A very familiar face has just erased his title of frequent visitor and inserted himself as a mainstay on Lipscomb’s campus. Stan Lowery (’90) has been part of the Lipscomb community for nearly three decades now – once as a student, then alumni, followed by volunteer and as of this fall, now employee. He has worn many hats since he originally became a Bison in the mid 80’s, but none more important than what he is most proud of – a mission team leader.
Growing up in your typical Christian home in Sparta, Tennessee, Lowery describes how important church was to his family, “We were the family who drove around picking people up to take them to church in the snow!” he jokes. He attended public high school in a small town where people found less than constructive uses of their time, but he explains the ways in which he managed to stay out of trouble, saying, “I tended to shy away from no good.”
Fast-forward to Lowery’s college years at Lipscomb and you will find him majoring in marketing. During this time he called Hillsboro Church of Christ his church community, a place we would later devote a great part of himself. He had yet to participate in a mission trip, as they were not something his church community did growing up, and the mission atmosphere was quite different during his years at Lipscomb. “No one really did mission trips,” he explains, “Today’s generation is much more in tune with the act of service, which is a good thing.”
In spring of 1996, Lowery had his first mission experience in Honduras when he went with a group of family members to build a church. His wife’s cousin was starting something called “Torch Missions” and asked Lowery to come along for the ride. “My only reason for going was that I didn’t have a good reason not to go,” he says. After this first venture, he did not return to Honduras again until 2003 when he and his wife Anne had become heavily involved with the college group at Hillsboro. “We had been working with the program, and it was gradually growing,” Lowery explains, “That summer, I had a group of college kids at my house brainstorming ideas for our group and they wanted to serve together.” The decision was made to serve in Haiti and they named themselves “4:12.”
Lowery and his group had their great idea, but it would not be such an easy road for them as planning began. “We had raised all this money. We had forty-five people ready to go. The ball was rolling,” Lowery explains. Then the unthinkable happens, and there is a coup in Haiti. No one can go. Instead of cancelling the trip altogether, the team leader reached out to other contacts and set up a new trip to Honduras. “We worked on odd projects there. Built four or five houses. We did a little bit of everything that week,” he shares, “The key part, though, is that we established a relationship with preacher and the local church.” This relationship would flourish in ways no one could have imagined.
The next year in 2004, Lowery returned to Honduras with a somewhat smaller group. “We ended up building ten houses that year. And then, we became more aggressive and built twelve the next year,” Lowery says, “Eventually, we were building fifteen houses a year. It became a continual process.” As the years went on, relationships grew with students who went several years in a row. Louis Nelms (’13) went to Honduras four times with Lowery during his time at Lipscomb and has nothing but positive words to share, saying, “Stan has always just been ‘one of the guys’ in the college group. I don't know anyone who gets along with everyone as well as Stan.”
Lowery did not think the effort would prove to be so lengthy, he says, “Frankly, I thought we would’ve hit a point four or five years ago where we had done all we could do with the church in Honduras,” he explains, “But the cool thing about this church is that they are doing it right. They began planting churches in the rural communities of the area.”
Today, his groups focus on building the churches in those farmland areas. After building over 125 homes in the area, this effort has given them a whole new mission prospect of building relationships with the Hondurans. It is strange to think about the way in which he and his students fell into this opportunity after that initial idea of traveling to Haiti, “We weren’t called to these people, but it’s a good example of the way God takes you in spite of you,” Lowery says. An interesting aspect of this trip is the way in which it has become one of Lipscomb’s most well known mission opportunities as well. A collaborated effort between his alma mater and current employer, with his home church and former employer, the spring break Honduras Hillsboro trip combines all of Lowery’s passions, interests and favorite people into one opportunity that he acknowledges has God’s penmanship written all over it.
Senior Whitney Holland has been involved with the Lowery-led Honduras trips for years and has been impacted greatly by her mission team leader, “Stan is a positive, welcoming and strong leader who puts the Lord first in all that he does while serving those around him.”
“We have many that fit this mold, but Stan Lowery is the epitome of what we vision a mission team leader to be,” says Mark Jent, Director of Missions Outreach. “He is heavily invested in relationships with his host partner. He is passionate about mentoring college students and helping them have a greater love for Jesus. Finally, without question he gears himself up to do it time and time again, year after year.”
After nearly a decade of working at Hillsboro as the Church Life Minister, Lowery has embarked on a new chapter at his alma mater as he became the Director of Human Resources in September. As his career transitions from one ministry to the next, what will not change is his passion and leadership of this long-running Honduras Hillsboro effort each spring break. His wife, Anne, and their three sons, D.A, Nathan, and Ben accompany him on the Honduras trip, making it a full-fledged family effort. When asked about his wishes for the future of the trip, he still feels passionate and hopeful, saying, “We’ll keep building as long as the Mateo Church needs us. I don’t see an end in sight.”
Little did Stan Lowery know that when he received his diploma from Lipscomb over 20 years ago, that he would become one of the more dedicated alumni of the university by giving hundreds of hours each year to mentoring students as a volunteer by leading them into ministry in a country he had not yet stepped foot in. Little did he know then as a college student himself, that this generation would one day become his passion as he has encouraged college students by deepening their faith through serving others.