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A Hero Without Superpowers

From “wrestling with sin and guilt and shame” to being saved by Christ and serving in Christian ministry, Aaron Lumpkin has settled in comfortably to his role as campus minister at Missouri Baptist University.

Photo by Chris Hodges

Aaron Lumpkin relaxes in his office and welcomes conversation from all visitors, from students searching their faith to colleagues collaborating on projects.

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When the word hero is brought up, some people may think of a police officer, a firefighter or even a soldier.

Very few think of the type of hero that doesn’t run to danger to save lives, but who reaches out to people so they can improve their lives and spiritual state.

This type of hero is known as a preacher or a pastor. This would be the case for Aaron Lumpkin, the campus minister at Missouri Baptist University.

Lumpkin grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and attended Eastside High School in Taylors, South Carolina.

Lumpkin attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical exposition and pastoral leadership.

Some professions force people to make changes to their lifestyle that may be uncomfortable to them.

In the case of a preacher, some are forced to change their way of life to match the lifestyle recommended in the Bible.

So how did Lumpkin decide that preaching was his calling?

“When I was in middle school, I was reading my Bible during youth camp on my bed and I read a passage in Hebrews that talked about God calling people to serve him and through that process I understood that that’s the way that God wanted not only to save me and be a part of my life and transform my life but call me to serve him,” said Lumpkin, who has been at MBU for just over a year.

One of the greatest challenges of being a Christian is interpreting the Bible. For some, this could cause unsettlement because they aren’t sure how to be saved.

Lumpkin believes that being saved isn’t a matter of the profession one chooses.

“I don’t think we’re saved by anything that we do. I think that the gospel, the good news of Jesus says that we’re not able to do anything to appease God, to make him love us or care for us, but God in his love and kindness says, ‘I’m giving myself to you. Come and follow me.’ So from the very beginning, it’s nothing that I do,” Lumpkin said. “For me, serving as a pastor and as a campus minister, there’s all kinds of ways that I can follow God without doing this. I feel this is a calling God has put on my life. It’s not how this is how I’m saved, but it is how I believe God is calling me to serve him.”

There are many different stories as to how people have committed to Christianity.

Some were born into a Christian household while others had to go through dangers just to pick up a Bible.

How did Lumpkin decide that Christianity was best for him?

“I was a young boy and wrestling with sin and guilt and shame. I knew that I needed that to be taken care of, relief in some ways, but at the same time was looking for purpose in life and vision and direction and so I grew up in the church. I always in a sense agreed that Jesus was God and was my savior. Simply affirming that is not what saves you. It’s God transforming your heart, giving you new desires and loves and affections.

“There’s a lot of people that say, ‘Oh yeah, I love God and believe in him,’ but their life is the same as when they claim to have met God. It was when I was in middle school, when I was laying on my bed and studying the Bible, that God really transformed my life and gave me new desires. And so I’m changing my desires from looking at porn and doing different things like that and loving God and pursuing God rather than serving myself,” said Lumpkin.

Some people believe Christians are perfect people who never sin, never have doubts in God and are Christians from birth.

These claims can be the exact opposite of the lives of Christians. Even preachers have gone through periods when they doubted God.

“There’s different seasons. When you experience different things in life that cause you to wonder about God, whether it’s suffering, the loss of a family member to, ‘God, why won’t this thing just work out,’ that brings about natural questions, but I learned early on to trust some key promises that God makes in his scripture.

“Once in Romans he says that ‘God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.’ In other passages it says that God works all things for his glory and for our good. Another promise is that if we confess our sins, be faithful and he will forgive us and cleanse us and purify us from all unrighteousness. Those promises have allowed me to remain secure in God even though questions come up because that is the foundation of all my beliefs,” said Lumpkin.

Being from South Carolina, one may guess that Lumpkin gets homesick. So why come all the way from South Carolina to work here at MBU?

“My wife and I, about a year ago or more, we started praying and asking God to open some doors to allow us to serve in a different place. I was serving as a part-time pastor while working full time and other part-time jobs in North Carolina while still working on my Ph.D., and so that was a lot on my plate and we just began praying and seeing what God would open for us, and my gifts and skills and abilities line up with doing university work,” Lumpkin said. “And so when we got a call from MBU to come and serve here we were delighted and glad to be here.”

Being all the way from South Carolina, one might conclude that MBU had a large selection of preachers to choose from as their campus minister.

The same thought could be applied for Lumpkin choosing who speaks at Chapel.

“Some of the things that we long to allow our students to see through our Chapel speakers is a variety of Christian leaders and pastors and influential people that show how the Christian life applies to all of life. It’s not just on Sundays, it’s not just on Wednesdays or at your church or when you’re looking at your Bible at home and then afterwards you go do whatever you want to do,” Lumpkin said. “Instead, we see how the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, influences the way we do business, the way we teach children in education and the way we perform musically, the way that we coach in sports, the way that we preach and teach in Christian schools or in churches, the Bible and God and Gospel.

“It extends to all of us in all areas of life. When we look for Chapel speakers, we’re looking for individuals that speak to our students in all those categories. So we have local pastors. We have business leaders. We have non-profit CEOs and presidents come to speak.”

After hearing all these testimonies from Lumpkin about how God has reached out to him, who at MBU has been touched by Lumpkin’s passion for God?

The answer would be several students, including Melanie Laurenc, a senior Christian ministry and biblical counseling major from St. Louis, who has known Lumpkin for a year and has interned for him this semester.

“He definitely has an organizational style that is similar to what I would desire for myself or even desire in some kind of leadership, and just his love for discipling students and wanting students to know Jesus, and also desiring to see the local church be a part of that,” Laurenc said, “because when students graduate MBU they can sometimes grow away from a community just because they aren’t on campus every day. So just that implementation of churches joining the mission of MBU and I think he lives out the mission statement of MBU very well.”

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Chris Hodges

Chris Hodges

Chris Hodges is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. Hodges is majoring in journalism and is currently on the men’s basketball team. Hodges intends to eventually become a movie critic after completing his master’s degree at MBU.

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