Influence is defined in the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster in 1828 as the power whose operation is invisible and known only by its effects. God’s Word speaks of influence. Luke 6:40 states, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Influence is unlike power which is defined as force, strength, or ability. Influence, which some would argue is more powerful than power itself, is unseen and unassuming. It does not boast or draw attention to itself. It is subtle in its approach to pursuing moral and spiritual truth. A life of influence is seen in its reproducing power in the lives of others. Such is the life of Mr. Ralph Bullard.
Husband and Father
As a father and husband, God used Mr. and Mrs. Ralph and Starley Bullard to influence other young families. As parents of ten children and over one hundred grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many of these lessons were more often “caught” than “taught” by those who knew Mr. Ralph Bullard. He loved his wife and children. One did not have to spend much time with him to hear him speak of his beloved Starley, whom he called “Bird.” He would call her during the day just to check in and make sure she was doing well. She would pack his lunch daily and he liked to eat the same thing every day. Carrot sticks, peanut butter crackers, and water were his menu of choice. However, he enjoyed Dr. Pepper. He loved his kids and had a prayer journal with all of their names in it. He would pray for Starley every day, but then pray for at least one of his kids’ families the other days. As a father, he had a special relationship with each of his children.
While serving at Christian Heritage Academy, it was not unusual to see one of his grandchildren walking with him down the hall and calling out to him, “Papa.” His example as a Christian husband and father was recognized in 2006 by the Oklahoma State Legislature in the House Concurrent Legislature 1059 for his example of forty-seven years of marriage and forty-five years of service in Christian education. What would cause the State of Oklahoma to recognize a man for longevity in marriage and education? Influence. While oftentimes subtle, the influence that these casual observations had on others was lasting. Family matters. Children are a gift. Marriage takes work. Be intentional to pray for your children. There is always time to linger a while longer in the hall. These are just some of the lessons that have left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those who knew Mr. Bullard.
Mr. Ralph Bullard was a patriot. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines a patriot as a person who loves his country, and zealously supports and defends it and its interests. After assuming the role of Headmaster of Christian Heritage Academy in 1973 only six months after its inception, Mr. Ralph Bullard became acquainted with the “Red Books” written by Miss Verna Hall and Miss Rosalie Slater. Within The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America Volume I: Christian Self-Government and Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, the truth of America’s gospel purpose and God’s providential hand in our nation were seen. Miss Hall and Miss Slater saw within him a true Christian scholar who could rightly divide God’s Word. While Mr. R. Bullard would say that he did not understand all that he had read or heard at his first exposure to this new way of thinking, he knew that he had “heard truth.” It was upon this honest and earnest foundation that Miss Hall and Miss Slater began to invest in his life and train him in the Christian history of our nation.
Mr. Ralph Bullard devoted himself to studying God’s hand in our nation. Throughout his forty-seven years in Christian school ministry, he had the opportunity to write and teach on American’s Christian history and God’s desire for our nation. Within the Christian education community and more specifically the Foundation for American Christian Education, Mr. Ralph Bullard’s influence is seen in the writings of A Guide to American Christian Education for the Home and School: The Principle Approach by Mr. Jim Rose, as well as his lifetime achievement award from The Foundation for American Christian Education in Chesapeake, Virginia. While these accomplishments are impressive, he was never one to boast. For those who lived life with Mr. Ralph Bullard on a daily basis, it was his detailed voting guide, love of reading history, stories of our nation on the sixth-grade government trip, and his teaching of Rudiments to the students and faculty which have had the greatest influence. It is his “unseen” impact which permeates the lives of all those who have graduated from Christian Heritage Academy and continue to live pure, right wrong, speak truth, and serve the King.
Finally, Mr. R. Bullard was a teacher. James 3:1 states, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Those in the field of education know that there are some people who teach and others are teachers. In other words, not everyone who teaches is a teacher. While this sounds strange, it is an accurate statement. Mr. Ralph Bullard began teaching in Edmond Public Schools in 1962. He taught biology and physical education and was the assistant coach varsity for football, basketball, and head track coach. He also began the first Fellowship of Christan Athletes chapter for Edmond Public Schools. In 1966, he received a federal grant related to Sputnik and obtained his master’s degree from Oklahoma State University. It is even in these early years that you can see the influence of a true teacher. He extended his influence in and outside of the classroom. He loved students and desired to influence their lives. He was a lover of learning.
Coming to CHA in 1973, Mr. Ralph Bullard continued his love of learning through the study of the Principle Approach. He worked with many talented educators at CHA like Mr. David Holmes, Miss Mayme Pat O’Brien, Dr. Cynthia Bower, and Mr. Darold Booton to develop CHA’s Master Teacher Program for the advancement of training educators in the American Christian Philosophy of Education and the Principle Approach. In 1986, he received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
He was in many ways a “showman.” His whimsical humor and love of learning permeated a room. When he taught, he came to life. The classroom was his stage. He loved to tell stories and laugh. He loved to read The Nickel That Laughed every year to the elementary students and remind them of the importance of missions. He had an ear of dried corn on his desk just so that someone might ask and he would have a teachable moment about the great sacrifice our nation’s forefathers gave for us to have freedom. He gave out state quarters on the Washington DC trip to parents who would respond with correct answers as he taught on the twenty-hour bus ride. While he never considered himself smart or even a “trained teacher,” all who knew him knew that while you were in his presence you were watching history in the making. They also clung to God’s promise that “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Oh, that we might be like him.
Mr. Ralph Bullard’s most lasting influence will be on the lives of every teacher and student that he taught. Each and every student who came to CHA were considered a part of his family. It didn’t matter if the student was a Valedictorian or was the one frequently in the office, he never looked at the “accomplishment or the action.” Mr. Bullard only saw each student as a vessel that God could use, and he wanted to help do his small part to help them accomplish their purpose in life. It was always about the person, never about the grade, trophy or accomplishment.
The Power of Influence
Influence is power unseen but visible in its effects. It is seen in a multi-generational family lineage with no divorce. It is seen in the robust growth of Christian Heritage Academy. It is seen in the lives of many American citizens who serve and vote to uphold our nation’s Christian principles of government. It is seen in the teachers who continue to be trained and teach using the Principle Approach. It is seen in the tears of each one who longs for one more time to linger down the hall with the beloved teacher. It has been said that leadership is influence. May the Lord receive all glory for appointing Mr. Ralph Bullard to be an American Christian leader in our city, state, and nation. He has indeed lived a life of influence.
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”Isaiah 58:12