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From Anchorage, Alaska to Lynchburg, Virginia

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson
The Truth Network Radio
February 9, 2022 2:00 pm

From Anchorage, Alaska to Lynchburg, Virginia

Truth Talk / Stu Epperson

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February 9, 2022 2:00 pm

Who is Dr. Jerry Prevo? Stu sits down with the President of Liberty University, who shares his remarkable story.  

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This is the Truth Network. What an honor it is for me right now to be on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia with President Jerry Prevost. Dr. Prevost, God is doing a lot of things here at Liberty. You just blew my mind, and I'm not sure if we're supposed to talk about that yet, but what's coming up that you're breaking ground on soon, but God's just, there's a movement of God here, and I just wanted to, what's it like to be the president of Liberty University?

Let me just open with that question for you. Well, it's exciting, and the most exciting thing are the students here at Liberty University. I have sensed they have a great love for the Lord.

They want to serve the Lord. They have a lot of smiles on their face, and it's just great to be around the students, and we thank God for all the activities as well as the academics that we have here at Liberty University. Well, what a statement, and sitting next to me on my left, I got my arm around it right now, is my daughter, Joy, who's a freshman here at Liberty. So, Joy, what he just said about the students, is that true? What do you think?

I think it's true. Dr. Prevost, you are, it's just, it's really, the Lord, it's interesting and fascinating, and this is all throughout Scripture, how God raises men up. You know, a decade ago, you may never have thought you'd be sitting right here. How did a guy go, how did a preacher, man of God, visionary from Alaska, go from pastor in, you know, Anchorage Baptist Temple, which was an amazing story, how God's blessed that ministry, to being the president of Liberty University.

Talk a little bit about your journey here, and just what all the Lord's done there. Well, you know, I never dreamed that I'd be here at Liberty, especially as president of Liberty. I retired from the Anchorage Baptist Temple, and I was, you know, looking for something else to do, but never thought I would be here at Liberty University. And actually, I was in a tree stand when they called me and asked me if I would consider coming to Liberty University. And my first reaction was, no. And they called me the next day, and I said, no.

And one of the reasons was because I wasn't sure, you know, how deep the problems may have been here. And they called me the third day, and I had been to church that morning. You know, when you go to church, you get under conviction. And I said, okay, God, do you want me to go? And I began to pray about it. They called me on a Monday and asked me, I said, well, I'll tell you what, I'll consider coming if I get a unanimous vote from the trustees of Liberty University. And unfortunately, I did get that vote.

Wow. So here you are, and God's doing some great things. I want to get to that because, you know, there's so much darkness in the culture, and the need for godly Christian biblical education, Christian worldview, and the arts, and the sciences, and all that from a Christian worldview is so important. And that's what you're doing here. Talk a little bit about, let's go back, and Joy has a question about Alaska. We're going to let her ask that in a second.

But let's go back to Alaska. Let's go back to your testimony. How did you come to know the Lord, Dr. Prevost? When is it that he touched your heart, and you started following him, and then getting into the ministry and everything? Well, I lived next to the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church down in Tennessee, East Tennessee. And I could walk to church, and I did.

I participated, of course, in Vacation Bible School and all of that. And one day in front of my house, there was a car that had about three people in it, and one of them was a young girl about my age. And it went off the ditch and broke the windshield. She went through the windshield. It cut her stomach open. And I went over there, and of course rushed there to see what had happened because it was in front of my house.

And I watched her take her last breath. And so I went to Vacation Bible School because that next week, and I said, you know, I need the Lord. And so in Vacation Bible School, they had us all sitting age groups on one pew, and I was on one end. And I told the boy next to me, I said, listen, I want to go forward and get saved. Will you go with me? Well, he didn't want to go, so he punched the next boy and told him what I wanted to do. And it went down the aisle, and then it got to the end of the opposite end of the pew, and that was our lady instructor. She got up and come around and said, Jerry, do you want to get saved today? And I said, I do. And so we went forward, and I accepted the Lord as my Savior. Wow. How did you, what happened after that? Take us through that growing up in Christ and then ending up in Alaska of all places, from Tennessee to Alaska, because now you've come back south being in Lynchburg now.

