UPDATE: As a part of the Military Appreciation celebration during Saturday’s football game, Tim Lee was awarded the George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award for his service to the United States. He is the third recipient of the award, which was originally given to its namesake George Rogers. The award will continue to be presented annually at a football game near Veterans Day to a man or woman who served in the United States Armed Forces, displaying extraordinary heroism while in the service and continuing to serve as an outstanding ambassador in their community.
Lee could not be present at the game, but addressed the crowd on the video scoreboard, thanking the university for the high honor.
The award embodies Rogers' courage and will, as the former American soldier survived the Bataan Death March in the Philippines and three-and-a-half years in Japanese captivity. Upon becoming free, Rogers defied the doctors' bleak outlook. Now at the age of 93, he has five children, 13 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren and has served in many business capacities.
A statue honoring Rogers and other award recipients sits just inside the south gates at Williams Stadium.
As Liberty University continues its annual Military Emphasis Week, Wednesday’s Convocation was dedicated to active military members and veterans, and recognized those who have family members actively serving.
The service included a posting of the colors by Liberty’s ROTC program, the Pledge of Allegiance by an ROTC member, and an awe-inspiring performance of the national anthem by the Sounds of Liberty.
“We like to do this every year as a tangible demonstration of the involvement that Liberty University has in the defense of our values all around the world and all of American history,” said Johnnie Moore, vice president for Executive Projects.
Moore asked students to observe a moment of silence and prayer for members of the Liberty family who have died in combat and for the other casualties around the world. Dr. Elmer Towns, dean of the School of Religion and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, and Liberty’s co-founder, then led everyone in prayer.
|Evangelist and veteran Tim Lee|
Tim Lee, a retired Marine, longtime friend of Liberty, and member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees, delivered the Convocation message, telling students never to quit and throw in the towel when all seems lost.
Lee lost his legs in a land mine explosion while serving in the Vietnam War in 1971. Up to that point, he had been running from God, he said, but decided that day to turn his life around. He now is an acclaimed evangelist, and has won many souls for the Lord with his testimony.
“It is a joy to be back at the most exciting, unusual Christian University in the world,” Lee said. “This is the place to be, and God has had his hand on this place since the very beginning, and he continues to bless and to honor the university here,” Lee said.
As he spoke about the prophet Habakkuk, he encouraged the student body with a message of hope. He said the people of God need to act like winners.
“No political party is going to save America, and elections do not save a nation. The thing that will save America is if God’s people, you and I gathered in this room today, will begin the process of revival — and that includes repentance, that includes restoration, that includes you and I getting broken before God and crying aloud and asking God for forgiveness and allowing God to hear our prayer,” Lee said.
He also explained that when things go wrong one of two things takes place: people quit, or they recommit. Lee challenged students to not be quitters. He told a story about Demas in the New Testament. Demas was a close friend and companion of Paul. However, 2 Timothy records that Demas quit and loved the things of this world more.
“We don’t need people in the Christian community throwing in the towel on Nov. 7. I gave two legs for this country 41 years ago. I could have just thrown in the towel very easily,” Lee said.
Lee told of his eight-month stay in the hospital after he was injured. He said he had never seen so much bitterness and anger until he was in that particular unit of the hospital. Lee explained that he has never been bitter. He has never asked God why He did this to him, he said. He decided he could “get bitter, or get better … because feeling sorry for yourself never accomplishes anything.”
Lee challenged students to stand with Israel, to defend the unborn babies “because nobody else will.” He also encouraged students to take a stand for traditional marriage.
"(If) you want to see America come back to God, let it begin here on this mountain; let young people all over this room decide 'I’m not throwing in the towel. I’m not going to quit on God. I’m more determined than ever, and I want revival.'"