Thursday, April 24, 2014
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LOOKING UP • JOE BAISDEN | Rejoice with those who rejoice!

Saturday before last, Janelle and I were winding down the day sitting in our den about 9:30.  Suddenly, we heard a blast seeming to come from near or in our back yard.  There followed another blast with the sound of a 12-gauge shotgun.
I jumped to my feet and hurried to the patio door for a closer look.  “Watch out!”
Janelle exclaimed, adding a couple of “Be Carefuls,” as I opened the door “Kaboom!”  “Kaboom!”  There followed a series of blasts.  I am on the patio by that time deciding that the noise must be coming from Fort Hood in a revival of the maneuvers that used to provide a continuous background of sound even as far away as Belton.
A trip through the house and landing on the front porch on the 20th Avenue side, I saw the sky light up with colorful sprays of fireworks.  Even then, the origin remained a mystery.  Believe it not, I thought some of the neighbors were setting off fireworks left over from the Fourth of July.  I kept that idea long enough to wonder why the Belton Police had not arrived in the area.


I stood there enjoying the displays, continuing to scan the horizon for a clue as to which nearby backyard was being used for launching these beautiful explosions, and wondering why the Belton Police had not sent a car to the area. 
Finally, my brain began to work and I figured it out.  The UMHB Cru must have just won the first football game to be played in the much-heralded new stadium on campus.  They had beaten the powerful and high ranked Wesley. It was time to quit speculating and to begin rejoicing with those who were rejoicing a few blocks away.
There is a part of me that rejoices every time I think of the University of Mary-Hardin-Baylor and how fortunate this community is to have such a fine institution of higher learning located in Belton.
When I first came to Belton in January of 1971, UMHB was in the process of the dramatic transition from historically being an all girls’ college to becoming co-ed.
Some observers were predicting that failure was just around the corner and some were writing the school’s obituary.  The new president, Dr. Bobby E. Parker was undaunted and immediately began to set things in motion with a view to success.  The school not only survived, it thrived.  After twenty years of his leadership, Dr. Jerry Bawcom took the reigns and UMHB continued to grow and become stronger in every way.   After eighteen years, a new young president, himself a UMHB product, has taken the leadership role.  Dr. Randy O’Rear is guiding the institution to new heights in an effort to have UMHB become the university of choice for a Christian education in the Southwest.
With the world making every effort to squeeze individuals, families, and all institutions into its own worldly mold, each UMHB administration I have observed in the past 43 years has stood firm for academic excellence and an unwavering commitment to Christian values and service.
UMHB contributes tremendously in service and monetarily to Belton and surrounding areas, but perhaps more important than that is the myriad contributions its faculty, staff and students make to the moral and spiritual climate of our home town.  I thank God for the strong influence of UMHB on the life of this community. 

 “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” Rom. 12:2 (Phillips)