Tuesday, February 16, 2010

50,000 Dream Fulfilled

Back in 1971 Dr Jerry Falwell opened the doors of what was called then Lynchburg Baptist College which today is known as Liberty University. I attended Liberty from 1983 to 1987, graduating with honors with a B.S. in Pastoral Ministries and a Minor in Greek. I then went on through Liberty’s School of Lifelong Learning to get my Masters of Religion degree. Today my daughter is in the last semester of her Sophomore year as an Education Major at Liberty. Next year my son will join her as a Freshman Worship Arts Major.

I remember sitting in the congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church back in 1985 when there were under 5,000 students at Liberty as Jerry Falwell announced his dream to have 50,000 students that he always called “Champions For Christ.” Well, guess what? This past week Dr Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell Jr, who followed his father as Chancellor of Liberty, announced that the 50,000 student dream has been reached. Dr Falwell’s vision has become reality. Today there are over 57,000 Liberty students. About 12,000 of these students are on campus and the rest take classes through the distance learning program.

This past weekend Laura and I spent a couple days down at Liberty visiting our daughter. I always love walking back on that campus. Though so much has changed, there still is a lot that remains the same as when I graduated 23 years ago. I took my daughter into the room that we called the "preaching lab" in the Religion Building. This is where I was taught and trained how to preach. During those classes we would have to preach a sermon once a week. Our professor, a wonderful man named Dr Paul Fink who still teaches at Liberty, would sit behind a window in a studio where he would be making comments on the video that was being recorded of each sermon. Now, to be honest Dr Fink was pretty forthright and brutal in his comments. If you got it wrong, he would tell you. I remember one sermon I preached from Lamentations 3 that I took way out of context. Boy, did Dr Fink let me have it on that video.

By the way, Dr Fink was my favorite professor at Liberty. He also taught Inductive Bible Study. In short, Dr Fink taught me how to study the Bible and how to preach and for that I will always be indebted to him.

Laura and I attended convocation with Joy on Friday. At Liberty they have convocation three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It is amazing to sit in the Vines Center, filled to capacity with Liberty Students, worshipping together our great God and being challenged from the Word of God.

50,000 – that was quite a goal. That now makes Liberty the 25th largest college/university in America. It also makes Liberty the largest not for profit college/university in the nation. Dr Falwell knew how to dream big and had the faith to do so. He called them “BHAG’s” which stood for Big Hairy Audacious Goals. So, I guess my goal of seeing Grace Church in Lititz grow to the place where we are ministering to 10,000 people every week through our educational ministries and our weekend services isn’t so far-fetched. By the way, Dr Falwell also had the BHAG of Liberty football team beating Notre Dame at South Bend. Watch out, Irish. That day is coming too!

No comments: