Thursday, March 24, 2016

SACSCOC & Significance

Next week is big for our university! The peer review team from SACSCOC (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges) will be on campus for our reaffirmation of accreditation, which happens only once every 10 years. They will affirm what we are doing well and point to areas where we can improve.

They will remind us that "Q-E-P," (Quality Enhancement Program) is a commitment we are making to improve the writing skills of our students across campus.

I'm looking forward to this special time, and I'm so happy for the many who've invested hundreds of hours in preparation for this visit.

Stephanie Kirschmann, John Lommel, Larry Frazier, and Randy Compton are four heroes that immediately come to mind. To each of you, the entire university is grateful for your leadership on our accreditation reaffirmation.

But even with the excitement of next week, let's not look past the significance of this most holy weekend.

The Son of God went willingly to the cross where he was murdered. He now asks us to take up our cross and follow him. The Christian walk is joy. But it is also sacrifice. Often, great sacrifice.

I learned this week of the murder of four Wycliffe Bible translators. Islamic militants stormed their translation office in the Middle East. Equipment was destroyed. Books and papers were burned. Two of the workers sacrificed their lives to save the lead translator by lying on top of him.

The slaughter of Christians is happening all over the world. The bloody war of terror continues as we witnessed again in Brussels this week. Closer to home, the religious liberty of Christians is threatened daily.

How do we respond? I'm in awe of the response from Wycliffe Associates: "The remaining translation team has decided to redouble their efforts to translate, publish and print God's Word for these eight language communities."

Easter reminds us to look beyond today's struggle and claim the eternal life with God that awaits us. When our cross is heavy and sacrifice is expected, Easter give us hope. As the familiar song rings out: "It's Friday, but Sunday is a comin'!"

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Break Spent in Service

Over 100 LETU students spent their entire spring break last week in service to others.

Some put their aviation skills to work with aviation mission organizations. Some used their computer skills. Some helped with an evangelistic outreach. Some worked at a missions training facility.

Over 30 traveled to South Padre Island, Texas, to participate in a ministry called Beach Reach, where they witnessed about the saving love of Christ while providing free van rides for intoxicated college students from around the country. The LETU "Beach Reachers" enabled these lost students to arrive safely back to their hotels after hours of alcoholic "partying" on the beach and in local bars. Before partygoers left the vans, our students would pray with them.

Tyler Hall Resident Director Matt Barr, one of the staff sponsors, said they saw many young people who were drunk, drugged and making devastatingly poor life choices. He said our students who went to minister said they had never been so broken for others as they saw their peers--people their own age--lost, empty and in need of a relationship with God. Many identified with their peers, knowing that "but for the grace of God, this could have been me."

The students participated in prayer and worship services when they weren't providing van rides during the 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. shuttles. They knew while they may not see the fruit, they were planting seeds of faith, or watering, and some had the privilege of harvesting.

Matt said, "I wasn't fully prepared for what God was going to do on that island. God showed up in big ways. We had some really big prayer requests for the week, and God came through in more ways than we even had prayed for. Our prayer was that God would break our hearts for these spring breakers. That's absolutely what he did.

"Every single day, our hearts were broken for the people we interacted with," Matt said. "Many are lost and know it. Many are lost and have no idea. Our hearts hurt for them because they are created in the image of God, and God wants so much for them to know him. Our desire was that they would know God wants to know and love them, too."

Through the week, the power of prayer became evident as some students made life-altering decisions with repentant hearts to seek salvation or a re-commitment to Christ.
Lives were changed.

Five of our own students felt the power of God on their lives and were baptized in the Gulf of Mexico following a prayer service on the beach.

Matt described it as "a powerful moment."

But the story doesn't end there. Many of the students are continuing to follow up, disciple and build relationships with those who were receptive to God's call on their lives.

Our students went on the mission trip with a heart to serve others, but isn't it like our loving God to reward them with a blessing, as well.