With a growing trend of Christian teens entering college and walking away from their faith, the University of Mount Olive is tackling the attrition rate head-on. Live Out Loud will be the mission and catch phrase of UMO’s new campus ministry.
“Live out Loud is an acronym for the purpose of getting people to live intentionally,” says Lester Rector, director of Outreach Groups and Campus Ministries at UMO. “It is a fancy way to say, ‘Walk by faith, and be Spirit-led.’ We want students to push past fear and the mundane, to live their faith out loud, to be intentional and to be on purpose.”
Rector, and his wife, Holly, have been hired to lead UMO’s Campus Ministry and Carolina Sound, a 12-member adult acapella group. The couple has a wealth of experience in both music and ministry. They met in college while singing in an acapella traveling group. Lester and Holly Rector later spent several years in the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) market, having four albums and one top-10 radio hit. They also worked at Disney World doing a variety of things from being the voices of “Finding Nemo,” the musical show, to performing with Voices of Liberty. In ministry, Lester Rector has served as a singles and small group pastor, while Holly Rector has worked in musical theatre for young people and a couple of chorus groups.
The Rectors say they feel that God has long been preparing them for the music and ministry opportunity at UMO.
“We knew months in advance that change was coming to our lives,” Lester Rector said. “We knew that we were going to be transitioning, we just didn’t know where. Then, we got the call from Dr. Poole in February.”
Holly Rector agreed, saying, “This place is a fulfillment of the dreams and desires God has been cultivating within us. We are excited to paint our own picture, to come in and say, ‘We haven’t seen anything like this, and go dream.’ We believe God is going to use us and bring that energy and excitement about Him to the students.”
The Rectors envision UMO’s campus ministry to be exciting and engaging.
“It will be an electric atmosphere that will include music and elevated worship,” Lester Rector said. “We have 30 minutes, and it will be high energy, multimedia and student driven.”
The Rectors say they want students to experience God.
“We want chapel services to be about students sharing their stories, journeys and walks with Christ,” Holly Rector said. “There is great power in the testimony.”
According to Lester Rector, many students struggle with belief in God, because they can’t see Him.
“If a student begins walking by God in faith and sharing their experiences, then the unseen becomes seen,” he said. “That is when God reveals Himself, and that testimony will get people’s attention.”
“The moment students begin hearing each other’s testimonies in chapel, it can bring change to people’s lives,” Holly Rector added. “You can love the ideal of God, or you can love the revealed God. That’s why faith exists, and we want to see students find that.”
It is the Rectors’ goal to enhance the culture and atmosphere on campus and to develop individuals who will communicate the message of God’s love. The first step will be connecting with students. The Rectors plan to attend sporting events, theatrical productions, musical performances and more to spend time in conversations with students.
“We want to get to know the students, as they get to know us,” Holly Rector said.
Lester and Holly Rector have a vision, heart and passion to help students live out their faith.
“We believe God is going to use us to bring our energy and excitement about Him to the students,” Lester Rector said. “Honestly, it is what wakes us up in the morning and lays us down at night.”