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Agee Encourages Students to Seek Excellence

September 19, 2012

Agee, who served as OBU's 13th president from 1982-98, referred to OBU's school spirit -- often called "Bison spirit" -- and how it can be found worldwide. Agee now serves as a professor of educational leadership and special assistant to the president of Union University. He also is a founder and senior consultant for Agee, Stewart & Allen Development Services.

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He noted how the school yell, "Ka-Rip," is a point of camaraderie for tens of thousands of OBU alumni around the globe. But the real "Bison spirit," Agee said, is embodied by the students and alumni who, throughout OBU's 102-year history, have refused to cower in the face of difficult circumstances.

Rosalee Mills Appleby, a 1920 graduate of OBU who served as a missionary in Brazil, exhibited "real Bison spirit," Agee said. While she was in labor with her first child, Mills' husband died. Despite the policy of the time, she refused to leave the mission field, but rather raised her son as a single mother in South America. Decades later, Agee met a man in Brazil whose father had discovered a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through Appleby's testimony.

Agee said others through the years who exhibited "real Bison spirit" include OBU students, faculty and alumni who courageously faced danger with genuine commitment to their tasks: those teaching English in China when protests broke out in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989; those establishing an economic school in Moscow, Russia, in 1994 when an uprising resulted in tanks and snipers adjacent to their apartment building; and those serving on mission in Cambodia in 1997 when an attempted revolt broke out, stranding dozens in a missionary's home.

In each case, Agee pointed out, the OBU representatives refused to abandon their assignments due to fear. They each represented the "Bison spirit," he said.

Agee based his message on Psalm 91, following OBU's 2012-13 chapel theme, "The Psalms." Psalm 91 begins with a statement that "the one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty" (verse 1), and the Scripture continues with statements of God's protection of his beloved children.

"What a promise!" Agee said. "There will be times in your life that that assurance will keep your feet on solid ground and give you the courage to dare to be and to do."

Agee told students they needed to settle a few things while they are on Bison Hill. He said to have the courage "to be and to do," each student needs to be sure they have a genuine personal relationship with the living God. There is no such thing as an "inherited" faith, he said, noting that a person needs a relationship with Jesus Christ more than he or she needs anything else in all the world.

Students also need to realize courage comes from a genuine hunger and thirst to serve God, to love him, and to experience his presence and pleasure in one's life, Agee said. He told students to settle the issue of ownership, to decide to whom they will belong and on whom they will rely.

"You find the courage to be and do because you dare to sign over the deed of your life to Jesus Christ as Master and Lord of your life," Agee said. "That will shape your life, your destiny, far beyond your wildest dreams and imagination. The places you'll go, the impact you'll make with your life, your education, your ability, will stretch your best, but you will make a difference."

Agee also told the students to settle the issue of who will write the rules for their lives. While students may seek to build their life's rules on the idea of freedom or on the chaotic pulses of contemporary culture, Agee pled with students to build their plans and shape their perspectives with the words and wisdom of Christ.

"The fact is, you and I can never be big enough, strong enough or smart enough to write the right rules for our lives," he said. "The great thing is, you have access to the source of the wisdom and knowledge of the ages. You don't have to invent the rules by which you'll live. You don't have to draw the roadmap based on your limited understanding of life and future. You can claim (God's) promises that you will live under his shadow, guided by what he has revealed in his Word, and know that he has placed you under the watch-care of angels."

Agee renewed the vision he cast during his presidency on Bison Hill -- a vision of excellence for OBU -- stating he would never give up on that passion.

"Don't be content with who you think you are right now," Agee said. "There's so much more to you than you ever thought possible.

"You dare to engage in the search to become all God created you to be and do. You dare to give your best effort for God's glory in everything you do -- in the classroom, in the dorm, on the track, on the field, on the floor -- wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you dare to be the best you can possibly be."