Living Faith Out Loud

Posted by Janae Melvin on April 26, 2018 in LaMoine Tatum is a senior psychology major with a minor in Christian studies but there’s nothing minor about her faith. She is also licensed to preach by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. As a fifteen-year-old, Tatum accepted God’s call on her life and began to preach the Gospel. Raised in Wichita, Tatum says she was “a church girl through and through.”

She never missed a service, conference or choir rehearsal. Her pastor and his wife saw in Tatum a desire to learn more and share her faith through speaking. They decided to encourage Tatum’s calling and soon she was preaching on Youth Sundays or filling the pulpit when her pastor was away.

“I’m studying under my pastor’s tutelage,” says Tatum. “I don’t do communion, weddings or baptisms but I’m speaking and learning the intricacies of the church and how to help lead.”

When it came time to further her education, Ottawa University fulfilled Tatum’s requirements: a small campus, a forensics program, a thriving ministry team and far enough from home to be an adventure but close enough to return to her family easily.

“I walked onto campus without knowing a soul,” says Tatum. That’s not the case anymore.

“LaMoine is consistent in her witness, especially strong in listening and offering comfort and advice,” says Dr. Richard Menninger, retired professor of Christian studies. “She is well known by the student body, always available to help. She is able to articulate her thoughts and exemplifies how a person can live her witness in the context of a liberal arts mindset.”

Tatum is involved in every aspect of Campus Ministries including steering a women’s Bible study, volunteering for Braving Discipleship, traveling on mission trips and leading Chapel. She’s also a national level forensics competitor.

She’s participated in forensics for six years (including two years in high school) in Poetry Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation, Prose, Impromptu Speaking, Duo Interpretation and nationally in Student Congress, Reader’s Theatre and Discussion Debate. Because at its core, forensics is speech and debate, Tatum credits forensics (and her coach Ryan Louis and team) with teaching her to find her voice and advocate for herself. In fact, in March, Tatum won the Phi Kappa Delta National Championship in Slam Poetry.

While on the road for forensics tournaments, Tatum loves to share the Gospel with wait staff at restaurants. She’s always on the lookout for the next “ministry moment.”

“Her academic and theological understanding of scripture is very deep,” says Briley Rivers, director of campus ministries. “We usually have to rein her in at chapel because she is so passionate, she can’t stop within our time limits!” Recently, Tatum has focused her ministry on helping others find their identity in Christ.

“One of the big reasons people come to college is to find their purpose,” says Tatum. “You can’t know what you are called to do until you know who you are meant to be. The two go together. You can’t know your purpose until you know your fullness in Christ.”

After she speaks at Chapel, students surround Tatum with questions, further discussion and their own stories. She likes to remind people that having a relationship with God is different than just what they’ve learned in Sunday School. There’s always more to God than we know, always something new to learn about Him.

“LaMoine is very relational, very pastoral,” says Rivers. “When she leaves OU she wants to leave a legacy, wants to walk away knowing she was faithful and did what she was supposed to do. She has a real sense of calling and everything she does is filtered through that.”

Off campus, Tatum is making a difference in the surrounding community. She interned for Made Men, a ministry focused on helping people achieve their GED. She also speaks and teaches regularly at her church in Kansas City. In addition, Tatum interns (mentoring youth) at First Baptist Lawrence while also writing a series of prayer books based on Romans. She sees her psychology major as the perfect way to help people discover the marriage between renewing the mind (psychology) and the Gospel. “I want to help people with mental illness learn the Gospel,” says Tatum. “They can be transformed through a relationship with Christ.”

“I’ve done nothing extraordinary,” says Tatum. “Yet God continues to show me that my presence on campus has made a difference. I want to continue to be and make a difference.”