RC Graduates Using Apologetics as an Everyday Tool for Relationships
We’re highlighting two outstanding students from the RC chapter at the University of Georgia. Victoria Davidson and Tyler Garmany were both presented with our Legatus Christi Certificate by Chapter Director Beth Sims.
“Both of these amazing young people have similar commitments to Jesus Christ, as well as to the evangelical endeavor of bringing others to an awareness of their need for Him,” Sims says. “They arrived at UGA with these commitments already in place from their home churches and families. They have both been faithful in RC leadership positions for their entire university experience and have brought others in, provided challenging presentations in RC meetings, in preparation for the callings God has on their lives.
“Tyler and Victoria have been active in mission trips to other countries sponsored by their churches. And both exemplify the Legatus Christi standards, as well as in their student lives and in other ministries. They’ve made Ratio Christi a top priority in their busy lives for the past four years – giving of their time, energy, and talents while maintaining academic excellence – in ways that glorify God and point toward His Kingdom.”
Q: When did you find Christ as your Savior, and how did that come about?
Tyler: I first confessed Christ as Lord as I was entering high school, but I did not truly believe it until sometime during my freshman year of college. It was due to being surrounded by a community of believers my own age, which is something that I did not have in high school, and being involved in a church whose mission statement is to make Jesus impossible to ignore, which they succeeded in doing.
Victoria: I grew up in a Christian home and always attended Christian schools. I think I may have prayed “the prayer” at least 107 times up until the time I was thirteen! I learned to be fluent in “Christianese” and immersed in the Christian culture, but I did not completely give up my life to Christ until I was a sophomore in high school. The Lord wrecked my heart, and it was for real this timenot because someone told me He did, not because it was true for my parents, but because I had finally realized the weight and realness of my sin.
Q: At your church or church youth groups, how much did you learn about the reasons to believe?
Tyler: The pastor of my home church would often include apologetics in his sermons; however since it was such a small, rural church there wasn't a youth group at the church, so I didn't receive a lot of specialized intentional teaching on the subject.
Victoria: In the youth groups I was a part of, there was not much focus on reasons to believe. The Gospel was always, always told in an unapologetic fashion, as it should be, but I think equipping youth with the knowledge of how to defend their faith is very lacking in the church. At least the churches from the area I grew up.
Q: How did you get interested in apologetics, and then how did you get involved with RC?
Tyler: I have always been interested in philosophy. Towards the end of high school, I was discovering more and more Christian philosophers and apologists such as Thomas Aquinas, Ravi Zacharias, Justin Martyr, and Augustine. I began to study their teachings on Christ. As I was coming to truly understand the faith and pursue deeper philosophic questions concerning it, an older friend told me about Ratio Christi, which he was the student president of at the time.
Victoria: “Apologetics” was a word I heard every now and then growing up, but I’m not sure that I ever actively tried to figure out what it was all about. I didn’t realize it then, but my senior year of high school was when my interest in apologetics was first sparked. One of my coaches taught us a “Christian worldview” class, and I remember just being so in awe the first time we talked about the moral argument, teleological argument, etc. Like I said, I didn’t really know that what I was learning was a bit of apologetics, that is until the next year when I got to college. I met my good friend, Kyler, also a recipient of Legatus Christi, and he told me what RC was about, and I went to the first meeting and never stopped coming (see Kyler Herrington’s award interview here).
Q: What is this RC chapter like, and how is the group received on campus?
Tyler: The chapter is small, but the members that do attend are extremely loyal and well versed in apologetics. The discussions are pre-planned topics but are generally open and loose. In my opinion UGA is very tolerant towards Christian organizations.
Victoria: I think we consistently have about eight people at regular meetings and around twenty at meetings with special speakers and topics. We do have outsiders drop in who have seen us on Facebook or another means of social media. It is definitely a goal to respectfully and graciously engage with secular thinkers, and we always make sure to stress that our meetings are for anyone, Christians and non-Christians. If you have questions, we want our RC chapter to be available. Usually, unless there is a special speaker, our meetings are discussion-based so that tough questions and objections can be bounced around.
Q: How did you feel about receiving the Legatus Christi certificate?
Tyler: It makes me feel undeserving of such a reward; to be given a certificate declaring you to be an ambassador for Christ humbles you by reminding you what this life is truly all about.
