Everyone’s heard by now that the OMC will no longer exist next year. When Gunner let us RAs know last Tuesday we were shocked. It is a really great decision for the administration to make. We all totally support them. But really good decisions can be really bad decisions at the same time.
Over the last week, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to one question. Why am I sad to leave Oak Manor? It’s just a dorm. I’ll make other godly friends who will edify me and point me to Christ in new ways next year. There will be new people to minister to in Slight. I’m sad because, to quote our dorm shirt, “It’s not a dorm…it’s a culture.”
The OMC has been shaped by generations of faithful men who have served and loved the people in these fifteen rooms. They’ve poured their hearts and souls out into people who God has then raised up to take the mantle of leadership and continue the great chain of edification and discipleship. I’ve heard stories of Manor Men of old like Rob Ikegami. And now it ends. We’re the last link in the chain. Not because we failed, but because the end has come.
It reminds me in some ways of the church of Smyrna in the book of Revelation. Revelation 3:10 says, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” I don’t mean to overblow the effects of shutting down a dorm. The saints in Smyrna were martyred for their faith. Shutting down the OMC doesn’t even compare. But the end of our dorm has been decreed. You could say, “Be faithful until the end and I will give you a crown of life.” It is a sobering fact to realize that there is no “next year” to postpone things until. All that matters is now. The Manor could be characterized by one thing right now: a sense of urgency.
Being an RA in the OMC is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love the guys on my wing. They’ve taught me so much more than I’ve taught them. It’s sad to see our lives moving in different directions. Some will move to different dorms, some off-campus. Some will be on my staff next year. It won’t be the same. Relationships will change. And that’s what I’ll miss the most. The joy that comes through the tears and the late night prayers and the conversations and the fun and the friendly admonishment will come through other people who love the same God as these guys. But I’ll miss these guys. There is something about ministry through the Holy Spirit which transforms service to someone into a genuine, deep-seated love for them.
It is funny to see how people become like their dorms. And the dorms become like them. I’ll miss our culture. The baboom, the holla, the boom-snap-clap–our three anthems will disappear. Our ever-on-the-brink-of-death-yet-still-alive palm tree whose branches wind up in people’s beds, the lack of fire drills even though we have stoves and a bunch of guys who have no idea how to use them, Pancake Night, double parking with your roomate, pants being tossed into the palm tree.
Then there are the things which will simply move location. Intense conversations brought about by the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit. Conversations about girls–hopes, realities, future plans. Christ as treasure being discovered through Small Groups and the slow transformation by reading the Word. The failures as a leader. Learning to lead a staff of SLSers in specific situations. Struggling to find time to get away for a sweet time of communion with the Lord. Learning how to consider others as more important than youself.
These things are not exclusive to Oak Manor. And they are the things that really matter. And yet they are the things which make leaving the Manor really sad because the Manor has provided a context for them all. In every room I’ve had good conversations about serious things, conversations held at unexpected times with unexpected people.
I’m excited for next year. It will be interesting to see how the OMC affects the campus. I know God is really going to use the men here to encourage our brothers in new dorms. I know the intense sense of community and the “every room is a lounge” mentality will shake up a few places. And that’s good. I know we’ll see things from a different perspective and be driven to grow in weak places that we’ve never seen exposed. As sad as it is to leave the OMC and all the memories, the blessings of grace that God will give have me excited for the future.