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May 2022

McMillan at home as first-generation farmer 

Chance McMillan is not like many of his farming counterparts in the area.

For one, he did not grow up around farming heavily, though his grandparents had some family land. So his path to the farm did not follow in anyone’s footsteps per se. Instead, he sees his current career as owner of Sandlot Farms as a bit of divine intervention.

“I set out to become a teacher and coach, but as I was getting closer to graduation, I felt moved in

McMillan family

Chance, Kelsey, Grayson (back), Lane

and Cameron McMillan (Kelsey Vest photo)

a different direction,” notes Chance, a Plainview native and 2006 graduate of Wayland’s Plainview campus. “I was about to get married and decided to look for something else.”

Chance recalled spending some summers working with local farmers, and he loves working with his hands and being outdoors. So the world of agriculture seemed a good fit. Shortly after graduating he worked for the Texas A&M Agriculture Extension Service in Halfway, then worked for some local farmers for a few years.

Going out on their own

Finally, in 2010, the McMillans began farming for themselves. Since then, they have accumulated about 3,000 acres on 13 different farms between Plainview and Olton. Primarily, Chance splits his crops between cotton and wheat, but he also grows some sorghum silage and hay for nearby Legacy Farms.

Wife Kelsey, whom he met while at Wayland, is a vital part of the family work as she keeps the McMillans’ three sons transported to their activities and manages their home. She also is in her 16th year as a licensed massage therapist in Plainview.

Other than occasional help from oldest son Grayson, who is now 13, Chance’s farming is primarily a family affair. As he begins his 13th crop, he says the work is still rewarding. He also loves the freedom that owning his own business provides, particularly while his children are younger and he can enjoy time with them.

“I wasn’t raised in a farming family like so many were, watching dad and grandpa work from sun up to sun down, and I’m not built like that. People don’t see that a lot in this work,” he laughs. “Somehow, the work always seems to get done. We’re very fortunate in that respect.”

Challenges on the farm

The freedom of farming is tempered by the pressure of being solely responsible for the economics of the business, notes Chance. And like any business that has busy seasons, farming can mean some heavy work hours.

“The freedom to do what I want with my family is great, but there are also certain times of the year

Chance spraying
Chance sprays to prepare for planting.

when I can’t be home. When things are running good it can be good, but if not, it can be time away from home,” he says, noting that parenting is an important job as well. “We are very old-fashioned people, and we are trying to instill those values in our boys the way we were raised.”

Their business name is a nod to Chance’s other passion: baseball. He played several seasons at Wayland under then Head Coach Brad Bass, and his father Tommy joined the baseball coaching staff as a volunteer just after Chance graduated. He became full-time staff in 2011 and worked passionately with Wayland’s baseball players until his untimely death in September 2021.

The McMillans still love hanging out at the Wayland ball field when they get the opportunity, and Chance has coached boys’ baseball in the YMCA league since Grayson was younger. Last year he started coaching middle son Cameron, 9, and in a few years will coach their youngest, Lane, now 6.

Chance says that farming involves a lot of planning in order to be profitable. Knowing how to work in a region with little rain is also a challenge that many of his farming counterparts share.

“A timely rain in July and August can completely flip your operation from ‘Oh no’ to ‘I think we’ll be OK,’“ Chance says. And while technology can help with efficiency, other processes have also assisted in his efforts.

“I have to back up the price of fuel, seed, irrigation… you have to stretch everything out. Farmers can stretch a dollar further than anyone else because if you don’t, you’ll be out of business,” he noted. “We work with agronomists to help release the fertilizer in the soil. The soil here has a 7.8 – 8.2 pH level and so there are chemicals that will bring that down and help release that to the seed. We use GPS a lot and that saves with fuel economy as well.”

Still, Chance and Kelsey know that their most vital practice in farming is trusting God.

“No. 1, you have to have faith. The way we got into farming was God’s timing, so we believe this is where He wants us and we keep giving Him the glory. That’s what has sustained us, and we’ll keep working at it,” Chance says. “If this is not where He wants us any more, He’ll prepare us for something else.”

This story originally was printed in the Plainview Herald Ag Preview section in 2021 and is reprinted here with permission.


McConic leading in diversity, equity work

By Jonathan Petty, WBU Director of Communications

LUBBOCK – Kevin McConic was born to lead; it was just a matter of nurturing those skills and finding a place to exercise them. Now, as the chief diversity officer for Covenant Health, McConic has found a home. A place where he feels that he belongs. A place where he knows the work he is doing is making a difference and positively influencing his community. A place where he can exercise those leadership skills that he knew were buried deep inside; he just needed a chance.

