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It is pretty incredible to look back, after nearly 30 years in student ministry. It all started back at Encounter, my first time on LCU’s campus,” David Fraze, special assistant to the president of Lubbock Christian University mused. “And now I’m working with the president of that university. It has been an incredible journey—LCU has really woven its way throughout my own faith journey, my leadership, my ministry, and engrained itself in my life for all of these years.
David Fraze is a name that many recognize, especially throughout the circles of youth ministry. Serving for years as a high-profile youth minister and Senior Staff at The Hills, one of Texas’ larger churches, will do that, as will being a leader teaching and studying youth ministry. But there is one place David will say his association makes him most proud—LCU, a community in which he has been a vibrant leader for nearly 30 years.
David’s journey with LCU began when he was a freshman in high school.
“The first time that I came on campus was for Encounter, when I was going into the 9th grade,” recalled David. “At that camp, I found my faith, was baptized, and from that moment, I found a passion for youth ministry.”
At the time, LCU was one of only a few places that offered a youth ministry program.
“Even though I didn’t know anyone else who was attending LCU in 1987, I loaded up and drove to Lubbock, and that was pretty much because of my experiences at Encounter.”
Although he was initially unsure of how his college choice would affect him, it didn’t take long for him to realize that LCU was definitely the right choice for him.
“I think the first moment that I really felt the significance of my decision to come here started that very first semester,” David said. “I had come up early to try out for Best Friends. I didn’t make the group, and I was really disappointed and homesick.”
David had heard about the Meistersingers Chorus, because his sister had been a part of it just before he graduated, so he decided to go on the annual Choir Retreat in order to try out for the group, instead.
“It was at that retreat, the first night after we had left Lubbock, that I saw for the first time the authenticity of the people, and I realized that there was something about the people at LCU. It captured my heart. It was at that point that I started to clue in that I was a part of something special.”
It was the first, but definitely not the only time, that the LCU community made an impact on his life. A few years later, while he was still a student at LCU, his grandmother passed away, and then shortly after he graduated, his father did as well.
“It was incredible how much the university was present in my life for those times,” David said. “Best Friends actually sang at my father’s funeral—they made the drive all the way to Lewisville just to be there. That was powerful, and I will always be so grateful for that.”
David wanted to pass on his experiences with LCU and Ministry to others. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, David decided to stay at LCU to continue his graduate work.
“I got my first Master’s degree at LCU in 1994,” he explained, “and then a couple of years later, I was asked to teach a freshmen course at LCU. At some point, I ended up filling in for another faculty member, teaching in the CDC auditorium, and that really opened me up to teaching.”
David recalled that this was about that same time when he was also asked to assist with leading LCU summer camps.
“There was a moment when it dawned on me that I was getting paid to teach youth ministry, do youth ministry, and do summer camps at an awesome university, and I got so many goose bumps.”
Eventually, as David’s teaching load increased, he began to deepen his relationships with faculty colleagues who had been his mentors, and also with his students, whom he was able to influence.
“In the spring of 1999, I felt a call, especially through my conversations with Dr. Estep, that I needed to continue my education.” That year, he traveled back and forth from Abilene to Abilene Christian University, and took 38 hours of graduate classes in one year, all while teaching a course at ACU.
It was at this point that he decided that teaching others was a part of his calling, and he knew that he would be better able to serve and teach with a doctoral degree. “I decided to go to Fuller Seminary,” David recalled, “both LCU and ACU, had offered to assist me with some of the expenses for my doctorate so I could come back to work and teach in youth ministry for them. In the end, I thought about all of the times that LCU had helped me grow and how much I had been involved at LCU, and I decided to go with LCU”
So, in fall of 2001, David began working on his doctorate at Fuller Seminary while continuing to teach at LCU. Four years later, he completed the program.
In the years that followed, David became a popular faculty member, teacher and speaker at LCU and in numerous churches around the country, state, and region. He eventually decided to re-enter into full-time ministry in 2007, but he continued to assist with LCU summer camps.
One of David’s most powerful memories of the community at LCU came following a horrific tragedy while serving as the youth minister for Greenlawn Church of Christ in 1999.
David was driving a Greenlawn bus, which was returning home from a weekend church retreat in New Mexico, when an oncoming pick-up truck with a trailer crossed the median and sideswiped the bus. Although David’s actions controlling the vehicle after the collision likely avoided further casualties, the impact instantly killed six teenage girls riding on the bus.
The tragedy was one of the darkest times in David’s life—he had been powerless to stop the deaths of six young girls who were entrusted to his care. Amid his grief and pain, David recalls the powerful support and encouragement he felt.
“The love and concern that the people at LCU had, not only for our church, but specifically for our students and me—taking buses to New Mexico and organizing efforts to get our kids home—was huge to me. Huge! Being able to hug some of my mentors—many who made the long journey to Lubbock to be there with me and who were father figures for me—it was something I’ll never forget. People showing up at our house, to be there for support, meant the world to my wife and me throughout all of that.”
“It really drove home how the people at LCU take care of each other. We didn’t have much family here, and they became family – took it upon themselves to be family – and that was incredible.”
In the spring of 2016, David’s career took another turn, back to his roots. LCU President Tim Perrin asked him to return to employment at LCU as the special assistant to the president.
“One of the great things that I get to do right now for LCU is help raise the banner for this university,” David said. “It’s great, being in the DFW Metroplex, because I’m near major airports, and I can travel all over and speak.” Sometimes that’s in the context of youth ministry, and sometimes that’s specifically opportunities for David to share the great things going on at LCU.
“That’s been something that we want to do, because LCU does have a great story,” David shared emphatically. “We have academic programs, we have social programs, and we have athletic teams that can all compete on the national level. We’re trying to broaden our influence and tell our story.”
Additionally, David is returning to the classroom this fall to teach for the first time in ten years, working with students in the YFM program.
“I am a youth minister by trade,” he explained, “and even though I do a lot of leadership training, I have a passion for youth and guiding them on their faith journeys. Along with summer camps, I also get to be involved with Youth Specialties and with Fuller Seminary, and I get to do that under the LCU name. This not only helps add credibility to our YFM degree, moving youth and family ministry forward, but it also helps us take our theology with the Churches of Christ and interact with other groups of faith as well.”
“The thing that most excites me about LCU is that we have the vision to grow—and not just to grow, but to grow the right way,” explained David. “We have a second wind in our sails, a vision of the kind of university that we want to be as we grow.
“Yes, we want to build new buildings, have more courses, recruit more students, but we are doing that because we want to impact eternity. I don’t say that in a ‘churchy’ way, but in an authentic way.
“Whatever degree a student wants to get here, we will challenge them to take that degree and impact the world. That is one of the most unique things about us. You’re getting a degree in accounting? Take that accounting degree and use it for the Kingdom. We tell teachers to look at their classrooms as a mission field. If you’re an owner of a company, look at those decisions you make, and view them through the eyes of a mission. This is the kind of educational institution that LCU is striving to be.”
“Passion comes from vision,” he added, “and we have a clear vision of the kind of university that we want to be. Every decision is made with purpose, with this vision in mind, along with the impact that we want to have.”
David’s enthusiasm for the future of LCU is infectious. And he is sharing that passion for the university in any setting where people will listen.
“I met with more than 50 prospective students just last night,” he shared, “and the diversity in that room was incredible. We had student-athletes, we had student-scholars; we had people from the city, from the country, and people of different faith groups—and they all found their way to LCU. Our vision is making people passionate. The days ahead of LCU are going to be the best we’ve ever had, and I believe that with all of my heart.”