Thursday, March 29, 2018

Joining the King's Work this Easter Season

Did you see the photo this week in the Longview News-Journal? 150 children were on campus to hunt Easter eggs at the invitation of LeTourneau Student Ministries.

I loved seeing the sea of energetic kids representing the wonderful diversity of our Longview community. I was happy to see our students speak of Jesus and a reason for the season that goes well beyond eggs and treats.

Another special Holy Week and Easter has arrived.

I've been reading again about how Jesus spent the last week of his earthly walk. He continued to teach, and his parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew has been my focus:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner...but they paid no attention..." (Matthew 22:2-5)
Rejection hurts. It hurts even God. He is like a king who has prepared a great celebration but many ignore his invitation to come and share in the feast. The king's disappointment becomes anger, and his justice ultimately prevails. In the end, many are invited, but few are chosen to join the king's celebration.

In reading this parable anew, what has stopped me is the king's response to ignored invitations. He sends his servants to tell the people to come, and when the invitation is ignored, what does the king do? He sends more servants to give more invitations: "Then he sent some more servants..."

Our heavenly King has promised a great and eternal celebration with Him. The invitations have been made and the servants have been sent out to deliver the invitation. And even today, God wants to send out more servants to share the Good News of a risen Jesus.

Our mission at LeTourneau University is to join the King in that work: to prepare a new generation of servants to deliver more invitations to every workplace and every nation. The time of invitation will end someday and those who accept the invitation will join the King in his eternal banquet. But, until that day comes, let's pray that God will continue to use LETU to share his invitation. He hasn't given up on this world yet. Let's not give up either because we have Good News to share: He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Impact of Spring Break Ministry

Tuesday afternoon, March 13, in the parking lot of the Island Baptist Church on South Padre Island, God moved.

God used LETU students to make an impact for Christ as they encircled a South Padre Island police officer, laid their hands on him and prayed for his family, his safety, and the safety of the other public servants that week who would be patrolling the beaches throughout Spring Break.

The officer thanked the students, expressing gratitude for Beach Reach and their help keeping people safe and off the roads.

Beach Reach on South Padre Island, Texas, is one of the LeTourneau Student Ministries spring break mission trips that enables our students to provide a Christian witness to fellow college students, serving free pancake breakfasts, providing safe rides for those who drink alcohol and party all night, and sharing the Gospel with others during spring break when the island is overflowing with young people.

After that police officer drove off, he later admitted that he was so moved that he had to pull over to wipe the tears from his eyes over the blessing he received from the students praying over him. He said the rest of his night shift was "different." He had a peace and calm in him that was "different." He said he felt the spirit falling on him in that moment when the students prayed for him.

So much was he moved that the next day, he returned and brought back several others for prayer-about 40 city officials, officers, lifeguards and other first responders. The officer specifically asked for our LETU students who had prayed for him the day before.

The city officials expressed their gratitude for what Beach Reach students were doing, then the students all joined together and prayed over the city officials. God was at work.

And while LETU's Spring Break 2018 Beach Reach is over, God is still at work as our students continue to pray for those they met, gave rides to, shared the gospel with, ate pancakes with and prayed with.

I am grateful for these students, and for all of our other LETU students who went on the other nine LSM Spring Break mission trips, for their faithfulness in building a better future, one heart at a time.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Flying High: A Spring of Progress & Excellence

LeTourneau University is flying high this spring! Our LETU Men's Basketball team just finished another year of breaking school records. Their 24-5 record is the most wins by a LETU team. They are for the second year in a row the ASC East Division champions. They made the very first NCAA Championship Tournament appearance for a LeTourneau basketball team. They finished Saturday night only one basket away from the "Sweet 16." Head coach Dan Miller described the players as unselfish, with each contributing to the season like a family. Kudos to head basketball coach Dan Miller and his team.

Our School of Aviation is also flying high with two brand new Piper Seminole twin-engine airplanes. These new aircraft represent a $1.5 million investment in our aviation program. A beautiful LETU paint job that bears part of our globe and cross on the tail insures these planes will certainly stand-out as they fly across our region.

