(Photo: The Gospel Coalition via The Christian Post)
What do John Piper, Kirk Cameron and Pattie Mallette, mother of pop star Justin Bieber, have in common? The trio, among a long list of other nationally known figures, will head to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., this fall to inspire students and share a bit of wisdom.
According to the university, Liberty's Convocation, held during the spring and fall semesters, is America's largest weekly gathering of Christian youth.
"Students are able to hear from prominent speakers of national/global significance from every sphere of society. Speakers challenge, motivate, and inspire students as they share their stories and impart wisdom from experience in their respective fields," read an announcement Wednesday from the school.
Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org, chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary and former senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, and Mallette, who recently spoke with The Christian Post about her new autobiography, are both first-time Convocation speakers.
Actor and filmmaker Kirk Cameron, on the other hand, first spoke to university students in October 2012, and discussed his journey as a "recovering atheist" and the challenges he has faced over his faith-based convictions.
"I can stand here and tell you today as a recovering atheist that there's nothing I've ever done in my life, there is no one I've ever met, there's no place I've ever been that is more exciting, more important and more needful in my life than becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, of having my sins forgiven and being made into a child of God, through faith in his son," Cameron told students last fall.
Cameron and Liberty University have since joined forces to produce a new film called "Unstoppable," set to premiere in September at the conservative evangelical university and at more than 600 theaters nationwide.
Among the other guest speakers listed for Liberty University's Convocation this fall are:
- Sept. 6 – Derwin Gray, founder and pastor of Transformation Church; author of Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future
- Sept. 11 – Michael Youssef, pastor of The Church of the Apostles; president of Leading the Way
- Sept. 25 – Phil Cooke, president of Cooke Pictures; speaker and author
- Oct. 7 – Jeff Bethke, author of Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough; spoken word poet and YouTube sensation
- Oct. 16 – Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer; story behind the film "Soul Surfer"
- Dec. 2 – Eric Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship; author of Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole
Piper, scheduled to speak on Sept. 16 during Liberty's Global Focus Week, is listed alongside Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran for allegedly endangering national security.
Liberty University was founded in 1971 by Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. as Lynchburg Baptist College. The school has since earned the distinction of becoming the largest private nonprofit university in the U.S. and also the largest religiously-affiliated one. The socially conservative school was dubbed an "evangelical mega-university with global reach" earlier this year by The Washington Post.