"Apologetics helped me see outside of 'I Grew Up in Church'!"
“I doubted my faith a bit,” says Rachel VanBeek, who served as the secretary at her Ratio Christi chapter, about the time in her life when she first started attending RC at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Through what she learned in those RC meetings, however, she’s not only become more confident in her faith, but has actually recently become one of our Legatus Christi recipients! Legatus Christi is our recognition of students who have met the standards for outstanding achievement established by Ratio Christi.
Chapter directors Daniel Moore and Jon Meyer weigh in on why they selected Rachel to receive the Legatus Christi certificate:
“Rachel always has the reality of Jesus in the forefront of her mind, and still maintains a fun-loving attitude around others. While always maintaining a posture of humility and open-mindedness, she is uncompromising in the essentials when representing Jesus. She has a teachable spirit, a mind for truth, and a heart for meeting others where they are to encourage their growth in the Spirit, believer and unbeliever alike. She is a dedicated leader who is ready to accept responsibility for herself while sacrificially serving others, even when it means doing for others before herself. Rachel is capable of sharing what she has learned and seeks to increase her knowledge. We are confident that she will continue to grow and be an encouragement for others to do likewise as an Ambassador of Christ and faithful representative of Jesus."
Now let's hear from Rachel:
Q: When did you find Christ as your Savior?
A: I was raised in the church, so I have always known God and what he had done so that we may have eternal life. Through my years attending Sunday school, I always knew what answers the teacher would be looking for when he/she asked a question (hint: “Jesus” is always the answer).
However, it was not until high school when I really started to realize that knowing God meant having a personal relationship with Him. On my first mission trip, I witnessed so much love and joy from the God-fearing, Jesus-loving teens around me that I started to wonder how my life would be different if I accepted Christ. By the end of the week, I had a long conversation with my youth leader. In that moment, he led me through a prayer to receive Christ into my heart and into my life. After a few years of going through the motions, I realized that I did not really understand God’s character, but instead, I was only applying the “feel good” verses of the Bible to my life.
During the summer after my freshman year in college, I worked at a Christian childrens' camp. While there, I was taught about God’s character, the importance of the church, and how specifically to go about making God the center of my life. I felt a longing in my heart as the weeks passed. With my newfound understanding of God, I decided to rededicate my life to Christ.
Q: How did you get interested in apologetics, and then how did you get involved with RC?
A:When I first attended RC, I had no idea what apologetics was, but a friend invited me, no comma needed so I thought I would give it a chance. During that time, I doubted my faith a bit, and I was in search of evidence for why Christianity is true versus other religions.
Q: What is this RC chapter like, and is it well accepted on campus??
A: Western Michigan University is a very diverse and inclusive campus. Being that we are in a very politically troubled time, it seems like everyone is on edge and easily offended nowadays. That being said, I applaud our university to being very tolerant and accepting of each and every person’s differences and opinions.
At our RC meetings last year we had about 15-20 people come regularly, but over this last year our attendance slightly fell off. The campus seems to be more technology-driven. We typically have a presentation on a preplanned topic for about an hour and 30 minutes (including question time) and then we end the night with another half hour of open question time in which anyone can ask any question they may have.
We encourage people of all beliefs to attend our meetings and challenge their thinking; however in the last year, we have not had much luck in doing so. Our leadership team from this past school year is working together over the summer to help redesign our weekly meetings and structure the meeting in a way that is more appealing to our technology -driven campus.
Q: How did you feel about receiving the Legatus Christi certificate?
A: I felt very proud to have received the Legatus Christi certificate. I have never received a certificate for learning about and applying a topic that I am interested in. Also, I am very grateful to have had the chance to receive this certificate.
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith and your witness to others?
A: Apologetics has definitely opened my eyes to other ways of defending my faith with something other than the Bible. Therefore, it has helped me in conversations with nonbelievers who do not associate any significance to the Bible. In my own faith, apologetics has helped me to see outside of my “grew up in the church” worldview and, even more so, helped me to solidify my beliefs. I am a student leader in another campus ministry in which I often find myself applying or even repeating something that I had learned from our RC meetings.
Q: How do you plan to take what you have learned through apologetics and Ratio Christi and apply it in the future?
A. Honestly, I do not know how much further I would like to study apologetics. That being said, I am always open to learning new things. I think my current knowledge, of course with some practice in conversation, is sufficient enough for where I stand with my own faith. When it comes to passing along what I have learned or what I have found that has helped other people, I will definitely continue to do so in my future endeavors. Because my future career will be outside of my current community of Christians, I will more than likely be using what I have learned from RC to bring the Spirit of God into my workplace.
Q: What did you know about Legatus Christi before receiving it?
A: Before joining RC, I had absolutely no idea what Legatus Christi was nor had I ever heard of it. As I began the so-called “training” to receive the certificate I had a better understanding of what it meant. Until the Legatus Christi Standards were read to me, I didn't know what the certificate really meant.
Q: Are you graduating now, or will you be back in RC next year?
A: I graduate in December. I will be attending RC as a member, but no longer part of the leadership team.
Q: What is your major, or if graduating, what is your degree and are you going on to more education?
A: I am currently studying Behavior Science, whilst obtaining a minor in Spanish.
Q: What are your short and/or long-term career/ministry/mission plans?
A: I am planning on attending graduate school almost immediately after the completion of my undergraduate degree. I hope to one day work in a hospital as an occupational therapist with a focus on either trauma or veterans. Currently, I plan on continuing my leadership role in another campus ministry and potentially be a volunteer staff member after graduation. I have participated in at least one mission trip in the last seven years and I plan to continue to do so in the future.
Q: Tell us anything else you’d like our readers to know:
A: I would like to thank my grandmother for pushing me to have a faith of my own. She has not only prayed over me for years and years, but she has helped me to grow in God through my Bible knowledge, prayer, and simple appreciation for the Good News. From the day I was born until this very second, she never fails to point out God’s presence and illustrate his love for all people.
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