Grant and Lexi Forrester are students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where they attend the Ratio Christi chapter. This past October, Chapter Director Aaron Marshall presented them with RC’s Legatus Christi certificates at our annual Symposium and Student Retreat Banquet. Marshall felt this young married couple had earned the outstanding member recognition for their devotion to mentoring Christian students and reaching nonbelievers through apologetics.
After the Symposium, the Forresters were featured in a video interview by Assistant Editor Tyler O’Neil at PJ Media, an online magazine. After previously interviewing RC President Corey Miller, O'Neil was so impressed with the ministry that he joined us at our event to interview more people.
We decided to catch up with the Forresters for our own detailed Ratio Christi follow-up:
Q: When did you each accept Christ as your Savior, and how did it change your lives?
Grant: Christ saved me in my junior year of high school. I look back at my life before that season and I see no love for the things of God. I see only lust, selfishness, jealousy, and pride. I grew up in a Christian home and attended church, but was not a believer. My junior year I became heavily involved in the youth ministry at my home church in Goldsboro (N.C.), Jesus changed me and rescued me. I cannot put a time and date to my salvation experience, but I know that I wasn’t saved then and I am now. I was blind and now I see!
Lexi: I grew up playing the church game. I lived in a Christian home, was attending a Christian school, but had no relationship with God. My lifestyle, my mouth, and my pride completely opposed God. When I was fourteen years old, Christ saved me at a Bonfire Crusade. The preacher talked about those who think they are Christians but are not. I gave my life to Christ and began to walk with Him closely. I fell in love with Jesus, my eternal bridegroom and first love.
Q: Grant, in your church’s youth ministry, what did you learn about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?
Grant: I was a leader for two of the three years I was involved in the youth ministry. Over the three years, God shaped my heart and gave me a love for worship and prayer that I never had before. While attending, I thought that I learned all kinds of deep scriptural truths; however, it wasn’t until a year after I left the ministry that I began attending UNCW and Ratio Christi, and quickly saw that I hadn’t learned anything at all about theology, doctrine, or apologetics. With that said, I may not have received much meat during my time in youth group, but it was the perfect place to nurse a baby Christian and create a genuine love for the Father.
Q: How about you, Lexi? Any youth group experience at church or in high school?
Lexi: I was not involved in a youth group but was heavily involved in my school, Statesville Christian School (Statesville, N.C.). That was where I learned the majority of what I knew about the Christian faith. I had many godly teachers and coaches. There were two teachers who specifically taught and mentored me. One was my Bible teacher who taught Old and New Testament as well as Apologetics and Theology. He was one of my largest influences. The other was my Advanced Placement Chemistry teacher who loved the Lord, went with me on three mission trips, and encourages me to this day by occasionally sending me cards. Two incredible influences gifted to me by Christ as a young believer.
Q: How did you each first get interested in apologetics, and then how did you get involved with RC?
Grant: I became a fan of apologetics after hearing a traveling pastor, Clayton King, mention it in a message he delivered to a bunch of youth group kids. I really did not get involved in apologetics until I came to UNCW. I was attending an involvement carnival and passed by the Ratio Christi table. The chapter was young and it was just a fold-out table, with red info cards attached to suckers, and a tri-fold poster board with “Christian Apologetics” written on it. The words “Christian Apologetics” caught my attention and I attended the next meeting.
I fell in love with apologetics and Ratio Christi at the first meeting. I stayed as late as I could every meeting after that, asking questions and learning. I was like a dried out sponge desperate for water. All I could think about were the subjects I was learning in Ratio Christi. Then I met Lexi, and for a semester I hardly attended any meetings! But a semester later we both began attending together.
