NOBTS has been a vital part of my life and ministry for 35 years. My husband and I first visited the campus on our honeymoon in April of 1982, and we stayed in Shepherd’s Corner. We were going to visit a seminary in Texas, but after seeing NOBTS we knew that New Orleans was where the Lord was leading us. We moved to the campus after my graduation from college the following year in 1983 and have been connected to NOBTS ever since. We’ve experienced several different housing options on campus. We started out in Willingham Manors but had to move to a States Apartment when I got pregnant. We’ve lived in the Lipsey Street Apartments and even the trailer park (Yes! There was a trailer park on campus!)
The Seminary became like family to us. I first got to know the faculty and staff by volunteering with the Student Wives Fellowship, taking Ministry Wife classes, and working on a master’s degree. I learned quickly that the faculty takes a personal interest in the students. The faculty and staff are more than just employees of NOBTS. They work hard at their mission to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments inside and outside of the classroom. They desire to see lives redeemed and transformed to the glory of God– even students who are incarcerated.
Currently, my husband and I are directors of prison extension centers – Rick is at Angola, and I am at LCIW. The Kelley’s inspired us, supported us and challenged us to be where we are in ministry today. I remember seeing the sign outside their blue house on campus back in the 80s. The sign read “Drs. Kelley” and I told Rick we would be Drs. Sharkey one day. Rick was Dr. Chuck’s grader, and I was Dr. Rhonda’s grader when we worked on our doctorate degrees. Also, Dr. Rhonda was my mentor through my doctoral studies – even through the last semester when Katrina hit. I was able to graduate without delay, thanks to the leadership of the Seminary.
We moved off the campus to be church planters for several years. When we returned to begin doctoral studies we drove up to the gates and our middle daughter (who was 6 at the time) blurted out, “Is this the cemetery?” We all had a good laugh! But I couldn’t help but think about John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
We thank God for NOBTS and 100 years of faithful ministry. We are honored to be part of God’s work; and we are confident that NOBTS will continue to impact the world for Christ!
*Dr. Sharkey serves as the Director of the LCIW (Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women) Extension Center at NOBTS.