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Michigan State University

People: Roger C. Palms

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Everyone has key turning points in life. That of Roger C. Palms, M.A. '71, editor of Decision magazine, occured at MSU. Decision, a publication of the Billy Graham Evangelic Association, Minneapolis, boasts a circulation of 1.8 million people in 163 countries--thus making Palms among the most influential religious writers in America.

A native of Detroit, Palms was ordained in 1961, and after serving pastorates in West Virginia and New Jersey, came to MSU in 1967 with his wife Andrea and two children. 'It was ideal,' recalls Roger. 'I became a campus chaplain (American Baptist Student Foundation), which I found really exciting because the students at the time were hammering out their faith and a real challenge. I also wanted to get a graduate degree in counseling.' But then the counseling program was canceled. 'It was the biggest rejection I had ever faced,' he wrote in a magazine article. 'There I was with half a degree and no way to complete it.' He began to wonder, 'Why was God doing this to me?' Then one day, his sister told him, 'You enjoy writing, so why don't you study journalism?' Roger did just that, and the rest is history.

He soon published a book on the Jesus Movement, the first of 14 books he eventually wrote. In 1973 he joined Decision, moving to editor in 1976 at Billy Graham's behest. He has since taught writing in 30 countries and hosts a nightly program, 'Something For You,' that is broadcast by 200 radio stations. 'It's a devotional program,' he says. 'I put people to sleep.'

Roger has very fond memories of his days at MSU. 'I'm still in contact with many of the students I met at MSU,' he notes. 'Many are in Christian ministries. One is teaching theology in Prague. One is a denominational leader on the West Coast. We can go on and on.' But the most important aspect of his six-year MSU stay was that what seemed at the outset to be a disaster proved to be the foundation for his life's career.

Author: Robert Bao

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