I Am Second aimed to leave an enormous impact on the ACU campus through the testimonies that were shared during Chapel this week. Guest speaker Lisa Luby Ryan and the coordinators in the Chapel office hope to bring I Am Second back next year.
The guest speakers included former U.S. Army Ranger Chris Plekenpol, artist Marc Eckel who introduced students to “The Splat Experience,” entrepreneur Lisa Luby Ryan, former U.S. Navy Seal Remi Adeleke, hip hop artist Cliff Watkins and ACU student Ryan Flores.
Dallas resident Lisa Luby Ryan has many strong connections to ACU, including her son Casey Luby who graduated from ACU in 2012. Ryan was the first to reach out to ACU and ask if I Am Second could speak in Chapel.
“Lisa Luby Ryan has been a friend of ACU for many years,” said Mark Lewis, assistant dean for spiritual life and Chapel programs. “She was in conversation with both our president and our former vice president for advancement, Phil Boone, a few years back about the idea of having I Am Second. There were some on and off conversations, and then a year ago this past summer is when we all decided, lets do this.”
Ryan, along with the other I Am Second participants have shared their testimonies with many people and have made an impact with their turbulent, but redemptive stories.
“The very first time I gave my testimony for Council for Life, a friend told me about a new ministry that had just launched called, I Am Second. I had a hunger to share my story so others would learn from me, that they would know they weren’t alone,” said Ryan. “I want everyone to know they too can have an abundant Life even with a story. I Am Second has been an amazing tool to reach out to so many who need to hear they are not alone, there is hope, redemption, and that they are loved despite their situation. Sharing my story on I Am Second has given me the opportunity to reach so many throughout the world that otherwise would never hear God’s Grace.”
Lewis said he enjoyed seeing students come up to the speakers after Chapel to talk with them.
“Lisa had quite a few very tender, tear-filled conversations with students both here after Chapel and over in the campus center,” said Lewis. “We didn’t even get into eat until nearly 1:00 p.m. but she was willing to be there just to talk with them.”
Lisa Luby Ryan connected with many students after Chapel and during Chapel as well.
Lewis said, “Some folks have a very strong connection with her story because they have similar stories and some folks may not have a specific, direct connection but still they have heard her story of great brokenness and through the power of the Holy God, there has been restoration and there is hope in that and people just want to connect with that. It’s beautiful.”
The other I Am Second speakers also encouraged hope and restoration through their testimonies this week. Marc Eckel who brought “The Splat Experience” painting demonstration to chapel also made a lasting impression.
“When we took the painting off of the frame, the paint had bled through and there was a second image,” said Lewis. “Physical resources was just going to throw away the wood but after they saw what came through it, they thought, ‘we can’t throw that away.'”
The painting will be donated to ACU and will be kept downstairs in the Campus Center. The plan is to put it at the bottom of the center stairwell with a description of how it was created so that students can enjoy it.
Lewis and other coordinators hope to invite I Am Second back again.
“Our hope and prayer is that we do this again soon,” said Lewis. “It’s just so freeing to hear people’s honest life stories. My hope would be that it would help us as a community to be able to be that honest and open and know that in the body of Christ it should be safe and when you unburden you are set free.”
Lisa Luby Ryan leaves students with a few words of hope and encouragement.
“We all make choices we shouldn’t make, but we have to remember God still loves us, he will never forsake us or leave us,” said Ryan. “A huge revelation for me was when I realized that I was the one that separated myself from God. God never separated himself from me. I still constantly tell myself, ‘God you didn’t lead me to the desert to abandon me, I know you have a plan and I am going to trust you’ I would also say that God loves you so much that if we let Him, he will meet us right where we are no matter what the circumstance is. We just have to ask.”