Faculty Story: Fires of Community
A Heart for Questions
Dr. Jonathan Ensor (’05) returned to OKWU in 2019 after more than a decade of teaching at the high school level. Since his return, he has become a foundational part of the OKWU experience for nearly every student, teaching courses from Old and New Testament Literature to Biblical Hebrew. In 2023, he received Faculty of the Year honors from the OKWU student government and served as the commencement speaker.
Ensor’s OKWU story goes back to the early 2000s, when he was a student at another college but was looking for a change. As he drove around his hometown of Tulsa, he heard a radio ad for OKWU. Before long, he showed up on campus and started asking questions. He qualified for an academic scholarship and also earned a spot on the men’s soccer team, and Ensor transferred the next year.
Ensor, who had grown up in the Christian faith, had recommitted his life to Christ as a young adult. While he loved the Bible classes he was enrolled in, he declared a business major at first. Eventually, through prayer and reflection, he decided to invest his time in the study of the Scriptures and switched his major to Biblical Studies.
“What I found when I was here was that it was permissible to ask questions,” Ensor said. “I found a place where I could really ask questions and be in a supportive environment where scholars and adults would gather around and be able to listen, engage, and equip me with the resources needed to go looking for answers.”
Called to Teach
After graduating in 2005, Ensor’s ministry path began. He was working as a youth minister in a local church when the private Christian high school he had attended approached him, asking him to help evaluate and refine their Bible curriculum. Ensor agreed and soon found himself in the classroom, teaching students with some of those same questions he had asked in recent years.
“The classroom became the place of rich ministry, and I continued to find my heart drawn to that,” he said.
Ensor grew to love the classroom environment and the plentiful opportunities he had to invest in the lives of his students. For 15 years, he served as a Bible teacher and campus minister, planning chapels in addition to his classroom responsibilities. Along the way, he made the choice to further his own education, earning a master’s from Asbury and his doctorate from the London School of Theology.
“It’s in the fires of community, campus life, academics, and chapel where I found a faith that was able to go the distance.”
From Student to Scholar
In 2018, a friend from OKWU called him and told him about a position opening up the School of Ministry and Christian Thought. Ensor applied, though he didn’t really expect that his alma mater would be interested in him. But he received the job offer and joined the faculty officially in the fall of 2019.
Over his four years at the college level, Ensor has found the same joy in the classroom that he had when he was teaching high schoolers.
“People who come to university generally come with a posture of openness and a readiness to explore things that they don’t know,” Ensor said.
As Ensor looks to the future, he sees great days ahead for OKWU.
“This is a community that is committed, not just to getting students to walk across the stage but committed to equipping them with the skills they need to live out their faith and earn a meaningful income while living out their calling,” he said. “In some ways, that’s autobiographical for me. It’s in the fires of community, campus life, academics, and chapel where I found a faith that was able to go the distance.”