Introducing Our First Group of Outstanding RC College Preppers!
As many of our readers know, Ratio Christ has launched RCCP – Ratio Christi “College Prep” as a local club mentoring Christian high school youth to face intellectual challenges when they get to the university level. RC College Prep chapters may form in public or private high schools, Christian high schools or homeschool groups, churches, home meetings or even restaurants in a community. With Director Michael Sherrard at the national helm of this operation, Kevin Duffy is the Regional Director of RCCP in North Carolina. This program was a perfect fit for Duffy. As the minister of evangelism & discipleship at Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville, he had already initiated a high school apologetics ministry several years earlier.
“Our church ministry, ‘Living Out Acts: Student Apologetics & Evangelism,” (LOA) started in January of 2009,” Duffy says. “Two of our high school students had to do a multi-genre report on learning something new. They came to my office and wanted to learn how to do street evangelism. By the end of their project, they had led eight people to Christ. The project was over...but they kept coming. I asked if they would like to do apologetics (I explained what it was). They said yes and brought a couple of friends along.”
Living Out Acts expanded to a second campus over the next two years. During that time the church held apologetics conferences, and Duffy developed a relationship with T.E.A.M., the apologetics ministry at Southern Evangelical Seminary, where Ratio Christi was started. Duffy continues:
“At our conference in 2013, Blake Anderson (now RC’s COO) mentioned that RC was looking to start a high school apologetics ministry. After several conversations and a conference call with Michael Sherrard, LOA became a pilot program for RCCP. Today our RCCP LOA ministry is on four campuses, working on a fifth, has launched two RC Chapters locally, and we are pursuing an international campus in Honduras through a ministry partner (Ignite Missions)! My church is now a pilot Regional Launch Site for RCCP.”
We asked Duffy how he’s been finding so many students to participate in the program. “Our RCCP ministry includes students from a variety of churches from Pentecostal to Greek Orthodox and everything in between. It includes students from Christian academies, private schools, public high schools, and students from our home school community. These students came to RCCP at the invitation of other students and parents involved in RCCP.”
By the end of the 2015 spring school season, Duffy was able to identify five students who were worthy of Ratio Christi’s outstanding student recognition, the Legatus Christi certificate: Madison Blake, Victoria Israel, Zoe Polites, Kathleen (Katie) Ann Shaw and Emily Turner. Every one of these students had become involved through the personal invitation of other students.
“Madison, Emily, and Zoe were all home schooled,” Duffy explains. "Emily became a member of our church after joining RCCP. Katie went to public school and is a member at Village Baptist Church with me, as is Victoria, who attended Village Christian Academy.”
Q: How did you identify these five for the Legatus Christi recognition?
A: After Madison Blake joined RCCP, she and other students attended a weekend leadership retreat including one activity we call “Street Apologetics/Evangelism.” As I recall, Madison was a bit unsure about walking around downtown and talking to random people. Following that day, she rarely missed an opportunity to talk to people about her faith. She showed up to the meetings every week. She engaged people on her campus regularly. Something was birthed in her that day- a passion for the lost, a desire to see them come to Christ. She continues to be involved in engaging the world around her and is committed to pursuing Christ with ALL of her heart, her soul, and her mind.
Emily Turner came to RCCP as a sweet young lady who was very quiet in class and seemed very shy. That slowly changed. During her time with us, she took the opportunity to stand up in front of other students and adults to teach apologetics. She’s been dedicated to her team, to the ministry, to learning the “whys” regarding her faith. I watched as she began doing things outside of her comfort zone to equip believers and reach the lost. Emily is eager to learn and applies that which she learns. She loves her Lord with all of her heart, soul, and mind and will take advantage of every opportunity to train others to defend the faith.
Katie Shaw is passionate about everything she does, and is full of energy and enthusiasm. She attacks everything she puts her mind to with great intensity. She continually engaged her peers at her high school. She looks for opportunities to have conversations, to ask questions, to challenge assumptions, and to talk about her love of Christ. Frequently, Katie would schedule time to sit with me and ask me lists of questions she had regarding what she read in scripture, what she was studying on her own time. and questions about how to best engage her friends with the truth and love of Christ. I have shed many tears with her in her concern for the lost around her and witnessed her struggle for them. Katie will continue to be passionate, further her learning and improve her skills to win the lost. She too desires to pursue Christ with her mind and to win lost souls.
