Gail Chord Schuler (1979) Turned Down Acceptance to Air Force Officer’s Training to go to Bible College

I have two bachelor’s degrees. Every one has heard of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, so I won’t talk about that one. However, my other bachelor’s degree is from Baptist University of America. Here is some information about the Baptist University of America I attended in my twenties. The information below is taken from the Baptist University of America website. The school is now an online school incorporated in Mississippi. After Air Force Officer’s Training School accepted me in 1979, God made it clear to me he wanted me to go to this school. So I turned down my acceptance to Air Force Officer’s Training School, and with only about twenty dollars on me, packed my bags, booked a Delta Air Lines flight to Atlanta at around 2 in the morning, and trusted God to take care of me. I graduated from BUA with a bachelor’s degree in humanities (with emphasis in missions and education) in 1983. When I attended (from 1979 to 1983), Baptist University of America was in Decatur, Georgia, and my family didn’t send me a cent to help finance my training. However, Dr. Rayburn Blair’s church in Tallahassee sent me $100.00 a month and I worked various jobs to pay my way through.

“The original Baptist University of America was born at different times in several Baptist churches spread over hundreds of miles. Aggressive soul-winning pastors wanted to provide education for their young people commensurate with the type of churches they were building.

Dr. Al Janney, pastor of New Testament Baptist Church, Miami, Florida, began college classes in 1965, and in 1971 incorporated the new institution as Baptist University of America. Dr. Ronald Schaffer, pastor of Temple Heights Baptist Church, Tampa, Florida, founded Temple Heights Christian College in 1973. Other pastors joined the venture in 1974: Dr. Rayburn Blair, Temple Baptist Church, Tallahassee Christian College; Dr. Frank Shiver, Regency Baptist Church, Regency Baptist College; and Rev. Jack Dinsbeer, University Baptist Church, University Baptist College. Two others who were contemplating beginning a college joined: Dr. Curtis Hutson, Forrest Hills Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia, and Dr. Cecil Hodges, Bible Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia.

The name ‘Baptist University of America’ was adopted by the merging colleges, and the Tampa campus was used for the Spring semester of 1974. Because of its central location and metropolitan nature, Atlanta was chosen as the home of Baptist University of America in December of the same year.

The original BUA trained pastors, teachers, missionaries and other Christian workers until it closed in May 1987. More than 20 years later a group of investors formed a new school in the state of Mississippi to carry on the mission of BUA. Because of the great reputation of the original school and its connection with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, the name Baptist University of America was adopted once again.”


During the summer of 1979, I jogged every day to prepare myself for Air Force Officer’s Training School and had my mind set to go there. But I began to feel (around August 1979) that I needed to give God a chance to speak to me about His will. I attended a Baptist church in Homestead, Florida at this time (before hurricane Andrew hit Homestead in 1992). Before a Wednesday night prayer service, as I meditated in the Bible, I prayed a challenge to God, and did not expect much to come of it. “God, if you want me to go to Baptist University of America, then show me tonight at the church service. If you make it clear to me that you want me there, I’ll go– and I won’t go into Air Force training to become an officer.”

That evening, our pastor announced that we had a surprise guest speaker (Roger Ellison). The pastor said, “Because he’s in the area, I’ll let him have the service tonight, even though he’s not scheduled.” Because Mr. Ellison’s relative had suddenly become hospitalized, he had to be in the area to offer support. So he’d flown in from out of town and was our surprise guest speaker.

Mr. Ellison was the executive vice-President of Baptist University of America.

He preached a message that seemed to come straight down from heaven to me. All the excuses I made in my mind not to go to B.U.A. seemed the excuses Mr. Ellison preached against in that message. I had no doubt that God wanted me at Baptist University. That night I packed my bags, called Delta airlines and took the next flight to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Baptist University.

At the jet soared into the sky in the wee morning hours (I’d taken a flight that left around 3 a.m. to save money on airfare), my heart stared out the jet’s window as the lights from Miami dimmed away from my view. I trepidated over the decision I’d made. Had I really turned down a chance to become an Air Force officer to do this? I knew my family would disown me and would give me no financial support and knew not what lay before me in Atlanta. I only knew God had made clear to me His will.

