(Part One of Two.)
The Ratio Christi chapter at the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) officially became a recognized campus club in December 2013 after holding interest meetings in the fall. Jeremy Scarbrough started as its president and then became the chapter director.
With Scarbrough’s outlook on ministry, and dedication from his RC students, this chapter has been one of our most consistent groups. That consistency has “produced much fruit in its season” with Scarbrough being able to present the Legatus Christi certificate to five students. This recognition is given to RC club members who demonstrate outstanding application of apologetics and leadership skills both on and off campus.
Ratio Christi is proud of these five students, but we also thought it appropriate at this time for us to recognize Scarbrough (see photos below) as he steps down from RC at Ole Miss to pursue a teaching career in the music field, in which he’s just earned his PhD. We asked him to reflect on his time as a Ratio Christi leader while introducing us to these students.
“Several things have become clear while serving as chapter director,” Scarbrough says. “First, one who is called to ministry must be willing to dedicate a great extent of their time and energy solely for the sake of ministry. Next, we should refrain from viewing ministry as a formula. I tried, early on in my endeavors with campus apologetics, to implement various approaches to apologetics ministries. I quickly learned, however, that each ministry context requires specific considerations – and the students therein have specific needs.
Much of [this] ministry involves less teaching and more learning – learning the specific issues with which the students are struggling and learning specific and unique ways to reach one’s campus and community.”
Q: How do you reach out to others on campus or in the community?
A: We place flyers announcing weekly meetings and send info about RC to local churches and campus groups. Each semester, the school has a couple of days where campus organizations can set up near the union, and students can ask questions. We participate in this. For one seminar, we teamed up with a few local churches to promote it while also cross-promoting one another’s contribution to the ministry. Additionally, our budget for the seminar allowed me to hire a Christian company, Tactical Faith, to live-stream it. We had people in South America watching! The main beauty of this is that now the YouTube videos can be used continually for future training.
Finally, I use our Twitter and Facebook pages to promote our events, share provoking articles, share free or discounted resources, and advertise local or live streaming events.
The Ole Miss Legatus Christi Recipients
Scarbrough prefaces his introduction to these gifted students with the reasons why they were selected:
“We are a very small but powerful campus ministry on a fairly large and very liberal (for the Bible belt) campus. Had we grown larger than we have, these awards may have functioned differently. Given the intimate nature of our group meetings – rarely exceeding ten people – I was able to invest in these students’ understanding more comprehensively and assess their character more carefully than would have been possible with a much larger group.
Our weekly meetings began in the spring of 2014. While a few students came and went from week to week, four young ladies continually showed up: Anna Greenlee, Bentley Anderson, Megan Brock, and Gaby Bermudez. They were eager to learn – passionate about discussing the issues and learning how to articulate the truth of Christianity. Their dedication was inspiring (pictured at left: Anna, Bentley and Gaby. Megan was ill the day of the photo).
As we pushed into the 2014-2015 school year, these regular members were each given officer roles. We worked together to hold the first apologetics seminar in Mississippi in November of 2014 and we continued to hold our weekly meetings, “skyping” with several renowned speakers in the field. Many of us were able to attend the Defend the Faith conference (at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) together in January 2015.
Other students attended our weekly meetings for the first time or whenever possible (every semester we tried to hold our meetings on a different day, so as to allow a greater variety of people to find us). There was one member of our chapter, however, who never missed a meeting in that school year – Matthew Beazley.
Aware of the fact that my season at Ole Miss was drawing to a close, I spent the spring 2015 semester trying to make sure this core group was equipped well enough to continue the work of RC on campus even without a chapter director. I am confident now that I’m leaving it in good, passionate, and capable hands. Several of these students have dedicated themselves to completing the Biola certificate in apologetics. Anna, the current president, is hoping to complete it some time this summer and apply what she has learned to the following year’s ministry.
Megan is already familiar with many apologetics issues. Gaby has graduated, and now having received the RC Ole Miss 2014-2015 Legatus Christi Certificate, is ready to plant proverbial stones in shoes wherever she serves in her career in psychology.
Matthew will remain another semester before pursuing a seminary degree. Megan and Bentley will help Anna prepare the chapter’s next season of ministry.
But apologetics certificates and the pursuit of seminary degrees are not for everyone. Bentley is a great example of someone who is not necessarily interested in memorizing numerous arguments but has nonetheless benefited immensely from simply covering Greg Koukl’s Tactics. She has learned to apply the Columbo tactic to any conversation or opportunity to think critically about any issue.
These students have so dedicated themselves to the mission of this chapter that the chapter’s success and outreach cannot be considered apart from their contribution! I am confident in each student’s ability to represent Christ as a kingdom ambassador to a world that is desperate for dignity and meaning.”
Thanks for Leaving a Legacy
Happy congratulations to Jeremy and his wife Abigail on the birth of their daughter Piper Rosalie and Jeremy’s PhD achievement! He had already earned M.A. degrees in Christian apologetics, theological studies, and music education and has been with Ratio Christi while teaching through a graduate assistantship.
“Now that I am finished, it’s time to find a full-time teaching position,” he says, “but it is rare for a university to hire their own output. So I must go wherever the job is. I do not even have a rough idea of where we will be moving but do hope I can remain associated with RC.”