As for Victoria Israel, I tell a story originally told by Eusibius concerning a Christian named Agapius. Having been in prison for the faith, he was brought to the arena. He refused to deny his faith. A wild bear was released and Agapius charged the bear. Victoria charges bears. She is passionate about everything. She wants to do everything. She is frustrated by human limitations and desires to be more for one purpose; to win more to Christ. She spent hours in class and rarely missed a chance to talk to others about her faith. She sees apologetics and evangelism not just as necessary elements of faith, but as the evidence of faith. She loves her Lord with her heart, soul, and mind, and that is on full display in her passion to teach others and to win the lost. Since she has started college, she has eagerly sought believers to teach and to partner with to share the truth of the Gospel. She changed her career goals in order to better equip herself for the mission field. No doubt she will win many souls.
I do not know where to begin about Zoe Polites. She had been asked numerous times to come to RCCP by a friend. After seeing “God’s Not Dead,” she decided to come. The first night, she politely informed me that she would come to class but would not be participating in any “Street Apologetics/Evangelism.” Over the ensuing months, Zoe challenged me continually with questions. She accepted nothing at face value. I became a better apologist this year largely because of Zoe. Over that time, she began coming to every class I offered for RCCP. She sought opportunities to teach others. Street Apologetics, applying what she had learned in class for the purpose to winning the lost, became her passion. If I dared cancel for anything, I would hear about it! As she started college, her desire was to find a ministry which would engage her campus. Zoe also loves Christ with all her heart, soul, and mind – I know this because it is lived out in her passion for those who lost.
I am so proud of all these young ladies. It is an honor to present them with Legatus Christi and I know they will honor the commitment in their future walks.
Now let’s hear from this “Gang of Five” young ladies who spoke with us enthusiastically about their encounters with apologetics and what this knowledge has done in their lives.
Q: How did you each accept Christ as your Savior, and did any youth group beside RCCP have a role in that?
Blake: I've attended church my whole life, so when I was five years old, I made a public profession of faith. That was the beginning of my walk with Christ. When I was in high school, though, I really started questioning why I believed the way I did. Was there any evidence for the things I believed? Where could I find proof? How could I know that it's true? I was never in a youth group, so I later joined an apologetics group in my hometown, Living Out Acts (Duffy’s group) --and I'm so glad I did. I've never been more confident in my faith and why I believe what I believe. Learning apologetics has truly been a life-changing experience for me.
Israel: I accepted Christ when I was really young, but mainly because I was raised in a Christian family. That's what my parents believed and told me was true. I didn't really understand what it meant to be saved or the implications it carried, and I remember always being terrified that I wasn't saved. I doubted a lot. In middle school and my first year of high school I really strayed away from God; I was ashamed of what I believed in and cared what other people thought more then what Jesus did. But the summer of ninth grade I went on a youth retreat to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and decided to rededicate my life to Christ. At that moment I decided who I wanted to live for and understood what Christ did for me...I wanted to live for Him more then anything. So I would say even though I accepted Christ at a young age, when I rededicated my life to Christ that's when I came to my knees understanding that this life has nothing for me and that Christ is all I need. After that decision, I became unashamed of the gospel and serious about my faith.
Polites: I actually just found Christ as my Savior toward the end of 2014, last fall, after I had been involved with the Ratio Christi College Prep program in Fayetteville, NC, Living Out Acts.
Shaw: I was in eighth grade and found the Lord while in Helen, Georgia, at an ALIVE Week Summer Camp from New Hope Baptist Church.
Turner: Although I grew up in church, I had very little knowledge of Christianity beyond the stories. My church didn’t have an organized youth group. I did not understand what I claimed to believe, and I was terrified of speaking to people about Christ. About a year after I started examining the evidence, I realized my need for a savior and gave my life to Christ.
Q: How did you get interested in apologetics, and how did you find out about RC?
