September 13, 2023 : By Bryson Gordon - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University President Dondi E. Costin welcomed former Florida Congressman and retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West to the Convocation stage Wednesday morning, where West shared the 10 verses that have enabled him to be a Champion for Christ and challenged the students to “find your own 10.”
West served 21 years in the United States Army from 1983-2004, where he deployed for Operation Desert Storm Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Following his retirement, he was elected to the House of Representatives for the 22nd District of Florida, serving from 2011-13. He was the Texas GOP chairman from 2021-22.
Going through the verses that have emboldened him to proclaim the victory of Jesus Christ in a world that needs it, West pointed to examples in his own life as an Army colonel that have shown him to praise God in the trials and tribulations because it builds perseverance.
Reading from Romans 5:3-5, which says to “… Exalt in tribulations knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance,” West recalled a saying from his days in the Army: “Warriors move to the sound of the guns. Warriors don’t run away from the fight.”
“I think one of the things you all need to understand as young people is that adversity will bring about your strength and your courage,” West said. “Too often we want things to be easy. Too often we don’t understand that the trials and tribulations help you to grow stronger.”
West questioned why it’s not hard for people to understand how physical exertion in our personal fitness make us stronger, however when it comes to spiritual fitness, people often choose “the easy way.”
“Find the hard path,” West challenged the students. “And take that hard path because it’s all about you growing. It’s all about understanding that you’re an overcomer.”
Citing a tribulation of his own, when he suffered a motorcycle accident on Memorial Day weekend of 2020, West said he looked for how he could honor God in his situation.
“Most people don’t survive an accident on a motorcycle at 75 miles per hour going on an interstate highway on a holiday weekend,” West said. “But here I am today. I remember on that following week when I was asked to be on Fox News for an interview I said, ‘There but for the grace of God go I,’ because it was the grace of God that saved me.”
West also recalled a time he visited another university and was asked by a woman if he identified as black. He proclaimed to the crowd Wednesday that he identifies as a Christian and a Champion for Christ, a reminder to himself that God will protect his own.
Reading from Isaiah 54:17, another passage that he says enables him to be a Champion for Christ, West said, “I know on this battlefield of good versus evil, no weapon can stand against me. No words can be brought against me because that’s the power that I have because I trust in the Lord.”
He encouraged students to “be a happy warrior,” knowing that the battle of good versus evil has already been won. Reading from James 1:2, West said Christians should go out into the world every day and should look evil in the face and know that God has conquered it.
“Every single day of your life you should wake up and tell the devil, “Not today,’” West said. “Every single day, you should wake up and be committed to being a Champion for Christ and when you confront the devil, you grab that sucker by his throat and you just commence to slapping him because that’s the power you’ve got.”
Visiting campus on Wednesday for the fourth time, West said next time he visits he wants to see students carrying their 10 verses on a notecard with them.
“Like I said, the devil is going to come up and challenge you,” West said. “And you’ve got to whip out those verses and (fight back).”
Prior to West’s message, Liberty University recognized two retiring state legislators, State Sen. Steve Newman and Del. Kathy Byron, for their years of service. Byron was unable to attend, but Newman thanked the university for the honor and remembered his time working with Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell in LU’s early days.
“Years ago, when I joined the (Lynchburg) City Council at the age of 23, not much older than where you are today, we were working with Dr. Falwell on a lot of the things that eventually became this great university,” Newman said. “Thank you for everything you’ve meant to my family, thank you for everything you’ve meant to Central Virginia. It has been an honor to represent and serve you.”