Yes. You know, my pastor and his wife took me to Mexico on a mission trip, and I think that's where God planted that seed there. But I began, after graduating, I attended the University of Tennessee studying to be an engineer. And I would commute 35 miles from my home, and I would listen to my pastor come on the radio, and he came on with this song, Will Your Life Be Filled With Long-Wasted Years. And God used that because I felt he was calling me into the ministry.

And I thought, you know, if I don't surrender what God wants me to do, my life will be wasted. So at the end of that first year, I felt called to the Lord to go into ministry. My wife and I had been going together as sweethearts since our sophomore year. So we graduated. We'd been out of high school for a high school for a year. And I was looking around for a Bible college to go to. And the one that I finally chose was the Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, where Dr. Falwell went to Bible college.

And I really didn't know that at the time. And so I felt led to go there, but I didn't want to go there and leave Carol, who's my wife. So we decided to get married real quick.

You're probably not going to believe this, but we both came from poor families. And so on a Wednesday night, we had prayer meeting. She got on a little dress and I kindly put on a suit. And at the end of the prayer meeting service, my pastor said, we got a couple here that is going off to Bible college and they want to get married tonight. And so we walked forward.

And he married us. And he stood there and he said, I want you to come by and congratulate this couple. And I'm going to have an offering plate here. And I want you to give an offering. They're leaving tomorrow, going to Bible college.

And so that was a unique experience. Now in Anchorage Baptist Temple, you know, at our 25th anniversary, they gave us a big reception to make up for that one. We need more weddings to come out of prayer meetings, Dr. Prevost.

I think there's some powerful nuggets to unpack in there. So then you go to Bible college and then what did God do next in your life and kind of how did the call to ministry materialize from there? Well, of course, we went to Bible college there. And the pastor said that night, I want you folks to give him an offering because they're going to be eating a lot of cheese and crackers. So when we went off to Bible college, my wife got a job as a waitress at a steakhouse.

And they did not serve alcohol at all because she refused to do that. So we didn't eat cheese and crackers. We ate steak because that's where she worked. I got a job down the batter block away at the Safeway grocery store. I had worked in a grocery store prior to earning my way actually through college. But we gradually went through summer school, graduated there, completed the program two and a half years. I was coming down to graduating and I had no place to go serve the Lord.

I had not been interviewed by anybody. I was beginning to think that I was going to have to pay somebody to hire me at a church so I could get some experience. But God, I went to a fellowship meeting, God opened the door and a pastor said, I want to hire you to come to the Beacon Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. So God opened the door. As soon as we, two weeks after we graduated, we were at that church and we thank God that he answered our prayer and we didn't have to pay somebody to let us come and get some experience.

So you're fairly newly married. You get a call to a church in Nashville. So that brings you back to Tennessee where you grew up. And then somehow you went a long way to Alaska. Now I want to hear back, but some things happened before that.

Tell us real quick and then we'll take a break. Yeah, from the Beacon Baptist Church, I was called to Signal Mountain, which is next to Chattanooga, to a church up on Signal Mountain. And the story was there that we had this up on a mountain. You had a W Road.

You know, you'd go up, switch back. And I had a missionary come to hold a mission conference. And it was, his name was Jack Baskin. And he said to me, he said, Jerry, he said, you know, you need to stay right here the rest of your life. There may be somebody that'll come up the W Road, go by the First Baptist Church, go by the, he just named off these churches. There were about 15 churches on the mountain and maybe 5,000 people. And he said, Jerry, you need to be here because a lost person may wander by all those churches and end up here.

And you need to be here preaching the gospel and not worry about the millions of people that don't have the gospel, don't have a gospel preaching church. So he stirred in my heart that maybe a mission field. And so I felt like maybe God was leading me to England. Why? They spoke English. I had a hard time learning English, much less learning a foreign language.

