January 14, 2022 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
On the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Liberty University students were reminded of Christ’s calling to be peacemakers working toward reconciliation with others by Convocation speaker Brett Fuller, chaplain for the NFL’s Washington Football Team.
Fuller has become a familiar face at Liberty after speaking at two prior Convocations and having several of his children attend and graduate from Liberty. His youngest son, Grant, who is a current senior, introduced his father on Friday morning.
“He is the most incredible, amazing, best father I could ask for. His character is unmatched, and his heart for ministry is absolutely absurd and surprises me every day,” Grant Fuller said.
Brett Fuller’s message was inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Recounting the success, struggles, and sacrifices of his family as African Americans in Alabama and Kansas —including his experience as the first Black student at his elementary school — Fuller said he holds onto his family’s past while extending peace in an effort to resolve past offenses.
“I understand the pain of the African American community, my own family, and (myself),” he said. “I carry it, but I don’t carry it in bitterness; I carry it because I know now that I am prompted by it to make peace, not just make points. Peacemaking is hard, and it’s equally if not more hard when you are the one who is the ‘offended.’”
When he became a Christ follower in 1981, Fuller said he was healed of his resentment and was shown God’s call for his people to promote both justice and reconciliation, as opposed to the world that is only focused on punishing wrongdoings
“When people do wrong, they need to bear the consequences for their wrongdoing,” Fuller said. “Justice is something we should not overlook, but we shouldn’t stop there. I go (from) justice all the way to reconciliation. Reconciliation fixes stuff; justice just beats out consequences to people who did wrong.”
Christians are called to be peacemakers everywhere we go, Fuller explained, and his church, Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Va., has worked to become a place where people from every ethnicity can gather and discuss with the unified goal of understanding and reconciliation for the past.
“It takes skill to be able to not just give them a wonderful experience on a Sunday morning, but to create an environment whereby we can dialogue about things that are very tense and possibly disruptive and divisional,” he said. “Peacemaking — it costs. It’ll cost you a lot, but the benefits are huge, and is not the world looking for some example where ethnic relationships work?”
Every believer has been saved by God from the consequences of their sins as a result of Christ’s sacrifice, and Fuller urged the audience to extend that same grace and goal of reconciliation with those who have wronged them.
“If I have been reconciled from the Father as a result of my offenses and he pursued me, shouldn’t I be like Jesus and pursue others who have offended me?” he added. “We have a stewardship that we are honored to care for as the body of Christ. Something about us ought to be different from the world.”
Prior to Fuller taking the stage, gospel artist Tye Tribbett led students in worship. Tribbett has won three Grammy Awards and has topped the Billboard gospel charts 11 times.
It was also announced during Convocation that the university’s scheduled MLK Day of Service is being postponed. Due to the forecast of a snowstorm on Sunday, the community service event at several organizations throughout Lynchburg has been moved from Monday to the following week, Monday, Jan. 24, from 1-4 p.m. Spots are still available online for students to register and participate.
“When we stopped and thought here at the university about what is the most appropriate way to take that day and recognize and honor the legacy of Dr. King, what better way than to join with what thousands of others around the country have determined, which is simply that that day in particular shouldn’t be as much a day off as it is a day on,” Vice President of Spiritual Development Josh Rutledge said. “A day to love, a day to put the interest of your neighbor above your own, a day to love your neighbor as yourself.”