The Francis Asbury Society

Why Asbury?

Posted on | July 31, 2015 | 2 Responses

By Charlie Fiskeaux, Chairman of the FAS Board

I have often asked myself the question, “Is Asbury worthy that I should commit my life to it?” Over the years—and on many occasions—I have reflected on this determinative question, have considered who Asbury University is, and have tried to discern my role in the life of the institution.

Until I came to interview with President Kinlaw in April 1979, I had never been on the [Asbury University] campus and knew very little about the institution other than it fit within the Holiness movement and there was a seminary across the street. So, I have been a student of Asbury University for these years, endeavoring better to understand this “vine of the Lord’s planting” where the Lord has called me to serve.

Personal Commitment to Christ

My personal pilgrimage toward the pure heart—which in our tradition we refer to as entire sanctification—began with being raised in a Christian family, with both parents teaching and living a life of holiness in our home. For 16 years after coming to faith in Christ, I wrestled with the big question of having the assurance of being entirely sanctified. It was at a Wesleyan camp meeting in Greer, South Carolina, in August 1976, that I again faced this question. On Thursday evening, I prayed at the altar for about one hour, without any breakthrough. Subsequently, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I spent a lot of time in personal prayer, telling the Lord that either I needed to settle the question mark or I would cease to consider it in the future. It was on Sunday afternoon, sitting on a log on a farm that was part of the Clemson campus, that I was again praying and audibly stated to the Lord, “If there is something in me that is holding me back from sanctification, I don’t know what it is. You will have to tell me what it is.” No sooner had I voiced the question than the Holy Spirit clearly communicated to me, “You are too proud to admit that you have a sin principle within you.” Returning to the camp meeting that evening, I went to the altar to pray about this matter. Within five minutes, I felt the most profound sense of inner peace that I had ever known. In the intervening years, many are the times that my actions have been less than perfect and I have had to make amends and ask forgiveness. But I have never again questioned the completed work of having a heart that is made perfect in love.

Why do I share that portion of my personal testimony? First, to give witness that God can purify our hearts in this life. Secondly, to declare a common commitment to one of the foundational principles of Asbury University. In 1890, John Wesley Hughes founded Asbury College for the purpose of combining “full salvation” and education for service in the Lord’s kingdom.

Now, if you are not acquainted with the term “full salvation,” it is a term used within the holiness movement for the belief and understanding that, through Christ’s completed work, we can not only be saved from sin but also have our hearts cleansed from the sin nature, which is a work of grace that we call “entire sanctification.”

Commitment to Higher Education

My commitment to higher education began about the time I was getting out of the Air Force in 1968. In an evening service at the Nazarene church we were attending, a film was being presented on the higher education system in the Nazarene church. As the narrator was describing the need for professors in their colleges and inviting persons to consider this opportunity, the Holy Spirit spoke to me as clearly as I am speaking to you and said, “That’s what you should do.” Talk about a paradigm shift! My career up to that point was one year at Azusa College, which is now Azusa Pacific University, and service in the military.

In the Air Force, I was a ground radio repairman serving in the White House Communications Agency, and immediately after military service I was an electro-optical technician testing night vision devices in a research laboratory for the military. So, as soon as Patti, my wife, completed her university degree in 1970, at age 25 I started as a freshman at the University of Virginia in electrical engineering. It is obvious that an EE degree is not compatible with teaching in a Christian college. But I always wanted a degree in electrical engineering. So, my plan was to change at the graduate level and obtain degrees that would enable me to teach. Subsequently, I completed a Masters in Mathematical Sciences and Ph.D. in Management Science from Clemson University. So from ages 25 to 34 I was a full-time student.

I applied for college teaching positions in math and business, receiving offers from Indiana Wesleyan, Southern Wesleyan, and Asbury [University]. I wrestled with the decision about where to teach. But it was at a Sunday morning communion service at Clemson Wesleyan Church, as I was praying at the altar, that the Holy Spirit seemed to indicate clearly that Asbury is the place. So I came and taught business management for three years with Don Winslow and Gilbert Crouse.

Subsequently, I took a position at American Airlines Operations Research, which only lasted two years. But the work was highly stimulating and fulfilling, as I was able to do precisely what I had studied for 5 years in graduate school. Then in 1984, President John Oswalt called to ask me if I was interested in applying for the Business Office position. I was unable to get a clear answer on whether to apply for the position, because I loved working at American. The Lord had led me to American Airlines and I knew there would be opportunities other than Asbury when I sought to return to Christian higher education.

Sometimes it is helpful to seek counsel when making a decision. So, I counseled with a number of persons, other professionals, and my pastor about the position at Asbury. To a person, no one said that I should apply for the Asbury business office position. All persons were negative. They said such things as: “That is a dead end job. You can’t advance.” “If you are interested in higher education, there are a lot of institutions other than Asbury that would be better for your career.”