Now people don't believe this, but this is actually true. I said to my wife, Carol, I said, Carol, I believe God is calling us to England. She looked at me and said, I promise to write you once a week. I said, well, I can't go there without her going. So I just settled down and began a radio program.

I was just going to dig in and stay there. And one day I got this call from missionary Don White. And he said, Jerry, you and I don't know each other, but I know you through my daughter, who's going to Tennessee temple and attend your church. And he said, I felt led to the Lord to call you and ask you, have you ever considered going to a mission field?

Have you ever considered maybe going to Alaska? He said, I think the mission work there is ready for a full-time pastor. And so I told Carol about it and she said, well, you know, I think God may be in it.

Now, the thing that amazed me was she hates cold weather. But you know, I thank God that she said, England, that's not for me because God did lead us to Alaska and God did bless in a great way. We're going to hear about that when we come back. That's the voice of Dr. Jerry Prevost. I'm with him right now.

He's the president of Liberty University. God's doing some great things here. Parents, you want to stay tuned next. We'll talk about how a university is Christ-centered and standing against the evils of the culture, raising up champions for Christ, how you met Dr. Falwell. That's going to be a great little story. And then what God did in Alaska when he took, moved you and your Tennessee bride, what, three or four or 5,000 miles out there. More coming up right here. Don't touch that dial. Truth Talk with Stu Epperson.

Hang on. What would call a young Tennessee preacher and his wife all the way to Alaska and then to be the president decades later of the largest Christian university in the world, Liberty University, holding true to the Word of God. He is Dr. Jerry Prevost. I'm honored to sit down with him and visit. I got my daughter Joy here, who's one of our hosts of Truth for the Youth.

And Joy, make sure everyone tunes in to the last to the last segment, even if you download the podcast and don't hear it in real time, because a prayer meeting turned into a wedding, and that's how this guy got married. How about that? Yes.

Pretty awesome. So Dr. Prevost, the journey to Alaska had to be very smooth and simple. Just a quick trip up there, and there you are in Alaska. Or was the journey to Alaska some notable things going on there? Well, it was a little different. The missionary that had called me the first time said, Jerry said, I'd like to fly you to Alaska and that you speak.

Nobody will know why you're there except one person. And so I went there and I spoke and he said, I'll call you back after that. And I said, well, I feel like the Lord's leading us there. And so he said, okay.

He said, we'll be expecting you in October. So we loaded everything we had in a Dodge van. We could not get everything in it, so I built a box on top of it.

And we put our washing machine in there, things that we could take because they had told me, we think we can pay you $100 a week if the money comes in. So when we got to the, you had back then the Alcan highway was gravel. And we had to slow down because it had rained, it was ruddy and we were overloaded. And about two days on that road, my wife who had not been to Alaska said to me, where in the world are you taking me?

And I said, honey, at the end of this road is a McDonald's and a JC Penney's. So she sailed down and we made that journey without any real problems, breakdowns or anything. And so that's how we got there. When we got there, we had to sleep in the bottom of a barracks building that was the church. And one of the funny things that happened there, we were never around hot water heat that circulates. So we're in the bottom of this old World War II barracks building that was the church. And at nighttime, we began to hear this cracking sound and it was going away from us. And it went all the way down the end of the building and then it turned, it was going across and then it started coming back at us. We did not know what that was. My wife says, go out there and see what that is. I said, I'm not going out to see what that is.

But it was hot water heat circulating and warming up the pipes. So we lived there for a while and then we got to the place where a family provided a place for us to live. Wow. The land of Kodiak bears, polar bears, beautiful scenery, unbelievable, just remarkable.

My daughter, Joy, who's one of the hosts of Truth of Youth. Joy, I know you're itching to ask Dr. Prevost a question about Alaska. Well, Dr. Prevost, on a more lighter note, we do have a question about bears before we get into the other, into the real stuff. And that is, if you and I are out there and we're chased by a bear, what's, what's, how does that go? Who are you, who's supposed to outrun who?

