If Dr. Mike Luper could give one piece of advice to current college students it would be to listen to the Lord.
After serving for 4 years in the military, Dr. Luper believed that God had called him to pursue pastoral work. He completed his undergraduate work at West Coast Christian College in Fresno, Ca. and went onto graduate school with that same mentality. Then, the Lord stepped in.
“Through some situations that came up that were orchestrated by the Lord, I was asked to begin teaching at my alma mater, West Coast Christian College,” he said.
Dr. Luper never looked back.
After several years in the classroom, Dr. Luper was introduced to Emmanuel College by Dr. Paul Oxley, former Chair of the School of Christian Ministries.
“I had put my name in a publication for the Evangelical Theological Society as someone available to teach,” he remembered. “Dr. Oxley saw my name and contacted me about coming to Emmanuel.”
At the time, Dr. Luper had not heard of Emmanuel College but was encouraged by a former colleague to check it out.
Dr. Luper began teaching full-time at Emmanuel in the Fall of 1997.
When he first stepped on campus, Dr. Luper could sense the Lord at work.
“For my wife and I, there was a sense that this was where the Lord wanted us to be,” he said. “I’ve mentioned this to people over the years but I do feel like this is the place the Lord made for me to teach.”
Now that he has spent several years in Franklin Springs, Dr. Luper can pinpoint the college’s kingdom mentality as an aspect that sets Emmanuel apart.
“The focus is on accepting all people, that our relationship with one another is based in Christ and not a denominational tag,” he said. “When I came here there were people from different denominations and I was used to fellowshipping with a wide variety of people, in my mind, it was something that revealed to me the nature of the Kingdom.”
As the current Dean of the School of Christian Ministries, Dr. Luper believes his hunger for the Word helps him in the classroom.
“Because I was not raised in the church I didn’t know anything about Him so I had this intense hunger for the Word when I began reading the Bible,” he said. “As I moved through my schooling, that hunger increased. I had great professors who knew how to teach the Bible in ways that energized me.”
Currently, Dr. Luper teaches Biblical Interpretation and other Bible classes at Emmanuel, all of which excite him because of the impact that knowing the Word has had on his own life. He hopes he can energize his students in the same way.
“We get students who don’t know the Word deeply and don’t understand its power,” he said. “To be able to take them on a journey where they can see the deeper things in Scripture and have it change their outlook on Scripture and life is incredibly exciting.”
For Dr. Luper, watching the light turn on for students on campus is satisfying.
“I know the transformation I’ve seen in my own life because of the Word,” he said. “I know if I can get my students excited about that, I know their life will be transformed for the kingdom. There’s nothing more important than people who know the Word and are being transformed because people who are transformed will create transformation in people they minister to.”
Each year at graduation, Dr. Luper finds confidence in watching the students of the Word walk across the stage.
“I know for the entire rest of their life, they’ll be taken care of because I know the Word will guide their life and that they’ll have a constant foundation that will support them.”
This August, Emmanuel launched an online degree program in Christian Ministries, and Dr. Luper could not be more excited.
“I’m excited about being able to expand the impact of the college,” he said. “It will help the church because there are people who simply can’t pack up and move to Franklin Springs, Ga. I’m excited about the opportunity we’ll have to reach more people and train them in the area of ministry.”
What advice would he give to students looking to go into ministry?
“My advice for any student, but specifically Christian Ministries students, is the basic premise that Paul gives in Romans 8:14 for anyone who is a child of God, that they be led by the Holy Spirit,” he said. “When they come here to Emmanuel, or in their life after Emmanuel, be people who listen and respond to what the Lord says.”
Had the Lord told Dr. Luper early in life that he would be a professor, he believes he would have run the other way. However, he’s glad he didn’t.
“Listen to the spirit and follow the guidance and direction he gives,” he said. “The Call of Jesus has never changed.”