“I felt like I had the skill set to be a leader and to grow my career, but what I didn’t have was an

McConic at WBU Lubbock
Kevin McConic (left) at WBU Lubbock

open door,” McConic said.

Knowing that he needed a college education in order to take advantage of the opportunities put before him, McConic set out on his college journey. He first attended college straight out of high school like so many other students, but quickly found that it simply wasn’t for him.

“I tried several semesters. It just didn’t work out for me,” McConic said. “I struggled to get through the courses.”

Years later, sporting a negligible grade point average and poor track record, McConic knew he needed to get back into school to better support his family and reach his goals. He found Wayland where classes were full of people like him who were returning to school later in life. Wayland’s shorter class terms and evening and online classes met his schedule and made it possible for him to focus on the curriculum and complete the necessary course assignments. McConic earned his Bachelor of Applied Science degree in 2015 and proceeded to a Master of Arts in Management degree, graduating in 2017. Suddenly, with a solid educational background, opportunities were made available that just weren’t there before. Now, McConic is making a difference as a leader in the workplace.

Creating value in the workplace

As the chief diversity officer, McConic works with diversity, equity and inclusion in the Covenant system. He enjoys what he does, helping others find their voice and identity in an environment where they feel appreciated and valued. As beneficial as his work is to developing a well-trained, qualified workforce at Covenant, he knows, however, that it comes with detractors.

“There is sometimes a lot of negative connotation and attachment to the work of diversity, equity and inclusion,” McConic said. “But at the end of the day, when I think of my base of faith, it’s about making folks feel like they belong. Making folks feel like they are included. Making folks feel like they have a say and a place in what happens around them in this world.”

McConic said that too often diversity work is politicized. He tries to break down that barrier and remove politics from the equation. He understands, however, that there are differing opinions and all opinions should be respected, even when the parties involved disagree.

“[Diversity, equity and inclusion] is about perspective,” McConic said. “It’s about making sure that you understand my perspective and I understand yours. That I have receptivity enough to listen to you and to hear you out and that doesn’t always mean that I agree, but that I value what you are saying, that you value what I am saying, and that we have mutual respect for one another as we understand each other’s experiences.”'

Focusing on the positive

McConic said many people get lost in negativity when it comes to supporting diversity work as they feel attacked or that something is unfair. He said, however, that the work is not meant to pull anyone back from the progress they have made, but it is meant to help others catch up.

“There are some roadblocks,” McConic said. “We have to make sure that we create value. We have to make sure that we convince folks what the work is and what the work isn’t because there is a lot of noise around the work.”

McConic said it’s important to understand that not only does diversity, equity and inclusion deal with Covenant's Kevin McConicrace, ethnicity and gender, but there are other factors such as cognitive differences and experiential differences that are important. His work centers around taking individuals from all backgrounds and giving them a voice, making sure they are treated fairly throughout the workplace. Through it all, he leans on his faith to communicate the value of what he is doing.

“That is really what it is all about – making people feel like they are being treated with dignity, with respect and compassion,” McConic said. “All things, as we know, that are themes that run through the Bible.”

Faith as a cornerstone

Faith is important to McConic and has been a galvanizing factor in his life. Many of his jobs throughout the years have had faith as a guiding principle and he is glad he works with such an organization now. He was also glad to attend a university where Christian faith is a cornerstone.

“I think the faith aspect of Wayland is really crucial and critical,” he said. “It is the tapestry of life that is woven together and linked. As I’ve gone through, what I’ve found is that in the different places I’ve been, they have always had a very strong link to faith. It has helped me when I see faith working.”

Along with his work, McConic has been very involved in Lubbock, volunteering his time at Lubbock Estacado High School and serving on various committees. He works with several non-profit organizations, including Voice of Hope that is working to eradicate sex trafficking, and the Lubbock Area United Way. He is also involved with 100 Black Men of Texas that gives scholarships to deserving students. While it all keeps him busy, McConic said he feels that it is important to give back to the community.

“I really try to engage in the community where I can; to give a voice to people who may not have a voice,” he said. “I know that I can’t speak for everybody per se, but hopefully my perspective gives value to whatever the situation might be.”


Devotional: "Going home" brings peace

As a boy, “going home" was used by our mother to describe visiting her parents' house near Hamlin, Texas. In a sense, this gave me two ways of going home. One was when I spent summer vacations with my maternal grandparents, and the other was when I climbed onto a bus and returned home to Muleshoe.

It was surreal when I went just sixty miles away to live in a dormitory at Wayland Baptist College. For the first time in my life, I was not living at home.

