26 Oct 2012 MadelineWenner

Beware the Likable Professor

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On that first day of class, you have no idea what your professor will do.

Take Dr. Jayce O’Neal. For the first day of Public Speaking last year, he abandoned the lectern and sat in the back of the room, posing as a student. Though we all vehemently denied it afterwards, the ruse had us half-fooled, and we couldn’t help liking a professor who wasn’t above a practical joke.

The course was incredible. Dr. O’Neal discerned our personalities after just a few classes and pushed us out of our carefully constructed comfort zones. While teaching us to relate to audiences and argue properly, he instilled confidence in the shy and helped the proud realize their weaknesses. When the course ended, we weren’t just better public speakers; we were better individuals.

A few months later, Dr. O’Neal invited a group of students to meet about “an exciting new project” he hoped we’d be interested in. I assumed he meant a student club or a simple internship program. You know, something student-centric, something to influence our academic performance or build our résumés.

I was thinking small.

Dr.  O’Neal was thinking big.

Church-sized, in fact. Several years of careful planning and guidance from mentors and pastors had gone into planting RED Church, and now he wanted students to help in the final months before the launch. After explaining its mission–reaching out to the unchurched and de-churched and emphasizing the Redemption, Encouragement, and Destiny of believers–Dr. O’Neal asked us if we were willing to commit. Nearly everyone signed on.

Regent University - Red ChurchSeven months later, RED Church has been more than a feel-good volunteer opportunity. Dr. O’Neal wanted everyone involved to develop into a leader, a kingdom-builder. We’ve worked through three major fundraisers, attended training sessions, and helped with small groups. We’re preparing for the first preview service on October 27 and the official launch this winter.

Just as he had in Public Speaking, Dr. O’Neal has helped everyone involved discern our strengths then push us beyond them, out of our comfort zones, and into the area where faith and natural ability combine. Months before opening its doors, RED Church is already building new leaders.

Madeline Wenner

BA in English

On-Campus Student

Stamford, NY

Driven by hope. Drawn to the extraordinary in the ordinary. Determined to convince my French horn that I am a friend, not a foe.
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