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Alumni Profile in Excellence: Agent of Freedom

March 12, 2009

Randy Horn has spent his lifetime vocation ministering to the intangible needs of people around him as a pastor, teacher, speaker, author and long-term care insurance salesman. Today, Horn and his wife, Laura, help meet the tangible need for wheelchairs around the world through Wheels to Freedom.

Growing up as an Air Force kid, Horn attended 13 schools in 12 years in eight different states. As a senior in high school in Chickasha, he felt God call him to serve as a pastor, and he decided to attend Oklahoma Baptist University.

"I was attracted to the small, liberal arts atmosphere of OBU and its reputation for academic excellence," Horn said. "It broadened my world. Growing up as a nomadic kid going from school to school, OBU took information I had acquired and pieced it together into a holistic education."

He recalls the strength of OBU's liberal arts program including Western Civ, history and English, as well as the integrity of professors such as Dr. James Hurley, Dr. Jim Tanner and Dr. Don Wester, among others.

"Dr. Hurley was particularly influential as a professor and as my Sunday School teacher," Horn said. "He taught that all truth is God's truth. He moved me beyond my fundamental upbringing to a deeper understanding of the Christian faith.

"These professors embodied the best of living lives that had purpose and meaning, and not just developing the human intellect, but also the human spirit," he said.

Horn said he learned from his time on Bison Hill that faith in God has at least as much to do with him asking questions as it does with finding answers. His faith journey resulted in a personal mission statement which, in part, says: "I want to use the gifts and abilities God has given me to equip and empower others to solve some of life's problems, enjoy some of life's pleasure and embrace some of life's mystery."

He also developed a personal definition between "occupation" and "vocation." An occupation, Horn said, is how a person "puts bread on the table" - the source of income. A person's vocation, he said, is using one's gifts to serve God.

Following graduation from OBU in 1969, Horn earned a master of divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. For 24 years, he served as co-pastor of a church in Kansas City, meeting the intangible pastoral-care needs of his congregation. He later became a national and international teacher and author through SkillPath Seminars, providing courses to enhance adults' business and professional skills. He wrote the book, "Having Something to Say When You Have to Say Something: The Art of Organizing Your Presentation," published by SkillPath in 1997.

Horn said he does not believe moving from formal ministry to a secular job ended his ministry.

"I don't feel like I have left the ministry," Horn said. "I don't feel like my vocation has changed; only my occupation has changed."

Following his time with SkillPath, Horn became a long-term care insurance specialist with Genworth Financial in the Kansas City area. Primarily an insurance salesman, he sets appointments to consult with families and small businesses about long-term care insurance needs. America's 76 million baby boomers need to plan ahead for their personal-care needs of tomorrow, he said.

"I have found it very rewarding because it involves a different set of needs from pastoral care," Horn said. "It's gratifying for me to help people prepare not only to protect their savings, but also their families.

"I'm helping people solve a very practical problem when I help them secure long-term care insurance," he said. "I try to help people so they can care for their loved ones rather than having to take care of their loved ones."

The difference, he said, is having energy and resources available rather than having to do the work oneself, which can lead to the exhaustion and depression of the caregiver.

Horn's passion for people is evident in his results: for several years, including 2007, he was named Agent of the Year, based on sales, for the Southern Plains Agency, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Southern Illinois.

Eleven years ago, Horn caught hold of an opportunity to help people in a tangible way - a ministry he can do in addition to his full-time work. He learned of Hope Haven, a ministry based in Rock Valley, Iowa, whose mission states: "As followers of Christ, we unleash potential in people through work and life skills so that they may enjoy a productive life in their community."

One opportunity unveiled by Hope Haven was the need for wheelchairs to be collected and sent to other countries. It's a need the Horns felt they could meet. So the couple founded "Wheels to Freedom," a non-profit organization which collects wheelchairs in the Kansas City area and arranges for them to be stored until they can be refurbished and delivered by volunteers through Hope Haven.

Since beginning the project, Wheels to Freedom has collected several thousand wheelchairs, about 300 each year for the past 10 years. Hope Haven has distributed more than 70,000 wheelchairs in all.

"In developing countries, the disabled are the poorest of the poor," Horn said. "A wheelchair may cost several hundred dollars - a year's salary - so what happens is those people in need are either carried by their families or drag themselves on a piece of cardboard."

Through an annual drive, including a car wash, concert and children's carnival, Wheels to Freedom raises awareness of the need. The Horns also operate the web site

"A wheelchair not only changes the life of the disabled person, but also changes the lives of the entire family," Horn said.

Meeting this need provides a fulfilling opportunity for a man who has addressed both the intangible and tangible needs of people around the world for his entire career, building, in part, on life lessons learned on Bison Hill.

Click the following link to view a full list of previous Profile in Excellence recipients.