By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – U.S. Congresswoman Julia Letlow told the Louisiana Christian University Class of 2022 graduates to remain hopeful when difficult days come.
Speaking during the college’s 167th Commencement May 7 at the Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria, Letlow shared how her faith in Christ sustained her after her husband, Luke, died from COVID-19 complications, Dec. 29, 2020. He was just five days from taking office after he had won the election the month before to succeed Ralph Abraham, who retired from Congress. She later won the seat in a special election in March 2021.
“The Holy Spirit stepped in to sustain me in the hard days that followed after Luke’s death, to take my next breath, to put one foot in front of the other, to care for my children, and to eventually run for the same seat held by my husband, in order to continue a dream that the Lord put in both our hearts: to serve this community,” she said. “It was during this immensely difficult time in my life that the Lord showed me that two things can be true at once. “A person can be full of grief and still choose hope for the future,” she continued. “And it is that message of hope put into action that I want to impart to you today. Always choose hope.”
LCU conferred 249 degrees (171 undergraduate and 78 graduate) during the ceremony.
LCU President Rick Brewer challenged the graduates to be smart, humble and hungry to learn and also to embrace their calling.
“This is commencement,” he said. “That does not mean the end. Commence is to begin.
“Hopefully we have equipped you with critical thinking skills, analytical reasoning skills, problem solving skills, but above, beneath and in the midst of all enriched you with the desire to grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ and be Christ to a world that needs a Savior.”
In addition to conferring degrees, LCU also recognized physician Ken Johnson as a distinguished award winner and Letlow as an honorary doctorate in public administration degree recipient.
Johnson, since 1987, has given free medical care to students on the LCU campus every Wednesday afternoon.
In a prayer he led for graduates, Louisiana Baptists Executive Director Steve Horn asked God to guide them to transform lives and communities.
“We recognize there is a great need for Christians to occupy every sector of our world, every place of business, every place of public policy, school teachers, congressmen and congresswomen, senators,” he said. “Lord as we dream big today, Supreme Court justices, governors, perhaps president, God I pray that our vision would be even larger than we see in ourselves this day. Lord that we will think back to this moment of commencement and commission.”