Serving as assistant professor of educational ministries at Huntington University was like coming home for Luke Fetters ('82) and his wife, Audrey (Stoltzfus, '82).
Because his father was dean of the graduate school, Luke grew up around the Huntington campus from age 11. And while he never considered another college, Luke has never second-guessed his decision to attend Huntington either.
Audrey, on the other hand, learned of Huntington through an ad in Campus Life magazine. A transfer student, she was looking for a school with a strong Christian atmosphere. Luke claims that Audrey must have spotted him on campus when she visited Huntington, and that prompted her to attend, but actually, their romance didn't bloom until their senior year, when they directed West Side Story together. They were married six months after graduation.
And while the paths that led them to Huntington were very different, God used their experiences at Huntington to prepare them for ministry, first in the states, then overseas and finally back at Huntington.
Luke's career path was settled long before he started college. At 16, he was challenged about full-time Christian service.
"It was a choice to give my life to full-time service or pack up my faith and cash it in," he said. "I chose ministry."
And while he was focused about full-time ministry, Luke admits he had a hard time focusing on his work in the classroom. "I know my professors probably were thinking, ‘Boy, if that kid would just focus, he'd probably be able to do something!’"
Despite his early attitude toward school, Luke graduated from Huntington in three years. "By my last year I was performing academically at the level I should have been performing. Huntington helped me grow up," he said.
Luke credits this change to his relationships with some key professors, particularly Drs. Chaney Bergdall and Dick Osberg.
"I bought this old wrought-iron typewriter, and I didn't even know to leave spaces after the periods and commas in my paper. He was very gracious," Luke said about one of his first papers for Bergdall. But Luke says Bergdall's most gracious act to him was "welcoming me as a part of the faculty after my performance in his classroom."
Audrey, meanwhile, a self-described overachiever was serious about schooling but not sure about her focus before coming to Huntington. She credits her liberal-arts experience for preparing her for life on the mission field, where she became a "jack of all trades."
For instance, she took a reader's theater class with Dr. Carl Zurcher. While it was "just for fun," she used this course on the mission field with her English-as-a-second language (ESL) students, writing several reader's theater scripts for the mission’s conversational English school.
Likewise, Osberg played a key role in shaping Luke's future ministry.
"I remember a project I turned in for my Christian-education class. He wrote a very affirming note, saying that he could see me handling the administrative side of big meetings. In a sense, a lot of my ministry has been on the administrative side of big events," Luke said.
Indeed, Luke's ministry-planting churches in Ohio and co-founding the United Brethren mission in Macau has required him to pay close attention to details. He even served on planning committees that brought Luis Palau and Billy Graham to Macau during his years of mission work from 1986 to 1997.
When Huntington President G. Blair Dowden visited Macau in 1997, Luke's journey came full circle, first as executive assistant to the president, and then as assistant professor of educational ministries two years later. From this unique perspective, Luke says, "Huntington is stronger spiritually than it has ever been. I say that as a pastor, a missionary, an administrator, an alum and as a kid who grew up around this campus. I say it with all confidence.
"What is still appealing about Huntington is that it’s small enough that you feel a sense of belonging," Luke added. Audrey concurs, citing the campus community and close friendships as the key to her satisfaction at Huntington. That sense of belonging made for a memorable life experience -- one that Luke and Audrey will never forget.
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