Ron McCaskill learned at an early age that God really does answer prayer—including prayers for people to find Jesus as Savior. And he’s been focused on sharing the gospel ever since.
McCaskill, who serves as pastor Christ Church in Cairo, Georgia, was raised in the home of an alcoholic father, and church wasn’t a high priority for his family early on. But things changed when a preschool teacher invited Ron to Sunbeams (now known as Mission Friends) at First Baptist Church in Camilla, Georgia.
During that first visit, Mrs. Adams told him about John 3:16 and the overwhelming love of Jesus for the very first time. As soon as he got home, Ron couldn’t wait to go back for Sunday school a few days later. Soon, he and his sister were regulars at First Baptist, and he began praying that God would send someone to tell his family—especially his father—about Jesus’ love.
God answered that prayer when some men from the church visited the McCaskill home and shared the gospel with Ron’s dad.
“I saw the three men kneeling around my father who sat on the couch,” he recalled. “Each man had his Bible open as the one in the middle read to my father. I could only see half of my dad’s face, but I could see that the Holy Spirit was moving in his heart. Tears began to sting my eyes and a big knot formed in my throat. I tiptoed back to my bedroom, thanking God for answering my prayer.”
Ron’s father was transformed that day. He stopped drinking and began taking his family to church every Sunday. He even served as a deacon at First Baptist until his family helped plant a new church in the area. Meanwhile, Ron continued to grow in his faith, accepting Christ as Savior at the age of six and feeling His call to ministry at seven.
Fran entered Ron’s life when they were both teenagers. She was the daughter of his church’s new pastor, and, for him, it was love at first sight. But, as Ron remembers it, Fran wasn’t initially impressed.
“I was life-guarding at the local swimming pool and noticed a very nice-looking girl walk into the pool commons,” he said. “So, I walked up to her and said, ‘Excuse me. I’ve never seen you around before. I’m Ronny McCaskill. Are you new here?’ She opened her eyes, raised her head, and looked up at me. Then she closed her eyes and laid her head back down without saying a word. I picked up my wounded ego and returned to my seat.”
Fortunately for Ron, things went better on subsequent meetings, and the two were married a few years later. Meanwhile, Ron continued to pursue his call to ministry. Ordained at 19, he began working in his first church. After a few years, though, he realized that he needed more theological education.
“By the time I was 24, I had preached all of the sermons that I could borrow and felt that it was time to go to seminary,” he said. “I asked my father-in-law which seminary was the most evangelistic, and he said New Orleans. So, my wife and five-month old twins moved to NOBTS in May of 1974.”
The McCaskills felt God’s presence on campus, but they also saw Him in the lives of caring faculty and staff. Their experience created a lifelong bond with the school. As a pastor, Ron spent several years serving the state and national chapters of the seminary’s Alumni Association. As president of the National Alumni Association in 2005, he worked closely with NOBTS and Leavell College leaders to get the school back on its feet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Currently, he and Fran are both members of the Foundation Board, with Ron serving as secretary.
When he thinks about his time in New Orleans, Ron reflects on the practical skills he learned during his seminary days. Things like developing self-discipline, learning biblical languages, and mastering the ins and outs of building a sermon allowed him to fulfill his ministry as a pastor. But NOBTS also equipped him to pursue his true mission focus: evangelism.
“Seminary taught me that I had one singular focus as a child of God: to bring His lost children back to Him,” he explains. “During my first weeks on campus, I came across Matthew 28:18-20 installed in the tile floor of the old administration building. I stood in its circle and prayed that God would use me to bring this command into my life and to let it be my life’s priority. I believe that Leavell College and NOBTS still exist with this laser focus in mind.”
As an example of this focus, Ron points to the seminary’s ongoing work in prisons, especially the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
“NOBTS took the lead in this prison ministry,” says Ron. “The result? The percentage rate of prisoners returning to prison has dropped from 75% to about 3%. Graduates of our program have become pastors and chaplains in other prisons across five states. And others who have been released are serving as pastors. Lives have been changed. Families have been saved. Children have had their fathers returned to them whole.”
That kind of spiritual transformation spurs the McCaskills’ service and financial support. And they encourage others to invest with the same enthusiasm—not because they are members of the Foundation Board, but because they know firsthand the impact of NOBTS and Leavell College.
“This school does not just teach students,” Ron shares. “It invests itself unreservedly into students’ lives. The result is students who become living sacrifices for our Lord. I am a product of this investment. My life was changed by this school, and I will be eternally grateful.”