I recently traveled out of Manchester on Highway 11 to the Oneida Baptist Institute, a boarding school for students grade 6-12. Founded in 1899, OBI has a rich history of ministry to children in the mountains that has grown into a school boasting graduates from around the world. OBI’s stated mission is “to provide a Christian living, learning and working environment in which each of its students, Christian or non-Christian, is diligently challenged to grow mentally, physically, socially and spiritually in order to acquire an education for time and eternity.”
In 1946 OBI entered a Covenant Agreement with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and became partially funded thru the Cooperative Program. That agreement and funding remain in place today, with Kentucky Baptists providing close to $350,000 in annual CP funds, plus proceeds from the Barkley Moore Father’s Day Offering, and individual donations.
In addition to investing in a sound Christian education, funds given to OBI serve an evangelistic purpose since many of the students who enroll are not professing Christians. Before graduation, however, through daily chapel services, Sunday morning worship, and the testimonies of their teachers and peers, most have heard and believed the gospel.
On my visit I received a personal tour from OBI’s new president, Larry Gritton. Gritton began his work last fall but not unfamiliar with OBI. He and his lovely wife, Angie, are both OBI graduates and served on staff from 1997-2004. For the past decade Larry had been working in Christian schools and pastoring a church in Ft. Myers, Florida. Now, the Lord has brought the Grittons and their three children back home.
As we walked the campus, what I immediately noticed was Gritton’s connection with the students. He called each by name and was able to tell their story as he introduced them to me. One young man was from China, only a province away from where my daughter was living in an orphanage before our adoption. A young lady, soon to graduate, was from Thailand and is heading to my alma mater, the University of the Cumberlands, in the fall. I also met several students from Kentucky and surrounding states, as well as a young man from Ethiopia. Although I missed seeing a student from India whose father is one of my personal friends, Gritton assured me the boy is thriving in his studies.
What drew Gritton back to OBI? His deep love for the school, the students, and for the Lord Jesus. In short, he was called.
In addition to giving a gift to Oneida through the Barkley Moore Father’s Day Offering emphasis, let me encourage you to share about this ministry with others. A life could be changed “for time and eternity.”