WE EXPLORE. We are not satisfied with the status quo or the path of least resistance, however good it might seem at the time. We press on to be ever more effective, and we refuse to settle for good enough.
I’ve always lived in Amarillo, always been exposed to Christianity. I remember hearing sermons when I was a kid about telling others about Jesus, which I thought was ridiculous, because everyone knows who Jesus is.
I met my best friend our freshman year. She’s an atheist – the first true atheist I’d ever met. It was alien to me. She’s had a good life – married parents, no bad stuff in her childhood – basically the opposite to mine. She’s astonished I still believe in God with my deal of cards. I started thinking, “Maybe she’s right. Why do I believe what I believe?”
God was working on my heart. JoDee (houseparent at Thompson) and I read the “The Hiding Place” together which made my relationship with God so much deeper – I thought constantly about Jesus and wanting to bring him into every conversation, not always in the best way. Once, at debate team, a guy started arguing with me, asking, “Why do you follow ancient rules set out by sexist old men?” I had no response, nothing. I pride myself on being an intelligent person, and it really bothered me that I was unable to answer him. That night, Phil (another houseparent) drove me home. I knew he had gone to seminary, so I talked to him about it. He told me to get into apologetics – I immediately wrote it down. I didn’t have any idea what apologetics was; I don’t even think I spelled it right.
My Robotics teacher suggested I look at Summit Ministries: a 2-week seminar covering everything I was looking for. I asked JoDee and LeeRoy what they thought, and right off they said, “No.” It was only a few months away… There was no time to fundraise… I was already fundraising for Robotics… I had so much on my plate… Next year would be better… But Robotics was ending, and JoDee talked to some friends who knew about Summit and recommended it, so we went to Darrin (The Children’s Home President) and presented it to him. He was super on-board. Since it was coming up so quickly, Darrin said he and Emily (Development Director) would get the funding while Barbara (Executive Administrator and Aftercare) and I worked on the details of getting me there. I researched the flights, and Barbara helped me get it booked.
Meanwhile, I used my spending money to buy a brand new Apologetics Bible. I read a Ravi Zacharias book, dug into philosophy and studied atheist websites. JoDee found a debate at WT between a Christian and an Atheist. She couldn’t go, so Andrew and Sarah (houseparents at Guy Saunders) took me and the boys in their home.
The seminar was one of my best decisions ever. The most impactful part was when a professor played “Atheist,” and we, the students, asked him questions and challenged him. He was completely condescending and really made us feel dumb. In response, we got utterly cruel and dehumanizing. Afterward, he told us a story: this same situation at a Christian college, with students who were, just like we had been, very mean. Afterward, a girl can to him and said, “Thank you for doing this.” She was a closet Atheist because, “I don’t want to be treated the way you were just treated.”
I realize that I personally have a tendency to be arrogant, and I have a natural drive to attack ideas that seem silly to me. But that professor reminded us of our purpose – not to bash someone’s beliefs or to prove others wrong, but to love God and share His love with others. Our ultimate goal is to open up to a person and go with them to the foot of the cross; not arguing with them to show them the superiority of Christian beliefs, but walking with them to discover more.
CAST OF INFLUENTIAL ADULTS: JoDee & LeeRoy Cazarez, Phil Taylor, Robotics Teacher, Darrin Murphy, Emily Wood, Barbara Howard, Andrew & Sarah Amstutz, Professor “Atheist,” and countless others who played their part to synergistic effect.
* from an interview with our resident apologist