“Life at Campbell University Divinity School is at times practical, at times academic, but always family,” says Lawrence Powers who graduates this year.
In the first 15 years of Powers’ life, his family was in a constant state of unsettledness. He attended 10 different schools and lived in 12 different houses. With this kind of instability during childhood, community has been a vital element of his divinity school experience. Others had told him how valuable this would be for him but he couldn’t conceive it until he experienced this “family.”
While participating in a small spiritual formations group in Divinity School, “I really began to see the beauty of the community in which God had placed me, within a diverse group of fellow Christians that came from different walks of life and ministry but that were all united in our call from God to be exactly where we were. It was, as much as I can understand, the closest thing to the Kingdom of Heaven that I can imagine, and it was indeed, a beautiful community.
“My community at Campbell has stretched me theologically and academically, has supported me through burn out and ministry changes and I know now that, no matter what’s next or where I go, Campbell Divinity School will always be a part of who I am and who I become.”
Powers likens his call to ministry to the one of Samuel in the Old Testament. He says that there was a great deal of his life “that was spent hearing God’s voice and not recognizing it.” He says that his life has had its ups and downs but God has continued to call. “It was not, however, until I allowed God to speak that my life really began to change and I discovered God was calling me to more than I could have ever dreamed or imagined.”
Except through his grandmother and through ministries that different churches provided to his family, Powers had little contact with churches during his early years. But in 2001, he walked into a youth group and heard a young person talk about what the love of Jesus meant to him. “It was in that moment that I first heard God’s voice.” He became a Christian, became very involved in that youth group, “found stability that I had never before experienced” and heard, like Samuel, a call to vocational ministry. During the next moves, he immediately connected to churches and youth groups. And as a young adult, he was asked to be a youth director himself.
Another major impact Campbell Divinity has had on Powers has been the deepening of his love and understanding of scripture. “In each of my professors I could feel an appreciation that went past the ‘head’ and centered in the ‘heart.’. . . I can never look at or study scripture the same as I did before divinity school because now it is so much more than just seeking to understand context or meaning. It is all about seeking how God is speaking through it.
“If I have the ability to convey even half of the love for scripture that my professors have shown, I will have succeeded in something bigger than myself,” he adds.
“Never again can I step into the pulpit the same way for I’ve learned the message is much more than just words on a page; it is a living, breathing logos that God conveys through us to the people listening.”
“Campbell Divinity School will always be much more than the school on my diploma. It will be a part of every church where I serve, every sermon I preach, and every person in whose life I have the opportunity to share the gospel. It is a legacy I carry with me into the future: of great professors, deep growth and strong community.”
Powers currently serves as a college ministry intern for Oakmont Baptist Church, Greenville, and campus minister to East Carolina University and Pitt Community College for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina. Previously, he has served as minister to youth at Plymouth Baptist Church, Raleigh, Baptist Chapel Baptist Church, Autryville, and Bells Baptist Church, Apex.