Reflecting on this three-year journey causes me to feel extreme gratitude. First (and most obviously) to God because without the strength and stamina provided by God, I would not have been able to accomplish this goal. I also owe an extreme debt of gratitude to my wife, Andrea W. Cox, and our children, Kaleb, Emma, and Sarah, who each, in various ways, have offered support and self-sacrificial patience through all of the difficult times. I appreciate the support of Wintergreen OFWB Church for standing firmly behind me in and through the entire process of pursuing the call of God on my life to serve His Kingdom as an educator. I will be eternally grateful to The University of Mount Olive for encouraging me to pursue this degree and for offering all of the moral and financial support to attain the goal. And last, but certainly not least, I am very grateful for the vision of Dr. Raper (as well as many others who have served the Foundation’s mission) and the subsequent moral and financial support offered unto my family by the N.C. Foundation for Christian Ministries. This support has allowed us to graduate debt free! The scripture teaches us that debt is one of the most dangerous things humans can potentially fall prey to. Indeed, it states that the debtor is a “slave” to the lender. Graduating from this program debt free because of the support of the Foundation and The University of Mount Olive will allow my family and me to concentrate on the future potential for ministry instead of constantly looking backwards and worrying about past indebtedness.
The focus of my studies while at Campbell was on the essence of the church. It is my firm belief that the church stands at a perilous time right now. We run the risk of being defined by forces beyond our control, be it society, expedience, or other. My contention is that that we (as the church) really need to explore the grand biblical narrative in order to accurately define what church is according to God’s word. We can have the greatest facilities, programs, speakers, and a warm encouraging message but still fail to “be the church.” And nothing could be more tragic than to stand before God and hear the words, “you were really good at what you were doing, but it was not what I called you to be.” Therefore, I pray that the OFWB Church will enter an intense period of fasting and prayer, seeking God’s definition of what it means “to be the church” to the exclusion of our often misconstrued notions. To that end, I believe that my contribution to the future of the OFWB Church will be through sharing my research on one of the most important and key elements of what it means to be the church, (i.e.) Christian Koinonia or community. I will seek to engage churches and pastors who desire to live out the story that have been shaping the church for several millennia, (i.e.) the Old and New Testaments respectively. May God add His richest blessings to the OFWB Church (and indeed to all godly churches in Christ Jesus) as we seek to overcome the hindrances that often stifle growth in the Kingdom.