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Liberty Journal

Christian Commitment

Summer 2012 : Liberty University News Service

In May, Liberty University officially adopted its tagline, Training Champions for Christ since 1971, collectively acknowledging the university’s unique heritage, affirming its uncompromising mission, and echoing Liberty’s commitment to Christian values, which distinguishes it from other schools and universities. These stories combine all these pillars of Liberty’s mission.

Honoring the Faithful

By Mitzi Bible

Liberty University has always had a well-established group of individuals who have made sure the vision for a world-class Christian university became a reality. One of the ways it has thanked its faithful is by offering naming opportunities on the campus they have grown to love.

In the past year, 11 parking lots have been named for Liberty supporters and as the campus undergoes a major transformation, there will be many more opportunities.

“Liberty’s donors believed in Rev. Jerry Falwell’s vision and want to participate in that legacy he has left,” said Tom Arnold, vice president for Development. “It’s important we recognize them and let them know how significant their contributions are as a member of the Liberty family.”

The most recent available naming opportunities are special areas of distinction in the new Jerry Falwell Library. Generous donors may choose from more than 70 different areas, including: the four-story book tower, automated book retrieval system, grand entrance hall, graduate and faculty commons, technology center, lakeside atrium, terraces and balconies, newly-created lake, or many other prestigious spaces. Faithful supporters have the unique privilege of naming these high-profile areas.

Many donors have already participated in the Name A Seat initiative for Liberty’s Tower Theater. The campaign continues, offering an opportunity to name a seat in honor of your family, a loved one, a friend, or a business with a $1,000 donation. More than 190 seats have been engraved in the new theater, which opened in the fall of 2010.

Liberty is also fortunate to have a base of loyal supporters who have decided to remember Liberty in their estate plans. With bequests at an all-time high, the blessings continue to flow as many hardworking individuals who believe in Liberty’s mission have given to the university. In the last three years, Liberty has received nearly $9 million in bequests. In November 2011, Liberty announced a bequest of $474,000 and a month later, it announced another bequest totaling $590,000.

Gift annuities still remain the number one option for planned giving to Liberty. Out of 4,000 charities nationwide offering gift annuities, Liberty ranks in the top 5 percent for number of annuitants.

For information on giving to Liberty, click here.

Staying on Mission

By Bethany Pico

Liberty University is actively involved in reaching the world for Christ and offers its students a variety of ways to contribute.

The Center for Global Engagement has several ministries that allow students to participate in fulfilling the Great Commission, including Light Ministries, Xtreme Impact, LU Abroad, and campus-wide, student-run fundraisers.

Light Ministries, Liberty’s short-term ministry department, organized 13 trips for the spring semester.

During Spring Break, students served in Kosovo, Bosnia, the Pacific Rim, Ecuador, and Slovenia.

In May, six teams travelled to France, Ethiopia, the Middle East, Nepal, Central Brazil, and North Brazil. As students worked with and lived among several different groups of people, cultures, and religions, they used tools like children’s ministry, service projects, relationship building, sports ministry, and medical missions to serve others and share the message of the Gospel.

Another group of Liberty students will lead and mentor high school students through Xtreme Impact, travelling to seven countries throughout the summer, including Guatemala, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Italy, Uganda, South Africa, India, and Thailand.

LU Abroad, Liberty’s internship program, will send out 55 students to foreign countries this year. The program started in 2007 and is designed for students who want to incorporate a ministry into their internship. Students work side-by-side in a country of their choosing with local missionaries who offer practical ministry training. Students will utilize their major as they assist with children’s programs, college ministries, adult ministries, Bible studies, accounting, data entry, communications, graphic design, web development, teaching, and many other ministry-related responsibilities.

While there are several opportunities to travel nationally and abroad, Liberty students are also able to actively partner in missions from campus by financially supporting initiatives like Liberty’s Restore Rwanda campaign.

The campaign launched in February during Missions Emphasis Week with a goal of raising $24,000 to build a school in Kigali, Rwanda.

The idea was born after 19 students in Liberty’s counseling and psychology departments went there on a 10-day mission trip in Nov. 2011, counseling victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days. In one village they visited, 40 widows and their children resided in poor conditions. The village director prayed for three things while they were there: clean water, education for the children, and electricity.

The first prayer request was answered, the village now has clean water. After returning to the U.S., the original team was burdened to be the answer to the second request and launched Restore Rwanda.

During Spring Break, five Liberty students returned to help kick off the building project (read more).

On the homefront, fundraisers like “Walk to Remember Rwanda,” which began on the steps of Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on April 28, took place to help reach the $24,000 goal.

To learn more about the project, visit Restore Rwanda on Facebook.

A Tradition That Rings Across the Mountain

By Olivia Witherite

A Liberty University tradition, “ring by spring” has become a joking, yet endearing phrase used to describe the many engagements and proposals that take place around Liberty every year as graduation nears. All joking aside, the fact remains that many require time, effort, prayer, and thought from each couple.