Lexi: I grew incredibly interested in apologetics shortly after I was saved because I didn’t want to see more people who were “cultural Christians” or who thought it was enough just to go to church like I did. At the time I was taking the Bible classes mentioned above and learned so much. That desire to learn followed me to college and I got involved in a campus ministry and began to lead a Bible study. When I was a sophomore I met Grant. We started attending Ratio Christi because he was involved and we went from being semi-committed to very committed members. We got hooked! I had no idea how much I missed the deep conversations until I was immersed in them again.
Q: What is this RC chapter like?
Lexi for Both: At the time we began attending there were about fifteen people – usually believers and one or two skeptics. We had two amazing women for student leaders. They had a lot on their plates but were faithful to the chapter. The big events ( one or two per semester) brought in larger crowds of all ages. In the meetings, we were going through Greg Koukl’s Tactics in the fall and in the spring we discussed questions brought in by attendees. The discussions seemed livelier with questions and the meetings rose to twenty to twenty-five.
This past summer, Grant and I became the RC chapter’s president and vice president. We sat down with our five student leaders and chapter director, Aaron Marshall, to talk about our vision for the chapter. We also discussed new avenues besides meetings such as a weekly Bible study, mentorship meetings, marriage study, monthly socials, and Veritas Forums.
Our first meeting, we saw forty-five people walk through our door. It was unreal and it was thanks to the Lord. It has been incredible to see a steady attendance for our meetings and all of our other events also being attended by at least ten to fifteen people. We have continued doing questions attendees bring in and have covered objective truth, the problem of evil, homosexuality in the Bible, gay marriage, transgenderism and politics with the goal of doing predestination and science later on.
We also kicked off a thirty-two-week study of Romans, a study through The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with dinner, and began taking new members for coffee. So far for our monthly events, we have done a pool social and a bonfire. We’re hoping for a tacky sweater social with snacks before exams. We also hosted a “Science versus God” Veritas Forum with coffee and discussion.
Q: How did you feel about receiving the Legatus Christi certificate?
Both: Humbled, surprised, and honored. We really feel like all of the praise is towards the Lord because it is from Him, through Him and to Him. We are just happy vessels. God is doing huge things in Wilmington and we are forever blessed to play a part in His work.
Chapter Director Marshall weighs in on why he chose the Forresters for the LC designation:
"Grant and Lexi Forrester represent everything that the Legatus Christi award is about. They truly have given their lives to serve God and make His name known on campus and in the community. They challenge others and each other to think better, deeper and harder about the truth claims of Christianity while still serving the body of Christ in tangible ways. Our chapter this year has grown tremendously because of the dedication that the Forrester's have to making Christ's name known in our community. It is a joy to work with them and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for them in the future."
Back to the couple:
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith and your witness to others?
Grant: Apologetics has given structure to my worldview. It educated me and made my Christian worldview complete. God used apologetics in my life to give me the security I have now. Sharing the gospel and glorifying God are why we are here. Apologetics helps me as I try to do both of those things. As a history and philosophy student, I face a lot of attacks on the Biblical texts and Christian beliefs. Studying apologetics gives me the answers I need to defend against claims that I am constantly confronted with.
Lexi: Apologetics has emboldened me in seeking out Gospel conversations. I have the confidence to answer tough questions and also the training on how to ask good questions and shift the burden of proof. On a more personal level, my study of apologetics has enriched my prayer life. It has taught me so much about God’s nature and changed the way I see and speak to Him on a daily basis. I want to continue to know Him more and more deeply as I learn more about my faith and the truth of Christianity.
Q: Do you think you will “carry the torch” of the apologetics you’ve learned into your future endeavors?
Lexi: No doubt. I use it so much already in my Intentional Women’s ministry and it is such a huge part of my personal study. Apologetics will be a focus of our future ministry because it is such a burden on our hearts. We are passionate about equipping high-schoolers, college students, and young adults with a defense for their faith and allowing them to be individual thinkers maybe for the first time ever. We want their faith to be their own based on fact and truth, especially at a Liberal Arts college like UNCW where it seems like there is opposition left and right. We must be bold but behind that must be understanding and knowledge.
