We currently employ 125 staff members. We also have 12 full-time volunteers. Much like our student body, this large staff of 137 comes from all over Kentucky and the United States.
A staff of this size may appear too large for a school with 325 students, but we have many working parts that most schools do not have. Houseparents are needed around the clock in the dorm. About 20 cooks are needed in our cafeteria. We have a working farm, and many other things that most schools simply do not have.
Our staff gives of themselves sacrificially and pours into the lives of our young people. We have staff members in their first year of service, and we have staff members who have been here more than 30 years. Serving in our ministry is most definitely a calling.
Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from one of our longtime staff members. Blake Godbold, who has worked tirelessly on our farm for 29 years, told me that he and his wife, Joy, who has been a faithful teacher for 29 years, would be retiring at the end of this school year. While I was personally saddened by this news, I was also happy for the Godbolds.
Blake and Joy came to us in 1986. They raised their four boys in this off-the-path place called Oneida. To my knowledge, these four sons are all living productive lives of service. Many of our staff come to serve here in the years they are raising their children.
When I was extended the offer to serve as Oneida’s 12th president, I naturally wrestled with the effect the change might have on my own three children. My mother recognized that struggle in me at that critical time of decision and said to me, “Son, the very best place for your children to be is wherever God’s will is for your life.”
I will admit it is difficult to do all that is required to lead this ministry and at the same time be father to three young children, but the Lord gives Angie and me what we need daily to do so. The Godbolds and their four sons have sacrificed during their time here, but I am sure the Lord has blessed them and will continue to bless them for it.
The Godbolds have labored in love for nearly three decades and I’m sure are ready for a different challenge. They will be moving to South Carolina to help care for Blake’s mother. I know them well enough to know that while they may be retiring from Oneida, they will not be retiring from serving the Lord. I don’t know about you, but I can’t find any reference in my Bible about retiring from God’s calling on our lives.
I and Oneida will miss the Godbolds. Please pray for Blake and Joy Godbold as they wrap up their Oneida service and also pray for all of our faculty and staff.
Larry Gritton is the president of Oneida Baptist Institute.