Ratio Christi is starting a campus chapter at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, considered one of the nation's premier Bible colleges. Bob Clapper is our regional director for Illinois. He lives in Wheaton, near the Windy City, and he explains what led up to this opportunity.
“Corey Miller (President of RC), Joe Whitchurch (Director of Campus Ops Relations) and Larry Baxter (Director of RC Prof) had come to Moody to meet Patrick Friedline, Moody’s Associate Dean of Career Development, who was very positive about Ratio Christi. I followed up with Patrick after the meeting, and he said we could set up a table in the Student Center. This coincided with Corey’s March 23 interview on Moody’s ‘In the Market’ broadcast with longtime host Janet Parshall. It's heard all over the country! I also became acquainted with a student, Titus Buita, who had applied to RC for an internship. He was ready to set up an RC chapter.
A Moody philosophy professor with a degree in apologetics also became very interested. He allowed me to speak in two of his classes and promoted our table exhibit. And RC's chapter director from Purdue University Northwest in Calumet, Gene Calderon, came during this time to help. From the RC table display we got eighteen students interested, and Titus later obtained five more. We now have a faculty advisor, we had we've had an organizational meeting, and are now waiting for the school's approval on our proposed chapter constitution.”
(Each RC club that wants to be formally recognized as a campus club must present a constitution to school administration.)
Q: When will the Moody chapter meetings start?
A: We are planning to start the RC club next fall when the students return. The thing that excites me about having a chapter here is that Moody's students can be very instrumental in their evangelism. I follow the Brett Kunkle [Stand to Reason organization] model – get the students out using their apologetics, not just learning it.
Q: What else is happening for RC in Illinois?
A: Another chapter is in stages of formation at the Community College at DuPage, the largest college in Illinois behind the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. I ran into two philosophy professors from CC at DuPage last fall at an apologetics conference. I introduced myself, and one of them had already been interested in RC. These professors got about a dozen students interested. We had an informational meeting, and three people volunteered to be student officers. Before we had any official recognition, we were allowed to meet a couple of times. But now we have official approval as a DuPage campus club! Our meetings have had as many as eleven students.
There’s also a chapter at Bradley University now in "Active" status.
Q: Is it important to get Christian professors involved?
A: Christian college professors, especially in the area of philosophy, are a great group to tap. They generally have more relationships with Christian students than in some other departments.
Q: Is there anything holding us back from building more chapters?
A: Our biggest concern is finding chapter directors. I’m leading one chapter myself, although some students are capable of leading with guidance. It’s hard for me to have personal time with students, being a Regional Director.
I’m also the Chicago director for Hugh Ross’ Reasons to Believe organization (RTB), and have done this for ten years. We’ve always had trouble attracting professor-types, even for this very active and well-established organization, but lay people are willing. Kurt Jaros of Defenders Media has been helping out with speaking. We will be having an apologetics seminar with an RC table there. RTB is very supportive of RC, and one of their scholars is a personal supporter of mine. Kurt and one other lay person joined me in speaking at a local church apologetics event at which both RC and RTB had tables.
The biggest thing is to keep on networking, and things will start happening. I try to see what apologists are speaking in the area. The more I network, the more I attend apologetics events, the more opportunity I will have to meet people who have a heart for apologetics. I believe God would lead me to those individuals who could be campus directors. It might be one of the people I meet, or it might be someone recommended by them.
Q: Any movement for RC College Prep* (RCCP) in Illinois?
A: We have three people interested in College Prep mentoring – one retired teacher, a semi-retired businessman, and a high school science teacher who wants to start an RCCP club at his church. I’m waiting for RCCP training to come to the area, although these three people are already apologetics-trained. I attended the most recent training in California and plan to get these three together in the near future to talk about strategy in reaching high school students.
Clapper was a high school science teacher at Chicago's Manley High School, near U of I Circle Campus for 22 years. Before that he was a youth pastor for eight years and was involved in Cru for ten years.
Q: How did you get involved in RC yourself?
A: A couple of years ago, I started thinking more and more about what to do when I retire. I actually heard about Ratio Christi through RTB. I had also attended Cross Examined Instructors Academy and met Blake Anderson there (RC’s COO). I asked if anything was going on in the Chicago area and he said someone was needed, so I applied.
Q: Have you gathered church support for your apologetics activities?
A: I recently had one of RC's historic Old Testament scrolls at my church while it was here being used at the AMP conference (Apologetics, Mission, Partnership Conference). I’m happy to say my church is getting more and more interested in apologetics. We are going through [Frank Turek’s] I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist with one of our men’s groups. The pastor and elders are behind it and have also asked me to put together an apologetics evangelism course.
Many churches are still skeptical about apologetics. But it is useful for people to influence their children, grandchildren, people they work with, and it will make them better equipped to answer questions from their children or grandchildren, or skeptics with whom they have a relationship. Eventually you will get a chance to use it.
Clapper was born in Chicago but raised mainly in Naperville. He and wife Kathy have two grown daughters and a grandchild. One of their daughters’ husbands came to Christ while living with them.
“Kathy writes music and now blogs about the stories behind her songs at her blogsite, ‘Songs of My Heart’. She helps me with the RTB chapter and did an apologetics presentation at DuPage for me. It was on ‘Six Evangelical Views on Genesis 1’ as related to the word ‘Day’.”
Please contribute to Bob’s work with Ratio Christi in Illinois.
*For those interested in becoming RC College Prep High School mentors, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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