Hardin-Simmons University

POVERTY IS LACK OF HOPE, KENYAN NATIVE TELLS HSU AUDIENCE

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David Kirika, 27, tells his story of surviving poverty in Kenya as a child, thanks to Compassion International. The photo in the background is David as a child after he got into school in Africa, thanks to Compassion International. Photo by Loretta Fulton

For more information on Compassion International and Youth Arise Africa, go to the following websites:

www.compassioninternational.org

www.youthariseafrica.org

By Loretta Fulton

The message projected on the screen was bleak.

“Poverty is not a lack of material wealth; it’s lack of hope.”

The speaker behind the PowerPoint presentation was David Kirika, 27, a native of Kenya who knows all too well what poverty means. When he was 2 years old, his parents separated. He lived with his mother, who married a man who did not love David.

Within a span of 18 months, David lost his brother, mother, and stepfather to the HIV/AIDS virus.

“At this point I lost hope,” David said in a chapel presentation at Hardin-Simmons University on Oct. 10.

But that was not the end of David’s story. Now 27, David lives in Colorado Springs, where he is director of Youth Arise Africa, a nonprofit that aims to instill godly principles in the next generation of Africans through mentorship.

David was rescued from his bleak life through another nonprofit, Compassion International, whose motto is “Releasing Children From Poverty in Jesus’ Name.” He spoke on behalf of Compassion International at HSU, issuing a plea for students and faculty to sign up to sponsor a child–a child just like he was.

The transformation that David went through, thanks to being sponsored through Compassion International, was nothing short of miraculous. David was introduced at the chapel service by Grey Hoff, assistant to the president for university marketing and global engagement at Hardin-Simmons, introduced David.

“This man has the fingerprints of God in his life,” Hoff said.

David knew physical, as well as spiritual, poverty as a child. He watched children die of starvation in their mother’s lap, he witnessed people digging deeper and deeper into garbage dumps in search of food or something to sell. He knew a boy who woke up one morning next to his dead sister.

After David’s mother and stepfather died, he was taken in by grandparents. Twelve people lived in a two-room house the size of an American bedroom. On most mornings, his “breakfast” was a glass of water–that’s all he had to sustain him for the three-mile walk to school.

David went through a long period of doubting God’s love for him.

But at age 9, the miracle began to happen. He was sponsored through Compassion International by a boy a year younger than himself, Aaron Mitchell, who lived in Florida with his family. Through Compassion International, David saw his dream realized–he was going to high school.

And, for the first time in his life, he got new shoes, something that made him so happy he wanted to sleep in them. But he still didn’t connect his good fortune with the God he was doubting.

“I couldn’t understand any of this about God,” he said.

Then, a setback occurred. He didn’t score high enough on the national exam to go to high school. He was devastated but motivated to find his biological father, whom he had heard had money. His grandmother bought him a one-way bus ticket to the town where his father lived.

David found him, but also found another disappointment. His father disavowed him.

“He had replaced me with someone else,” David said.

However, a private school opened in his home town and David was able to attend. When he was in the 10th grade, the pastor at the school issued an invitation.

“If you doubt God has a plan for you,” the pastor said, “come and see me.”

David was not convinced and told the pastor he would give God one week to put in an appearance in David’s life.

“It’s now been 12 years,” he said.

He qualified for college, which was paid for by Compassion International, and now holds an honors degree in business leadership from Pan Africa Christian University in Nairobi. It felt like a movie, David said.

“Compassion gave me that opportunity,” he said.

David stays in contact with Aaron Mitchell, the boy of 8 who, with his family’s help, sponsored David through Compassion International. The final projection in David’s presentation showed Aaron with his family, all of whom are white.

“This is my sponsor family,” David said. “People say we look alike.”

HSU GIVES HIGHEST ALUMNI AWARD

By Krista Wester

The award, the highest given to Hardin-Simmons alumni,  will be presented during the alumni awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27.

“It is bittersweet receiving this award since Charles is not here to accept it with me. He was a big part of our support of Hardin-Simmons University. Still, receiving the Keeter Award is the finest honor I can imagine,” said Carlene Spicer.

Alumni Awards

The late Charles Spicer and Carlene Spicer

The Spicers will be receiving this award based on their lifelong dedication to Abilene and Hardin-Simmons University. Charles served on the HSU Board of Development and HSU Alumni Association Board, chairing both boards during his tenure. He also served 39 years as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Abilene.

