Alex has been an integral part of forming the new chapter at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Alex was a leader during his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, helping navigate through the Coronavirus lockdown with his chapter director Ross Hickling. This past year at UNC-CH, Alex has shown tremendous leadership and dedication as he has spent numerous hours with me tabling on campus trying to reach students with the Gospel. Also, he and his wife Olivia have shown gracious hospitality by welcoming new students into the group, inviting them to their home for a meal and to hangout, as well as hosting events at their home for the group. Further, Alex has led our weekly group meetings on numerous occasions, discussing topics such as how to engage followers of other religions and cults, the issue of evil, and even debated me over Molinism and Calvinism. He and his wife have both been incredible blessings to my family and I, as well as our church, are grateful to God for being able to call him my friend and serve together to reach students for Christ and defend the faith on campus. I look forward to seeing how God uses Alex in the future to spread the kingdom wherever he ends up. It was my privilege to recognize Alex’s display of the characteristics of an ambassador of Christ by awarding him the Legatus Christi Award.
Shawn Higgins, Chapter Director at UNC-Chapel Hill
- When did you come to Christ as Lord and Savior, and how did that come about?
I was born into a Christian family and grew up heavily involved in a deeply theological and gospel-centered church in North Carolina. I spent so many Sundays in church going to Sunday School, both the morning and the evening services, and usually attended Wednesday night prayer meetings. My parents were faithful and proactive in seeking to read the Bible with their children and singing Christian hymns with us as a family. Ultimately, I had so much head knowledge, and yet I rejected God. I knew more about God and the Bible than most professing believers as a kid, yet the whole thing seemed so uninteresting. I knew that God existed and believed all that the Bible said, and yet, I did not want to give up my sin. I remember the fear of God that I experienced for so many years – the kind that keeps you up at night knowing that if you die without Christ, you will spend eternity in Hell. I would pray repeatedly at night “God, please save me. I don’t want to go to Hell.” As much as I asked God, I heard no answer. When nothing in my life changed, I began to wonder if God really did exist. Around 8th grade, I doubted God’s existence, even if I did not dare admit it to myself. Thankfully, God did not leave it to me to come to Him. God began to work in my heart, to show me that nothing could satisfy me but Him. I continued through school (a private Christian school) until the summer before my sophomore year of high school. That summer, I was forced against my will to go on a local summer mission trip by my mom, and I met many young people my age who genuinely loved Christ and valued him more than anything else. I realized how poor I really was when I observed their interactions and heard each of their testimonies. Jealousy would overtake me as my being would cry out, “I want what they have.” Just a few months later, I went with my school to the Wilds Summer Camp in NC. It was a Christian camp that preached the gospel boldly and taught the campers how to grow in their faith. Since I was raised in a Reformed Baptist Church, I had always believed in doctrines such as Total Depravity and God’s Predestination. I remember getting on the school bus to ride to the camp praying, “God, I pray that I am predestined”, which, looking back, is a very silly prayer that simply shows my heart’s new disposition. I don’t remember the sermon’s details, but I remember a presentation of the Gospel and an invitation at the end. There was an altar call, and though I chose not to walk up to the altar, I prayed in my seat a prayer I had never prayed before… “God, I know that I cannot overcome my sin. I am so sick of falling into sin. I do not want to sin anymore; I just want you. Please save me from my sins.” Essentially, rather than asking that I get saved from Hell, I asked for Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Rather than only praying for salvation from Hell, I confessed my sins and repented. Jesus became Lord of my life that night. I remember walking out of that building as a 15-year-old looking up at the stars with a completely new adoration for God and his glorious creation. My restlessness and my shame were all gone. I realized that if I died that night, it would be gain, and not loss as the world would see it. If I could summarize my emotional response to my salvation, I would point to the pilgrim’s progress when Christian’s burden falls off his back and rolls down a hill and into a grave. The weightlessness caused me to dance with joy.
- In your high school church youth group, how much did you learn about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?
I learned a great deal. My church was active in equipping its youth to defend the faith against the deceptions of the world, whether that be through classes on the reliability of the Bible, the Junior-Senior apologetics class, adult apologetics classes, and simply through the preaching of God’s word.
- How did you become interested in apologetics, and how did you get involved with Ratio Christi?
