As Chapter Director at Indiana University-South Bend (IUSB), I first met Chris when he came to the Ratio Christi information table set up for the IUSB Welcome Back Fair in the Fall of 2019. Chris was eager to get involved as he had strong interest in apologetics. Over the next school year, Chris demonstrated in-depth knowledge of various topics that were discussed in our chapter meetings. When the time came to submit our official documents to the Student Activities office, Chris was a natural to serve as one of our officers.

When COVID forced us to go online with our meetings, I asked Chris to lead some of our sessions. Chris did a fantastic job teaching and putting together a great presentation on the reliability of the Gospels.

As his time of graduation approached, selecting him to be our first IUSB Legatus Christi recipient was an easy decision. I know that God will use Chris in mighty ways as he transitions from college to career.

Donald McLaughlin – Chapter Director – Indiana University South Bend

Q: When did you come to Christ as Lord and Savior, and how did that come about?

I have one of those “vanilla” testimonies. I’ve been a Christian for about as long as I can remember. I don’t think I even remember praying a prayer. I was raised going to church Sunday mornings (and sometimes evenings) and AWANA on Wednesday nights. I was also homeschooled most of the time until college, and we used curricula that taught a Biblical worldview. It feels like I was never really “lost”, if you know what I mean.

Q: In your high school church youth group, how much did you learn about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?

I would say I learned a lot about the Christian faith in youth group. My youth pastor was very big on context and on understanding what passages were and were not saying. The Bible was taught pretty well each week. But there wasn’t much doing as far as reasons to believe, which bothered me somewhat. I started to want…more. I don’t think I would have been prepared for the assaults on Christianity I’ve seen since then if I had only my youth group experience to draw on. Which, to be fair to any youth pastors, it would be too much to ask for anyone to teach students how to counter every argument. Your students need to want it for themselves, or else they’ll be disinterested no matter how much effort you put in to teaching them.

Q: How did you become interested in apologetics, and how did you get involved with Ratio Christi?

Well, I’ll try to summarize. As far as getting into apologetics, three things sort of happened at the same time. They involve math, if you can believe that. First, my freshman class in youth group was assigned two youth leaders, one of whom was educated in theology and apologetics. He’s been a mentor to me ever since.

Second, my grandpa, who had been a longtime high school math teacher, taught me math in high school. Twice a week we would get together, and he would tutor me and assign me homework. More than once he shared Luke 12:48 with me: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” He saw in me what I didn’t see at the time. He was convinced that God had given me much, and he expected a lot out of me in school. I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time.

Third, in January of my freshman year in high school, my youth group went on a winter retreat, and I came back from it unsatisfied. I had heard of the statistics for young Christians leaving their faith as they left their teens, and I wasn’t seeing anything being done about it. All these ran together and I took matters into my own hands at age 15. I began to apply my grandpa’s teaching to what I heard everyone saying was the most important thing: my faith. I started preparing for that day in the future where I would likely be asked a lot of. Then, I read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity following that retreat, and I haven’t looked back. Ever since then, I’ve been an apologetics “addict”. I kept reading throughout high school.

My first choice in colleges didn’t turn out to be where God wanted me, and I had to drop out after a year and a half. I took 2018 off to save up to go back to college (another long story), and I settled on Indiana University-South Bend. At the start of my second semester there, in August 2019, there was a “Welcome Back” fair, and the various clubs had tables set up in the student activity center. I think I originally attended because one of the professors was going to introduce me to a Bible study club in which he was familiar. I met that club’s leader and when I turned around to leave, I saw the Ratio Christi table. I had heard of RC before and knew what they were about, so I got excited. There I met Donald (McLaughlin) and his assistant, Bill Jones. We talked for a few minutes and they said they were in the process of starting a chapter. It wasn’t a hard decision for me to join.

Q: What impact has the Ratio Christi ministry had on your walk with God and your personal ministry?

It’s been tremendous. I can’t say enough about how encouraging it’s been to meet with believers that share my drive to know the “why” for our “what” and see the importance that providing answers has. If I hadn’t found the evidence I started looking for in high school, I almost certainly would not still be a Christian. Being able to go to college today and have a place where challenges to Christianity are discussed responsibly has been a gift from God. I am definitely more prepared for the conversations that matter.

Q: What is this RC chapter like?

I divide it into B.C. and D.C. (before COVID and during COVID). Before COVID, we had about 6 to 7 regular attendees, and had just been legitimized as a campus club. But then, March 2020 happened and we were driven online. IUSB is almost exclusively an online campus, so the coronavirus restrictions have made it even more difficult for any club to have a presence on campus. We haven’t been able to set up tables and engage with students and we haven’t been allowed to meet on campus. This year we’ve had anywhere from 3 to 6 students join our Zoom meetings. We’ve had some atheist students come to meetings before, and they came back, so I think that says something about what you can expect at Ratio Christi IUSB.

Q: What were some of your favorite areas of involvement with your local RC chapter?

Getting to lead a couple of our discussions has been pretty cool. I really enjoyed talking about the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of the Gospels, and bad atheist memes. Looking at the differences between the New Testament Gospels and pseudepigraphal gospels was entertaining as well (it’s really a fun time if you’ve never done it before). Getting to know Donald and Bill and seeing how much they care for students has been encouraging.

Q: What does the Legatus Christi award mean to you?

It means a lot. It’s a real honor to be recognized by a ministry I have a lot of appreciation for. Knowing that others think I do well in apologetics and see potential in me is a confidence booster. Especially when it’s people like Donald and the leadership at Ratio Christi.

Q: How do you envision taking the apologetics you have learned through Ratio Christi into your future endeavors?

I think it’s going to be crucial to what I do. The gospel is only experiencing more opposition, and that means if I want to reach people, I’ve got to be willing to put the work in to learn and be prepared for sharing the gospel while answering questions and addressing challenges. Being part of Ratio Christi has shown me where I need to focus my attention for better understanding. I want to help prepare Christians for what they’ll encounter in the marketplace of ideas. Wherever I land after graduation, I want to be involved in my church doing something in apologetics.

Q: What are your short and long-term career/ministry/mission plans? Would you consider coming back to work with your RC chapter, starting one at another school, or working with RC in any other capacity?

Absolutely, I would consider coming back to Ratio Christi. This is exactly the sort of thing I think I’ve been preparing for years to be involved with. The middle school/high school/college age is maybe the most vulnerable demographic in the church, so Ratio Christi is addressing a problem that I’ve seen for years. Interning with RC to get some more experience would be great. Beyond that, I would prefer to be on a team somewhere. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a head chapter director. As to where, I have no idea! I would be prepared to view whatever options I’m given in accordance with God’s will. If that’s to