Spiritual Heroes At Liberty – Dwayne Carson

The first time he met Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., Dwayne Carson held an eight-pack of beer in his hand.

That meeting happened in a convenience store on Fort Avenue where Carson and some friends had stopped to buy alcohol. Growing up in Amherst County, Virginia, Carson didn’t care much for Falwell or Liberty Baptist College. Carson feared Falwell would scold him for his lifestyle, but instead, Falwell shook his hand. 

To his surprise, “he was nice,” Carson said. 

Carson, who served as one of Liberty’s campus pastors from August 1988 to February 2011, as well as the vice president of spiritual development from 2009 to 2011, had the opportunity to help build and shape Liberty’s campus ministry. 

Carson’s spiritual journey had been one of rebellion, attending Baptist church on and off again through his teens years, until a 12-year-old girl approached him at a K-Mart and said she missed seeing him at church. This conversation began the domino effect: he returned to church, felt called to preach and chose to attend Criswell Bible College in Dallas, Texas, where he would eventually come to his knees and fully surrender his life to Christ.

While at Criswell Bible College, Carson received a booklet in the mail that read, “You can change your world by attending Liberty Baptist College.” This moved Carson, and he transferred to Liberty in 1984. Within a week, he was asked to serve as a prayer leader on Dorm 18-1. 

He wrote down four principles to guide him in this ministry: “I should love them. I should pray for them. I should pray with them. I should start discipling them.” 

Carson continued working in student leadership as a resident assistant (RA) for two years and as a resident director (RD). 

During a meeting with Falwell to discuss potential roles for him at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Falwell explained that he wanted to hire two pastors — asking Carson if he would be willing to work under them until he graduated from seminary. Carson accepted with the notion of eventually going on to pastor a church. 

To Carson’s surprise, however, a few weeks later, he received a call from Rob Jackson. Jackson, who Carson had worked under as an RD and was then serving as assistant dean of men, informed Carson that Falwell had, in fact, hired two campus pastors: Jackson and Carson. 

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be involved with Dr. Falwell and be involved with Liberty and Thomas Road,” Carson said. 

Campus pastor Dwayne Carson makes announcements at Convocation on February 4, 2011. (Photo by Joel Coleman)

Still unsure exactly what his role would look like, Carson received a 14-item list of duties. Number 14 read, “Anything Dr. Falwell needs.” 

Together, Jackson and Carson oversaw chapel, the Spiritual Life Directors, prayer leaders, counseling and church services. The duo chose three words to encapsulate their duties as campus pastors: minister, mentor and mobilize the students.

To guide the prayer ministry, Carson implemented his four objectives from his time as a prayer leader: every student would be loved, prayed for daily, prayed with at least once weekly and have the opportunity to be discipled. He reduced the maximum number of students in a prayer group from 10 to six and, later, to five. 

Carson treasures the stories he receives from students now ministering to others through summer camps, churches and pastoral leadership. 

“At 60 years of age, more than what I enjoyed as a campus pastor, it’s today – hearing about students who we discipled, discipling,” Carson said. “I have no greater joy,” he said, referencing 3 John 1:4.  

Renee Farmer is the Asst. Feature Editor and Web Manager at the Champion. Follow her on Twitter @reneefarmerr

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