Faith & Service

We The Champions: Meet the Award Winners

February 21, 2018

The Champion Award is a new monthly award presented to a Liberty student or faculty or staff member who embodies the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), which are at the heart of both Liberty’s mission and the We The Champions project.

Throughout the academic year, students, faculty, and staff have multiple opportunities to nominate someone for the award.  One winner will be selected for an overall award presented during Commencement in May.

Below are the fall semester winners.

Emily Hensler

In September, Liberty University senior Emily Hensler was recognized for her Christlike attitude and drive to share God’s love, even in the face of a major trial in her life. In March 2016, Hensler received a call that her father had died unexpectedly. With support from the Liberty community, led by its LU Shepherds and campus pastors, Hensler was not only able to navigate through a season of grief, but also to use her story to inspire those around her.

Throughout her time at Liberty, Hensler prioritized servanthood and exemplified a loving spirit by ministering to fellow students as a Resident Shepherd through the Office of Spiritual Development. She has also served as president of Liberty’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and organized numerous campus lectures, bringing guests such as Dinesh D’Souza, Star Parker, Steve Forbes, and Judge Jeanine Pirro to Liberty. Hensler was also instrumental in organizing the 9/11 Never Forget Project and Freedom Week on campus. She was voted “Top Student Activist of the Year” by the Young America’s Foundation at CPAC 2016.

She earned her degree in business administration with a specialization in economics in December.

Dr. Roger Mackey

Because of his strong dedication to his students and reputation as a spiritual mentor, Liberty professor Roger Mackey, who teaches leadership and development through Liberty’s Eagle Scholars Program, was presented with the October Champion Award.

Mackey recruits and retains accomplished freshmen and sophomores for the Eagle Scholars Program, which provides personal and professional development, training them to become leaders throughout college and beyond.

While Mackey’s job as the academic lead of the program is to focus largely on developing curriculum, he has taken on the greater mission of teaching his students to be spiritual stewards. Many students shared how he takes time to forge meaningful relationships as a spiritual and educational mentor so he can help them understand their unique callings in life.

Juan Ramos

For the courage he displayed overseas serving as an Army medic and for his commitment to provide healthcare to those who need it most, Liberty student-doctor Juan Ramos was awarded the November Champion Award.
During his time as a medical sergeant in the Army’s Special Forces, Ramos oversaw a 12-man detachment, a local national forces team of 20-30 soldiers, and a special forces battalion of 300.

Since starting his education at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ramos has aligned himself with LUCOM’s mission to create access to quality, affordable healthcare for those who cannot currently afford it — a problem which he believes is widespread in the U.S. and one he intends to tackle.

Anna Nokes

In celebration of her relentless efforts to involve more students in community service and for taking initiative when she sees an opportunity to help others, Liberty University senior Anna Nokes was awarded with the December Champion Award.

Nokes, a social work student, applies both her faith and her education on a regular basis. She is currently interning in Roseville, Calif., helping to create jobs for people with disabilities.

At Liberty, she founded the Social Work Club and served as a team leader for the Community Care Initiative, where she led students in short-term community service projects. She also served as a community group leader on her residence hall.

Nokes was instrumental in establishing a branch of Celebrate Recovery on Liberty’s campus, a 12-step, Christ-centered program that helps people tackle mental health issues. She volunteered with the program for three years.

In a study trip to the Dominican Republic with Liberty’s social work department, she cultivated a passion for helping victims of human trafficking, and she is currently raising money to return to the DR to partner with a local church to fight the problem head-on.

In the fall issue of the Liberty Journal, we announced an essay contest as part of the new We The Champions (WTC) project. WTC is designed to rally members of the Liberty community around the university’s foundational calling and share its vision with the world. Readers were tasked with writing an essay on why Training Champions for Christ is still important today. We received several essays that eloquently spoke to the ways Liberty’s mission is continuing to impact lives. Our winner is Dana Bowers, a proud Liberty father. Bowers and his wife, Joanie, have been married for 30 years and have been serving in Papua New Guinea with Ethnos360 (formerly New Tribes Mission) since 1993. Most recently, Dana has been teaching sixth grade at their mission school, Numonohi Christian Academy, while Joanie serves as the high school librarian. Their oldest daughter, Jacqueline, graduated from Liberty in 2015, and their younger daughter, Hayley, is currently a junior. Thank you, Dana, for putting the ongoing global need for Liberty’s mission into words.

