Oklahoma Baptist University is offering assistance to missionaries of the International Mission Board and their dependents. In response to a recent plan by the IMB to address revenue shortfalls by reducing the number of missionaries on the field, the university is extending special scholarship opportunities to assist returning missionaries and their families, as well as those who remain in active service.
OBU currently offers an “MK Scholarship,” short for “Missionary Kids.” This scholarship is a long-standing tradition at the University and includes a guaranteed 50 percent tuition scholarship for children of current International Mission Board or North American Mission Board missionaries. Eligible students receive a minimum of 50 percent tuition when all OBU scholarships for which the student is eligible are combined with the MK scholarship.
OBU will continue to offer the MK Scholarship, but will extend the scholarship to benefit children of missionaries who are returning from the field. Students already receiving the MK scholarship will be able to keep it for their entire four years at OBU, regardless of their parents' employment status with IMB or NAMB. OBU will also extend this scholarship to high school aged dependents of current missionaries, as long as they enroll at OBU by fall 2020. In addition, OBU will offer the 50% tuition break for missionaries themselves for spring 2016 and fall 2016 entry, valid for two consecutive semesters.
The University has a long tradition of supporting missionaries and missions work. Each year, more than 200 students, faculty and staff serve around the world on GO Trips, sponsored by the Avery T. Willis center for Global Outreach. Likewise, more OBU alumni serve as missionaries through the IMB worldwide than do alumni from any other university.
“At OBU, our heart for missions is a driving force behind everything we do,” said Dr. David W. Whitlock, OBU president. “We believe passionately in supporting the work of Christ all around the world, by sending our students and employees on GO Trips, by praying for and supporting our missionaries at home and abroad, and by educating and preparing our students, many of whom go on to serve full time with the IMB or NAMB. We want to offer our love, support, prayers, encouragement and resources to these missionaries, as they determine God’s plan for their futures upon returning home.”
The IMB presented a financial restructuring plan in late August, during a town hall meeting including missionaries and staff, who collectively attended either in person or through digital communication. To address revenue shortfalls, the IMB enacted a plan to slowly reduce the number of missionaries through normal attrition and limited appointments, while using IMB's reserves - including global property sales - to keep as many missionaries on the field as possible. They likewise offered a voluntary retirement incentive, to missionaries and home office staff who are at least 50 years old with a minimum of five years of service. This resulted in several hundred missionaries returning from the field.