Gov. Rick Perry Visits CIU

April 07, 2015

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

Former Texas governor Rick Perry paid a visit to Columbia International University on April 7 to address students, faculty, and staff in a special assembly. Perry was in South Carolina testing the waters for a possible presidential run because South Carolina is an early presidential primary state. He discussed his personal journey of faith, and how God led him to ministry in politics — even though politics were never part of his plan.

“If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans, right?” he joked. 

Perry described how his training in the Air Force led him to pursue a career as a missionary aviator with Wycliffe Bible Translators. When God closed the door on that ministry, Perry admitted he felt a deep brokenness.

“God dealt with me [then], and he dealt with me in a pretty harsh way,” Perry said. “God dealt with me by wadding me up into a really uncomfortable ball, and blowing that chaff away, and asking me if I was really ready to follow Him. That started a journey for me.”

Through a series of other events, he pursued a career in politics, which led to his becoming the governor of Texas — a position which he held for 15 years, making him the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

“God meant for me to have a ministry,” he said.  “I just never knew it was going to be as big as it is.  Don’t ever limit in any way what God is going to do in your life.”

Perry challenged CIU students to help other people get a second chance in life. As a personal example he noted his support of Texas legislation that he says rehabilitates nonviolent drug offenders instead of sentencing them to long-term prison sentences, which has led to the closing of three prisons in Texas.

CIU students were encouraged by the message and challenged in their own ministries.

“It was cool thinking that someone who could become the president cared enough to come to our college,” freshman Addie Allen said.  “It seemed pretty significant [that he was here].”

Perry also met with several CIU student leaders before he gave his message.

“He was very relational with each person he met, and … he showed a lot of interest in them as a person,” said junior Anni Jackson, who met with Perry beforehand. “He seemed down-to-earth.”

Though Perry had to leave CIU’s campus quickly to make other appointments, he left a lasting mark on CIU students.

“I enjoyed hearing his heart about God working in his life and changing him,” Jackson said.  “It was refreshing to hear someone with so much power and influence talk about being broken before the Lord [and] moved deeply by Him.”

Perry’s visit drew a great deal of media attention from:

WSPA-TV, Spartanburg, South Carolina:

The State newspaper of Columbia and The Herald of Rock Hill, South Carolina:

WACH TV, Columbia:

The Texas Tribune:

South Carolina Radio Network: