“Intentional Discipleship” at Western Michigan University
Daniel Moore, RC’s chapter director at Western Michigan University (WMU) says “intentional discipleship” is a primary objective of this Ratio Christi chapter. Having six students receive the Legatus Christi certificate in just two years is evidence they are meeting that objective. This recognition — meaning Ambassador for Christ — is a challenge to the students to carry apologetics forward and to disciple others after them.
Moore recently wrote, “My goal for the Ratio Christi chapter at WMU is to commission more Legatus Christi students than any other chapter.” Go, Daniel!
Three students at WMU earned this outstanding student recognition in the 2014-15 school year and, in a demonstration of the impact the chapter is having at WMU, three more students have earned the certificate for 2015-16.
The most recent WMU students to receive the Legatus Christi designation are (from left to right in front row of photo with the leadership team behind), Mark Kloosterman, Tanner Burt and Jeremy Evans. They’ve proven themselves to be strong in defending Truth, giving arguments for God’s existence, interacting constructively with people of various religions and cultural belief systems, sharing the Gospel with clarity, and engaging people with love, gentleness and respect (see all the standards for the designation of Legatus Christi).
Mark Kloosterman served as chapter president during the 2015-16 year.
Jon Meyer, Moore’s chapter co-director says: “Mark has been a true servant leader for the chapter during the 2015-16 school year. His preparation prior to accepting the position of chapter president included a summer session with Summit Ministries, two years on staff with Summit, and a year at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. His leadership has been inspiring and his love for Christ contagious.”
Kloosterman is involved with a ministry to Mormons this summer and will be a graduate student at WMU in the fall majoring in sports management. Mark said Ratio Christi was his “favorite night of the week.”
Jeremy Evans served as secretary for the Ratio Christi chapter in 2015-16 and will be chapter president starting in the fall semester. He is majoring in music composition with a minor in multimedia.
Tanner Burt served as treasurer with Ratio Christi at WMU this past year. He recently transferred to Arizona State University, Tempe, where he plans to be involved in leadership with the RC chapter.
We talked with Kloosterman, Evans and Burt to learn more about them and the impact Ratio Christi has had in their lives.
Q: Mark, when did you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?
Kloosterman: I grew up in a Christian home, went to church, went to Christian school. I always grew up believing that Christianity was true, that God existed. Nothing else made sense to me. Of course it’s true.
Q: How about you, Jeremy?
Evans: I found Christ as my Savior in 2004 and was baptized shortly afterward in Calvary Bible Church in Kalamazoo. I wandered away for most of my time between then and my senior year in high school and only full recommitted during a missions trip to Texas in July 2013.
Q: Tanner, when did you receive Christ?
Burt: I was blessed to have always been raised in the church. It wasn’t until late elementary school until I understood core doctrines of the Christian faith and found them to be true.
Q: How did each of you get involved with apologetics and Ratio Christi?
Kloosterman: I attended the Bronco Bash at WMU and visited the Ratio Christi booth. I met Joel Ballivian (a past LC recipient) and really liked what I heard about the chapter. I look at Ratio Christi as a blessing that God has put into my life. It’s helped me grow and learn more. I don’t think it was an accident that I came across Joel. He asked me questions and introduced me to Ratio Christi.
Evans: I invested my study into apologetics out of necessity. Having faced students and faculty in high school and beyond who posed questions and accusations against the historicity, morality and theology of the Bible and Christianity (and having questions of my own), I realized I needed to thoroughly study arguments for and against those topics of Christianity. I needed to decide for myself whether or not holding to Christianity was rational and sensible, knowing that indifference is not an option (Revelation 3:14-16), and to formulate a case for Christianity after discovering that it is. After learning of Ratio Christi’s meeting times at WMU from one of the handbills, I decided to visit them during my freshman year. I’ve stayed around since then because of their specialization in apologetics and willingness to engage with people from any mindset and worldview.
Burt: I was fortunate enough to attend a private Christian school during my middle school and high school years. This school highly emphasized the importance of defending the Christian faith and understanding why it is true in comparison to other religions. I first found out about Ratio Christi when my Bible teacher, Kelly Burton, left the high school to pursue Ratio Christi full time at ASU. When I graduated high school, I was going to attend WMU and wanted to make sure there was a Ratio Christi chapter there because I knew I would find thoughtful Christians there. Luckily, I did and found my strongest relationships there.
Q: Let’s talk about the Legatus Christi certificate for a moment. How did you feel about receiving the acknowledgment?
Kloosterman: It was very humbling, yet an honor to receive it. I had read the stories of previous recipients and didn’t feel qualified. I first learned about it when Joel received the certificate.
