Missions Award: Africa

By Wes McKinzie (98)

  • Jana Miller and Meagan Hawley with children from The Haven in Zambia.
Jana Miller and Meagan Hawley with children from The Haven in Zambia.

Oklahoma Christian has planted deep roots in Africa, and this year’s Missions Award honors the collective efforts of a countless number of Eagles called to that work. This is just a sampling of OC’s stories of service there.

Ben Langford (98), director of OC’s Center for Global Missions, spent a summer in Kenya as a student and went back to Africa as a fulltime missionary in 2004. He and his family returned to serve the Basoga tribe in Uganda for six years.

Ben’s brother Adam Langford (01) also was part of that team until his tragic death in 2007, when the vehicle he was in lost control and crashed.

“We pray the next generation of OC alumni and students will have the courage to follow God’s lead to Africa.” Ben Langford

His passing brought purpose to a class of fourth-graders taught by a friend of the Langfords, Natalie Mead. The students connected with Adam’s story and wrote a story of their own. More Than A Mvule Tree raised money to plant 40 trees in a Ugandan village.

Meagan Hawley (03) and Jana Miller (09) are longterm missionaries at The Haven on the Namwianga Mission in Zambia. Their work with the children there spreads hope in a country of more than half a million orphans with HIV/AIDS.

In Rwanda, OC’s heart for missions is helping transform a country. The Rwandan Presidential Scholars has brought hundreds of students to OC to get a first-class college education. They ultimately return to Rwanda to make a difference in their homeland.

Past OC employees Bryan and Dr. Holly Hixson now work in Rwanda after helping former president Dr. Mike O’Neal, former missionary-in-residence Dave Jenkins, and Director of International Programs John Osborne (91) get the Rwandan Presidential Scholars program going.

Other OC alumni working for various ministries in Rwanda include Brett (91) and Keli (Hopkins 92) Shreck, Dr. Brian Robinson (92) and his wife Kristin, and Rusty Linden (09) and his wife Onawa.

In addition, many OC students have traveled to Rwanda on short-term mission trips and have begun ministries such as Rwandans 4 Water and Wishing Well to help the people there.

Wishing Well made a big splash in 2009 with a New York City premiere of its film documenting the work of OC students and alumni in Rwanda. The work that began with the servant hearts of Ryan Groves (11), Joshua Burgin (08), Jason Harvey (11), Travis Hughes (08), Joseph Karch (09), Chase Layman (08), Whitney (Parker 08) Martin, and Taylor Walling (09) continues today, raising funds and awareness of the difference that accessible, clean water can make in the lives of Africans.

Heartbeat for Hope is a non-profit that provides education and rural development in Ghana. OC alumni Amy Hubble (07), Aubrie (Lashley 03) Ross, Judi (Williams 76) Lashley, and Chelsea (Jones 08) West play key roles, raising funds for The Village of Hope and helping support 16 children there.

Dean of Spiritual Life Jeff McMillon (87) takes a group of OC students on short-term mission trips to the The Village of Hope every summer. Professor of Psychology Dr. Lawrence Murray leads campaigns to Ethiopia. Former Homecoming Queen Dr. Jennifer (Jackson) Gray, now the associate dean of OC’s College of Natural and Health Sciences, has led numerous medical mission trips to Africa.

All of the Eagles called to serve in Africa go to meet needs, known and unknown. In 2012, OC students helped put out a dormitory fire during a mission trip to Tanzania. They joined with about 100 Tanzanians to form an impromptu bucket brigade that saved much of the building.

“For decades, OC alumni and students have followed God’s lead into Africa with passion and love, often risking their own well-being to do so,” Ben Langford said. “We pray and anticipate the next generation of OC alumni and students will have the courage to follow God’s lead to Africa.”