Luke Long: "Don't Let The Culture Teach You What You Believe"
Luke Long is a spring 2016 graduate from the University of Kentucky. He credits the Ratio Christi chapter at UK for his awareness of apologetics and how to mix intellectual reasoning with his faith. Long found Christ in middle school, but then floundered during high school until a crisis got his attention.
“I grew up in a Methodist church, but my family never really knew Christ," he says. "We eventually stopped going. I found the Lord in middle school through some friends who were already Christians. I really wanted what they had. They were great examples.
But in high school it was a battle for who would be in charge of my life – would it be the Lord or me? I got very sick with a virus in my senior year, and during that time I was removed from so many things – school, friends, family. The Lord starting showing me what I was supposed to do with my life.”
Q: How did you discover apologetics and Ratio Christi?
A: I discovered apologetics in Ratio Christi. It was the first group I found which encouraged investigation of our faith, not just telling us what to believe. I went to K-Week, which is what UK calls their student orientation, and a session called “God Ph.D.” Ratio Christi was partnering with Christian Student Fellowship in sponsoring the event, and there were some Christian professors talking about their own faith.
Q: You were eventually treasurer and then vice president of your RC chapter. Tell us something about the way your group works.
A: The group is about ten to fifteen people, depending who can come in any given week, and we meet at the university library. We keep pretty good communications through a phone app called Group Meet. Anything we study during the week in classes, we might bring back to RC to discuss. We’ve gotten into Creation and how the universe is formed. We've also sourced Reasons to Believe (Hugh Ross) and Stand to Reason (Greg Koukl) for example. But we also take from philosophy – the range of topics relating to what is real truth. These things are really important to students today.
Q: We hear you’ve already been able to use your apologetics in association with your field of study – tell us about that.
A: I just graduated (Spring 2016) with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, and I had the privilege to work with NASA. They have a research office at UK and I volunteered for a project through working with a professor who knew my capabilities. I had much interaction with people among whom I was the only Christian, and they knew I had studied topics associated with my faith, so I was always able to discuss things like the subjects I mentioned in my previous answer.
This factor contributed to Long being recognized with RC’s Legatus Christi outstanding student certificate. More than being “an award,” the LC is a challenge to keep using apologetics and to share it with others.
Clint Field is the RC chapter director at UK. In recommending Long for the LC designation, he listed many of the student’s accomplishments in apologetics– including the ability to explain deep issues like God’s existence and the problem of evil.
“Luke is the real deal,” Field says. “He spends his summers on mission trips and will be in Jordan for a year starting this summer. He most definitely deserves this designation.”
See more about Legatus Christi requirements and recognition.
Q: Luke, what was it like to receive the Legatus Christi certificate?
A: A surprise! Clint had mentioned the certificate to the group, and he had presented it in a previous year to a friend of mine whose wedding I happened to be in recently – Trevor Tackett (previously interviewed here). But I had forgotten about this form of recognition until Clint announced my name when the group went out to dinner together for the last meeting of the year.
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith and your witness to others?
A: It completely strengthened my faith. I came into college not knowing a lot of things. My family still doesn’t know the Lord, but my dad is very intellectual and I’m now able to express my beliefs to my family and close friends. RC was a very special part of my time in college. It really encouraged me to seek and find things out about my faith.
One thing is more important than anything else. In our culture, especially my generation, we are told what to think and what to believe. Apologetics teaches you to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. You find out who Jesus is and what the Bible says for yourself instead of being told.
Q: As you move forward in life, how do you think you might carry apologetics with you?
A: We talked about other world religions and how to interact with people in these other groups. [As Clint said] in August, I’m going to Jordan for a year, and will be working with refugees! Things I learned in RC about the Islamic faith and more will absolutely come up. I’ll get a chance to use what I’ve learned.
Q: How exciting – what moved you into going to Jordan?
A: The last couple of summers, I went overseas twice with a language organization to teach English – once in Oman and once in Hong Kong. I thought about going back to China, but while attending Urbana’s 2015 Missions Conference in St. Louis, I met some refugees from Jordan. These interactions brought to the surface a longing to help there, to be feet on the ground.
Q: Do you know yet what your plans are after the year in Jordan?
A: My options are open for the future. I might do graduate work in linguistics or business administration. In the long term, I’ll keep having conversations with my family, like my sister who is a junior in college, very wise though also an atheist. She now appreciates how I can speak about my Christian faith intellectually.
Ratio Christi extends prayers for many blessings to Luke for his year in Jordan! See how you can support this chapter of Ratio Christi.
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