UMO’s New Campus Ministry Aims to Help Students Live Out their Faith
MOUNT OLIVE- 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. “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.”
Lester, 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 later spent several years in the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) market, having four albums and one top ten 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 has served as a singles and small group pastor, while Holly has worked in musical theatre for young people, and a couple of chorus groups.
The Rectors 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 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 agreed, “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 shared. “We have 30 minutes, and it will be high energy, multimedia, and student driven.”
The Rectors want students to experience God and not just hear His message. “We want chapel services to be about students sharing their stories, journeys, and walks with Christ,” Holly said. “There is great power in the testimony.”
According to Lester, 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. That is when God reveals Himself, and that testimony will get people’s attention.”
Holly added, “The moment students begin hearing each other’s testimonies in chapel, it can bring change to people’s lives. 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, etc. to spend time in conversations with students. “We want to get to know the students, as they get to know us,” Holly shared.
Lester and Holly 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 said. “Honestly, it is what wakes us up in the morning and lays us down at night.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online. For more information, visit