I became interested in apologetics as I attempted to share the gospel with unbelieving friends. I realized that I had no idea how to appeal to scripture when talking to an atheist who didn’t even believe God existed. I had no idea what evidence there was other than His word. Originally, I only had a strong love for theology, and I led a theological study at a community college with some other Christians. The vast amount of people I met who were involved in cults and other religious groups, not Gospel-believing was astounding, and it pushed me to learn how to better engage them. Once I graduated from Alamance Community College with an Associate’s Degree (2 years), I went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I met Ross Hickling, the RC administrator at the university. Right before attending UNCG, however, I was trained in Islamic theology and apologetics through the Christar Mannarah program in Dearborn, Michigan, and then I went to Jordan to meet local Christians and missionaries. The whole program was a little over a month, and I grew greatly in my desire and knowledge to reach the lost. At UNCG, as a junior, I regularly attended Ratio Christi and even went to the SES Apologetics Conference in 2019. At that time, UNCG’s Ratio Christi was quite large with a minimum of 20 in attendance every Monday night at 7 pm. When COVID began to sweep through the campus in late 2019-early 2020, attendance in every club on campus was decimated as no one wanted to log on to their computers after having taken classes on Zoom all day. I became the President of Ratio Christi through a series of leadership turnovers (as originally, I had thought I would be too busy to be President, so I instead became the Vice President). To clarify, I became the President in the 2020-2021 school year. Upon graduating from UNCG, I was accepted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for my master’s degree, and (again) through a series of changes, became the club President. Thanks to God, the ministry has slowly grown and been able to reach more people with the Gospel as well as see an increase in membership.
- What impact has the Ratio Christi College Prep ministry had on your walk with God and your personal ministry?
I was never a part of the Ratio Christi College Prep ministry. But my time spent during college in Ratio Christi at both UNCG and UNC really encouraged me in the truthfulness of the faith and emboldened me to share the gospel more intentionally, knowing that I could answer questions raised to me.
- What is this RC chapter like?
My current RC chapter at UNC is small right now. However, it does not lack life. God has brought each and every individual into the group, and He did it for a reason. Our friendships have grown much, and we regularly hang out at my wife and I’s apartment until late at night. It is also awesome to see the other leaders proactive in helping support me as the president but especially seeking to invite newcomers to the club and make life easier for planning purposes. They all come from different backgrounds and bring varying interests and perspectives to the discussion, and yet, they all seek to bring glory to God. One of the really cool things at our Ratio Christi chapter is the fact that we regularly have unbelievers at meetings, and we have been able to befriend them and spend time with them outside of the regular meetings. Pray for guests to be saved.
- What were some of your favorite areas of involvement with your local RCCP chapter?
I really enjoy talking with students about Christ, even if it is discouraging when they treat Christ’s name and cross as trash. I also like the constant reminder from meeting topics of sense Christians can make of the world while unbelievers are at a loss when seeking to explain their reality.
- What does your Legatus Christi award mean to you?
To be honest, I did not know that this award existed until our local RC administrator Shawn Higgins brought it up to me. I am thankful for the recognition, but regardless of whether the award exists or not, or whether I receive it or not, I want to do the best I can to glorify God in the situations that He places me in. Ultimately, I, as all believers, am accountable to Him for their actions and leadership in ministry. This is my motivation as a student leader.
- How do you envision taking the apologetics you have learned through Ratio Christi into your future endeavors?
I am quite unsure of the plans God has for me. As of right now, I have one more year of grad school before I graduate with my MA in Russian and Eastern European Studies. I am interested in pursuing an MA in theology or apologetics at a seminary, but since I am married, I am unsure as to what would be a wise choice. My goal in receiving my MA has been to become a US diplomat in an Eastern European nation, and I will be studying in Tbilisi, Georgia, doing proposal research, and taking classes. My wife and I have considered the idea of planting a new Ratio Christi at a university in Georgia and using our gifts abroad.
- What are your short and long-term career/ministry/mission plans?
Short term, get my MA done. Long-term, my wife and I are still praying about it.
- Would you consider coming back to work with your RC chapter, starting one at another school, or working with RC in any other capacity?
Yes, I would. Honestly, I am down for whatever and wherever God places me. This is a great excuse to partner with a gospel-centered Christian ministry and still be on college campuses.
- What would you say to other students who might be considering getting involved in Ratio Christi, whether they be skeptics, seekers, or believers?
Regardless of your religious background or current beliefs, I believe that you should actively seek the truth. A life that is not based on the objective truth will fall apart. I think of the example of a man going 80 in a 35. A police officer pulls him over and says, “Sir, do you realize you were going 80 in a 35?” The man replies, “Officer, to you, I was going 80, but to me, I was going 35.” What do you think will happen to the man who sped? Life is not based on your subjective beliefs or moral system, but on an objective one outside of our personal opinions. That is why I seek the truth so relentlessly and honestly. If I die as a Christian and was wrong that Christ really was God the Son, and that he really did resurrect, what happens to me? It is in everyone’s best interest to follow the evidence where it leads, if they value their eternal wellbeing.