Passing on Wisdom
When he was preparing to choose a university, Artesia native Eric Kaiser felt Wayland Baptist was a natural fit for his call to ministry. His father encouraged him to take advantage of an offer to attend a New Mexico state college his first year for free, then transfer. He declined.
“I’m so grateful I didn’t do that,” he recalls. “There is something about going to
a school for four years and having the relationships you can’t get anywhere else for
that length of time. After four years, you look back and say, ‘Look what we did. How
did that happen?’”
Making an impression
Eric’s four years at WBU included active participation in activities like Baptist
Student Ministry and the student government while pursuing his degree in religion.
He relishes the relationships he built with friends from all over the West Texas area
and far beyond, enjoying exposure to different viewpoints and experiences. Even at
Big Weekend the friendships he witnessed won him over.
“I lived in Brotherhood, and the whole seven semesters there was like a big family. When you were in your room, the door was open, and it was an invitation to come in,” he remembers fondly. “There are men I still talk to today. Somehow there is a forging that happens in the day-to-day grind of studying, the fear of failure and the triumph of success and the goofiness. The intangibles I never thought about experiencing at Wayland were the relationships you built and the people you encounter.”
Some of those other key people were professors, many of whom loved and molded Eric into the minister he is today, serving the youth of First Baptist Church in Plainview with many of the faces he encountered while a student. He connected with Dr. Gary Manning (retired religion professor) while on an impromptu campus visit, and he’d be the first of many.
“Very quickly you get comfortable with your professors,” he notes. “You think that classrooms are these stuffy places, but I learned really quickly that they made that process of learning as personal and enjoyable as possible. Getting to laugh and joke with the professors before and after class – but especially during class – was so great.”
Eric chose Wayland in part because he wanted the solid biblical background the faculty
at WBU could provide. He also welcomed the mentorship from teachers who had practical
“These men had served in churches throughout much of their lives and then came back and wanted to raise up the next generation; that was very appealing to me, and it was a no-brainer,” he says. “I don’t think I would have been prepared for ministry and everyday life without… gleaning wisdom from men and women who had been serving in the church and knowing the kinds of things they wish they had known when they started in ministry.”
Even so, the cost at Wayland was a bit intimidating in the initial analysis.
“The giving from the university for academic excellence, giving through endowed scholarships from generous donors and giving through the BGCT through churches like the one I am serving right now is a big deal. There’s no way I could have afforded that education, and I don’t think I could have gotten the same quality of education if I were having to work a full-time job and go to school. I was very fortunate.”
In the end, Eric says he found WBU “probably the best investment I’ve ever made in my life, because it’s going to help me from here on out.”