‘Return to Me’ Theme of Celebration Week Services at Gardner-Webb

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Guest Speaker Darrick Smith Seeks to Help Students Become Disciple-Makers

a photo of Darrick SmithBOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—“Return to Me” is the theme for Celebration Week, Jan. 21-23, at Gardner-Webb University. Hosted by GWU’s Campus Ministries, Celebration Week is a time for the campus community to come together to worship and glorify the Lord.

The services, which are open to the public, begin Jan. 21 with the Dimensions program at 9:25 a.m. in Tucker Student Center. Speaker Darrick Smith, senior consultant for Collegiate Partnerships with N.C. Baptists, will include a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the University’s observance of the federal holiday. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the national day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.

“As I reflect on my collegiate experience and how God radically changed my life during my sophomore year at North Carolina Central University (NCCU),” Smith stated. “I can’t help but to praise God and thank him for men like Martin Luther King Jr. You see, NCCU is a Historically Black College and University that was founded to train young African American men and women for mission work during a time when African Americans were enslaved and stripped of their rights to learn how to read and write. Men like Martin Luther King Jr. fought continuously for the equality and dignity of African Americans like myself.  In my eyes, he’s a hero, and I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for the grace of God through Martin Luther King Jr.”

Smith will also speak Thursday at 9:25 a.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in Tucker Student Center. His theme focuses on Jeremiah 2:13, which says, “They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

a photo of a person lifting their hand while singing a praise song“Jeremiah was a young prophet called by God to a very difficult task—call out the evil, injustice, and wickedness among God’s people and he called them to return to God in repentance,” Smith elaborated. “I think college students need to see that they are called by God and more than capable of being used by God at a young age to advance his kingdom. This will require boldness and trust in the Lord. I think college students need to be reminded of areas in their lives in which they have forsaken the Living God through idolatry and need to return or turn to God.”

Smith grew up on a small farm in Godwin, N.C., where he met Jesus at the age of 16. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health from NCCU. He also received a master’s degree in special education, and taught elementary school for six years before going into full-time ministry.

He has worked on staff at The Summit Church as a college minister, and as an associate pastor of Catalyst Church in Newport News, Va. He has also led several short-term mission trips across the world. He has a strong passion to see college students reached with the gospel to become lifelong disciple-makers. He is currently finishing up a master’s degree in Christian studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event. Please call 704-406-2155 or email disabilityservices@gardner-webb.edu with your request.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.