One afternoon, I was so overwhelmed with homesickness that I walked to the bus station in

Heading home

Plainview, Texas, and bought a ticket for the short trip to Muleshoe. I arrived at dusk and walked home. Mother and Daddy were at the kitchen table eating supper. They did not seem surprised to see me. Mother filled a plate for me, and I joined them. That night, I slept in my bed and got up at 5:00 for breakfast with Daddy. Then, he walked with me to the bus station, and I gladly went back to school. It had been good to go home again.

After Robbie and I were married and I started traveling across America and internationally, "going home" took on a new meaning. Home was where Robbie was, and my longing to be with her was so great that it hurt. When I finished my work in a faraway place, I could not get home fast enough.

Robbie and I were "at home" in Oklahoma for over thirty years. Being there with her was my safe and satisfying place through her declining years. I didn't have to go home anymore. I was always at home because I was always with the love of my life.

Now, I am living alone. The place I have called "home" is an empty house. Robbie and our great little companion dog, Boomer, are gone. Still, the longing to go home is there, and my Father assures me that there is a place where my grandparents, parents, and Robbie are all waiting to welcome me. So, I will always be able to go home.

Jesus promises, “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." – John 14:2-3 ESV

Wayne Bristow is a 1960 graduate of Wayland and worked as a pastor and worldwide evangelist and author before founding Total Life Ministries in 1993. He also worked for the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and for the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma. Retired in Edmond, Okla., Wayne was married to WBU ex Robbie for 62 years before her death in June 2021. They have one son and two grandchildren. 


From the History Files

This month's history recap continues a series of anecdotal memories shared in The Wayland Century, a coffeetable book published during our Centennial celebration in 2009.

In 1908, Elmer Hardy Childress was an 18-year-old young man working a hard scrabble farm in West Texas. His parents had died early in his life, and his only relative was his grandmother who lived on the farm with him. He deeply desired to attend college, but there was no money. 

One Sunday night, he heard his preacher say that for anyone who wanted to attend college, a way

Elmer Childress, first grad
First graduate Elmer Childress

would be provided. The next day, Elmer rode his horse into town and asked the preacher if he had really meant what he said. When the preacher assured him that this was so, Elmer stated firmly that he wanted to go to college. The minister asked him how much he thought he would need. Elmer said he thought he could make it on $100.

The minister told him to come back on Wednesday, and he would have the money for him. Sure enough, on Wednesday, the $100 was awaiting him. Elmer asked if there was someone he should thank, and the minister said the benefactor wanted to be anonymous. Elmer attended Wayland College about 12 miles down the road, which had just opened. In 1911, he was the first and only graduate. 

In 1918, Elmer Childress married Addie Brown and they settled into a life on the farm. In 1919, their first son, Bob, was born, closely followed by Bill in 1920 and Hardy in 1921. Elmer and Addie strongly advocated college for their three boys, and all three were in college at one point in 1938. Bill graduated from the University of Texas and became a doctor, setting up his practice in Tulia. 

In the early 1950s, a well-established older gentleman, Mr. S. F. Flores, took his ill wife to see Bill at the doctor's office in Tulia. Bill determined that her condition made it imperative that she have an operation in some place bigger than Tulia, and he sent her to a doctor in Fort Worth. There, the doctor said that Mrs. Flores was in such bad shape that she would probably die on the operating table, and he could not be responsible for that. Mr. Flores returned to Tulia and begged Bill to operate on his wife and free her of the pain. Finally, Bill said he would do the surgery if Mr. Flores would fly the doctor from Fort Worth in to stand over his should and give advice. He agreed, and the surgery was a success, with Mrs. Flores living many more years.

Many years later, Elmer Childress and son Hardy were visiting Bill in Tulia when Mr. Flores came up

Flores groundbreaking
Mrs. Flores turns dirt for the Bible building.

to them and gave Bill a hug. He also hugged Elmer and told him, "Elmer, this doctor son of yours is the greatest in the U.S. He saved my wife when the doctor in Fort Worth wouldn't even touch her. That $100 investment I made on you in 1908 was the best investment I ever made. Otherwise,there might not have been a Dr. Bill Childress."

That seemingly small investment in Elmer Childress allowed hium to attend and graduate from college, and the ripple effect from Elmer's life was widened in numerous ways. The Flores family continued to directly impact Wayland as S.F. and his wife later donated $100,000 toward the building of the Flores Bible Building that still stands. They later donated more than 1,200 acres of land in Swisher County and 27 sections (worth $2 million at the time of the gift) in Moore and Sherman counties. It remains the largest gift every made to Wayland.