Training Champions for Christ: Accepting the challenge

In every generation, the church faces two challenges: how to impact the culture for Christ, and how to pass the faith to the next generation. God does not call all believers to full-time ministry as pastors or missionaries. He does call all Christians to serve Him with every aspect of their lives in every corner of the culture. The church in every generation needs entrepreneurs who demonstrate the integrity of Christ. It needs artists who employ their creative gifts to communicate truth and beauty in a fallen world and athletes who compete fiercely while winning and losing with grace. The church needs doctors and nurses who minister to the spiritual needs of hurting people while healing broken bodies. And yes, we need pastors who will faithfully teach the Scriptures and missionaries who will take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

We are painfully aware that many young people raised in the church lose their faith when it comes under assault. In Romans 10:15, the apostle Paul asks a rhetorical question: How can they preach unless they are sent? Indeed, they must be sent. The question here is:  How can the church penetrate the darkness in every corner of the culture with light unless young people are equipped professionally and spiritually? Indeed, they must be equipped. The church needs young people with a first-class education and a solid spiritual foundation if it is to successfully engage people at every level of society. The Christian university plays an essential role in equipping the next generation to represent Christ to a lost culture.

Liberty University has set the bar for academic excellence while offering a Christ-centered education. As our culture spins out of control and grows more antagonistic to the very idea of truth, the need for Christians who can engage people at every level of the culture is more important than ever. Never has the need to Train Champions for Christ been greater.

—Dana Bowers, Missionary in Papua New Guinea, Liberty parent

Read what other contest entries said about the relevancy of Liberty’s mission:

Training Champions for Christ is far more than a slogan. It’s far more than a vision started by one man. It is a lifestyle that calls one to a higher power of living and following the path toward Christ.”
Jennifer Tankard, Alumna

“…This is the reason we need Champions for Christ,
People to fight and show others what is right;
Students entering society with a Christian Worldview,
Willing to show others how Christ can renew;
Show how His love spreads through your heart to others,
Show the joy that comes from fellowship with believers;
Helping the less fortunate and watching the change,
Of the sadness in their lives to a smile that starts from within…”
—Dr. Christopher Applegate, ’11

“What does it mean to Train Champions for Christ? It means that Liberty University, by embracing and upholding its focus, takes on the responsibility of instructing, mentoring, and shaping young men and women to be passionate in their love for people, diligent in all things, and dedicated to the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom — all while pursuing the character and presence of Christ with their entire being, so that through such training, they can change the world for Christ. … Champions for Christ are calm in the face of catastrophe, find wisdom during worry, keep faith for the future, and have hope during heartache. They do not become champions overnight. It takes work, faith, and dedication both from those who are learning, and from those who take on the task of passing on the training.”
—Taylor Rose

“The world does not need to enter the realm of ‘church’ and see the world. It needs to see Jesus Christ. It needs to experience the authentic love of Jesus Christ through the Body of Christ, speaking in love and Truth regarding our shared fallen state. This becomes the critically important motivation to continue training ‘Champions for Christ.’ The goal remains fearless proclaiming of the Gospel, unconditional love of others, and unrelenting obedience to the Great Commission.”
Jeff Valerioti, LU staff member

“We are called to champion a just cause in our respective fields of study. Training Champions for Christ is more than a rally cry. Instead, it speaks to the cry within one’s heart to seek for something greater. To take the path that God carved for you. To step out knowing that God will lead you on your journey. ‘Training’ can be arduous and challenging, but its outcome is the reward of knowing you gave your all to strive after excellence, goodness, and a just cause.”
—Francesca Jenkins, Student

Become a part of the We The Champions project and read inspiring stories of those who are living out the mission at LIBERTY.EDU/CHAMPIONS.

Follow #WeTheChampions on social media.

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