Some proposals may be so involved that they need just a little bit more faith.

Take for instance Chadley Foster, an athletic training major who is entering his senior year. Although in his own words, “A Liberty student gets engaged every other day,” Foster knew that he wanted to make his engagement to his girlfriend Jordan Peters, who graduated in May with a degree in psychology, perfect. He thought of the idea to propose at Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s skybox at Williams Stadium.

On April 13, after Convocation, Foster introduced himself to Falwell and asked for permission to propose at the football stadium.

The Chancellor said yes, and with what he expected to be the biggest obstacle behind him, Foster went to Williams Stadium. He then realized that there were even more bumps in the road ahead: the huge, overnight fundraiser, Relay for Life, would be happening around the same time in the same area, potentially adding unwanted noise and crowding to the special moment.

“I remember praying right there, literally laying down all frustration and anxiety,” Foster said, reflecting on the night. “I spoke out truth, faith, and peace. No matter how this would turn out, I could not throw in the towel. Jordan is worth too much for me to settle for less.”

So, armed with Peters’ favorite foods, roses, and more than 300 candles, Foster, along with some help from his friends, came up with a plan to put candles in paper bags across the student section of the football stadium that spelled out, “JP, marry me?”

After overcoming a few other obstacles, Foster finalized the preparations, and was able to lead Peters to the Chancellor’s skybox to look out the window and see the proposal lighting up the night.

And she said yes.

Then there was another surprise — Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, Becki, came by to congratulate them.

To those considering a marriage proposal, Foster offers this advice: “Set your mind on what’s eternal, pursue the Lord with everything, and see who is running with you.”

Students Vote on Campus for First Time

Liberty University students who are registered to vote in Virginia had the opportunity to cast their votes on campus for the first time on Tuesday, March 6, in the 2012 Republican presidential primary.

The new voting precinct at the Vines Center received 590 votes, more than any other precinct in the state, with more than 13 percent turnout (well above the Virginia average of 5.6 percent).

“I believe that’s a strong turnout, given the fact that it’s just a primary and only two of the candidates are on the ballot in Virginia,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. “That’s a very good sign that the polling place was needed and that it will be used in large numbers by our students in the future. We are grateful for what the local authorities have done to make it a reality in time for this primary.”

Liberty students also voted at the Vines Center for the Lynchburg City Council elections held on Tuesday, May 1.

Liberty students previously voted in the Ward 3 precinct at Heritage Elementary School and rode buses to the polling place.
Students said the new precinct is a welcome change.

“It’s extremely convenient to vote in the Vines, because it’s so close,” said then-sophomore Karren Jeffers of Stafford, Va. “Last semester I went to Heritage Elementary and it took a lot of time, especially for people who don’t have cars.”

In Oct. 2011, Lynchburg City Council decided to redraw voting lines, creating a new precinct at Liberty to be used by the 4,122 students living on campus and registered to vote in the city at that time.

Liberty University made national headlines in 2008 when the school recruited about 4,000 students to register to vote in the state of Virginia.

Liberty Holds First International Week

By Bethany Pico

Representing more than 900 international students from 83 countries, Liberty University’s Office of International Student Services held its first International Week in March. The event exposed all students on campus to different ethnic groups and their various cultures.

From coffee tasting to a cultural talent show, different events were held to spotlight various students’ talents from their respective countries. One event included the popular Taste of the Nations, a Liberty tradition in which international students representing more than 20 countries prepared food for their peers to sample.

The week began with the Mosaic Mixer, a fashion show in which students modeled traditional clothing. Students were also able to see cultural artwork in an International Art Show, which was held in the Grand Lobby of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center. These works included original and imported pieces from students’ home countries.

Beyond hosting the art show, DeMoss is now the new home of the International Student Center. The newly built lounge provides international students the opportunity to relax, connect, and spend time with each other.

International Week was the capstone of the more than 50 annual events held by the C. Daniel Kim International Student Center. The center also aids in admissions of international students, including scholarship, recruitment, student retention, and health insurance assistance.

Read the full story here.

Heather Thomas Named Christian/Community Service Volunteer of the Year

By Bethany Pico

Liberty University senior Heather Thomas is the recipient of this year’s Christian/Community Service Volunteer of the Year Award for her outstanding contribution and commitment to service in the Lynchburg community and around the world.

She was presented the award during Convocation on Wednesday, April 25.

Lew Weider, associate professor and director of Christian/Community Service (CSER), called Thomas “one of the most energetic servant-leaders” he has met at Liberty. “She is a wonderful example of a Champion for Christ,” he said.

Weider, the faculty adviser for Liberty’s Circle K club, has worked closely with Thomas, who served as president for three semesters. Circle K is the largest collegiate service organization worldwide.

Throughout the past academic year, Thomas has organized and served with many projects for the club, including volunteering at two nursing homes, Adopt-a-Highway, the American Red Cross Bloodmobile, the Kiwanis Club of Lynchburg’s Annual Teddy Bear Parade, clean-up at Blackwater Creek trail, and the Hyland Heights Baptist Church food drive.