How does that work? Well, you don't outrun a bear if he's coming after you. Hopefully you've gone out there prepared with bear spray or maybe a gun so that you can defend yourself, which I've had to do a couple of times.

Okay, this is the real deal. I mean, I don't know how many college presidents have had to stave off bears and see the things you've seen, probably some beautiful samples. Joy, what's your question? I'm sorry, I just had to get that in there because Joy always says, I don't have to outrun the bear, daddy. I just have to outrun you.

So, okay, Joy, go ahead. Yeah, so, um, I've been to Alaska when I was in, on a, in high school, on a mission trip. And I just wanted to ask, what was it like living there?

And was it hard with the daylight savings? I know during the winter, there's very little hours of daylight. And tell us about fighting off any bears. I saw a bear from a distance, but that was about it.

And there were other cool animals as well. But yeah, so as you mentioned, in the wintertime, we only have about four and a half hours of potential daylight. And the sun barely comes up over the mountains.

We're in Anchorage. And so it's caused a lot of depression of people. It's, it's, it's very, that's very difficult and depressing. So what I would do as a pastor, I would tell my men, I said, listen, if you want to stay in Alaska, you need to let your wife go back, see family once a year. So I told my staff guys, I said, listen, I'm going to give you, your wife, a free trip every year, wherever she wants to go. And I said, now guys, I know some of you are going to want to take that money and go on a hunting trip.

But I said, your wife's got to come in and tell me that she really doesn't want to go. And I said, she needs to go out during the wintertime to get away from the darkness. So that's very difficult for Alaska.

It creates a lot of problems. We tried to have a lot of family activities during the winter because when I first went there, people didn't have families. It was a military area and a lot of young people.

And so when holiday come, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, they didn't have family to go have Christmas with unless they went 3,000 miles back to the lower 48. So we became a family church, which helped make up for the darkness and all of that. And God really worked. God used you, your vision, your leadership to start an amazing Christian school, to grow a church, Anchorage Baptist Tabernacle. As you look back on those, I mean, the church is still there to this day growing, a Christian school, an impact that's accomplished not just the state, but you've sent people all over the world from there.

Oh, yes. We've got people, two military bases there. Of course, you've got people scattered all over the world. And God really blessed in that area.

We had over 40,000 registered decisions after 47 years of ministry there. And it was an amazing thing. My wife and I, we just thank God for how He did use us. Well, my favorite parts we even mentioned is you're a radio guy and God used you and your ministry there with some radio and some TV stations to make an impact that way too, which goes way outside the walls of the church.

Yes. We ended up with four radio stations under Christian Broadcasting Inc, a television station, and we used that to spread the gospel. We would put our program on 26 times a week because we had our own station, but we were on the ABC station three times a week.

But I would play our program late at night, 11, 12, 1 o'clock, because I felt like people that are having problems are probably not able to sleep. They probably tune in, hear the message, hear the gospel, and get saved. That's the voice of Dr. Jerry Prevost, the president of Liberty University, founded by Dr. Jerry Falwell, two Jerry's that met earlier in life.

Tell us how you met Jerry Falwell and how God used him to impact your life. Well, he was organizing moral majority. And in Alaska, you could not buy a piece of property that was zoned for church. And so I said, you know, that means we're going to have a planning commission.

If they're anti-God, they won't approve property. So I got to get involved. So I came to here in Lynchburg, Virginia, for the conference on moral majority. And Dr. Falwell inspired us to go back to our city, to our town, and get involved politically. So we went back to Anchorage, Alaska. And we did just what he said. But actually, we took over the Republican Party of Alaska. And we've been involved in politics, but for the reason of protecting religious freedom. And we had groups of people coming from Oregon, from California, to take over Anchorage.

And you can imagine the politics that they wanted to bring. Wow. Dr. Prevost, you talked about in our previous segment about how just God really brought you here, just how he worked it out.

