Class Year: 1978
Westminster Degree: M. Div.
Current Ministry: RUF Campus Minister
Hobbies: international cuisine, walking, foreign films
Raised in a covenant home, Al LaCour came to faith through a campus ministry at Georgia Tech asan undergraduate student in the early 70s. Now, for the last two years, he has been campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship International at his alma mater.
After earning a Bachelor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Al decided to pursue graduate theological training. “Prior to Westminster,” he says, “I spent a confusing year at another seminary. When I returned to seminary after a 3-year campus ministry, I decided that Westminster was the best place to be rigorously ‘catechized.’ But my professors made Westminster much more!” He names several faculty mentors who significantly influenced the direction of his ministry. “Harvie Conn was the first to involve me in church-planting. He also gave me a love for the city, for cultural diversity, and for missions. Clair Davis was a model of the theological analysis of history and culture. Ed Clowney deepened my love for Christ’s church. And Jack Miller challenged me about hospitality: ‘A gracious God wants a gracious people.’”
Al graduated from Westminster in 1978 and became a PCA senior pastor and church planter for 26 years. Several of those congregations were in university settings, one in a multicultural city. “When I turned 50,” Al explains, “I prayerfully evaluated my past contributions to the kingdom. I concluded God had called me to be a mentor of young leaders.” At age 58, Al is currently the oldest RUF campus minister. “But Asian culture respects elders,” he says. “So, I have the privilege of reaching emerging young leaders from around the world with the gospel.”
He describes his RUF International ministry as three-fold: “to welcome scholars from all nations, to challenge them to explore the gospel of Jesus Christ, and – if and when they become Christians – to equip them as servant-leaders in God’s kingdom.” There are 3,000 international scholars at Georgia Tech; most are graduate scholars from south and east Asian nations like China, India, Korea, and Turkey. “Churches often see world missions as a ‘sending’ activity,” Al says. “This is one biblical approach, but the ‘apostolic’ model is extraordinary. Over 75 percent of international students in the U.S. are never invited into homes. We would have greater impact if ordinary Christians adopted a ‘hospitality’ model. God has commanded his people to love strangers and resident aliens (Leviticus 19:34).”
A big part of Al’s ministry is inviting internationals into his home, opening the door for many memorable relationships and experiences. “My wife and I recently hosted a dinner party in our home with over a dozen Vietnamese scholars – both students and professors – and invited others from China, India, Korea, and American friends,” he recalls. “One guest was a Ph.D. student’s mother, who is the wife of a Vietnamese government official. Through an interpreter, she thanked us for loving her son. My wife replied, ‘A mother’s love needs no translation.’ This father’s day, I received a handmade tie – from Hanoi!”
Al and his wife Elaine have been married for 32 years. They have two married children Rachel, 29, and Jonathan, 27.