Evans: I felt the same way as I did when I was asked to be one of Ratio Christi’s student leaders - humble. I didn’t believe I deserved the certificate because I am not as great a speaker or apologist as Daniel Moore, Jon Meyer or any of the other current or previous Ratio Christi leaders. I did, however, understand the significance of the certificate as not something to be taken lightly or even as an award to display, but as a calling to continue to grow in Jesus and witness to others within my walk of life. I want to meet that condition as best as I can.
Burt: Receiving the Legatus Christi has so far been my proudest accomplishment. Receiving the award showed me God’s abounding grace in my life and how much I have learned at Ratio Christi.
Q: It sounds like all of you plan to use these apologetics you’ve learned in your future endeavors.
Kloosterman: Yes! I will be starting grad school this coming fall at WMU and maybe, possibly helping out Ratio Christi. I’d also like to be involved with a local church and some kind of apologetics training, some classes.
Evans: After learning not just additional arguments to build a case for Christianity, but the urgency that Jesus commanded of His disciples since His ascension, I certainly will … Jesus commands too much relevance in the areas of morality, conduct, truth, and eternity for me, or anyone for that matter, to not “carry the torch.”
Burt: I am hoping to help lead the RC chapter at ASU West. I am hoping to get involved on the campus and reach out to others to tell them about the love of Christ through Ratio Christi.
Q: Jeremy, what are your thoughts about the “Exponential Evangelism” component of why you received Legatus Christi?
Evans: I learned about the “Exponential Evangelism” component of Legatus Christi from Daniel Moore and Jon Meyer, and from other writings such as David Platt’s Radical and K.P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions. It’s not sufficient to merely go out and invite hundreds to a church and have them receive a simple profession without understanding the ramifications of accepting the Gospel.
Discipleship is a necessary calling for anybody who seriously professes faith in Jesus and it is something that takes years, even a lifetime, to develop. Disciples are therefore called not only to know God and conform his or her life to God’s standard, recognizing that they were once as dead (Romans 6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:9-10), but to make disciples themselves (Matthew 28:18-20). Although multitudes followed Him and listened to His preaching, He invested Himself into training twelve over the entirety of His ministry.
Burt: I think this is a great concept of evangelizing. Teaching others requires you to be a student before you teach. I think Legatus Christi gives people the confidence to teach others.
Q: What else would you like readers to know about yourself, training in apologetics and Ratio Christi?
There is solid evidence for believing Christianity to be true. Apologetics gives young Christians a firm foundation for why they believe what they believe. Apologetics makes you think. It kind of brings along the heart and emotion that you have with Jesus and it ties it with your brain to strengthen it. You’re not leaning on blind faith. It’s faith with evidence. It’s mind-blowing to young students to say, “Hey, there’s solid evidence for God and Christianity and you don’t find it in other worldviews.”
I am so thankful to my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, very close family for their investment in my life. Lots of prayer for me as I grew up. I’m also deeply thankful to Daniel, Jon and Dr. Tim McGrew (the chapter’s faculty advisor) for the time they spent with me, shaping my life and helping me along. Ratio Christi was definitely my favorite night of the week!
Evans: As with anybody, we should have an answer for why we believe what we believe (1 Peter 3:15). Apologetics is a series of defenses and lines of reasoning that we as ambassadors of Christ can use to not only formulate answers for why we profess Christ as Lord, but also address opposing schools of thought with rationality and gentleness. The goal of apologetics should not merely be to win intellectual arguments and convince others that Christianity is true, but to urge others to commit their lives and eternal states to Jesus Christ, who gave His life so that we may live (John 10:10). It is also important to note that well-reasoned arguments cannot give life to those who are otherwise dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-7). Only Jesus can (1 Corinthians 3:5-9). Apologetics merely serves to lead people to Jesus. I am very thankful to my father for leading me to Christ, and to Daniel Moore, Jon Meyer and the rest of the members of Ratio Christi at WMU for letting me attend.
I think most churches are lacking in teaching apologetics. I think it is so important for people to know and understand that the Christian faith is true. Our faith in Christ is dependent on knowing that God exists, that humans need a Savior and Jesus Christ is that Savior. Ratio Christi brings the opportunity to understand these core doctrines.
WMU chapter background:
This Ratio Christi chapter is starting its fourth year of reaching, teaching and equipping young people in apologetics through the process of intentional discipleship. Moore applied for Ratio Christi to become a registered student organization in August 2013, was approved in September 2013, and held the first meeting with seven students in September 2013. The chapter grew both in size and depth quickly, from fifteen to twenty students in attendance in the Spring 2014 semester to thirty students that fall.
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