Grant: Teaching apologetics and furthering Christians in their understanding of how to defend their faith is what I would love to do. There are Christians of simple faith and it is beautiful, but there will come at least one day in everyone’s lives when apologetics is needed. That’s why I want to be a part of this ministry and practice apologetics and the teaching of it.
Q: Did either of you know anything about Legatus Christi before receiving it?
Grant: I knew that the Legatus Christi was the highest award that Ratio Christi could bestow on a member. The two presidents that preceded me both received Legatus Christi. I was not aware that we would be receiving it until the week before the Symposium. Aaron surprised us.
Lexi: We were mostly unaware of the award’s meaning until we received it.
Q: And now, do you employ the “Exponential Evangelism” component of Legatus Christi – that its recipients should use apologetics in their witnessing, in evangelism, and in supporting and building up other students to follow the example?
Grant: Apologetics plays a great role in my conversations with skeptics on campus. Last semester our chapter was meeting with an atheist/agnostic club every month to discuss chosen topics. Those were perfect opportunities to use apologetics alongside evangelism to share the name of Jesus. Another example would be when our chapter partners with a local church named Pneuma Christian Life and when we go out and share the gospel. The most recent example was hosting Tom Short, a traveling evangelist, on our campus. That was an amazing opportunity to have conversations about Jesus with students.
Lastly, a number of ministry leaders pt on an event called REACH Ministry every third Saturday with live worship and evangelism near the middle of downtown Wilmington. Evangelism does not need apologetics to be useful, but apologetics needs evangelism. The two together are wonderful.
Lexi: I use apologetics in my evangelism almost daily. Both at Intentional and as a mentor to different girls. This is one of the most vital tools to grow believers and I intend to use it constantly. I also get the chance to use it on days that we have a local hateful preacher come to campus. I get to speak with students about the truth claims of Christ in contrast to the false doctrine and rhetoric they are witnessing. As I move into the professional world I will continue to mentor and teach apologetics to women at UNCW.
Q: What degrees have you each pursued, and what comes after your May 2017 graduation?
Grant: I am a History Major and Philosophy Minor. I am going to be attending SES (Southern Evangelical Seminary) starting in fall 2017.
Lexi: I am a Communication Studies Major and Leadership Studies Minor. I hope to go back to grad school after Grant finishes seminary and pursue a degree such as a Masters of Arts in Leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Q: Do you have other ministry or mission plans?
Both: We are fully intending to do ministry as a full-time career through Ratio Christi, a church, or any other avenue God takes us down. We are going to be intentional about Kingdom building no matter what job we have, but we both feel very strongly joint ministry is in our future as a couple.
Q: Tell us anything else you’d like our readers to know:
Both: We are thrilled to have this platform to talk about the growth happening in Wilmington by God’s grace. We have one thing we want to absolutely stress. We got to know Aaron Marshall, our chapter director, through Monday night meetings. When we got engaged, Aaron and his amazing wife, Jess, took a night out of their weeks twice a month to feed us and do pre-marital counseling with us as we went through Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.
Now, five months into marriage, they have become a huge part of our lives. We love them, dearly. We love their four children. They have become our family and a home away from home. They are our friends and our mentors. We cannot thank God enough for putting them in our lives. We would follow them anywhere on mission.
To every person out there reading this, we urge you to take in a young person or young couple. Feed them and pour into them. We have learned more about apologetics and more about the Bible in the last two years than ever before because we are constantly talking to Aaron and working with him non-stop to walk in all God has for this chapter. This relationship changed our decision to possibly pursue a path in Ratio Christi leadership in the future. You can have the same impact on the next generation of believers by bringing them in and raising them up. Relationship building is key.
The Forresters are our second married couple to receive the LC designation. See an interview with Luke and Lauren Savage of UNC Charlotte.
Click here if you would like to support Aaron Marshall and the Forresters in their continuing work at UNCW.
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