And, you know, you're in a tree stand, you get a call. And I hope folks listen to the last segment. It's just beautiful how God works. His ways are way above our ways, right?

Like the prophets said. We talk briefly, as we wrap up, about the importance of a Christian worldview, a Christian education, Liberty University. Some other universities and land are still holding the truth. They haven't bowed their knee yet to the communism, the socialism, the CRT.

There's so many things out there that are non-Christian, but trying to put the guise of Christian on there. Can you talk about how important that is? A lot of parents listening, a lot of young people listening to this interview may be thinking, wow, I want to go sit under a president like that. You know, when I grow up, I want to be like him who loves Jesus, but also has this academic strength here, you know, equipping people. Can you talk about the importance of that here at this school, especially in these dark times we're in? Well, Liberty University is the shining light in the world of training champions for Christ, giving them and teaching a Christian worldview, a biblical worldview. And unfortunately, many of the colleges that used to be that way are turning away from that.

And Liberty University is not doing that. One of the reasons that I think I was invited here to come and help Liberty University is if it had gotten off track, to get it back on track. And since I knew Dr. Falwell since 1979, and he'd been to Alaska many times, I knew him.

I knew his heart. And I think the trustees knew that. And so that's why they asked me to come. But Liberty University is on the right track.

We're training champions for Christ. One of the interesting things I had was when I first came here, I showed a video of Dr. Falwell saying what his vision was, how that he would rather for this campus to be burned down rather than go liberal. And so I showed that and then I had a professor come up to me and said, Jerry, what's your vision for Liberty University? And I said, didn't you just watch the video of Dr. Jerry Falwell? He said, yes.

I said, that's my vision. I'm not here to put Jerry Preval's brand on Liberty University. I'm here to keep Jerry Falwell senior's brand on Liberty University. So he didn't ask me again. He got the message.

That's Dr. Jerry Preval, president of Liberty University. That's just powerful. You shared, I'm going to think of a hundred things that I should have asked you about this interview. So I'll have to have you on again. Okay.

Or come up and visit again. And Dr. Preval, as we wrap up, seems like maybe it's later in Corinthians, Paul says, you know, God has opened a door for the gospel, but many or much as the opposition. And whenever someone's proclaiming Christ in a culture, calling the church back to revival and reformation, calling the world to know Christ and equipping students to go out there and change the world and be champions for Christ, there's much opposition. How can we pray for you, Dr. Preval? How can we pray for Liberty University? I want to ask everyone listening to take a second and pray because the attacks are everywhere. You all are hated because, you know, Jesus is hated, but you're doing something that's bringing souls to Christ.

So quickly, how can we pray for you? Well, you can pray for us that regulations that are coming down the pike that are going to put the pressure on a Christian college like Liberty, that those regulations will not try to force us to conform to them because we're unique. We, of course, have people outside of the political room that doesn't like Liberty University and doing everything they can to hurt Liberty University and limits its influence and cause, literally, students not to want to come here by saying, hey, your degree's not worth anything and so forth.

But it is. We have a number of graduates working in Washington, D.C. We have people on Fox News that have their own program. So pray for us here at Liberty. God's given us a great group of professors and, most of all, a great group of students that love the Lord. And just pray for them that they'll be willing to go out of this place and really be a champion for Christ and change the world. Amen. Joy Epperson, my daughter, freshman at Liberty, isn't it cool to have a president like him who really loves Jesus and is trying to equip you guys to change the world?

Yes, it's a great example as well. Awesome. God bless you, Dr. Prevost. Thank you so much. This is Truth Talk. Download the podcast. Thank you to all our awesome affiliates nationwide, AFR, Wilkins, all the folks that are brave enough to carry this program. And parents, really seriously think about Psalm 1 and putting your kids at the feet of godly men and women that will equip them to change the world for Jesus. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-07 11:54:09 / 2023-06-07 12:05:02 / 11

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