Equipping students to fight back against the attacks of the enemy
Our latest student profile is on A.J. DelGesso. He currently serves as the student president of the Ratio Christi chapter at Stockton University, with previous experience as the chapter's vice president and public relations officer. Recently recognized with our Legatus Christi certificate to outstanding students, here is a great Q&A session with him!
Q: How did you find Christ as your Savior?
A: I’ll try to make this short! A couple of weeks into my first semester at Stockton University (formerly called Richard Stockton College), a high school friend who is now one of my best friends, Tori Novack, invited me to Stockton Christian Fellowship (SCF). I was a little hesitant to go, but after I was told pizza would be served, my stomach decided I would go!
I had been attending for a couple of weeks when a staff member from Cru, an organization also active on campus, spoke about Christ being on the throne of your heart. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, had gone to church from birth to about fourteen years old, and would have confessed myself to be a Christian, I had no desire to obey God. I was living a life where I was on the throne of my heart, and had never heard that before.
At this point in my life, I had created a web of lies to protect certain things from being removed so that I could live as I wanted and sinfully desired to live. I never smoked, drank, or went to parties; I was a “Christian” so I would never do that. Even though this was the case, my heart was still opposed to the idea of Christ being Lord of my life.
I was also introduced to Ratio Christi. Upon attending both SCF and RC for several weeks thereafter, another friend of mine, Bobby McGruther decided that they would pay for me to go to [a conference called] Passion 2014. God was sovereignly orchestrating this series of events where I would be convicted left and right. On January 18, 2014, John Piper spoke at Passion. God showed me why I should obey Him to the point that it was irresistible to obey Him. That day is the day I decided to lay down my life, take up my cross, and follow after Him, and what a joy it has been to be a disciple of the King of the universe ever since!
Q: How did you get interested in apologetics, and what or who introduced you to RC?
A: I became interested in apologetics when I first attended SCF. That first day, I was introduced to a man named Dominic Silla. Upon asking me what my most ultimate goal was, I thought of something really cool to say, and told him that I wanted to use science to prove that God exists. He immediately took me to a man named Keith Kendrex (RC’s chapter director at Stockton) who introduced me to Ratio Christi and told me a little bit about the chapter. After that first talk, I attended for the first time a few days later, and started becoming convicted not only of God’s existence, but of how obviously His divinity was seen throughout all creation! At the end of the semester, Dominic asked if I would serve as head of public relations, and I agreed.
Q. Describe your RC chapter for us.
A: This Ratio Christi chapter is one which is honestly like family. Since I first started attending it has grown from about five to twenty or twenty-five. Almost every member is a regular attendee and Christian. We strive to bring as many non-Christians in as possible, so we always invite them and try to be as welcoming as possible.
Our meetings are very much pre-planned, as a meeting typically starts with about five to thirty minutes of an introduction from a student speaker – usually the chapter president or another member if they ask to speak or are asked to speak. This introduction is usually done in a series from week to week. Many focus on philosophy, world religions, evolution, or even history. This is usually followed by the main teaching done by Mr. Kendrex, which is also usually in a series but in a much more detailed manner.
We try to have the topic be one which will benefit the apologetic diversity of the regular attendees such that they can be more equipped to fight back against the attacks of the enemy on our college campus.
We use what we learn at the chapter meetings to engage with students on campus and to bolster our evangelism efforts. The spiritual atmosphere on campus is quite “dark,” so almost everything presented at Ratio Christi meetings adds to the arsenal we use to defeat the evil one's attacks. Because of this, any time during the meetings, if anyone has a question it may be dealt with, pulled apart, and answered as effectively as possible. The purpose is not to get through a lecture, but to equip the Christians on this campus!
Q: What does receiving the Legatus Christi certificate mean to you?
A: I am beyond honored, humbled, and thankful for receiving this award. I honestly do not believe I deserve it, but I do gladly accept it and will use it as a reminder of how much Christ has caused me to grow in love and a desire to serve Him in every area of my life!
Chapter Director Keith Kendrex describes why he selected A.J. as a Legatus Christi recipient:
“A.J. first came to Ratio Christi because a friend of his invited him. He took this to heart, and has always been someone who goes out of his way to invite people to RC. Much of our growth over the last two years has been due to A.J. constantly inviting people. No matter how busy he was with school work, he always had time to sharpen his apologetics skills to use in evangelistic conversations and to help teach others during RC meetings. Many of those conversations were with his professors!”
Editor’s note: We speak often of our Legatus Christi recognition having “Exponential Evangelism” as one of its goals – one disciple making more disciples. A.J.’s friends mentioned above, Tori Novack and Dominic Silla, are also Legatus Christi recipients. Their invitation to A.J. to come to Christian groups are perfect examples of this! So we asked A.J.:
Q: In your own words, what does “Exponential Evangelism” mean?
A: It is spreading forth into the lives of every individual we come into contact with, such that they too receive the gospel and become disciples who make disciples with everyone they encounter.
I first heard about Legatus Christi when my friend, Dominic Silla, received the award at the end of his time at Stockton. Because of this, I knew the requirements to receive the designation, and used those to better myself in being a witness and disciple for Christ in every area of my life, so that believer and unbeliever alike are treated and lifted up as one made in the image of the God who loves them.
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith and your witness to others?
A: Apologetics has helped me grow in love with studying every aspect of the Christian faith. As it started with becoming acquainted with apologetics itself, it has grown into a love for studying the deep truths of God’s Word that can be found through long and difficult studies using various historical and well-known resources, as well having a strong desire to disciple others in the ways of Christ. Even though I have a long way to go in terms of growth in Christ, apologetics has really made me fall in love with desiring the fruit of being a Christian. This is primarily because I wish to glorify God in everything I do. With this, in making Him known and in giving evidence for His existence, the fruit of the Spirit must testify to the Spirit’s existence in my life as I address arguments that are made in the name of Christ.
Q: How do you think you can carry the apologetics you’ve learned into your future endeavors?
A: As I hope to become a high school physics teacher in the near future, I very much desire to be able to plant seeds in the minds of those who have been filled with lies from birth. Even if the opportunities to plant seeds are rare, I would still use those opportunities by showing what apologetics has done in my life, how it has driven me to be more familiar with the Christian faith, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
I also hope to be involved in ministry some day! I do not know what that would look like, but really hope it involves missionary work. No matter what, though, I pray all the time to be used by God in some way that what I have learned may be used to further the growth of His kingdom and glorify His name.
Q: (As of this writing) You have another year to go – will you be back at RC?
A: I am about to go into my fifth and final year at Stockton University, so I will be serving as the President of the chapter once more.
Q: And what about your future plans?
A: I major in Applied Physics and have a concentration in education. I do hope to pursue another degree – divinity, theology, or Christian studies – but I am not sure how soon after I receive my bachelor’s degree that this second degree will be pursued.
I would most certainly consider coming back to work with the Ratio Christi chapter at Stockton or a university I could easily travel to if I can do so after I graduate. Whether that would mean leading a Ratio Christi chapter or only teaching every now and then, if I can somehow be used to better equip students to make the name of Christ known, I want to be used.
Q: Tell us anything else you’d like our readers to know!
A: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” – [I think] that’s from Theodore Roosevelt.
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