Former Governor Mike Huckabee spoke at the Shine His Light Scholarship Gala hosted by Central Baptist College.
$510,000 was raised at this black-tie event at Legacy Acres on Monday, Oct. 21 for institutional student scholarships from table sponsorships and generous contributions.
Sancy Faulk, vice president of advancement, said the event took six months of preparation, 50 employees and 230 students to pull it off.
Along with several sports teams who served and helped prepare the event, the worship choir performed two songs. One piece, “Shine His Light,” was originally composed by James Turner, assistant professor of music and choir director, specifically for the gala.
“The choir sounded unbelievable,” said Faulk.
Other speakers included Mark Livingston, board of trustee member; Martin Jameson, professor of Bible; Cody Hiland, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas, and Kirk Shelton, board of trustee member.
Faulk said what set the spark for the Gala was an anonymous donor who committed a $250,000 matching gift if the school was able to raise $250,000 or more from a scholarship dinner.
“For the last six months, we have been working to meet that match, and we have done all of the asking beforehand,” said Faulk. “[The Gala] is more of a celebration event than a fundraising event and everyone in the program are CBC alumni.”
The theme of the night was Shine His Light and Faulk said the Gala’s focus was on how the college brings glory to God all around the world through their alumni as the school’s mission statement is lived out.
“It’s more than a black-tie event,” said Faulk. “It’s an event to educate people about the mission of CBC and to showcase what happens here on College avenue.”
Faulk says Huckabee was their first choice as a guest speaker because of his relationship with CBC and the BMA.
“He grew up in a BMA church, he values Christian higher education and we thought that would be a good message for our attendees,” said Faulk. “That’s the celebration and purpose of the gala is to highlight the importance of Christian higher education and the fact that Christian higher education needs support.”
As Huckabee took to the stage, he received a standing ovation before he said a word. He began his speech with a couple of jokes that got the audience laughing. One regarded the excellence of the meal served compared to other dinners he had attended.
“Most of the times the dinner is so awful that three terrorist groups call-in responsibility for it,” said Huckabee. “Can we give a big hand to the students from CBC who served in it? They had a tough job navigating through tables and tight circumstances and they did it with such distinction and class, plus [President] Terry [Kimbrow] is cheap and it’s free labor.”
Huckabee extolled Christian higher education and the importance of morality in college as it rapidly depletes from American culture.
“Our lives are not about what we do they are about who we are as people, [and] I think there has never been a more important time for parents to send their students to a Christian University,” said Huckabee. “[It] has never been more important for parents to honestly ask, ‘If we send a bunch of money to send our little darlings to college, will we recognize them when they get out?’”
Huckabee continued that the secular universities in America today are producing a drive towards socialism, selfishness and a sense of godlessness.
“Many students today will go to college and no longer believe that the Bible is the living word of God,” said Huckabee. “The greatest tragedy in our country is many students are believing their world is based off what they can think, feel or believe.”
Huckabee then adamantly said Christianity is a foundation for life itself. He backed up this statement with a music metaphor and how, ultimately, the Bible is the moral standard for how people should tune their lives.
“If we aren’t tuned to a standard, we will create a level of sheer noise and chaos and if you want to look at our culture today and wonder why it’s disjointed, that’s why,” said Huckabee. “The value of a Christian education is the foundation for a civilization that will work.”
Huckabee then connected Christian education with the value of the generous donors in attendance.
“You are lending your support to students at Central Baptist College so they will be able to not only be academically prepared for the world, but they will also be prepared to be the leaders in their community and local churches,” said Huckabee. “That’s singularly more important than anything they will ever learn in their classroom, is to learn all of their learning is worthless if they don’t have Christ as the centerpiece of their lives.”
His speech ended with thanksgiving and blessing and he received another standing ovation at its commencement.
“I want to thank all of you for having made an investment – you have given something away that has eternal value,” said Huckabee. “[There is] a lot to celebrate here tonight and some of these students get an education because of you. God bless you and thank you so much.”
Photo by Haley Lingenfelter and Hannah London