The Lord mainly speaks to us through His Word, but in other ways as well. I can clearly recall two distinct times the Lord has given me clear instructions. The first involved some spur-of-the-moment baptisms during a revival when I pastored a small church. The other came 5.5 years ago when the Lord gave me a clear vision of local area kids lined up single file and pouring out of the hills of Clay County, Kentucky, onto the Oneida campus. The latter remains etched in my thoughts and drives me to lead Oneida to do more to reach our local families.
We continue to work toward making this dream a reality and we strive every day to do all we can to reach local students and families. We have sent a “holler” driver out to invite students in. We brought back our daily bus routes, which had not been driven since the 1970s. We also re-opened our doors to local, commuting students in kindergarten through 5th grade, which hadn’t been done since the 1950s. We currently have more than 90 local kids attending and I’d love for that number to grow to 150. We minister to kids from across the street and also across the seas, but I believe our work begins right here in our own back yard. Commuting students don’t pay any tuition. We are nothing like most traditional Christian schools that receive healthy tuition dollars from each student’s family, but the Lord always provides what we need.
We were recently blessed with an encouraging message from a local parent. She said, “My kids love this school. I feel so blessed and thankful. Leaving Louisville was going to be a temporary thing. But OBI made it easy to live in this rural community. The love and support my kids get makes us feel like part of the family. It’s not just the great education, but also the great things you do for the parents. Many times I have prayed for things my kids need and some way it shows up at the Friendship House or my kids bring it home. Every food giveaway makes it that much easier to get by. I just want the school and staff to know how much I appreciate every hug my kids get, every bite of food, and every stitch of clothes they get.”
When the Lord leads us to do something, we should move forward faithfully. Messages from God’s Word are great reminders of why we are to be obedient. The Lord sustains that which He ordains, and He most definitely ordained this unique ministry with local people in mind when we opened our doors on January 1, 1900.
Larry Gritton is the president of Oneida Baptist Institute.