Thomas, a biology/pre-med major, also helped to raise about $5,500 for the Circle K International Eliminate Project, which is designed to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

In addition to her service with Circle K, Thomas volunteers every Tuesday night, and other days during the week as needed, with the Lynchburg Free Clinic. On the weekends, she is on call at the Campbell County Rescue Squad as an EMT-Basic and regularly volunteers at the Lynchburg General Hospital Emergency Department. Every Sunday morning she runs a coffee ministry at Cornerstone Community Church.

Thomas’ volunteerism spirit has also taken her to China for several summers, teaching English as a second language.

This academic year she started Liberty’s Medical Community Service Club where she helped to prepare and send out newsletters for the Free Clinic of Central Virginia, participated in a fundraiser for Mended Hearts (for those with mental and physical health challenges), wrote letters to homebound individuals, and cleaned house for a handicapped woman.

Thomas recently directed the “Walk to Remember Rwanda” fundraiser. The walk began on the steps of Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on Saturday, April 28, and all of the money raised went toward a school Liberty students are helping to build in Rwanda.
Thomas said her inspiration for serving comes from the Lord and is a platform for sharing the Gospel.

“Volunteering has opened up a bunch of different doors to share Christ in the community,” Thomas said. “Everywhere we go we always have the question, ‘Where are you all from?’ To be able to say you’re from Liberty University not only portrays a good name on the school but also upon Christ. People tell us that there is something different about us and they really have enjoyed getting to know the students that have come out.”

Thomas graduated in May and plans to work for a year at a local nursing home before attending medical school.

The Volunteer of the Year Christian Service Award is presented annually to a student who demonstrates excellence in Christian service and ministry. Students are nominated by their supervisors at the organizations where they volunteer.
Kenneth Hubbell and Mark Osborne received honorable mentions for their service with No Longer Music and Liberty Counsel, respectively.

Liberty requires students to complete a minimum of 20 hours of Christian service each semester to fulfill graduation requirements and support the mission of the university to serve others.

Alumna Named Chief of Surgery at VA Hospital

By Mitzi Bible

Liberty University alumna Dr. Jeannie Falwell Savas (’86) has been named Chief of Surgery at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va., placing her among only a handful of women in the country to hold this leadership position.

Savas graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty. She earned her medical degree in 1990 from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, where she is an associate professor of surgery.

Savas is the daughter of Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell and sister of current Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell, Jr.

Her specialty is general surgery, mostly laparoscopic abdominal surgery and robotic surgery. The new position places her in charge of all surgical specialties at the hospital, which has served more than 200,000 veterans from 52 cities and counties since 1946 and was the first VA center to perform heart transplants.

Savas said she knew since she was a young child that she would have a career in medicine.

“My parents told me I always said I wanted to be a doctor. Way back then, people would say, ‘Oh I hear you’re going to be a nurse’ [and I’d tell them] ‘No, I’m going to be a doctor.’”

Although she has had other interests, from mathematics to competitive water skiing, being a physician has always been her main focus.

“People have asked me what my back-up plan was; I never thought of having one because this is what I was going to do.”

She said when she was 4 and broke her arm, the doctor was explaining how he was going to have to break it all the way to reset it, so he asked her to look in another direction.

“I said, ‘Oh, can’t I watch?’ He looked at my mom with a dumbfounded look and she said, ‘Yes, she’s going to want to watch.’ I just sat there and watched because I thought it was really cool.”

When she was in high school, surgeons who were friends of her parents allowed her to view procedures in the operating room, which piqued her interest even more.

She went on to attend Liberty, where she majored in mathematics and biology.

Coming out of Liberty, “I was completely, 100 percent, prepared for medical school,” she said.

Savas returns to Lynchburg any chance she can get, along with her son, Paul, 14. She said they enjoy cheering on the Flames at football and soccer games.

She said recently one of her students asked her why, knowing who her parents were, she didn’t decide to go into ministry herself.

“I said, ‘Medicine is a ministry. You’re ministering to the needs of sick people, and dealing with people going through tough times.’”
She said she was excited to hear last year that Liberty was starting its own medical school. “We [Christian physicians] need more of an impact in the medical field, and I think it’s a perfect fit because it is a ministry,” Savas said.

“There are a lot of people who seem to think there’s conflict between science and religion and I really don’t see it that way,” she added. “God is the author of science, who created an orderly world and scientific laws, and we’re in the process of discovering them all.”

Savas has served as the Interim Chief of Surgery for a year and has been on the faculty since 1995. She has served as a Guest Examiner for the American Board of Surgery, is a Council Member for the Virginia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for Surgical Education.

She has volunteered her services at the Crossover Free Clinic, the American Physicians Fellowship for Medicine in Israel, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross, among other organizations. Savas is an active member of Grove Avenue Baptist Church, where she has been an Awana children’s club leader for the past 10 years.