April 30, 2021 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
For the first time since February 2020, Liberty University’s Convocation was held in the Vines Center Friday morning, featuring award-winning Christian music recording artist and renowned worship leader and songwriter Chris Tomlin as the main guest. In his time onstage, Tomlin announced that Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser, who is leaving Liberty following seven years of serving as campus pastor, would be joining him in Nashville to become a part of the Angel Armies ministry founded by Tomlin two years ago.
Following an opening tribute video dedicated to Nasser, President Jerry Prevo thanked Nasser and his family for their dedication to ministering to Liberty’s student body and presented Nasser and his wife, Jennifer, with a framed resolution passed by the university’s Board of Trustees honoring Nasser and his family for their dedication and service.
“The goal of any great leader is to leave a place better than when he came, and David Nasser has done that and we want to thank him for it,” Prevo said. “He’s had a tremendous impact at Liberty University and he’s going to be missed.”
Following Prevo’s remarks, Jonathan Falwell, the senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church who was recently named the next campus pastor, also thanked Nasser before praying over his future ministry endeavors. He said Nasser would continue to be a part of the Liberty family and will be a guest speaker at Campus Community next year.
“There’s no question that over the last seven years that David has been here God has used him and Jennifer in an amazing way to keep the spiritual climate of this university in a place where I know God intended it to be,” Falwell said.
Tomlin, who has won 23 GMA Dove Awards throughout his impressive career in the music industry, took to the stage for a time of worship. After leading the student body in “Our God,” “Good Good Father,” and “How Great is Our God,” Tomlin and Nasser sat down together to share about their new partnership with Tomlin’s Angel Armies ministry, which partners with child-serving organizations who are committed to utilizing the Church to help end the child welfare crisis. Supporting families in crises is a major aid to keeping children out of foster care, and Angel Armies activates its partners to be the boots on the ground in local communities around the country.
“God’s just blowing the doors off this thing,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin said that the vision for this ministry began over a decade ago in a dream in which he was in his car outside of a stadium filled with people waiting for him to come to the stage, but he instead ventured over to pick up a baby lying in the street alone. After waking up, he realized that God had something more for his life than music. His platform as a well-recognized musician was affording him the opportunity to impact children for the kingdom of God. Despite never having had a prophetic dream before, this one stayed with Tomlin throughout the years.
“I’ve never been able to shake it,” he said. “A couple years ago I took the step of what that would look like and I started thinking about what’s going on in our nation.”
“I’ve spent my life trying to give people a voice to worship God,” he added. “Now (it’s about) how can I be a voice for the vulnerable across the nation.”
He said that if each church in America would have one family who decided to adopt a child, there would no longer be orphans in the U.S.
“I believe the church is the answer to this,” Tomlin said.
Although Tomlin has many connections in the music industry and beyond, he realized that he needed the help of someone with large-scale ministry experience. That led him to his longtime friend, Nasser, who said he prayed fervently with his family about the offer before accepting.
“I felt very unqualified, but the more I heard your heart for this,” Nasser told Tomlin, “the more I realized that I think everyone we’re going to pitch this to is going to feel unqualified.”
Liberty has already been connected with Angel Armies through Flames Football. The team became the first college football program to partner with Angel Armies in 2019 in an effort to confront the foster care crisis in the U.S. Tomlin said other programs have followed, including Auburn, Missouri, and Indiana.
Head Coach Hugh Freeze shared his own appreciation for Angel Armies during Convocation and led students in a closing prayer.
“These are two of my favorite people in the world and dear friends,” he said of Nasser and Tomlin. “This vision (Tomlin) had works. We’ve been fortunate for two years to partner and over 1,200 kids have stayed out of foster care because our commitment here at Liberty through our football program.”
Before closing with the popular worship song titled “Build My Life,” Tomlin sang a song he had never performed before that he wrote based on an impactful quote by the late missionary Jim Elliot: “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” He played the song on a guitar once owned by Nate Saint, a missionary who, along with Elliot and three others, were killed in 1956 as they shared the Gospel with an indigenous group in Ecuador.