WBU Lubbock hosts education gala

April 9, 2014

LUBBOCK -- Wayland Baptist University’s Lubbock campus took an evening to shine a light on education Tuesday at the 8th annual Lubbock Lights Gala at the Overton Hotel. The event, including a dinner and silent auction, raised approximately $60,000 in scholarship funds to benefit WBU students.

Nearly 300 guests honored the Rev. John and Mary Ballard. A longtime minister of music, education and youth at North Fort Worth Baptist Church, Ballard later served as associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Lubbock, retiring in 1996. He still serves as the minister and teacher for the Downtown Bible Class in Lubbock, a position he has held for 33 years.

While in Fort Worth, Ballard worked with the Rev. D.L. Lowrie whose son, Steve, was on hand Tuesday to talk about his friend and former youth director. Steve Lowrie grew up in North Fort Worth Baptist Church where he now serves as pastor.

“I think all of us in our life have individuals that God uses to make a significant impression. In some cases, they’re larger than life individuals,” Lowrie said. “John Ballard was very much that for me. He truly was used of God to impact me and bless me in so many different ways.”

Lowrie regaled the crowd with stories of Ballard and encouraged those in attendance to donate to the Ballard scholarship fund, stressing the importance of scholarships to those seeking an education.

Wayland students Dawn McPherson and Aleetha Johnson, both non-traditional students, gave personal testimonies of how scholarships have helped them succeed in the classroom. McPherson is a working, single mother who is going to school full time. She used the example of teaching a man to fish as opposed to giving him a fish to help him support himself for a lifetime.

“Going back to school is part of that teaching for me,” McPherson said.

Johnson told how she has three kids whom she had to help get through school. She had plans to attend college and was working at a good job that provided tuition reimbursement. She lost the job, however, due to health issues and had to accept work in a position where that assistance was not available. She said she would not have been able to attend college without scholarship assistance.

Wayland Baptist University President Dr. Paul Armes explained how more than 90% of Wayland students receive financial assistance to attend school. He said university founder Dr. James H. Wayland’s dream was that every student who felt led to attend Wayland would be able.

“That dream can only come true through scholarship assistance,” Armes said. “Without your generosity, your participation, your partnership, their dreams will remain unfulfilled.”

Armes also expressed his gratitude to the Ballards for their support of Wayland, providing scholarship money through the Downtown Bible Class throughout the years.

“Receiving a scholarship … is life-changing,” McPherson said.