Victoria: To be honest, I almost cried! It was just such an honor and one that I still feel so undeserving of. I felt sentimental because it made me reflect on where I started with apologetics, and it’s only by the grace of God that I am here today. I am forever in awe of God’s sovereignty in placing RC into my life.
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith, and your witness to others?
Tyler: It reinforces my faith, and because of that, it makes my life better in a spiritual sense. It helps my witness to others because apologetics are essential to evangelism in this day and age.
Victoria: Wow. I’m not sure where to begin. In Philippians 1:27, Paul encourages them to “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Our lives should be lived in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel, and in order for that to be the case we should pray for a heart for people, because that is what it is all about – loving people and sharing Christ with them.
Apologetics has become so much more to me than something we “do.” It is an everyday tool for Christians in building relationships and sharing the Gospel. It is not to be used with rigid or robotic methods, but with love and gentleness in everyday conversation.
I used to just spit out everything I knew at someone who had an objection or question, but I have learned that is not what this is about. The more questions you ask and the more you listen, the better you can empathize and prayerfully know how to respond/not to respond."
Q: How do you think you will take the apologetics you’ve learned into the future?
Tyler: I plan on going into pastoral ministry full time at some point, and apologetics are absolutely necessary for that.
Victoria: In my day-to-day life, conversational apologetics has become a staple. In my future education and career, I will meet and build relationships with a huge, diverse group of people. No doubt, some of these people will question, in some fashion, God’s existence or the reliability of scripture, or other God-related topics.
Q: What do you take away about the “exponential evangelism” component of Ratio Christi’s apologetics teachings?
Tyler: I would say that it is simply following the Great Commission. We are trying to create disciples. Disciples are people that are devoted to a teaching. If one is committed to the teachings of Jesus then they will tell others.
Victoria: To define it, I think we could use our chapter here at RC. Young and old Christians should be equipped to give a defense for the hope that is in them, with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Our responsibility is to pass on what we know and what we are learning to other Christians so that they are fully equipped. The tool of apologetics, especially in today’s time, is growing to be essential. We can use it to answer questions and objections, so that we can point them back to the Gospel of Christ.
Tyler often led the group discussions and planned RC meetings, and Victoria spent the last two years as the group’s vice president. Both graduated in May, 2018 – Tyler with a degree in social studies education and Victoria with a B.S. in Biology.
Q: What are your short and long-term plans now that you've both graduated?
Tyler: I plan on attending seminary in the near future.
Victoria: I will be moving to Atlanta to pursue my master’s degree in Public Health at Emory University in Global Environmental Health. After I’ve completed my MPH, I plan to attend medical school. I know that I am called to devote my life to serving others. God has given me the passions to do this through the healthcare field, both here at home and abroad. I just returned from my third medical mission trip to Haiti. I hope to evaluate the social determinants of health locally, regionally, and globally. Initiatives and policies can be put in place to improve conditions that are harmful to health. I would love to be a part of that while I am a physician. My medical degree will help me to treat the individuals, but my MPH will hopefully help me to fix the source of the health concern, i.e. unsanitary water, no access to fresh food.
Emory does not have an active chapter of RC, so I would like to look more into how the ball could get rolling there.
Q: Is there anything else you’d each like our readers to know?
Tyler: I just want to thank both of my sets of grandparents for continuing to push me to seek knowledge of both the physical world and its history, and more importantly, of God.
(Although Tyler seems a man of few words about himself, Chapter Director Sims tells us he is also musically gifted and can play many instruments. He also held a staff position working with youth in a local area church during his student career at UGA.)
Victoria: I would say, especially to the young Christians out there, find out why you believe what you believe. Don’t be afraid of tough conversations or questions that you may get. If you are seeking and pursuing Jesus, you will have the desire to learn how to answer their questions. You will find yourself reading more and more scripture, listening to more apologetics podcasts, and watching more debates. And of course, you will grow more in awe of Christ every day. Listen well and always ask questions.
I would like to thank Ms. Beth Sims, our chapter director, for her devotion to our chapter here at UGA. She is just the best lady you’ll ever meet. I don’t think she has ever met someone she couldn’t strike up a conversation with. Her brilliance always keeps us on our toes, and her love and prayers keep the chapter going. Thank you, Ms. Beth.
Sims makes closing remarks: “Our UGA RC Chapter will miss these people greatly, but we rejoice that they go out into the bigger world equipped for God to use their lives in ways that only He knows all the plans He has for them. I am thankful to have had the privilege of being close to them during the university era of their lives!”
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