Sometimes we put people in the air with aircraft, and sometimes we put them in the air with a pole! Our new LETU Track and Field athletes are flying high in their inaugural indoor track and field season. Freshman pole vaulter Alex Hindman qualified for the NCAA Division III National Indoor Championships in Alabama this weekend. His qualifying vault of 15 feet-8 ¼ inches, Alex becomes the first track and field athlete in LETU history to compete for an NCAA championship. Another freshman, Austin Parrish, joined Alex in finishing first and second in our region in pole vault and are the first two All-Region honorees in program history. Kudos to Coach Don Hood and his athletes. What a way for LETU Track and Field to begin!

Sometimes the goal is to launch people 15 feet into the air, and sometimes it's launching something into orbit, which is what the LETSAT student satellite project is doing by advancing the future of spacecraft by creating the next generation of smart satellites. A group of about 25 engineering students and Byron Lictenberg from the engineering faculty is working to launch a Cubesat satellite with artificial intelligence hardware into low earth orbit. The hardware and software teams are working on developing a satellite that can use something similar to "facial recognition" software to identify its location in orbit based on artificial intelligence. Satellites aren't new but smart AI satellites are a new technology and it's impressive to see our students doing this work. You can learn more at:

I'm really proud of these faculty and students.

The wisdom of our faith from Isaiah 40:31 says much about flying: "...but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles..."

It's important to enjoy the flying, but before the flying comes the waiting, hoping, trusting and working. It's something we see every day at LETU.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Honoring the Legacy of Rev. Billy Graham

"America's Pastor" the Rev. Billy Graham died a week ago. Yesterday, the nation honored him as the first religious leader to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. President Trump described Graham as "an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace." May such be said of all of us at LeTourneau University!

Billy Graham was the most significant religious figure of the 20th century. He preached the gospel to an estimated 215 million in his lifetime, according to media sources this week. Decades of his faithful service to preaching the gospel have led to untold numbers of decisions for Christ.

Billy Graham didn't just belong to the nation; he belonged to LeTourneau University.

There was a unique friendship between Graham and R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau. As many people know, the LeTourneaus put 90% of their corporation stock into a foundation to support Christian work around the world. Funds from that foundation enabled Evelyn to establish Camp Bethany in Winona Lake, Indiana, where a young Billy Graham worked as camp counselor. A friendship formed.

As World War II was ending in 1946 and the LeTourneaus launched their manufacturing plant in Longview, Texas, and began the LeTourneau Technical School to educate returning war veterans, the young Rev. Billy Graham was drawing huge crowds to Youth For Christ rallies as YFC's first paid evangelist.

The young evangelist came up short in 1947 on finances, and he reached out to R.G. LeTourneau to ask for $7,000 to provide the finances he needed to finish his European tour. Not only did LeTourneau provide a cashier's check a few weeks later, he flew overseas to attend one of the meetings in Birmingham, England. LeTourneau would become a supporter of Graham's evangelism rallies for years thereafter.

In a 1953 letter from Graham to Evelyn LeTourneau, he wrote. "I love you and Mr. R.G. more than any two people in the world," describing the LeTourneau's as "more like a father and mother to me."

Later that year, R.G. LeTourneau designed a domed structure for Billy Graham to use as for revival meetings during his upcoming speaking campaign in Great Britain. In a letter from the Billy Graham Crusade Committee dated in May of 1953, the structure was referred to as "the Billy Graham Crusade tabernacle." While it never was used for its original purpose due to problems with the London city council, the domed structure went on to be used for several years for graduation ceremonies for LeTourneau Technical School students. It stands in south Longview to this day, at the Longview plant now owned by Komatsu.

From 1961 to 1975, Graham served on the LeTourneau College Board of Trustees. He was a featured speaker at the college's 25th anniversary in 1971. Graham was a supporter of faith-based education, and his own son, Franklin Graham, attended school at LeTourneau.

Franklin was back in Longview and on campus just this last October 19th. As the nation mourns Billy Graham, we pray for Franklin and family and their very personal loss.