Dr. Paul Tripp at Homecoming 2016

October 24, 2016

Tripp named Alumnus of the Year

By Bob Holmes

Dr. Paul Tripp says when he was a student at Columbia International University (then Columbia Bible College - CBC), he was a rabble-rouser who often found himself in the office of the Dean of Men, Otis Braswell.

“One time he even suggested I was in his office so much they needed to put my bed down there,” Tripp says with a laugh. “We had really good fellowship.”

But those years at CIU were formative for the young Paul Tripp, who 44 years later, is being honored as CIU’s Alumnus of the Year at Homecoming 2016, Nov. 4-5. Today, Tripp is a pastor, author, and conference speaker. Through Paul Tripp Ministries he works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.      

“My life is a complete mystery to me,” Tripp said in a phone interview from his home in Philadelphia. “I wake up every morning amazed. I get to talk about the glories of the gospel of Jesus Christ every day.”

Tripp, a member of the Class of ’72, admits he was caught up in the counter-cultural movement of the late 1960s, and as a CIU student, “chafed at the 55-page rule book” he had to read and sign every semester back then. But he says it was at CIU that he learned and experienced that “your faith is not something you embrace intellectually, but it is meant to be something that forms your life.”

“That is a legacy in my ministry,” Tripp continued. “I talk so much about not just believing the gospel in a confessional way, but living out the gospel where God has placed you every day.” 

An influential figure during Tripp’s time at CIU was the late Professor Buck Hatch, especially his course on “The Progress of Redemption.”

“His teaching was magnetic, engaging and deep and left me wanting to know more and to study more,” Tripp said.

It was also at CIU that Tripp met his wife Luella.  

“I stood behind her in a lunch line, and for me it was love at first sight. For Luella, it was first sight,” Tripp deadpans. “She wondered later why this guy was just staring at her.”

They were married between their junior and senior year.

“I’m just very, very thankful for that relationship,” Tripp said. I married dramatically up. I pray every day that Luella won’t realize what a bad deal she got.”

Luella’s passion is abstract art, which led to her own and direct popular art galleries in Philadelphia, and for the Tripps to see the creative nature of God.   

“We celebrate how unbelievably creative people can be because we’re made in the image of God, and the depth of the glory of God in creation,” Tripp said. 

When Tripp looks back to those early years as a “rabble-rouser,” he is amazed that God uses him the way He does. With 17 books on Christian living and speaking engagements around the world, he says without God’s grace “none of this would have happened.”

“When I wrote my first book, I thought that would be it,” Tripp said. “It has been an absolute privilege. I never thought this would be my life.

“My ministry is an example that God can take ordinary, messy people and do extraordinary things with them. I am not the hero of my story, Jesus is.”  

Dr. Paul Tripp will speak in Chapel and address The President’s Banquet at Homecoming 2016. Check out the complete Homecoming schedule here.