Israel: My older brother Aaron is the person who told me about apologetics and introduced me to Kevin Duffy. Aaron talked about apologetics all the time, so I became interested and decided to go with him one night. He took me to a Monday night LOA apologetics class (when it had become a Ratio Christi College Prep chapter) and ever since that night I never stopped going! Even though I didn't understand half of what he was teaching about the first year, I kept coming.
Because God blessed me with such an amazing teacher/mentor I now know what my purpose is here, how to defend my faith, and how to affectively share the gospel with others.
Turner: A dear friend of mine began telling me about the things she was learning in Living Out Acts and persuaded me to attend class with her. I was fascinated!
Blake: It was also a dear friend of mine, Jenna, who told me about this awesome apologetics group she was involved in. I was hesitant to come at first, but after a while, I started coming. And I loved it! It was definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made!
Polites: My friend had been trying to get me to go to her apologetics class since I was in ninth grade, but I never checked it out until toward the end of 11th grade, when I saw the movie God’s Not Dead. On my emotional-high (from the movie) I became motivated to get involved with apologetics, so I started attending the RCCP group. I eventually fell in love with it, and there are multiple RC/ RCCP groups around Fayetteville, NC, so I also was involved with an RC group we started at a local community college.
Shaw: I wanted to be able to defend my faith and answer questions to the Atheists and Agnostics in my school.
Q: Tell us about the opportunities through RCCP at LOA to go out and encounter people.
Israel: RCCP/LOA takes place in a high school classroom on Mondays, Thursdays and Sunday nights. The opportunity to go out is one of many things I love about this group. We split up in groups and engage people on the streets. Kevin Duffy takes us to apartment complexes, trailer parks, neighborhoods, and downtown to have the chance to talk to people about Jesus.
Turner: Yes, every Tuesday, a group of students goes out and talks to people about what they believe and presents the Gospel.
Blake: And many people in the group invite new people to come join us.
Polites: Since the church also has a private school (Village Christian Academy) there are opportunities to invite others to our group, whether by word of mouth to friends/ classmates, or promoting RC/RCCP on different campuses, or during street evangelism.
Shaw: We also traveled to Honduras to evangelize all throughout the country. We always extended the invitation to anyone we spoke to.
Israel: This is something all Christians are commanded to do...and its my absolute favorite thing! I have no words to express the joy it brings me to see people come to Christ; its incredible
Kevin Duffy always tells us: "Every single person you come into contact with is going to spend eternity somewhere and that will be either Heaven or Hell. You have the key to eternity, you know what the truth is...now its your job to go out into a dying world and win as many souls to Christ as you possible can." So we as a team get an unbelievable opportunity to train in the classrooms, and then take everything we know and apply it on the streets in order to advance the Kingdom.
Q: How has learning apologetics affected your life, and do you see yourself able to use this knowledge and skill in your future plans?
It has absolutely changed my life, in countless ways. I had never even accepted Christ as my Savior until several months into my involvement with our RCCP group, because I had a totally different perspective on Christianity before I started apologetics, and before anyone had sat down and explained things correctly to me. I never witnessed to others because I myself had no real relationship with God. But now, I have this total passion for my faith, and my relationship with God has become precious to me. And I want to share my faith with others because I know what it’s like to not have the Truth, and I want them to have it. I want everyone to have what I now have.
This fall, I will be starting my college career at UNC Charlotte! I’ve been back-and-forth with my official majors, but as of now, I’m thinking Religious Studies and History. I don’t have an exact career picked out yet, but I know I want to do something ministry-related with my life. And, more immediately, college will be the perfect environment to use what I’ve learned thus far. So I will definitely be “carrying that torch” with me for the rest of my life.
Shaw: I plan to let it effect every aspect of my life. I’ll be attending Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania to achieve a Bachelor of Science, and plan on continuing my missions to Romania next summer. Nothing compares to Ratio Christi and LOA…It helps to build a foundation. I know so much more than I did when I started. It gave me a witness and I would not be able to defend my faith without this class. It has given me the strength and passion to continue on my faith.