My first week at Baptist University (September 1979), my mother called me to inform me that I had been accepted to Air Force Officer’s Training School. But with such clear leading from God, I knew I had to stay at B.U.A.. I told my family that I had to reject the Air Force offer and must stay where I was. The recruiter in Florida who filed my application begged me (almost in tears) over the phone to change my mind. Part of my decision to stay at B.U.A., could have been that I didn’t like the image associated with being a woman military officer and feared this may ruin my chances for marital happiness, but I really went because I felt God spoke to me through that uncanny Wednesday evening service with our surprise guest speaker.

My mother and paternal grandparents were horrified that I turned down a chance to be an Air Force officer to attend this Bible college. My mother told me that my father thought it a good idea for me to become a military officer. Looking back, I believe if I’d become an officer, that the Jesuits would have created a war and would have made sure I became one of the war casualties.

So with about twenty dollars on me (and no support from my family), I started my studies at Baptist University of America at Decatur, Georgia (September 1979) to prepare for full-time Christian service. At the time, I didn’t know what God wanted me to major in at the Christian university, I only knew He wanted me there.

With no support from my family to be at Baptist University of America, God showed me sign after sign (while I was new at B.U.A. in September 1979), that I did the right thing to turn down the chance for an Air Force officer commission, to prepare for full-time Christian service. Hundreds of times (my first month there), what God showed me in my morning Bible readings became a significant theme in that day’s chapel message. Just about every chapel message I heard my first month at B.U.A. confirmed to me that I did the right thing to attend this Bible college in 1979. In fact, I got the reputation around campus as the girl who received miraculous answers to prayer.

After at Baptist University around a month, the church I’d attended in Tallahassee while at F.S.U. (Temple Baptist Church under pastor Rayburn Blair) sent me a hundred dollars a month to attend the Bible college.

I also worked a temporary full-time job (October and November 1979) with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Atlanta and became friends with a devout Christian engineer (named Leo) and his family from Forrest Hills Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia. I had no car and Leo came by the campus of Baptist University every morning to take me to work. I rode with him to work in the front seat of his car. As I stared out the window at the Atlanta skyline and freeways, I realized I really had turned down a chance to become an officer to work now as a secretary. We conversed in his car about God’s leading in our lives. I sensed that Leo was a devout Christian. He invited me for Thanksgiving dinner with his family and I enjoyed some fine southern American cooking.

I think God wanted me at Baptist University of America to mold my mind, heart and soul to become a great writer, because much of what I learned from B.U.A. has infused my writings. I took one year of American/British literature here, and it infused into me a deeper love for literature. Right after I graduated, I read on my own Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, a book that greatly influenced me as a writer. I go to the mission fields of the world with my writings. I also studied a year and a half of private piano and hymn playing. Larry the Cable Guy (Dan Whitney) also studied here. The school did comedy theatre and Dan was good (but, apparently, B.U.A. did not “take” with Dan Whitney–he dropped out–PG-13 rating–parents be forewarned). This small Bible school had a strong arts emphasis because of the Jacquots. I had young Colleen Jacquot as my excellent literature professor. Ardell Jacquot, her father, and my education professor, had a degree in theatre from Bob Jones University. I had Dorothy Jacquot, a brilliant concert pianist, as my piano professor.

I find it interesting that my best friends at Baptist University [Randy Laase, Lisa Toman (Burkholder)] have served the Lord as missionaries for years. Phyllis Mitchell (now missionary to Russia) gave me rides to Pinecrest Baptist Church in Morrow, GA for a year, while I attended Raymond Hancock’s church (1979,1980). I met Raymond Hancock again at the church where I taught school (2003).

Becky Done became the chemistry teacher after me, when I left my teaching position in 1983.

Lisa Toman (Burkholder), Bruce and I shared Easter break together when I went with Lisa and Bruce to stay with Bruce’s family from Canton Baptist Temple (Canton, OH) for 1983 Easter break from B.U.A. Another good friend from B.U.A. is beautiful and brilliant Jill Vaughan (Young) from Canton Baptist Temple, who adores her preacher husband and, after four children, is as beautiful as I remember her in her twenties.

Copyright © 2010 – 2018 Gail Chord Schuler. All Rights Reserved.