James Kunkel is a senior Global Studies major. He came to Oklahoma Wesleyan in the fall semester of 2011, and plans to graduate this May. James has been identified by his professors as an outstanding senior in his field, and was selected last semester to speak in Chapel as the senior religion major. We were able to meet with James in order to get his input on missions, dinosaurs, pranks, and rappers.
Eagle: Where are you from?
James: I finished my last three years of high school in Shreveport, Louisiana, aka Ratchet City.
E: I don’t think I can say that on The Eagle. It seems offensive.
J: No, it’s real. Look it up on UrbanDictionary.
E: I also don’t think I can refer anyone to UrbanDictionary on The Eagle.
J: Oh. Well then.
E: So, James, what brought you to OKWU? How did you get here?
J: Honestly, my story about coming to this school starts in Wisconsin. Clarno, Wisconsin — a small farming community, a township, but basically after I became a Christian I started getting involved with the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter and things like that, and they said, ‘Hey, we’re partnering with this school in Oklahoma called Oklahoma Wesleyan in Bartlesville. We’re having a degree with them.’ And that’s when I first heard about it. I wasn’t planning on going here to school, but later, I felt like this is where I was supposed to go.
E: Was it VOM’s connection with missions that you were interested in?
J: Yeah, the VOM Global Studies Program. Basically, Intercultural Ministry.
E: When did you first become interested in missions? How did that happen?
J: It was right after I became a believer. My dad bought me Jesus Freaks, and he also bought me Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and I just started reading a lot of literature about Christian persecution. I really at that point didn’t know a lot about it, and it didn’t really mean much to me, so reading it as a believer really shocked me. Through that – I know it’s weird – but their stories made me want to go overseas and tell people about Christ, and also I became more familiar with missionary stories. Primarily the persecuted church is what intrigued me. I never wanted to do ministry before. I only wanted to be a professional soccer player. But, looking back, that would not have worked out. Because I’m not good enough. So it’s a good thing God didn’t let me do that.
E: Did you think about going to any other schools for soccer?
J: Even though in high school I wasn’t very passionate, and I was pretty apathetic at that point, I didn’t really have any backup plans, and I didn’t want to stay at my home. This is sort of what my dad wanted me to do, so I came here for that even though I wasn’t crazy about it. Didn’t apply to any other schools.
E: How did you get connected to the school? What made you stay?
J: Well, I enjoyed soccer. Second, it was an opportunity for me to wrestle with my faith and I was just able to get out of my home and wrestle with God and realize some of the apathy in my life, and work through some of the struggles. And I think my roommate Shane Grate had a lot to do with actually enjoying it. I was kind of an introvert my freshman year. All I did was play soccer and go to classes. Second semester Shane really helped me enjoy it. I just love the people. Honestly, being able to wrestle with God, and Shane, and then just the people here. I had a lot of upperclassmen who really invested in me: Ben Purcell, Skyler Wittman, Bryson Lambert, and my floor, Upper Scott.
E: Who was your RA?
J: Andrew Hawk, who was legitimately the best RA that I’ve seen here. He and Josh Herrera are definitely the best I’ve seen. He was pretty quiet and didn’t do anything crazy, but he’d always check up on us and talk to us, and he’s a really sincere dude. Everyone loved him in our hall.
E: Who has impacted your time at OKWU the most?
J: Honestly, one person that’s definitely impacted me is Dr. Mike. He is always super transparent and honest and vulnerable in class. His humility – we don’t even always agree on everything – but his humility. He is the most transparent, humble man — besides my father, — that I know. I wish they would write a book on him. He legitimately loves us, and he never stops working.
Someone who’s played a big role more recently is Kyle White. Kyle has helped me to be able to stay here in different ways. Financially, I wouldn’t be at this school. I wouldn’t have finished my degree. He’s also helped me through some other personal struggles. Those are two of the bigger ones.
E: You’re a senior?
J: I am.
E: A graduating senior?
J: I am a graduating senior. Spring 2015. Alumni.
E: Future alumni. Is it alumnus? Alumni plural? Alumnibus? That’s actually Latin for “I paid this school a lot of money.” Do you have any idea what post-May will hold for you?
