Ralph and Linda Clark have been part of Oakdale for many years, both having served multiple positions at Oakdale and now serving as dean of students and assistant to the dean of student/activities director, respectively. They are versatile, creative, energetic and hardworking. Most of all, they are passionate about Jesus Christ. Get to know Ralph and Linda by clicking on the images below!
Linda: My sophomore year in college I realized that life was found in serving. However, after two years, it became apparent that even if I gave needy children all that they needed- food, education, a sense of family, a sense of self… there was a very large hole left untended that I knew I could never touch. You can feed the earthly needs of children through sacrifice and servitude, but you cannot feed the eternal needs. And I could not leave those needs unmet.
There was a young man who had recently come to work under me as a coordinator with our big brother/big sister program. I barely knew him, but one thing that I did learn almost immediately, was that he knew Jesus. Though I had not made that final claim of Christ on my life, I knew enough to know that he could meet that eternal hunger.
By the second semester of my senior year I knew that my life’s path had to include a total dedication to serving and a total dedication to Christ. That’s where Oakdale came in.
Twenty years ago this month, I look back and think of how odd it was that all that came together so quickly. Some people spend their entire lives trying to figure out what they really want to do, and still never end up content. I can tell people just as firmly now as I could when I was in my twenties, a life spent in service to God and man is a life fulfilled. And that is a good thing to hold certain.
During my time at Oakdale I have served as a teacher, dorm dean, librarian, activities coordinator, health services coordinator, and assistant to the dean of students. I have lived in six homes, seen every building on campus renovated in some capacity, and watched a pole barn, gym, three duplexes, and a dorm built through the work and sacrifice of others who have also learned this truth: A life lived for self is a very small life, and one that is always left wanting; a life given in service to God and man is a life filled to abundance. Such a life does not know empty. Therefore, it is always free to give.
Ralph: I never intended to come back to Oakdale. My love for travel as well as the desire to “not just go home again” made Oakdale one of the last places I would have chosen as my home and career for the past twenty years. God saw otherwise.
Ever since I was five, Oakdale has been my “home.” All of my family, including my grandmother and grandfather who are buried here, have lived and worked here at some point in time. I graduated from Oakdale and left for college, believing I would never return other than to visit.
Then I met someone through my college work-study program who began asking a lot of questions about my faith. A new Christian, she wanted to know how to combine faith and service to others in a career. I told her about Oakdale.
We were married a little over a year later, and even though I still had a year of college left, it gradually became apparent that Oakdale was going to be a part of our life story as well. I began as a volunteer basketball coach, then as director of a character building program, and then dorm dean, admissions director, activities coordinator, teacher, and now as pastor and dean of students.
I have never considered life at Oakdale as a “given.” I have always held it loosely, ready to let go at any point at which God speaks. Though I never intended it to be my home, it has been the place where I have raised my family and been able to be part of God working in hundreds of lives. And that has been time well-spent.