By Seth Rainey, HPU Junior
BROWNWOOD – May 1, 2018 – As Howard Payne University senior Josh Dykes of Mount Pleasant prepares to graduate in several days, it is clear that there has been a single overriding influence on his life. Obedience to God’s will is the reason why he is at HPU committed to ministry as a vocation and is the guiding factor in his everyday life.
A double-major in youth ministry and the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy with a minor in Spanish, Dykes said he has been called to ministry from an early age. As a sophomore in high school, he felt that he wanted to go into youth ministry. He said God affirmed this interest after time spent in prayer and receiving advice from mentors.
“While looking at colleges, I contacted one of my favorite speakers from summer camp and asked him where I should attend college to study ministry,” Dykes said. “He told me, ‘Go to HPU. They have a great youth ministry program.’”
God’s leading, coupled with the speaker’s recommendation, gave Dykes confidence as he prepared to visit and choose colleges.
“On my first visit here I knew HPU was it,” he said.
He maintained a firm commitment to attending HPU. Because of finances, he remained home in Mount Pleasant for a year and studied at a local community college before transferring to HPU.
The care displayed for him by those at HPU has positively shaped his view of the university.
“Dr. Gary Gramling, a professor in the Christian Studies department, met me during my first visit to HPU,” he said. “The next year when I came to HPU, he still remembered my name and where I was from.”
Dr. Gramling noted the ways that Dykes displays care for others in his everyday interactions.
“He is always desiring to learn more and has a servant’s heart,” Dr. Gramling said. “He listens to others, genuinely cares about their needs, and does his best to meet those needs.”
Other faculty also notice how Dykes shares the love of Christ with his fellow students.
“He’s someone students are drawn to because they know he cares,” said Dr. Wheelington, professor of Christian studies. “When he asks ‘How are you doing?’ and ‘How can he pray for you?’ he really means it.”
At HPU, the university’s personnel and students foster an atmosphere conducive to fellowship, friendship and learning. To Dykes, this is an example of why HPU is a great university.
“It’s about the people,” he said. “The people make this university what it is. That’s what HPU is about.”
He added that the faculty, combined with small classes, have provided him with an atypical, positive college experience while at HPU.
“I’ve had classes go get coffee together,” he said. “Everything’s just very personable. Various faculty members, like Dr. Wheelington and Jennings Hall resident director Wes Curton, have really helped me on my walk in ministry.”
In addition to mentoring Dykes in the classroom, Dr. Wheelington serves with Dykes and another HPU student, Julie Jo Yarbro, at Southside church in Brownwood.
“As I look back over mine and Josh’s time together, I wonder if I have helped Josh or if he has helped me in my walk with the Lord. More likely the former than the latter,” said Dr. Wheelington. “And I’m glad for that.”
Dykes plays an active role in the student community of HPU. He is a resident assistant in Jennings Hall, is a member of the Model U.N. team, serves on the Student Appeals Committee and is a member of Delta Epsilon Omega. In past years at HPU, Dykes served on the leadership team of the Baptist Student Ministry, was a member of the Student Government Association and participated in Mock Trial.
Recently, he was presented with the Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award. This award is given to selected HPU students in acknowledgement of their character and commitment to service honoring Jesus Christ. He was also recognized as an Outstanding Christian Studies Student during HPU’s spring Academic Awards Convocation.
“The Lord brought me to HPU to be loved and love others,” Dykes said.
He said that the university where he has spent the past three years of life has been an important part of his walk in ministry and his personal growth as he prepares to graduate.
“If you are looking for a place to grow, especially in your faith,” he said, “you can find it at HPU.”
HPU’s Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Brownwood Coliseum. For more information and a livestream of the event, visit www.hputx.edu/commencement.
Applications are being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University. HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cutline: Howard Payne University senior Josh Dykes is committed to following God’s will for his life.