In 2007, Andy and Rhonda Wills came to Oakdale from the pastorate (Andy) and education (Rhonda) in the St. Louis area, Greenville College graduates who have added tremendously to the Oakdale staff. Andy, as dorm parent in Odermann Hall, and Rhonda, as English teacher, add powerfully to the Oakdale ministry. Click these images to hear from Andy and Rhonda.
In addition to their video greetings, read more about Andy and Rhonda’s experience in ministry at Oakdale:
Our students: not ours to keep, but ours to love.
We live in a world that offers very little security. Yet when we have a sense of security, we have the freedom to grow and develop the gifts that God has given us. That’s what makes Oakdale such a special place to live and work: it is a safe place for students to experience a changed life.
On a personal note, Oakdale is a safe place for us to raise our children. As we anticipate the arrival of our fifth little blessing this winter, we are thankful to be at a place where our kids are surrounded by adults who love Jesus and who share our values. Our children are free to safely roam the campus and interact with people from all over the country and the world. This exposure is invaluable for their developing a global perspective of the love of Jesus and exploring what God might be calling them to do.
But this safety does not stop with our own children; it extends to our students as well. Each of them brings their own struggles to Oakdale, and we attempt to provide a safe place for them to meet Jesus and grow in their faith. Ultimately, we see them accomplish more than they ever thought they could.
The faces of students parade across my minds and memories. We have seen students who had been teased and were insecure develop self-confidence and leadership. Other students have learned to step up and take responsibility for their actions. Some of our students do their own laundry for the very first time and learn other important life skills. Students step out of their worlds filled with temptations like technology, friends, poor choices, and find the freedom to develop their gifts and grow in their faith. Still other students find the security of Oakdale allows them to experience academic success where they had previously battled failure. Students who never really knew anything about Jesus find his forgiveness and love through their experience here.
All of these accomplishments, symbolic of the many students who we have loved over the last six years, are the reason we are at Oakdale. We want to pour the love of Jesus into them for the short time we have them. We often say that we “borrow” our students from their families. They are not ours to keep, but they are ours to love. Whether that time is six months or six years, when they leave this campus, they have experienced God’s love and have seen us living out our faith in our marriage, family, work, and daily living.
We pray that Oakdale will continue to be a safe place for teenagers to discover God’s love and accomplish more than they ever thought they could. We love the thrill of watching lives being changed, and we are thankful for the opportunity that God has given us to be a part of the miracle.