Explore Article Categories

Scholar's Viewpoint

A Storyteller’s Story: Catching the Vision and Obeying the Call

By Deborah Huff, November 28, 2023

Jonah and Nineveh. That’s part of my story. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, and I didn’t want to move to Lynchburg.

My husband, Rick, and I loved our jobs in Cincinnati. We loved our home church. Our families lived nearby. We planned on buying a home and raising our children there someday.

But our lives were turned upside down the day we heard a man named Jerry Falwell speak at a Word of Life event in Cedarville, Ohio, in 1978. We heard this man from Virginia challenging the crowd to follow Jesus. Everyone should be working to spread the Gospel — no matter what their day job was, he said. We were convicted about not doing more. We weren’t full-time ministry employees or trained Bible scholars, but Falwell said we didn’t have to be. We just had to be completely dedicated to serving the Lord and obedient to His calling.

At the service’s end, we went forward and prayed for God to find us a place to serve with the talents we had. I thought that meant in Cincinnati. But as we left the auditorium, we were handed “The Journal Champion,” a publication from Falwell’s ministries, and we saw ads for an accountant and a writer. Rick mulled it over for a couple of days and said, “Let’s send our résumés in.” “Sure” was my response, never dreaming that they would hire the both of us.

At that time, Falwell wasn’t a national voice, although he could be heard on the Larry King radio show late at night. He was occasionally on our local television station. Whenever we heard him, he clearly and repeatedly presented his vision to build a world-class university to prepare others to go into all walks of life and carry the Gospel of Christ to all corners of the world. We had been intrigued by Falwell’s full-throttle approach to preaching the Gospel and wanted to experience being part of that team.

We were soon interviewed and accepted offers. Rick worked as a controller at the Old-Time Gospel Hour (and eventually as an accounting professor), and I took on many writing and editing projects. From penning the “I Love America” newsletter, to editing Pathways for Faith Partners to writing a manual for starting a Godparent Home (a place for young pregnant mothers to receive care and counseling on adoption as an alternative to abortion) and covering current events for “The Fundamentalist Journal,” telling stories of God’s work through these efforts allowed me to use the skills He had given me in a ministry that I grew to love.

After 20-plus years of working in publishing, I was offered a job to teach journalism. Every spring, Dr. Falwell would come to my classes to talk about his experiences with the media. My students loved hearing his stories about politics and the times he was met with opposition. Despite being the punchline for many late-night talk shows and an unflattering character on a cartoon, he told the students that while he didn’t like what was said, the media had every right to say it. He reminded them that free speech worked both ways; he didn’t want someone telling him what he could or couldn’t say.

We recorded the last meeting he had with my students. He’s been gone since 2007, but every year I taught class, I found a way to share that recording. I wanted the students to get a close look at the man who listened to God’s call to plant a church and had the vision to build a university to reach the world for Christ.

Whenever I hear a sermon about Jonah and Nineveh, I think of how I dreaded moving to Lynchburg. I am grateful that I didn’t have to be swallowed by a big fish to learn that this was the place God wanted me. I count it an unmeasurable blessing that I was able to use my talents here with ministry and with students. I am forever grateful.

Deborah Huff has served as advisor for the “Liberty Champion,” the university’s student newspaper, since 1996. She has taught journalism courses and has been involved in various publications at Liberty University and its related ministries since 1979. She will retire Jan. 31, 2024.

Get the e-magazine straight to your inbox!

It only takes a click to unsubscribe.