When autocomplete options are available, use up and down arrows to review and enter to select.
Apply Give

Military graduates charged to go ‘all in’ and take Gospel to ends of the world, wherever duty calls

Liberty University kicked off its 48th Commencement exercises with its ninth annual Military Graduate Recognition Ceremony, held virtually from the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall on Monday night.

“Liberty has always been very, very military friendly, and it is a wonderful honor for me personally to tell each of you how proud we are of you,” said Dr. Ron Hawkins, Liberty’s former provost and the founding dean of the School of Behavioral Sciences, as he welcomed families to the ceremony following a half hour of testimonial slides from military and military spouse graduates.

This week, Liberty is celebrating the accomplishments of 5,494 military graduates in the Class of 2021, including 1,835 on active duty, and another 4,933 from the Class of 2020, including 1,466 on active duty.

Hawkins said military graduates model the sacrificial love and selfless service of Jesus, reflected in the Gospel of John.

Ret. Col. Air Force Chaplain Steven Keith was the keynote speaker for the ceremony. He spoke on finding purpose for his service in Baghdad, Iraq, where he performed 125 funerals for fallen U.S. military servicemen and women, prayed over more than 600 wounded, and led survivors to salvation.

“Jesus said in John 8:38, ‘I came down from Heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of Him Who sent me and to finish His work,’” he said. “Military personnel know what it means to surrender your will to the will of another. So as you serve your country, as you abandon your will to the will of another, your commanding officer, the Commander in Chief, it is a special honor to be a part of your life and a part of your journey.”

Hawkins prayed over the military graduates tuning in before the presentation of colors by cadets from Liberty’s Army ROTC Eagle Battalion, the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by Scott Stahley, president of Liberty’s Student Veterans Association, and the singing of the National Anthem by members of Sounds of Liberty.

Delta Keith, wife of Ret. Col. Air Force Chaplain Steven Keith, director of Liberty’s Center for Chaplaincy, gave a charge to the military spouses. Having accompanied her husband on 12 assignments of duty around the world over a 30-year period, ministering to the spiritual needs of American servicemen and women on the front lines, she knows what military spouses deal with on a daily basis.

“My prayer tonight for each of you is that you continue to look to the Lord for your strength in the midst of hardships,” she said. “The Lord has sustained you and seen you through. Your toolbox has grown now that you have this new degree. Your journey continues. The diverse experiences that you have gained as a military spouse will allow you to connect with more people in unexpected ways. As God leads you to what is ahead, may you stand strong in the Lord and be a shining light to a lost world out there. Go forth and be a Champion for Christ.”

Ret. Col. Steven Keith delivered the keynote address. He exhorted military graduates to be sure that they are “all in” in service to the Lord Jesus Christ, whatever their vocation may be, in or out of the Armed Forces.

Members of Liberty’s Army ROTC Eagle Battalion presented the colors during the Military Graduate Recognition Ceremony at the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall.

“Make sure that you do not include God in your plans,” he said. “Simply stated, God does not want to be in our plan. Praise God, He’s got a much bigger plan, and His plan includes you.”

Keith read from the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

“Literally, in the military, that’s what we have done,” Keith said. “We raise our hand and we say, ‘I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ And inherent in that oath is the idea that we are willing to die for our country.”

Keith understands that first-hand, having earned a Bronze Star after witnessing more than his share of death and destruction at Camp Sather at the airport in Baghdad during the heat of the war in Iraq, where he performed 125 memorial services for fallen soldiers in the back of airplanes and prayed with over 600 severely wounded in medical tents.

“We got missiled and mortared almost every day, the enemy trying to terrorize us,” he said. “I thought about that when I raised my hand with God and said, ‘God, send me anywhere. I’m all in, because God I know that’s Your plan for me and I have surrendered to it.’ But when I was there in Iraq for just a few days, I thought about that promise to God and I thought, ‘Did I really mean that?’ I had no idea what I was really signing up for when I gave my all to Jesus Christ and said, ‘I will deny myself and follow you.’ But God did.”

Day by day, God revealed to him why he had been called to serve in Iraq, particularly after having the opportunity to lead a survivor in the sinner’s prayer after he had lost three Christian friends from his platoon in an IED attack.

“We are excited for what God is doing in your life, and what He will do, and for all of those divine appointments He has lined up for you wherever He would send you,” he told the graduates. “I pray that you might be the heart, the voice, that you might be His presence, that you might share the Good News of Jesus and tell others that God has a plan for them.”

All military graduates who registered for Liberty’s 48th Commencement will receive commemorative coins.

All military graduates who registered for Liberty’s 48th Commencement will receive a commemorative coin in congratulations of their academic accomplishments and appreciation for their military service.

Hawkins said he looks forward to seeing many of the military and military spouse graduates, and their families, on campus as they attend their respective individual degree ceremonies and encouraged all to join Liberty’s virtual Commencement ceremony on Saturday at 7 p.m.

On Friday, Liberty’s Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs will hold in-person commissioning services at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, at the Thomas Road Baptist Church Worship Center for graduating men and women venturing on into their respective branches of the military.

Chat Live Chat Live Request Info Request Info Apply Now Apply Now Visit Liberty Visit Liberty