Feb 5, 2008

Liberty Students- expanding the legacy

by Jen Slothower
Most of the world thinks evangelical Christians are crazy. This week’s issue of Newsweek held an article called “A Simple Twist of Faith.” The opening summary of the article read, “I didn’t understand my sister’s draw to evangelical Christianity. But I’ve learned to trust her choices.” The writer, Theresa Gonzalez, went on to explain that she was skeptical about Christianity. When her sister, Kristen, was pulled from public school for home-schooling and Christian school options, Theresa feared that her sister would emerge antisocial and unable to think. Over the past few years, however, she said that Kristen has proved herself to be not only strong in her faith but also a capable thinker and independent individual. The real kicker was near the bottom of the story, when Kristen was deciding where to go to college. She chose, as the writer calls it, “Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.” This is not the first time Liberty has shown up in the mainstream press in recent years – meaning Liberty, not Jerry Falwell or his political connections. Liberty University as a distinct entity is beginning to find its place in the world. Its student body is unique and is becoming less dependent on the foundations that originally spawned the school, such as Dr. Falwell, the Old Time Gospel Hour, Thomas Road and the Moral Majority. While these ministries still have their own distinct roles, the Liberty student body has developed an identity of its own thanks to its strong foundation. While it is certain that Liberty will never be separated from its roots, its ability to stand alone bodes well for the thousands of students who choose it as their school each year. Both basketball teams have found their way into the NCAA tournament, which is basically the standard of reputability in college basketball. Josh McDougal won the national cross-country race – not just a Big South meet – and found himself on a two-page spread in Sports Illustrated. Liberty alumnus Katie Feenstra is playing in the WNBA. Liberty graduates are fanning out over the globe, impacting the world in traditional ministerial roles such as missionaries, pastors and teachers but also in areas such as government, science, medicine, law, higher academia and mass communications. Many of the premier students who chose Liberty over other options — not their local community college; rather, places like Yale, Harvard or Columbia — have done so out of conviction for their faith. Often, they come to “Jerry’s school” with the nagging feeling that they have sacrificed much to also choose a Christian education. Because of these students, however, Liberty has become a school of promise. While some in the media might portray Christian schools as backwoods affairs or ministry colleges trying to offer liberal arts degrees, Liberty is becoming, more every day, a truly legitimate school that does actually train champions for the future. Throughout the next generation, there may be less mention of the Falwells in the mainstream media and more talk about Liberty graduates. How well these talented individuals are trained will lay the foundation for the school’s future. Dr. Falwell’s vision was not to build himself a school of hero-worshipers or minions. He wanted a school that could train champions for his God, not himself. Striving forward, the school will move into an era where his champions will be the face of his vision. The girl mentioned in the Newsweek article was not studying astrophysics, and she was not a Big South athlete of the week. She was a sister who had strong faith and enough love to share it in an unoffensive but strong way. She is the common Liberty student, the kind who shows that one by one, these students can change the world. It is imperative that this university remain strong in training its students in all aspects of life. Whether it be a witnessing sister or a leader of the future, Liberty is training thousands of witnesses for Christ every day. Contact Jen Slothower at jrslothower@liberty.edu.
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