes a cultural routine they adopted with their new homeland: celebrating Friday nights as the Jewish Sabbath with a traditional meal, blessings and rest. When his schedule allows, King also participates in the local theatre.
"I view myself as one of those rare, fortunate and blessed people who has been able to live out my hobbies and interests as a career," King said. "I've tried to invest my time and energy into things that have eternal value and significance. I graduated from OBU with the sense that my role in life would be played out in unusual ways, and I think that has come to pass. I'm grateful for every stage of the journey, including the time I spent on Bison Hill. In many ways, those years steered the course for me."
Click the following link to view a full list of previous Profile in Excellence recipients.