Carlene was a member of the A Cappella Choir, University Trio, Sigma Tau Delta and Alpha Chi national honor societies, Baptist Student Union, and The Brand staff while at HSU. She served as an Instructor of English for Hardin-Simmons from 1992 to 1999. Carlene now serves as a member of the Alumni Association Board, the Academic Foundation, the HSU Fellowship, the John G. Hardin Society, and the Presidents Club.

She is also a member of the Ex-Cowgirls, the Cowboy Club, and is a Sigma Alpha Iota Patroness. She is an active participant at First Baptist, where she is a deacon, chairman of the Bereavement Committee, and teaches an adult ladies’ Sunday school class.

“I am grateful for many years as a part of the HSU family and overwhelmed that two humble transfer students could receive the highest award that the university can bestow,” said Carlene.

 

 

‘YOU ARE GOD’S SIGNED ORIGINAL,’ LOGSDON SPEAKER ASSURES STUDENTS

By Loretta Fulton

In the beginning, God was already God.

And in all of creation, God has made only one version of each person, the speaker for this year’s Cornerstone Lecture Series at Hardin-Simmons University reminded students at a luncheon Sept. 20.

“You are God’s signed original,” said Delvin Atchison, director of the Great Commission Team for the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

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Delvin Atchison

Atchison gave several lectures and held discussions with students and faculty during the lectureship held Sept. 19-21. He spoke on the theme, “God of the Amazing.”

Not only is God amazing, Atchison said at the student luncheon, he wants his people to be amazing, too. And that requires setting a goal and being tenacious enough to reach it. But getting there isn’t a solitary experience, Atchison promised.

“The God who made me fearfully and wonderfully,” Atchison said, “guides me and walks with me on my journey.”

In a question and answer session following his talk, Atchison was asked what he wanted to be when he was younger. He wanted to be an attorney, he said, but also started sensing that God was calling him to ministry when he was 12.

“I figured by the time I was grown, he’d give up,” Atchison  said, but that didn’t happen.

Far from it. Atchison is former pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Waco, where he was vice president of the Waco Ministerial Alliance. He held his first preaching position at age 16. In his job with the BGCT, Atchison considers himself “a pastor’s pastor.” With 5,400 churches in the BGCT, that’s a lot of pastors to pastor.

A student at the luncheon asked Atchison what his best advice would be for a young pastor.

“Genuinely love people,” he said, “and see God in all of them.”

Atchison earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas and a master of divinity degree from the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. He also holds an honorary doctorate of divinity degree from St. Thomas Christian College.

 

 

 

ACU instructor brings humor, insight into ‘A World Gone Mad’

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(Editor’s Note: Randy Harris, an instructor at Abilene Christian University, led a two-day seminar Aug. 4-5 on Christian ethics. Always entertaining and insightful, Harris didn’t disappoint. He invites anyone interested to a “Ministers’ Lunch Hour with Randy Harris”, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 29, in the Hunter Welcome Center on the ACU campus. His topic will be “Does the Church Matter?” Cost, including lunch, is $15. To register, go to www.acu.edu/siburt and click on “Events” by Aug. 22)

By Loretta Fulton

The title of the two-day seminar was “Christian Ethics in a World Gone Mad: How to Cope and Even Thrive.”

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Randy Harris

By the time it was over, some in the sessions may have suggested a name change to: “Solving Christian Ethical Problems Can Drive You Mad.”

Such is the nature of Christian ethics–it ain’t easy. Thankfully, the leader for the Aug. 4-5 seminar at Abilene Christian University was Randy Harris, a popular instructor at ACU, who made the sessions not only informative and enlightening, but also entertaining.

If you want to be driven truly mad, and entertained at the same time, read “ The Trolley Problem, or Would You Throw the Fat Guy Off the Bridge” by Thomas Cathcart. Harris suggested everyone attending the summer short course read the book beforehand. Those who did realized that spending just two days pondering ethical issues could be maddening.

An example of the ethical dilemmas thrown out by Harris for the participants to ponder:

  1. God wills it because it is good.
  2. It is good because God wills it.

Answer: “Not exactly.”

Scholarly types might want to know that the brain-teaser officially is known as the Euthyphro Problem, first posed by Plato. Don’t worry–even Harris had trouble spelling it. (more…)