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2016 OBA Wall of Christian Commitment Honorees
- Johann Ratzlaff
- J.C. Ratzlaff
- Adam Ratzlaff
- August Schmidt
You can’t look through the early OBA literature and historical record without reading Proverbs 29:18.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
That verse is replete in the school archives, especially through the first 75 years of educational ministry. The verse represents not only the confidence in a vision for the work of God, but an abiding passion to teach the faithfulness of God.
The men and women who envisioned OBA worked incredibly hard to settle northwest Oklahoma and establish their lives here. As they were careful to plant crops and build farms to sustain physical life, they planted church and Christian school to sustain spiritual life.
OBA was founded to educate their children, and critical for life training was (and is) God’s Word. Therefore the die fortbildungs schule* was established, what early literature called the advanced training school.
The visionaries, men who not only could imagine a Christian school, gave the resources to make it happen. Scripture says that faith without works is dead. The living faith of the OBA founders is evidenced by a legacy of more than 100 years; their faith demonstrated by acts of service, gifts of land, and resources to build established OBA.
Four men are being inducted to the OBA Wall of Christian Commitment this year. They are:
Johann Ratzlaff – Johann moved his family in 1895 to the Meno area from Canton, Kansas. Many other families from central Kansas made the run when the Cherokee Strip opened in 1893. Johann was named an elder in the New Hopedale Church and superintendent of the Sunday school. He was instrumental in leading the efforts to establish the Christian school. The land that the church and the first OBA buildings occupied were given by Elder Johann Ratzlaff in 1896.
J.C. Ratzlaff – Because OBA quickly outgrew the two buildings on the church’s property, J.C Ratzlaff deeded more land to the school, and the campus expanded south. Later his son, Norman Ratzlaff, provided additional space for the gym expansion. Partnership between OBA and the New Hopedale Church remained crucial and active even after separation geographically by the highway. J.C. Ratzlaff would continue to invest in the school, and his family maintained a string of six generations to attend OBA (with generation #7 on the way).
Adam Ratzlaff – Mr. Adam Ratzlaff was another pioneer who made the land run in 1893, finally settling near Orienta. Though Adam did not attend school in his youth, he did attend a district school for three months in America. He had learned to read his Bible, and he was intimately familiar with Scripture. His family told the story that there were time when he wrote letters, and when he didn’t know how to spell a word he would look up the word in verses he could readily find in his Bible. Adam became involved at OBA in the early 1920s; he provided the funds to construct the building for OBA on land donated by J.C. Ratzlaff. Adam Ratzlaff had 17 children, and he saw that each of them attended OBA.
August Schmidt – Mr. Schmidt, first arriving in 1925, wore numerous hats for many years at OBA. He was a teacher at OBA and taught all courses during the 1925-1926 term with the help of part time assistants, including high school graduates working with the eighth grade students. He left for a period but returned in 1935 to help build a new school house and to serve as OBA principal. Here he served until 1954, leaving to serve two Indian churches at Canton, Oklahoma for nine years. He returned again to OBA, and all totaled, August Schmidt served 26 years at OBA.
These OBA visionaries gave willingly to OBA and saw that this Christian school moved forward. We can call them Well-Diggers. Johann was committed the place and purpose of the well, J.C. expanded the size of the well, Adam saw that materials for the well made it strong, and August worked faithfully to maintain the well.
Today, and for many years, hundreds and hundreds of students have been able to drink the Living Water from the OBA well. Thanks be to God who called and equipped saints to establish His good work.
*translated German to English, The Training School, assuming Bible education was essential to training.