Israel: Apologetics has changed every aspect of my life. I will without a doubt carry apologetics with me wherever I go, It will always be a part of me. It has made me confident in what I believe in, changed the way I think, the way I interact with people and has completely altered what my focus in life is. I have such a passion for my Savior that came alive through RCCP. I have fallen in love with the God whom I serve. Because of Jesus I'm not afraid anymore, I am unashamed , and am ready to charge bears for the cause of Christ.
Now a freshman at Caldwell Community College in Boone, I’ll be transferring to Appalachian State University to get my bachelors degree in biology as my pre-med degree. I then want to go to graduate school to become a medical doctor and work in full time medical missions. I am also planning on going to Southern Evangelical Seminary to get my masters in apologetics.
I want to learn more everyday, engage others in order to lead them to Christ and teach apologetics every opportunity I get. Christians are here to contend for the faith, and that's what I am going to do. My worst fear is to get to Heaven knowing I didn't give my all for Christ. I don't want to waste my life. I know my purpose here, and nothing is going to stand in the way. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
Turner: Through studying apologetics, I have gained a foundation for my faith. I have grown closer to Christ and He has given me a passion for sharing the truth with others. I will attend Liberty University this fall, studying International Relations and Global Studies and minoring in Apologetics. I plan on joining the Ratio Christi group at LU. I am hoping to work overseas with the State Department as a Consular Officer.
Whether I am witnessing to my fellow students, coworkers, or working with missions teams in my spare time, I know that God will use my background in apologetics wherever He leads me.
Blake: Learning apologetics had not only helped me grow in my personal relationship with Christ, but it has also helped me have numerous conversations with unbelievers. Apologetics has given me compelling evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, and so much more! I strongly believe that if it wasn't for apologetics, I would not be as effective of a witness for Christ.
Receiving this certificate is not only a great honor, but a great responsibility. It serves as a constant reminder and challenge for me to live up to what God has called me to be: an ambassador for Him. I just started my first year of college at UNC Greensboro, currently pursuing a double major in piano performance and Spanish. But besides school, I hope to be involved in mission trips in the coming years. I absolutely intend to use apologetics! It is my sincere desire to continue this journey and finish strong all for the cause of Christ.
Q: Imagine you’re on a pulpit speaking to Christians who don’t know anything about apologetics. How would you persuade them to learn?
I believe this class is essential. Without it, I would have surely succumbed to the desires of the world in a public school. It kept me in the word and retaining a tight conscience. It is in every way beneficial and enriching.
Israel: 1 Peter 3:15 says, "15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Apologetics is commanded to ALL Christians. Its important..and will change your life. I will leave you with this passage: 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (A Charge to Christians):
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."
I think it is so very important for Christian youth to learn apologetics. So many are leaving the church today once they start college. This really is a great tragedy. This is happening because so many young Christians are not confident in what they believe, or even if it's true at all. I can't stress enough how vitally important it is for Christian youth to learn apologetics. Apologetics provides answers for so many questions that students are faced with in college today. Learning apologetics not only gives students confidence to speak up and defend their faith, but it also paves the way for evangelism.
Polites: I believe every young Christian should learn apologetics for multiple reasons. The most important being, there’s an entire world of lost people out there who don’t know Christ as their Savior, and it’s our responsibility to reach them. And there are numerous opposing worldviews and beliefs we’ll face, so we need to be able to make persuasive arguments for Him and explain why we have reasons to believe what we believe. In order to most effectively do that, it’s important to be firm in your own faith, and apologetics definitely helps you become stronger in your faith.
Profuse thanks goes out to Pastor and RCCP Regional Director Kevin Duffy for his leadership, “For pouring himself into this amazing ministry and having a passion for Christ and Truth” (Polites); “For mentoring me and being a physical representation of Jesus in my life” (Israel); “I could not imagine my walk being where it is today without the class and Kevin B. Duffy to get me there” (Shaw).
Blake concludes by saying, "I'd like to thank my parents for homeschooling me! If it was not for their dedication to training me in the faith from a young age, I would not be the person that I am today.
Enjoy photos of the girls, Duffy (who is third from left in the top row of the photo above) and their chapter below. If you would like to support the work of Ratio Christi College Prep for high schoolers, please click here.
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