Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trust in God

I recently returned from Washington D.C. where it was my honor to lead a Longview Chamber of Commerce delegation. It was an opportunity to learn and also educate federal officials on issues of significance to East Texas: oil and gas, transportation, and small business.

It is a difficult time in Washington. We are in the midst of a passionate debate about the scope of federal government and how we should pay for the government we want. On a special visit to the floor of the House and Senate on Monday, I saw that it is physically impossible for our legislators to do their work without seeing the nation's motto "In God We Trust" above their heads as they speak and deliberate in their chambers. It feels to me that we need this guiding principle now more than ever.

Trust in God is something we understand at LETU. One of our honors students, Julia Thurber, writes in her blog post on that she is trusting God to heal her as she undergoes chemotherapy for Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma. She writes that she misses her friends at LeTourneau and that there are days when she's scared, but she trusts that God is always in control and is taking care of her.

Julia knows she is not going through this struggle alone. Several LETU students shaved their heads last week and Skyped with her to show their love and support. They even donated their cut hair to the same nonprofit that provided Julia with a free wig. If you haven't seen this story on our local TV station news, you can see it here.

Throughout all of our daily struggles, whatever they are, we are encouraged to live our lives trusting in God, as Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Unveiling the Joyce Family Athletic Village

Today we celebrate a special moment in the history of the university. We have the opportunity to thank some generous donors for making an investment in the lives of the university that will directly benefit our students and the athletic programs now and for many years to come.

We are unveiling the new Joyce Family Athletic Village, which includes more than $1.5 million in renovations over the past two years, including improvements to grading, irrigation and drainage for all of the athletic fields used for soccer, baseball, softball and intramurals. Improvements also included new scoreboards, new brick field backstops for baseball and softball, expanded seating for spectators, ornamental fencing and monument gates.

One of the most significant upgrades included lighting the fields which enabled LETU teams to play their first home nighttime games in the school's 65-year history. Because the lighting allows us to schedule games at night, we have been able to reduce the number of hours that student-athletes have to miss classes for games.

These new fields have already served hundreds of student-athletes, as well as more than 700 outdoor intramural participants this academic year.

We are grateful to Joe Bob Joyce and his wife, Lou Ann, and their family for their generosity in providing a significant lead gift, but also for encouraging the many others who have provided this much-needed funding for this project. Without their leadership, this project would not have been possible.

Our gratitude also extends to Eastman Chemical, after which we are naming our intramural fields as The Eastman Intramural Fields.

Others who have partnered with us significantly on this project include Joe and Paula Nowiczewski, Texas Bank and Trust, Bill Hibbs of Hibbs Hallmark Insurance, Trey Patterson of Patterson Nissan, AEP/Southwestern Electric Power, Community Bank, East Texas Mack Sales, Nancy and Al Mendez and Dean and Brenda Waskowiak of Encore Multimedia.

To all of these donors, we say thank you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eternal Impact

Business owner Bill Job may have studied philosophy in college, but a short conversation with him reveals an entrepreneurial and self-made engineering mind in the mold of our founder, R.G. LeTourneau. It was an honor to have Bill visit LeTourneau this week. He came here hoping to find an engineering intern for his composites manufacturing company.

He believes business should have an eternal objective. Yes, profit and job creation are important, but something much more is possible. We call it "eternal impact" in our LETU vision. Bill sees the potential of Christian love demonstrated in workplace relationships to change eternity for those involved. It is his personal story. He became a Christian while serving in the U.S. Navy. As he tells the story, his "drinking buddy" in San Diego eventually led him to a church where he experienced genuine loving relationships he had never known. Relationships in the workplace changed Bill's eternity, and he wants that for others.

This vision led him to China where he was one of the first to create a business that demonstrated Christian principles. This short video shows images of Bill's work there.

Bill's business in China did not escape the worldwide economic collapse of 2008. He told me of the pain of saying goodbye to many of his Chinese workers whom he could no longer employ. God taught Bill in these tough economic times that the love of God continues for his former employees even after Bill can no longer love them in his workplace.

And now Bill is recreating his business in China with a new manufacturing process. That's what brings him to LETU: in hopes of finding engineering students with an interest in applying their LETU ingenuity in China. I have always had a special love for the Chinese people. I am amazed to see what God is doing there. What might God do with Bill's visit to LETU this week?

As you read this, I'm traveling to Seattle where I will meet with LETU alumni and spend time on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. I will have to miss the fun at LETU's 2012 Homecoming events this weekend as we welcome the 50th reunion of the Class of 1962, our "Golden Jackets." Other reunions include those who, over the years, sang in LeTourneau choirs and bands, as well as Tau Kappa Delta, Delta Sigma Psi and Club. There are many activities planned. A complete schedule of events is located here

I hope you will all take a moment to welcome our returning alumni when you see them, and let them know how glad we are that they are returning to their alma mater this weekend.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

He is Risen

As servant leaders in so many churches throughout East Texas, many of you have been busy preparing for Easter Sunday.  

There will be special music and messages. In some churches, there will be additional services. Pews will be crowded and parking will be at a premium. The Luby's cafeteria will have a long wait for lunch this Sunday.

And mothers will have the treat of being surrounded in church by children and grandchildren who have come from far and wide to share this special day. For some, Easter will be the only time this year that their spouse joins them in worship and prayer. This Sunday will be the only Sunday this year for many to step into a community of believers.

Our neighbors and friends will be in church this Easter, but where will they be Monday morning? For those not connected with a church family, where will they find family and friends?  For those not blessed to experience the Word of God regularly, where will they seek wisdom for life's challenges?

As crowded as our churches will be on Sunday, workplaces on Monday will be even more crowded. As intentional as we will be to greet visitors Easter Sunday, we can touch even more lives in our work during the other 364 days of the year.

What if we prepared for our daily work in the same way we prepare for Easter Sunday? The same God who seeks to touch hearts this Sunday, also seeks to redeem lives Monday through Friday.  

I dream of what God might do with an army of Christ followers who begin each and every workday with a heart fixed on the truth that "He is risen. He is risen, indeed!" I know the workplace where most people seek friendships, wisdom for living, and self affirmation would be a changed place.

View my special Easter message to the LeTourneau Nation here.