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I’m sure readers sometimes get tired of hearing me crow about Liberty University, the school I founded in 1971 in my hometown of Lynchburg, Va. But if people could see all that is happening on the campus, you’d understand my excitement.
As I write this column, students are pouring onto campus as the fall semester commences. We will have 9,600 students in resident programs this fall, in addition to 14,000 studying through Liberty’s external programs.
When we set off on this journey in 1971, with just 154 students and no real academic facilities, I had hopes that we would one day be a world-class institution comprised of a preeminent faculty. But I could have never dreamed what God has made possible for Liberty.
God brought into my life several people who have been very important in the chronicles of Liberty University. In recent years, two very special people who have risen to the challenge of helping me build the future of this university have been Drs. Tim and Beverly LaHaye.
Tim LaHaye, a renowned theologian and author, is the co-author (with Jerry Jenkins) of the astoundingly successful “Left Behind” series of books. Millions of people have read these books and gained an understanding of the rapture and its significance to biblical prophecy. In addition, Tim (along with Liberty’s Dr. Ed Hindson and Dr. Gary Frazier) conducts prophecy conferences across the nation, imparting his clear and vital teachings on the fulfillment of God’s prophecies.
Beverly LaHaye is chairman of Concerned Women for America, which she founded in 1979. CWA was created to protect and promote biblical values for women and families. The mission of CWA is to protect and promote these values among all citizens, thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation. Bev and CWA have been on the cutting edge of calling America back to our Judeo-Christian heritage for more than 25 years.
This dear Christian couple has also been responsible for helping Liberty University, at a very critical time, to construct urgently needed structures and edifices on campus at a time when we have been busting at the proverbial seams.
After the Hobby Lobby Company purchased the Ericsson megaplex that borders Liberty’s main campus and donated it to the university, we immediately began to utilize this 113-acre complex. The Liberty University School of Law opened there last year. Liberty Christian Academy (K-12) opens its doors in the edifice in a few days. The new Thomas Road Baptist Church will be unveiled at the site on July 2 of next year.
In addition, the LaHaye Student Center was opened in the massive complex – now called Liberty Campus North – last year. It features a state-of-the-art weight-training room, cardio facility, aerobics area, five basketball courts and a mammoth indoor swimming pool. It also houses a mammoth student lounge with big screen TVs, computer hookups and a soon-to-open caf?.
The center has been a huge benefit to Liberty, providing our students, faculty and staff a great environment to stay in shape or to simply catch up with friends in a casual setting.
Further, the LaHayes are financing the present construction of the huge new LaHaye Ice Center. Workers are diligently framing the building right now. It will contain a beautiful ice rink, with a retractable floor. It will be the home of our Liberty ice hockey team, which finished No. 12 in the nation in the American College Hockey Association Division II last year. The LaHaye Ice Center will be the only ice rink in Lynchburg. It will allow us to welcome community members to campus for family skating events.
I have learned through the years that God provides co-workers and partners in ministry, especially when we set our sights on Him, instead of looking within. The LaHayes have been gifts from God to Liberty University. This couple’s selflessness and great devotion to Christian education will endure for many years to come as young people continue to flock to Liberty University to train for future Christian service across the globe.