Veteran worship leader and recording artist Tommy Coomes and his band mates came to faith in Jesus in the early 1970s in Southern California. They formed the group Love Song and wrote and played contemporary Christian music before the genre existed. He's led worship across the globe, including traveling extensively with Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Coomes often meets musicians looking for mentoring and structure as they seek to honor God and lead believers in worship. Now Mid-America Christian University has invited Coomes to give these artists the tools they need to keep their lives pure, their music relevant, and their skills honed.
"We're going to mentor and train people interested in the art of music and worship. We're going to show them how to do it and how to build a life that holds up," Coomes said.
The program includes six seminars and six courses. Participants can earn 24 hours of college credit and are eligible for federal aid. Musicians will learn about five important aspects of a Christian music career using the acronym SMART: Spiritual, Management, Artistic, Relational and Technical. Each course focuses on one of these topics.
Coomes has seen many artists struggle throughout their careers because they failed to train themselves for a mentally and spiritually healthy life. He believes delving into those five areas will give artists the balance they need for success.
"If a really spiritual person doesn't know how to handle his money, he probably won't last long," Coomes said. "If a Christian performer is nice to everyone but mean to his wife — that doesn't fly. Artistic people need to know something about these things or have somebody help them or they're going to fail."
Each course begins on a Friday evening as MACU hosts a concert open to the public featuring an accomplished musician. On Saturday, the enrolled students attend seminars led by Coomes and the artists who performed the night before. On Sunday, the students can begin the online course. Courses last six weeks and include video-taped interviews with various musicians, pastors and other Christian leaders telling their personal stories and explaining their perspectives about many aspects of worship.
MACU plans to launch the first seminar in September or October of this year in Oklahoma City. To find out more, call 888.888.2341.
Caleb Weeks has found out the truth about helping people.
"Real ministry is messy," Weeks said.
He ought to know. In 2009, the music and worship ministry major from Vancouver was invited to help with an after-school program in southwest Oklahoma City. A Christian couple named Amy and Josh Newberry was renovating some old apartments. They felt God leading them to invite struggling parents and their children to move in for reduced rent.
"The project started with a Bible study in one of the duplexes," Weeks said. "Then the Newberrys began gutting the duplexes and letting mostly single moms and their families live there. With the help of many churches, we rebuilt and decorated, landscaped, put in new grass picnic tables and a basketball court. It's still a work in progress." Onefree-standing duplex turned into a resource center for the after-school program. After renovation, the kitchen became a laundry room for residents, and the remaining space became a computer room, game room and a craft room.
"I started just showing up and hanging out with the kids after school," Weeks said. "Then it began growing too much for me to handle by myself. So I invited students from MACU to volunteer. They needed to fulfill requirements of community service, and they would be a good support for me."
To Weeks' relief, many MACU students answered the call.
"It's very relaxed. The kids show up, and we have computers for them to do their homework on, and we help them. We don't do a lot of structured, sit-down Bible study because the kids just got out of school. We do have what we call family time where we sit and eat snacks and talk. Mostly, we hang out with them and have fun getting to know the kids one-on-one and building relationships with them.
"We have kids from 4 to 16 so that's why I'm really blessed to have the MACU students. They are doing a great job. What kids need the most is for someone to get to know them, to give them some attention, and to show that someone authentically cares about them. I've already seen some of the MACU students connect and desire to see these kids more than just one time a week. I believe there are students who are going to keep coming back."
That's especially important to Weeks because he starts a new job in Michigan after graduation. He won't be here each week to check on his young friends. But he is taking many lessons with him. Most of all he's learned that God is in charge, and that people can't control everything that happens in ministry.
"I've learned how life is entangled in ministry and how God provides," Weeks said. "We just need to trust Him. I've learned that real ministry is messy. It's scary. And I hadn't experienced that as much until I came here.
"I grew up in the suburbs; I went to church; we had team leaders; and it was great. Then I came here where we're confiscating weapons, 13-year-olds are coming in high, their parents are yelling and cursing at me, and I have to physically pull kids apart who are fighting. It's good, because it's taken me from my comfortable suburb scene and thrown me out into the wilderness.
"When I say it's scary, I'm not just talking about physical danger but about what's at stake for these kids. That means having discernment and making decisions during one of these life-changing conversations or situations that happen with our kids. Dealing with disappointment when they make mistakes. Showing mercy and forgiving them while not letting them walk all over you. Trying to find the balance. All that is very scary, but it's also cool because it really makes you dependent on God.
"This has caused me to walk by faith and not by sight, and it's caused me to know that He will answer me when I pray.
"It's been a very humbling experience," Weeks said. "It's affected every area of my life. I like to do many different things. I'm not so worried about what I'm going to be doing, but how I'm going to do it. It's changed how I'm going to do ministry for the rest of my life."
MACU was well-represented at the 125th annual Convention of the North American Church of God June 24-29 in Anderson, Indiana. Mid-America alumni, trustees, traditional and adult students, adjunct and full-time professors and staff enjoyed a chance to meet or catch up. The six-day conference featured worship services, meetings, receptions, hymn sing-a-longs and numerous seminars.
Mid-America events included a golf tournament and a reception for alumni and friends. President Fozard delivered an address to the entire assembly about the past year's accomplishments and future plans of the university.
"We had a great time at NAC, and the alumni and friends reception was a highlight," Executive Director of Church Relations Morgan Alsip said. "Watching the alumni look through yearbooks and reminisce with their classmates while their children laughed at their photos and stories was wonderful. More than 175 people attended, and the room was full to the end. What a great evening."
The Mid-America Christian Evangels have hired Mike Brown as head baseball coach, replacing Dany Brazoban, who departs after one season at the helm.
Brown arrives at MACU with a wealth of coaching experience, most recently as head softball coach for six years at nearby Rose State College. Brown was also an assistant baseball coach at Rose State for two seasons, where he served as defense and hitting coach.
He has been an assistant coach at Del City High School, head coach of Del City's junior varsity program, and a coach at Kerr Junior High School.
"I look forward to a new opportunity here at Mid-America working with the baseball program and energizing it to become one of the best in the Sooner Athletic Conference," Brown said.
"I consider this a great opportunity for me to develop players not only on the field but to also mentor them in life."
Brown was a police lieutenant for the Oklahoma City Police Department for 20 years, as well as as a patrol officer for four years for the Del City Police Department. He also was the Chief of Police at Rose State for the last two years.
Brown graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2003. He also has an associate of arts from Rose State and an associate of science from OSU-OKC in Oklahoma City.
"I am very excited to have Coach Brown join our coaching staff at Mid-America Christian University," Athletic Director Willie Holley said. "He will bring strong Christian leadership to our baseball program along with years of coaching experience."
Brown will be taking the reins of the program that won its most SAC conference games since joining the NAIA and advanced to the SAC postseason tournament for the first time in school history.