At the Feb. 17 convocation, held during Liberty University’s Missions Emphasis Week, Campus Pastor Johnnie Moore prayed, “Please use this morning’s service in a way that will reshape history.” What followed were exhortations and information about how Liberty students locally and globally impact communities.
|The Rev. Dr. Herman Robertson, pastor of Poplar Spring Baptist Church in nearby Bedford County, recently learned that Liberty is helping to revive a building project at his church.|
Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. reminded students about the importance of Missions Emphasis Week: “During these special weeks we want to expose you to the needs of the world and ask you what are you going to do to help people who are hurting and spread the gospel in the process.”
After listing the myriad of ways in which LU is serving throughout the world (see bottom of page), he said, “We’re not done giving back — missions begins at home.”
Specifically, Falwell was referring to Poplar Spring Baptist Church, which serves a congregation near his farm in Bedford County. The church had raised almost $100,000 — an amount that took 20 years to amass — to construct an addition to the building. Once the project began, it was discovered that a local accountant had stolen the funds and that there was no way of getting the money back, Falwell said.
The chancellor wanted LU to help, but did not know how it could afford to solve the problem. “The numbers were just too big,” he said. After further research, however, Vice President of Field Operations Scott Starnes reported back to Falwell this week that nearly every contractor used by Liberty had agreed to donate the necessary labor and materials to revive the project.
Falwell said further contributions are coming in and that LU will be designating a day where students, faculty and staff can help.
“We just believe that this is our Jerusalem and this is where missions begins,” said Falwell.
The Rev. Dr. Herman Robertson, pastor of Poplar Spring, was a guest at convocation. When Falwell announced the news, Robertson said, “One thing I say is that prayer works. When we found out about this situation that we’re in, we started praying, and then last evening [when he received a call from Falwell] we were able to see some of the results.” He personally thanked the chancellor and Liberty, and “my maker Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit for making this possible.”
CONTRIBUTORS (PROVIDING MATERIALS AND LABOR)
framing, insulation, hang & finish drywall, ceilings
Sweet Briar Sheet Metal
|Sherwin Williams floor and paint departments||
floor installing, brushes, rollers, drop cloths, sprayer, etc.
|CS Door||exterior & interior doors, including hardware
|Anonymous||electrical rough in and trim out (plus 50% materials)|
|Gary Haugen speaks on his work with the International Justice Mission and fighting injustice around the world.|
The main convocation speaker was Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency that focuses on helping the oppressed people in the world.
One of the most challenging things to think about, he said, is if we are really interested in the things that Jesus is interested in.
Two interests, which he called “unfamiliar,” are a passion for the world and a passion for justice. He asked listeners to “share in His love for the world.”
With a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago, Haugen began dealing with both said passions in 1994 as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice. He was part of a team that investigated the Rwandan genocide. This genocide, he said, saw 800,000 people murdered, and was like the 9/11 attacks happening “three times a day — every day — for eight weeks.”
This chilling comparison brought him to what he believes to be the most difficult thing to believe about Christianity: “God is good.”
Haugen went through a list of tragedies taking place throughout the world on a large and small scale. He punctuated his description of each by asking, “How can they believe that God is good?” Another question he asked, after recounting tales of rape, slavery and forced prostitution, was “What is God’s plan for the suffering?” The answer: “We are the plan, and He doesn’t have another one.”
IJM has been able to help those suffering from injustice by not only removing them from an oppressive environment, but also by utilizing the freed to facilitate further liberation.
While many may feel powerless against such rampant injustice, Haugen reminded students that the disciples felt the same way, like with the feeding of the 5,000. Regardless of how ineffective we believe ourselves to be, he said Christ’s response is always, “What do you have and will you give it to me?”
Haugen said his prayer is that, “in a world of so much suffering and hurt and need that God will ... rescue us from all things petty — rescue us from all things of fear and lead us out with courage into a world that is yearning to know the goodness of God through us.”
Students can get involved with IJM by becoming a prayer partner, through donations or by joining LU’s campus chapter. More information is available on IJM’s website.
*A list of events and seminars for Missions Emphasis Week can be found here.*