Building Faith in Community Wilburn shines through joy and pain

By Hannah Brewster

Since receiving a master’s degree in ministry from OC’s Graduate School of Theology in 2005, Mitch Wilburn has used his studies to help navigate life-changing experiences.

Mitch first heard the call of ministry growing up at Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas. After serving as a youth minister at Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa for 10 years, Mitch began to feel the call of God towards pulpit ministry.

The Abilene Christian University grad was drawn to Oklahoma Christian to further his education.

“The professors at OC do more than just disperse information. They really do care about you, and it’s through those relationships where the mentor-mentee relationship is formed,” Mitch said. “OC was also very practical. They go deep with intellectual thought and understanding the deepest parts of theology.”

Upon his graduation from OC, Mitch became the preaching minister at Park Plaza. He has played a key role in numerous initiatives, including community outreach programs and the addition of three new branches of the congregation.

Mitch, whose wife Shannon is on OC’s Board of Trustees and whose son Jake is an OC senior, prioritizes community involvement both at Park Plaza and in his personal life.

While he hopes people can show the love of Christ through serving at the food bank or Park Plaza’s clothing closet, he believes faith should be especially evident in the ordinary day-to-day.

“The resurrection of Jesus brings about his resurrection in our lives, and so we now go and do what he did, and what through the Holy Spirit he is continuing to do through us,” Mitch said. “Through these efforts to do good, we hold out the Gospel of Christ to the world. We do it through our daily lives. Everything we do is about pointing the way to Jesus and being his disciples.”

Although Mitch has seen success in Park Plaza’s continuing growth, he has also endured harsh realities.

Two years ago, Mitch fought and won a battle with cancer. But the battle wasn’t over. In December, he was diagnosed with Myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease.

Although the illness has created new challenges, Mitch continues to press on, encouraged by Philippians 2:12-18.

“The passage talks about shining like stars,” he said. “Stars shine because they’re on a backdrop of darkness. If everything is bright around you, you’re not going to shine that much, but if your context is trial, shadow, or darkness, you have that much more opportunity to shine and rejoice while you do it.”

Mitch has used his battles to cultivate a platform for his ministry and to bless both his congregation and community.

“Whatever trial comes your way can be your springboard to be a stronger witness of what God can do in the midst of that trial,” Mitch said. “What was meant for harm God uses for good.”

Spring 2017

View more stories from the Spring 2017 issue of Vision magazine.