Dr. William Lyons is arguably one of ORU’s favorite professors. As the associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Studies and of Undergraduate Theology and Ministry, how his quick rise to fame among the students happened is debatable.
It might have something to do with how his quick Friday afternoon coffee runs at Hava Java turn into hour-long talks with students. It might also have something to do with the fact that his Old Testament course is a general education class, required for most students at ORU. In either case, he never fails to sit and talk with each student about whatever questions they have, whether they are about class or his latest trip to Israel.
Lyons grew up in Ohio with his mother and brothers, but life wasn’t picture perfect.
“Growing up in a broken home, with a father who left me when I was 13, with four younger brothers, was my biggest struggle,” Lyons said. “Our Bibles tell us that our God is ‘a father to the fatherless.’”
He graduated high school and headed to Tulsa to attend Oral Roberts University, where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in Theology and later earned a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies.
Beyond his academic success, Lyons also met and married Trish Howard during his years at ORU. Howard lived on his sister wing.
“She grew up as a missionary’s daughter in India, and although she was quite different from other girls on campus, we became the best of friends,” Lyons said. “I believe that it was the Lord’s plan for our lives. It’s always a good idea to marry your best friend.”
He went on to the University of Wisconsin for a Master of Arts in Semitic Languages. Lyons then took a faculty position at the New York extension of Christ for the Nations. After teaching at Christ for the Nations, Lyons moved to Florida to become an Associate Pastor at Christian Heritage Church, a large Pentecostal church in Tallahassee. As many students have probably noticed, nearly every class has moments in which his “pastor self” gives inspiring pastoral applications.
Lyons also taught at Florida A&M, Florida State and Regent University, eventually accepting a faculty position at ORU in 2014. In between, he has experienced many adventures, from teaching Old Testament studies to pastors in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia to joining an archaeological dig in Israel and working for six weeks in the heat and the dirt. For any students wondering, Lyons has many different rocks and pieces of pottery from his dig in his office, and his face lights up when he talks about them.
Dr. Lyons has been to many different places and many different schools and taught thousands of different students. Yet he still takes his time to get coffee and visit with students here at ORU, tirelessly emulating the core of this university with his character and heart for community. He says he chose to follow God’s calling here, and here is where he will stay.
“You want to be where the Lord wants you.”