Former Marine Marches On -- This Time Armed with Apologetics
God is Moving for RC at George Mason University
Some of our Ratio Christi students have been very instrumental in starting the chapters at their schools. Amos Crew, the student president for the first full year of our RC chapter at George Mason University, is our latest example. In the photo at left, he's being presented with our Legatus Christi certificate for his outstanding contributions and application of apologetics from fall 2017 through spring 2018.
Chapter Director Robin Lopez and Associate Chapter Director Ryan McAllister (flanking Amos on each side in the photo) submitted this joint statement about why they selected him as an LC recipient:
“In our Chapter’s first year at GMU, Amos was selected to receive the LC award in recognition of his perseverance, enthusiasm, and the relationships he built with others. Before the new academic year had even started, Amos took the initiative to attend Ratio Christi’s leadership orientation! He then accepted the responsibility of getting the chapter started and officially recognized by GMU in Fall 2017. He led the weekly meetings.
“In order to gather interest in our chapter, he networked with other student groups and attended their meetings. He could also typically be found at a kiosk in the student center at least once or twice a week, discussing Christianity and apologetics. Many of the students who came to our meetings were there because Amos took the time to build authentic friendships with them. For our first major event on campus, a debate between David Wood and Shabir Ally, Amos was instrumental in helping to organize and host the event, giving an opening statement that established the tone of Christian truth and charity towards non-believers. He is a true example of an ambassador of Christ.”
Amos has now graduated from GMU, summa cum laude with a B.A. in Integrative Studies (concentrating in Social Sciences for Education) and a minor in History. But we grabbed him for an interview before he goes off to start the next chapter of his life. He had a lot to share about how his faith and actions have started a movement for God with the Ratio Christi chapter at George Mason.
Q: Please tell us about how you came to accept Christ as your Savior.
A: As a young child, I began to understand what my Christian family believed. Since then there has not been a time in my life where I did not acknowledge that I needed forgiveness for my sins and reconciliation with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, over the years my understanding of what that means has deepened, especially through the many times I saw the depths of my sinfulness and of God's mercy and love.
Q: If you were in a high school church youth group, how much did you learn there about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?
A: I was in a formative youth group at Nevada County Christian Fellowship (now Veritas Church) in Grass Valley, California. I don't remember much apologetics being taught, if any, but the Bible and sound doctrine was taken seriously and the sincerity, love and devotion of my youth leaders had a huge impact on me. I especially looked up to a young man serving on staff named Tyler Hargrove, only a few years older than me, who was outgoing and very passionate about his faith.
Q: How did you get interested in apologetics, and involved with RC?
A: I served five years as a linguist in the Marine Corps, studying Pashto (the language spoken in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran) at the Defense Language Institute. I worked for several months as a contracted translator for the Army. Most of my co-workers were Muslims from Afghanistan and Pakistan. I became very close friends with several of them and we had frequent religious conversations. At the same time, I was being exposed to a wealth of theological material at the church I was then attending (including a study through the Westminster Confession of Faith). Somehow, I found out about Nabeel Qureshi and read his book: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. This period was the catalyst for my interest in apologetics.
In spring 2016, I started classes at Northern Virginia Community College, and in the fall I transferred to George Mason University. My interest in apologetics was growing, and I wanted to become more equipped to engage atheist and agnostic students in addition to Muslims (there is a large Muslim student community at GMU). I found the Ratio Christi at GMU Facebook page but saw that it had not been active for some time, so I contacted RC though the website; I learned that the GMU chapter had never actually started, but Robin Lopez, a lady from the same church as Pastor Ryan McAllister who had initially tried to start the chapter, was then applying to become the Chapter Director. I went to RC leadership training in July 2017, and in the fall semester Robin and I began the process of making Ratio Christi a registered student organization.
Q: How about describing this RC chapter for us?
A: This spring semester, we usually had around 10-12 people at each weekly meeting. The format of the meetings has varied between guest speakers (science, philosophy, and apologetics teachers from a local Christian high school), video screenings, and open discussions. Several non-Christians have visited the meetings. There is one atheist who I met at the Secular Student Alliance who comes every week. I'm grateful for the collaboration and support some of the other Christian ministries at GMU have given us. In March, our chapter and Cru co-hosted a debate on the resurrection between David Wood and Shabir Ally. Several InterVarsity students are frequent attendees, and we did a joint trip to the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., with the Chi Alpha club.
Q: How did you feel about receiving the Legatus Christi certificate?
A: I felt deeply honored and undeserving. I am glad to have been a part of founding the RC chapter at GMU, but my main (and somewhat selfish) objective initially was simply to learn more for myself, and I still feel that I have barely scratched the surface in regards to apologetics. I hope I can live up to the qualities that the Legatus Christi certificate represents.
Q: Define in your own words the “Exponential Evangelism” component of Legatus Christi - i.e., having a goal of using apologetics in witnessing, evangelism, and building up other students to follow the example.
A: I built relationships with Muslim students by going to their events and with atheist students by going to the Secular Student Alliance. I networked with several Christian clubs, encouraging Christian students to come to the Ratio Christi meetings. While tabling for the club and meeting with people in one-on-one conversations, I used some of the apologetics that I had learned. Most of the students who came to the club had heard about it from me.
I don't take credit for any of this - it was God who graciously provided me with amazing opportunities time and again. Literally, as I was writing my answers to this interview tonight on campus, a Muslim student from Turkey walking by saw a theology book I had lying on my table. He sat down with me to ask me questions about what I believe. He ended up giving me his number and asking if I could meet him to talk more. God is moving at George Mason and I am humbled to simply have been a small part of the work that He is doing there.
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith, and your witness to others?
A: Apologetics has made me think critically about my beliefs by working through the strongest and most common objections to them that I encounter. Consequently, I have grown more confident in having conversations about my faith with unbelievers. Apologetics has also broadened my intellectual interests through the variety of fields that it draws from: philosophy, history, the sciences, archaeology, etc."
Q: How do you imagine taking the apologetics you’ve learned into your future work and ministry?
A: I'm starting an M.A. program in Biblical Studies with an additional concentration in Islamic Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary. In the near future, I hope to teach history and Bible at a Christian high school after completing my M.A. and while pursuing a Ph.D. degree; I want to use this as an opportunity to equip Christian students with historical evidence for their faith.
Long term, if I successfully complete a Ph.D. in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity, I would like to teach in the religion and/or history department of a secular university, serving as a Ratio Christi faculty advisor and presenting Christianity in the classroom in an attractive and compelling way without overtly evangelizing. I also feel called to help reach the Pashtun people with the Gospel, but I'm not certain yet in what capacity I might do so. For now, I'll try to maintain my Pashto language ability and wait to see what doors God might open for me to use them.
Q: Tell us anything else you’d like our readers to know!
A: One of the most impactful messages that I've ever listened to is Simon Brace's "On the True Nature of Spiritual Warfare." It influenced my decision to try to enter secular academia. I highly encourage everyone who has not heard it before to listen to it. His main Scripture text for the message is 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We demolish arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
(Simon Brace is Ratio Christi’s Director in South Africa and has so far established four RC chapters at universities in that country.)
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