Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review and Hopes for 2013

Another year has come and gone and at the stroke of mid night we said so long to the year 2012 and hello to 2013.  In this posting, I would like to highlight some things and share some aspirations for the coming year.  

March 2012, and The Reason Rally.

This past March, I had the privilege of sharing time with fellow apologists from True Reason and Ratio Christi, on the National Mall at a national extravaganza for skeptics called the Reason Rally.  This even was attended by some 8000 to 10000 skeptics, new atheists, sincere atheists, "nones",  agnostics, and other kinds of anti-theists of different stripes.  

The goal was to have cordial conversations with folks who disagreed with the Christian worldview, and with some who would be open to a cordial discussion.  We found both cases to be true, but I rejoice in being able to "put a stone in the shoe" of those who were open to conversing.  

This event provided opportunities for us the get to know others of like mind and burden, along with the opportunities to share ideas, methods and just listen to others share their heart.  If there is one this coming March, and it is just up the road from us in D.C., I am planning on making the trip again. 

You can read about a conversation that I had and some of the correspondence prior to on this blog.  

Ratio Christi at the University of Mary Washington (UMW)

The exposure to Ratio Christi began around the time of my birthday of last year and corresponding with  Rick Schenker, the President of Ratio Christi.  After a few interview type conversations and the question of which of the two campuses the Lord was leading us to target, I was brought on board with Ratio Christi as the Chapter Director/Apologist for the University of Mary Washington (UMW).  

This has been a harder road to hoe than I expected.  What was I expecting?  I was expecting Christian students being open to discussions on not just the "whats" of Christian faith, but also the "whys."  I was expecting folks to be open to hearing and kicking around the reasons for Christianity being true and how they can challenge others with love and persuasion toward others on why Christianity is true.   Among Christian students, the "I just believe" (sanctified fideism) bug is rampant.

Wow!  Was I surprised when I found out how hard this was going to be.  This past semester presented us a cold shoulder from two clubs on campus.  One club being semi open but not doing much in the area of wanting anything related to apologetics unless they were "moved" to do something.  The other club believes that there really is no need for another Christian club on campus.  Neither of these clubs  realize, nor have they listened as it was communicated, that we are not looking to steal students to start a club, but the goal is toward looking to take their students DEEPER in their walk with Lord. 

Another disappointment came up after our return from the Ratio Christi Symposium and National Apologetics Conference.  One of my pet peeves are ministers who sound like they are intentional on working with us and then disappear off the radar.  I still have not heard back from this ministry even  after several attempts.  That is all I will say on this.  All I would ask is that you pray for these relationships between this ministry and these "Christian" clubs.  I will share more in a coming section on our plan to assist them in this upcoming semester.

Ratio Christi Symposium & National Christian Apologetics Conference

This event was a wonderful "battery charger" and encouragement.  I was overjoyed to take my wife and daughter to the symposium and conference.  What was even more of a blessing was the ride home and finding out how much they enjoyed the presenters, the conference and how they really grabbed on to the vision of our ministry and the need for the task of apologetics.  

I also enjoyed spending time with my "brothers and sisters in arms" with Ratio Christi as we got the charge and the admonition to continue to march forward.  One semester does not make a club happen, and I learned that and received encouragement from folks who have been there and are now reaping the fruit from persistence, prayer, and motivation.  Sometimes it takes a few years before something gets launched, and we have to stay the course.  

We are on a campus that is a public university with a private institution mindset.  It is liberal and proud of it, and has made its disdain known toward anything evangelical.  To give an idea of this, Campus Crusade (CRU) is not even welcome on the UMW campus because they have deemed as being "too evangelical."  

From my colleagues, there are some who have been where we are now, and I am thankful to have them praying for us.  I would not have met them if I had not been fellowshipping with them at the symposium and conference.  I am also thankful for the time I spent visiting with Stuart McAllister and John Njoroge from RZIM and Abdu Murray from Aletheia International.

Christopher Newport Tough Questions Q&A

This past November capped off a great year of event participation.  A special thanks goes out again to the folks at Christopher Newport University's CRU club for having us on the last night of a four week series on the "Tough Questions" confronting the Christian faith.  I had the privilege of speaking on the "Problem of Evil" and participated in a 20-30 minute question and answer session following my talk.  What a wonderful experience of interacting with the students and dialoguing with them one on one, during the session and afterward.   

The campus is surprisingly "Christian friendly" or at least open to engaging the ideas openly and honestly.  This was confirmed for me during our question and answer time and even in some emails to us after the event.  

This proved to be a timely talk and q & a, as little would we all realize that the following month would manifest another shooting tragedy in Newtown Connecticut.  

"Along the Way" Moments

The along the way moments are those where I find myself in conversations with folks who are either antagonistic to the Christian faith, open to understanding why Christianity is true, and even folks from a worldview that is in conflict with the Judeo-Christian worldview.   I hope to share some gleanings from these and future conversations with folks that will shed some light of this great task of standing alongside someone who is not where we are on the truth, and in some cases not living in reality embracing a hostile worldview.

I am also encouraged by the opportunities to encourage students, who when questioned "why they are a Christian" they leave the conversation encouraged to learn more by taking some of the resources I happen to be carrying with me.  

Those "along the way moments" is when we "test drive" an idea and see if it will go far enough to be proven true.  You will find me using this "test drive" term more in future posts and conversations.  

Hopes for 2013

This year opens up some wonderful opportunities for us.  Alongside the "along the way moments" and "test driving" ideas in the marketplace of ideas, I hope to see more opportunities for what the Lord has us doing with Ratio Christi at the University of Mary Washington.  

This coming Spring semester, I hope to be more of a liaison to those who have a shyness toward Ratio Christi and apologetics in general.  At the same time, I have to step up the motivation of getting more on campus and seeking conversations that would create the start up for Ratio Christi at the University of Mary Washington. Through building relationships with new students, I hope to be used by the Lord to deepen their knowledge of the truth claims of the Christian faith. 

I am also thankful to be in a church that is at least friendly and open about defending the faith.  Just in a few conversations with the pastor and associate pastor, I have a renewed excitement about maybe used as an apologist and evangelist, encouraging others in the local church.

I also hope to be preparing and giving more talks on apologetics issues around the state and region.  We are going to be stepping up getting information out to churches, clubs, groups and other venues.  As an apologetics and worldview instructor, I have a passion and a purpose to equip believers, and students in particular, to know God's Word and how they can defend their faith in their schools, their workplace, and in their everyday interactions with strangers, friends, and family.

I would love to partner with you or your church to equip your people to know how to soundly defend their faith, reach their friends, and boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That gospel is centered on the truth "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

This gospel is what is true, and it needs to be proclaimed in every venue we find ourselves in this year.  Each venue is a divine appointment for some kind of ministry.   That being said, may our Lord continually to richly bless your efforts as we go boldly into this new year.  May the year 2013 be one of  great sowing, reaping, and Lord willing harvesting for the Kingdom, as we share the faith "that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

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