By Charlie Norman Texas Tech ‘70
I received an issue of The Shield months ago. Though I haven’t been involved in Fraternity activities since my days at Texas Beta (Texas Tech 1969-1972), I like browsing the pages, catching up on news, reading about awards and Chapter Eternal … all with fond remembrances of good times and good friends.
As a sentimentalist, I’ve been thinking back on people who impacted my life. Among my Fraternity brothers, there was one guy who kept coming to mind. He’d significantly influenced me, and he didn’t even know it. I wondered about finding this brother to tell him (if he’s still around)? So, I called the phone number listed for Phi Kappa Psi HQ, and Kathy answered. I explained that I’d like to contact a Texas Beta brother, Brant McGlothlin Texas Tech ‘69. He was a senior when I was a sophomore, so I’d only known him for a year. Friendly as Kathy was, I waited on hold a couple minutes before she came back with “Captain William Brant McGlothlin,” two old phone numbers, and a Rockport, Texas address. Sure enough, the numbers were dead. So, I decided to write him a short greeting card — asking if he was the Brant I knew from 53 years ago?
Two weeks later, I heard back!
You see, in the ’70s, Brant shared at a Phi Psi meeting how he’d become a true Christ follower. I listened from afar without much interest, though I always remembered his boldness and the courage it must have taken to stand and tell others of his newfound faith. I admired his example of someone I’d like to be like someday. Not at that time, mind you — too many other distractions (dorm job, intramural sports, girls, figuring out a major/career path, Fraternity, etc.). So that was that … but deep down, I knew Brant had something I did not.
We actually shared more than I realized. Growing up in West Texas, we loved football, academics, and were nominal churchgoers. The teenage years saw us drop the church scene, becoming uninterested in the spiritual things (to the point of agnosticism for Brant). But Brant met a gal his junior year at Tech who invited him to join a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting (CCC, now CRU). If only to be with her, he went. There, he witnessed fellow students possess this something … a peace, a purpose and direction he lacked. Brant felt awakened, having searched for purpose and direction his whole life, when one of the guys from CRU shared a small tract known as “The 4 Spiritual Laws” — a short, straightforward presentation of the Good News. Later that week, alone in his apartment bedroom, Brant made the life-changing prayer. The decision to follow Christ.
His life was never the same.
For me, I continued on to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. Yet, in my heart of hearts, I knew something was missing. I considered myself a “good guy” all-right, but one who didn’t have real direction in life. Around this time, I discovered a Blaise Pascal quote that spoke to my status in life: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by the Creator made known in the person of Jesus Christ.”
At UT in the fall of 1972, I had dinner with a distant cousin and her husband. I could tell there was something different, something special about them. They, too, were one of those. They shared the same little booklet, “The 4 Spiritual Laws” with me. I felt convicted, vulnerable and humbled. I thought, this was what I need. I reflected on a few people I admired: an outspoken Christian professor at Texas Tech, a gal I’d met at church once three years earlier who’d really turned her life around, a couple high school guys who’d become preachers, and even ol’ Phi Psi Brother Brant McGlothlin. Was God trying to get my attention? Like Brant, it took a while.
But one night, all alone in my bedroom, I prayed the prayer that had the angels in heaven rejoicing. A life changer for me, too.
I graduated from UT, worked in advertising in Hawaii for three years, and had a 34-year career with a major airline before retiring in 2010. I’m now active in church, volunteering, and I publish short stories. Brant graduated from Tech in January 1971. He promptly married the young lady who invited him to the CRU meeting and joined the U.S. Air Force and the military staff of Campus Crusade. He continued ministry work through his 20 years of service as a pilot with the USAF. Later, Brant used his experience to be a pastor, administrator, missionary, teacher, house parent in Germany, and member care coordinator in various ministries where he still participates.
After 53 years, Brant and I connected. We hadn’t even talked on the phone before April of this year. It was like speaking to a long-lost brother. A Providential connection, one might say — Brothers in Fraternity and Brothers in faith. Something special, indeed!