One morning, as I was working in my carrel at American, I stopped and took a quadrille pad and wrote four columns: Asbury College—pro and con, American Airlines—pro and con. I then endeavored to write down all of the various ideas that were swirling in my mind and went back to work. Sometime later that morning, the verses of Hebrews 11:24–26 shot through my mind: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he looked to the reward” (NKJV). One week later, this call was even clearer. So I called President Oswalt and expressed my willingness to apply for the position. About six weeks later he called to let me know, “You are the one.” I arrived on campus on September 1, 1984.

After having served several years in this position, I pondered my life trajectory of coming to Asbury and how many different types of positions I had previously. Within five years of completing my Ph.D. at Clemson, with a life aim to teach business and math at a Christian college, I was the business officer. Such a position or career had never been anywhere in my thoughts or plans. But as I pondered my prior positions, always seeking to follow the Lord’s will for me, I marveled at how the Lord had led me with various experiences that all fit together as preparation for serving in this capacity: construction work; electro-optical technician; maintenance manager at an ice rink laying the foundation for the ice rink floor and assembling boilers and heating systems; serving in the military; providing communications for President Lyndon Johnson; serving as a custodian in a hospital psych ward; degrees in electrical engineering, math and management science; consulting in operations research at American Airlines; and teaching business management and math. My conclusion was that not one of my prior experiences was wasted. All were necessary preparation for serving as business officer at a Christian higher education institution. I was being prepared for a career that was not on my planning horizon. At the proper time, the Lord’s call became clear and, subsequently, I have endeavored to remain faithful to that call.

Some time ago, I encountered a particularly relevant statement on the concept of being called, with which I strongly identify. It is by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest in the March 4 devotional, titled “What God Wants.”

It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires: common sense is your guide veneered over with Christian sentiment. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of WHAT GOD WANTS will always come like a goad; and you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common sense basis. (emphasis mine)

Conclusion

So, why Asbury? Why for 31 years and through eight presidents? Why remain through—and subsequent to—the various administrative “rough patches” that the institution has experienced during these intervening years? Why not move to a position at another educational institution? Why not move back into the business world? Simply, because the Lord called me here and has not released me to go anywhere else or do anything else.

For me personally, to the overarching question, “Is Asbury worthy that I should commit my life to it?” I respond with a resounding and hearty “yes.” I consider it a high calling to have had the privilege of serving the Asbury University students, faculty, administration, staff and Board of Trustees. For 125 years, Asbury University has faithfully pursued our mission as originally established by John Wesley Hughes, and—with careful stewardship—will continue to be a vital instrument in our Lord’s Kingdom until the time that he returns and makes all things new. May God enable each of us to be faithful to His calling for our lives and in pursuing the opportunities that are opening before us.

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This is an excerpt of Dr. Fiskeaux’s testimony given during chapel services at Asbury University on April 13, 2015, in honor of his retirement. For 31 years, Dr. Fiskeaux has been chief business and financial officer of Asbury University, serving eight presidents, including Dr. Dennis F. Kinlaw. His charitable, professional, and community service includes Chair of the Board of Directors of The Francis Asbury Society, Chair of Board of Directors for Association of Business Administrators of Christian Colleges, Board of Directors and Treasurer of International Institute for Christian Studies, President of the business officers for the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, board of administration and delegate to annual conference for the New South Conference of Free Methodist Church, most lay leadership positions in several local churches, Boy Scouts Administrative Committee, and local county and city planning councils. He is an active business consultant in college and university accreditation, and was elected to the International Who’s Who.

Dr. Fiskeaux’s educational preparation include the Ph.D. in Management Science, M.S. in Mathematical Science and B.S.E.E. in Electrical Engineering, with additional training at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University, National Association of College and University Business Officers, and U.S. Air Force.

Comments

2 Responses to “Why Asbury?”

  1. Shayne Clough
    August 3rd, 2015 @ 5:58 am

    Appreciating the dedication you put into your site

  2. Glenda Hoyle
    August 9th, 2015 @ 8:35 am

    So appreciated reading your testimony! I remember the Fiskeaux family in Pickens, S.C. back in 1966-67 when I taught that year at Albert R. Lewis Elementary School. I was in charge of the spelling bee where a sweet, young girl named Fiskeaux won for our school. We would practice and practice for the county spelling bee. I can’t remember her first name but can see her face in my memories. Not sure if she was your sister or how she might be related to you. Have been to many service at Greer Camp Meeting and then at Table Rock Camp where I now live on the campgrounds there. Would love to be in contact. God bless!

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