J: I legitimately have no idea. I feel like I will either be working with Muslims and/or the inner city. But those two things could not even come true. I don’t have a clue. But I’m not scared about it.
E: Those two really could go together though.
J: Yeah, definitely. Especially if I stay in the states. I’m waiting to hear about this summer though, because that’s actually a huge part of my future – whether I go over there or not.
E: Tell me about that.
J: I applied for the Global Partners Fotizo summer internship in Central Asia for Muslim ministry. So whether that pans out could really affect my next steps. I’m attempting to be open.
E: What’s your favorite dinosaur?
J: Uh, Land Before Time.
E: That’s not a dinosaur. That’s a movie.
J: It’s about dinosaurs.
E: That’s your favorite dinosaur?
J: Land Before Time, yes.
E: I will give you a chance to change that answer.
J: What if I don’t want to?
E: Land Before Time, it is! Who are some of your greatest spiritual influences?
J: One of my greatest inspirations, for all you 90s music fans, is Rich Mullins. For real. Although most people my age would hate his music, he had a desire for God but a very broken life. He made a lot of mistakes throughout his life. He struggled with alcoholism and depression and different things, and he was one guy who was just brutally honest with people about himself – very transparent. I really resonated with him when I was younger, and even more now.
Someone I listen to a lot and really respect his ministry is John Piper. Shoutout to Desiring God. John Piper has this statement and he says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him,” and that really resonates with me. I’ve tried to live that out more. Psalm 73.25-26 kind of talks about that too. You should check that out.
Who else? Paul Washer. I listened to a lot of his sermons over Christmas break. If you want to be convicted, you should listen to him. I respect him almost more than any other preacher. His honesty and just his desire to please God rather than men is really inspiring. Don’t listen to him every day though or you might not enjoy life.
E: How did you decide you wanted to be an RA?
J: There’s a lot of reasons, actually. After being involved with the school for two years I felt like I needed to step up. I’m a people person and I love the school, and I also knew it could help financially, so I signed up, and somehow I got it. And then I got it again. Which was even more surprising.
E: What floor are you the RA of?
J: Upper Wert. Delta Quad.
E: Would you consider that to be the best floor on campus?
J: Uh, what category? Just best overall?
E: Rate cleanliness, handsomeness, and amount of fun.
J: Well, OK Delta, I’m sorry for my honesty. My quad is great. Cleanliness: poor. Handsomeness: above average. Fun: extraordinary.
E: What’s your favorite OKWU memory?
J: This is a very thick plot that I will now explain in detail. Basically, someone took shredded paper and threw it in our room, in our drawers, in our beds, probably a foot and a half of shredded paper all over the floor. It was crazy. Anthony and I lived in Beta 4. So then, the hooligans left a trail to where they were in Upper Gamma. So, Anthony and I devised this crazy plan to get back at them: putting dye in their shampoo, hiding rotten beef in their vents, things of that nature. Let’s just say the activation of our plan failed. They intercepted the rotten beef and put it on our doorstep. Then I got two month old gumbo from Alivia Koons and threw it on their door. A whole food fight/pranking fest started that night and it ended with Berry Thomas sneaking into our quad, and me trying to pour snowcone sugar mix on him, and him tackling me and it going all over the walls and the ceiling. I had to mop the ceiling and kept getting smacked in the face with the mop while I’m trying to clean it up, and I’m disgusting and sticky and mopping in my underwear. Berry. Thomas.
E: Huh. Anything else you would like to add to this dazzling interview?
J: You should listen to Christian rap. It will help you bear fruit. Legimiately. As long as it’s not TobyMac or KJ-52, you’re going to mature spiritually. Reach Records, Collision Records, HumbleBeest, Propaganda, Lecrae, TripLee, Tedashii, Swoop.
E: What advice do you have for incoming frosh?
J: Don’t spend your time playing video games or watching Netflix, but legitimately try to seek God. Don’t waste your life doing meaningless stuff, even if it’s good stuff.
Watch the first part of the Eagle’s interview with James: