Guest Speakers Highlight Conclusion of NSO

Brian and Sally Oxley sat in the historic Hughes Auditorium Friday and shared the inspirations behind their work with Asbury’s freshmen (the Vindicated Class of 2018).
Brian and Sally Oxley sat in the historic Hughes Auditorium Friday and shared the inspirations behind their work with Asbury’s freshmen (the Vindicated Class of 2018).

WILMORE, Ky. — In the culminating event of New Student Orientation week at Asbury University, the students were exposed to a truly “unique,” “amazing,” “awesome” and “eye-opening” experience.

Those were just a few of the adjectives the students used following the event.

On Friday evening, at Asbury’s historic Hughes Auditorium, Asbury’s newest scholars had the opportunity to watch a special presentation of the yet-to-be publically released videos “The Story of Francis Thompson” and “The Hound of Heaven: A Modern Adaptation.”

In a conversational format, executive producers Brian and Sally Oxley shared their experiences related to the making of the pieces, and how they were led to relay the story of Thompson — a 19th-century, homeless, drug-addicted poet — and his influential and timeless work.

“We were looking for an artist for another project, and as we were in that journey we kept running into people who mentioned that ‘The Hound of Heaven’ poem had a meaningful impact on their lives,” said Sally Oxley. “When we found our artist, without prompting, he started to tell us that in the lowest point in his life, the ‘Hound of Heaven’ had an amazing, positive influence on him also.”

Brian Oxley, the son of missionaries in Japan who was successful in international business for more than 30 years, writes books and produces videos in hopes of influencing others to open their eyes to the strength of truth and faith in life. Such was the message to the students at Asbury.

“You live in a very fast-moving society today, and I really want you to think about and listen for that still voice of God,” he said to the students. “This is a story about paying attention to a God that loves you no matter who you are…He will pursue you. He loves you…and you will know this if you get tuned in to that soft voice.”

Dr. Devin Brown, and English professor at Asbury, worked with the Oxley’s on their documentary and introduced them to the students Friday evening.
Dr. Devin Brown, and English professor at Asbury, worked with the Oxley’s on their documentary and introduced them to the students Friday evening.

Asbury University has a unique and special relationship to the documentaries. Asbury Professor Devin Brown wrote the script for the Thompson documentary, which was produced by another Asbury Professor, Greg Bandy (who is also a graduate of Asbury). In addition, Emmy Award-winners Whit Bussey and Brock Smith (2008 graduates of Asbury) shot, edited and directed the documentary.

“It’s refreshing to me that so much creativity and energy can come out of the Asbury community, where spirituality is so vital,” said Zach Jeffcoat, a freshman from Montgomery, Ala. “And this was an amazing story to tell. We may not think about it often, but giving ourselves over to Christ can be scary at times…and that’s so ridiculous because He has nothing but love, redemption and grace for us. Thompson’s poem helps remind us of that.”

EWTN, a global network which goes into more than 150 million homes, is going to have the broadcast premiere of the videos later this year. In the “Hound of Heaven” adaptation, the everlasting depth and beauty of this Thompson poem is offered in a way a more contemporary and broad audience can better grasp it.

“I really liked the adaptation, it was so well done,” said Asbury freshman Carter Overholt, from Lakeland, Fla. “The author of this poem was clearly chased by God. It showed he had problems, fell to addiction, the lowest of lows…and yet wrote a poem that has been influential and impacted others for more than 100 years.”

In the reception at Asbury’s Student Center following the event, those certain words were repeated again and again by the University’s newest students….what a “unique,” “amazing,” “awesome” and “eye-opening” experience.

"We are grateful to Brian and Sally for allowing us to use their films to provide a very tangible demonstration of faith and learning to our newest students. The message of “The Hound of Heaven” was very powerful,” said Dr. Sandra C. Gray, president of Asbury University. "An event like this underscores Asbury's historic commitment to academic excellence and spiritual vitality.”  

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