A Collection of Books on Prayer Donated by NGU Patriarch
From among the very first words of the Bible, we witness a dialogue between God and the creatures he made in his image. A two-way dialogue. A dialogue of prayer.
Prayer is a part of the very fabric of creation. From patriarchs, prophets, kings, psalmists, a messiah, mothers, fathers, and even apostles were beckoned to pray over and over again in the Scriptures.
“Today, we are here to honor one of North Greenville’s patriarchs, Dr. Charles ‘Buddy’ Freeman, and his gift of his collection of books on prayer gifted to the university by him and his wife, Dr. Gayla Freeman,” said Chief Academic Officer Dr. Randall Pannell at the dedication ceremony on November 28, 2017.
“Prayer is essential to our growth and character and in our relationship of knowing the Lord. It is his desire for the North Greenville Family to concentrate on praying in our lives and the results, effect, and importance of it [prayer],” said Pannell.
Freeman came to North Greenville University (NGU) in 1997 as executive director for admissions and financial planning, from Gardner-Webb University, where he was serving in a similar role. Under his leadership at NGU, student enrollment doubled. Over 7,000 students were recruited to the school during Freeman’s stint.
He also organized and directed the Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund (CMSF). The CMSF was chartered with 85 members to build a scholarship endowment to benefit needy and deserving students God called to the pulpit, mission field, youth and music ministries, and Christian education. The fund has grown to over $4.4 million and currently assists 81 students. He directed this organization throughout his 10-year tenure before retiring in 2007.
Freeman returned to NGU’s office of university advancement in 2011 as the director for the CMSF and officially retired two years later. He is currently the pastor of First Baptist Church, Marshall, NC. His wife, Dr. Gayla Freeman, is a radiation oncologist with Iredell Hospital System in Statesville, NC.
“In conversations with Buddy through the years, you didn’t talk with him long before he got around to something about prayer. Prayer was on his heart and that was a great motivation in his life,” said Dean of the College of Christian Studies Dr. Walter Johnson at the dedication ceremony.
“We appreciate the example you [Freeman] have left for us and what it allows us to do here. It allows us to make sure that if a student that comes through North Greenville says ‘I need to know something about prayer,’ we won’t have to say, ‘well, we really can’t help you,’” said Johnson.
Johnson says he hopes that as leaders, faculty, staff, and administration, NGU will teach students how to pray, because we pray with them. And we can also let them know that some of the greatest minds and a set of the warmest hearts have left the school with the means by which to learn to pray.
“This legacy lives on and because of that. We are indeed thankful for you and we trust that the Lord will be glorified,” said Johnson. “We are grateful that we can have a little part of your spiritual and intellectual DNA here and our students, faculty, and staff can continue to discover what was distilled in you by those writers.”
Freeman said the appropriate place for this prayer library is at NGU. He wanted it to be available for the students, faculty, staff, and his desire to learn about the importance of prayer.
The collection is located just inside the front entrance of the Averyt-Wood Learning Center, next to the Miller Bible Museum.
“I’m really excited about having this [collection] in our location as a reminder to pray with expectation,” said Fant. “Prayer and the Bible [museum] physically next to one another at the North Greenville University [library] is not by accident; those things go together. I’m thrilled we have this and thank you for blessing us with it and look forward seeing how it can influence our students and faculty for the next generation.”
Freeman donated over 1,000 books and he says he continues to collect them and will donate them to the university.
“I’m so happy to present this collection to North Greenville University, because I love this school,” said Buddy. “The ten or eleven years I was here; it helped me to become a better person because of the dedication of the faculty members and administrators.
Freeman says he started collecting prayer books in the 1980s. Authors in the collection include Dr. Henry Blackaby, Dr. Jack Taylor, Dr. Ken Hemphill, among many others.
He told a story of a time at Gardner-Webb when he was walking one early morning on the school track. He says he heard a voice call his name. He looked around, but saw no one. He kept walking and heard the voice again. Freeman then called out, “God, is this you?” God responded, “Yes, and I am disappointed with you.” He says God told him how disappointed he was in him because he didn’t study his Bible and pray like he used to.
Freeman said, “It broke my heart.”
At that moment, he told God that for the next two years, he would read only books on prayer and the Bible and spend time in prayer. He said this incident changed his life.
Freeman says that of the seven institutions he attended, there was not one class taught about prayer. He said when he came out of seminary, he didn’t know how to pray and what to pray.
He made a suggestion to the NGU administration to pray about offering a three hour class on prayer in the fall and in the spring.
“The books are here for the student’s to use. It would be a huge help for them [students],” Freeman said.
Vice President for Campus Ministries Dr. Steve Crouse says that Buddy Freeman has been a friend and mentor to him for many years.
“He has devoted many years to studying and practicing prayer. This gift to the university library will influence the lives of students for years to come. The power for ministry is connect to the prayer life of the minister,” said Crouse.
Prayer should be part of the fiber of a Christian’s lifestyle since it is the only way to communicate with the Creator. “Pray continually” is what God asks his followers to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
What does it mean?
In one sense, it means that we must always strive to have a prayerful attitude. Our prayers must come often and regularly, not from legalistic duty, but from a humble heart, realizing our dependence on God in every aspect of our lives.
God honors us when we are humble, and NGU honors Buddy Freeman for his openness to His guidance.
Photo: From left, Dr. Gayla Freeman, Dr. Charles “Buddy” Freeman, and NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr.
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