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Baccalaureate speaker Tim Lee rouses graduates to stand for values

During Liberty University’s annual Baccalaureate Service Friday night, Purple Heart Veteran and evangelist Tim Lee challenged the Class of 2016 to bring the “pulpit” to the nation.

In his speech, Lee said that in his opinion there has been no one like Liberty’s founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, in the last 100 years.

“Jerry Falwell made the church the central voice, the leading voice in America’s moral and ethical issues,” Lee said. “Along the way, we (professing Christians) have lost something. … ‘We’ who are politically conservative Christians, ‘we’ who still believe in the historic American principles we learned about in our homes, our churches, and in our Christian schools; ‘we’ have lost an identity.”

Lee charged graduates to recapture the same “spirit of determination” Dr. Jerry Falwell had.

Lee praised Liberty President, Jerry Falwell, Jr. for boldly taking stands on controversial issues and said the younger Falwell was “cut from the same cloth” as his father. Lee added that if pastors were no longer willing to take a stand, then maybe that mantle has passed to (Christian university) presidents.

Lee told graduates that America needs a new generation of journalists, lawyers, doctors, coaches, athletes, teachers, and scientists that can skillfully use biblical truth and constitutional government to educate people.

“In all of the public debates and confrontations over moral and civic issues going on today in hundreds of cities and towns in America, the one great thing that is missing is the pulpit,” he said.  “If we had 10,000 pulpits aflame with the righteousness of God and with the revolutionary fervor for morality and patriotism, we could turn this nation around in one generation.”

Lee noted that there is no one else in the world that he would rather share his message with than Liberty graduates.

“I believe the potential response here is of the highest caliber,” he said. “We are in one of the most amazing academic learning centers in the world. Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest highlights and the greatest days of your life.”

Throughout the service, graduates were encouraged to remain true to their Christian roots as they enter the job market. Prayers included an invocation from Ed Gomes, Liberty’s director of Spiritual Development for Liberty Flames Football, and a benediction from the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Inspirational music from Liberty’s Wind Ensemble, Chamber Singers, and premier singing group the Sounds of Liberty lifted praises to God for His blessings.

President Jerry Falwell explained the rich history of the Baccalaureate, a collegiate tradition predating the founding of America, and how Liberty has remained true to the values and faith it represents within academia even while the greater academic community — in spite of the biblical mottos etched in stone on their facades — have strayed from it.

He said one of the first things that he and his wife, Becki, noticed when he became president in 2007 was how Liberty students “radiated the love of Christ to everyone they encountered.”

“Our fervent prayer for Liberty University is that it will remain true to its Christian roots in perpetuity and that your children, grandchildren, and generations of their descendants will sit in a service just like this one and thank God for their Liberty University education,” he said. “At Liberty University, God is the guest of honor.”

Falwell noted that an important part of the Commencement ceremony on Saturday will be a time of honoring veterans who have defended this nation and have sacrificed their lives to defend the freedoms that we all enjoy every day.

“It is fitting that our keynote Baccalaureate speaker this year is Tim Lee,” Falwell said. “He never strays from preaching an uncompromising message grounded deep in patriotism, righteous living, and biblical revival.”

Falwell, along with Provost Dr. Ronald Hawkins, conferred upon Tim Lee an honorary Doctor of Divinity in recognition of “his sacrificial service to this nation, his work as an author, speaker, pastor, evangelist, and his proven leadership in the church.”

Lee joined the Marine Corps in 1969 and, in March of 1971, he lost both of his legs in a land mine explosion in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. After returning home, Lee made the critical decision to use his platform to speak out about his faith in God.

Today, Lee is the president of Tim Lee Ministries based out of Garland, Texas. He speaks in a variety of venues — from patriotic rallies to radio and television — across the country. Lee is a member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees and a regular guest speaker on campus. In 2012, Liberty awarded Lee the George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award, given annually to a veteran who has displayed extraordinary heroism while serving.

Lee also told graduates to emulate Jonas Clark, a pastor from Lexington, Mass., who confronted moral issues from the pulpit as Americans began to resist the repressive British government during the Revolutionary War.

“One small-town pastor influenced the coming American government for the cause of liberty,” Lee said.  “With no cell phone, no computer, no Fox or CNN network, this pastor helped motivate into existence the godly zeal of our American Revolution.”

Lee asked graduates to consider what they wanted to be in their towns.

“I wonder if there are any Jonas Clarks in this building, “he said. “I hope we can see a new generation of pulpit preachers rise up from Liberty. This is the time to be strong, to be courageous, to be the patriots and the Americans we are supposed to be.”

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