Friday, November 30, 2012

Conveying the Wisdom & Mission of LeTourneau

Marsha and I have been in Tulsa most of this final week of November.

Our Tuesday night alumni reception was well attended with nearly 50 guests from across the years.

1958 industrial science graduate Charles Lucas and his wife, Mary, were there, along with May 2012 alumnus Charles Harris, who now works for Covington Aviation. Other alumni included 1978 welding engineering alumnus Jon Arrowsmith and his wife, Ruth, a 1980 chemistry alumna.

Sisters, Rebecca Currington and Elece Hollis, both met their husbands, Dennis Currington and Ron Hollis, respectively, at LeTourneau, and they were all there. We also welcomed parents Craig and Delia Bennetts, whose son Caleb is now a freshman mechanical engineering major. It was a good cross section of people whose lives have been enriched by LeTourneau.

Trustees Paul and Betty Abbott and Sheree and Jose Cosa hosted the event at Paul's church, First Baptist Church Broken Arrow. Our current LETU student president James Hilbish was also there with us and spoke to our alumni.

The Tulsa event was just one stop in our many national events to introduce the For Such A Time As This campaign. It was a special event for Marsha and me. Tulsa is my hometown, the place where Marsha and I met and where our daughters were born. I was surprised by four of my former colleagues from the University of Tulsa who came out on a very cold November night to say hello and learn something about LeTourneau University. What a joy it is to see old friends!

LETU Director of Development Randy Yeakley and I also visited the Mabee Foundation, which has participated in seven LeTourneau University construction projects dating back to 1980. These include funds for building the Trinity residence halls; Heath-Hardwick Hall; Longview Hall; Glaske Center for Engineering, Science and Technology; Solheim Recreation and Activity Center; S. E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center and now, they have contributed $1.4 million to our new Allen Family Student Center. Each of these facilities has transformed the university in a positive way, and I am so thankful for the investment this foundation has made in LETU.

On Wednesday, I spoke at FBC Broken Arrow and spent time with their senior pastor Nick Garland. Pastor Garland and his staff have recently come to the conclusion that workplace evangelism should be a new focus of their overall ministry program.

The wisdom of R.G. LeTourneau and the mission of LETU continue to encourage others to claim the workplace for Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LETU Trustees: A Legacy of Leadership

Another successful Board of Trustees meeting completed Friday. New officers were elected and include Pat Bertsche as Chair, Larry Mercer as Vice Chair, Paul Abbott as Secretary and Merle Stoltzfus as Treasurer.

Nancy Mendez has served as chair for the past two years and has been an outstanding leader as LETU's first female board chair. As the assistant city manager of the City of Whittier, Calif., Nancy oversees major projects and ensures the city council's goals are accomplished. She brought those leadership skills to LETU, where she has served on the LETU board since 1990. 

She loves LeTourneau as a place that encourages students to grow spiritually and be equipped to serve Christ in every workplace in every nation. Her role as chair of the LETU board of trustees was perhaps a little unique, since her father served as the board chair in the 1970s when Nancy was a student here. 

Nancy's love for the Lord and her love for our students is evident in her service to LETU and in the godly example she is to other women in leadership. I am grateful for her leadership.

Our new incoming chair Pat Bertsche earned his industrial management degree from LETU in 1989 and has been involved with financial management, strategic planning and business operations. He has most recently served as the superintendent of the Westminster Christian School where he formerly served as board president. Prior to his work with Westminster, he served as vice president of operations at Camcraft, Inc. In January, he is returning to Camcraft, Inc. in Chicago as the chief financial officer. 

Pat loves LeTourneau and has been actively involved with his alma mater, from hosting alumni meetings in cities across the country to hosting many in his home in Illinois. He has been an LETU board member since 1996 and served on the 2010 Trustee Committee for the Strategic Plan.

Also at the November trustee meeting, three new trustees were named. Dr. Gene Frost is a business executive who serves as Head of School at Wheaton Academy in West Chicago, Ill. James Nolt is a business consultant who sold in 2010 the company American Hydro Corporation he co-founded that designs and manufactures hydraulic turbines for the power industry. Dean Waskowiak is president and founder of Encore Multimedia, a leading regional advertising agency in Longview, Texas.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sowing Seeds of Support

Our Board of Trustees is on campus today for their Fall meeting. These men and women come from all across North America: from Alaska to Orlando and from Toronto to Los Angeles. They have business to do here, of course, and when they leave to return home, they will continue to spread the word of the good things happening here at LeTourneau University.

There's just no substitute for sowing the seeds of support for LETU.

Recently, I recommended that our development officers read The Sower, a book by Gary Hoag and Scott Rodin about redefining how we raise funds from a biblical perspective. In it, the premise is that we are servants who plant seeds and water them, but that we give God the glory to make things grow.

Sowers work hard and work smart. It requires planning and sacrifice. While sowers accept the responsibility for planting, they know only God can bring the harvest. We sow. God brings the results.

Trained as New Testament scholars, Hoag and Rodin are experienced fundraisers. Their focus is not merely to raise money, but to disciple people to become godly stewards through transformed hearts. Giving is, after all, not the result of a ministry's work, but God's work in people. It relies on a dependence on prayer and relationship-building as tools for success. Our role at LETU is to raise up givers for God's work through sowing biblical stewardship principles in people's lives.

And we are not alone in our work, because as we share the story and vision for what God is doing through LETU, we encourage our trustees, alumni and others to partner with us. Community is one of the greatest gifts we as a Christ-centered university have to offer.  Inviting others to serve with us is a privilege.
We know that true generosity flows from transformed hearts that are conformed to the image of Christ.. Our ultimate goal in the LETU Development Office is encouraging spiritual transformation, helping people become rich toward God through giving.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Running the Faith Race

Next week is Election Day in the U.S. (I voted Tuesday, have you?) Nov. 6 is the finish line for what we often call the "presidential race." It must be an exhilarating experience to manage these multi-billion dollar campaigns as they rush to the end of the race. Yes, that's BILLION - the presidential campaigns have spent $2 billion so far.

(Just for fun: a $2 billion endowment would generate enough annual earnings to allow every student at LETU to attend for free!)

We should care about this election and our responsibilities in a democracy. Yet, as followers of Christ we are in another race that is far more important: the race of faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

Running the race of faith begins by considering the saints who have gone before us. From Abel through the prophets "who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised," we have evidence of God's desire to work through men and women like us. In the lives of others, we see evidence of the world-changing power of our faith.

Effectively running our faith race requires considering ourselves as well as those who have gone before us. We can be our own worst enemy in this race: underestimating our abilities and availabilities, carrying burdens of guilt, limiting our vision of what God can do. Our faith race requires us to navigate a maze of sinful distractions that will only slow us or stop us.

Most importantly, we can run our faith race only when we keep our eyes on the goal. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ. Candidates in the presidential race will be busy counting 125 million votes on Election Day. But in the faith race, only one vote is important. Jesus has voted and he voted to claim you for all of eternity. That's the object of our faith.

Last weekend, senior Nicole Leman became the first LeTourneau student athlete to win the American Southwest Conference championship in cross country running. She will compete at the NCAA regional championships in Atlanta later this month. As Nicole is a champion in her race, I pray I can champion the faith race marked out for me. I pray LeTourneau University can finish the race marked out for us.