Another Ratio Christi chapter has produced a pair of outstanding apologetics students! Tim Derryberry and Matthew Lowe are members of our chapter at University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK). They have both earned our Legatus Christi ("ambassadors for Christ") Certificate for their ability to apply what they’ve learned in apologetics.

Chapter Director Anna Kitko tells us why she is recognizing Tim and Matthew with the award:

“Tim was chosen because of his excellence in incorporating apologetics into his vocation as a student evangelist. Not only did Tim provide scriptural support in our meetings but he also did so with the conduct becoming of a budding apologist.

“Matthew received the LC as a result of perseverance and devotion to the study of apologetics for his entire tenure with RC at UTK. Not a single meeting went by without his presence, and activities would not have been successful without him. His encouragement of other students who are wanting to learn was stellar.”

Both young men have held offices in this RC chapter – Matthew has been treasurer and Tim has served at various times as treasurer and vice president.

We had a chance to interview both of these apologetics ambassadors for Christ:

Q: When did you find Christ as your Savior, and how did that come about?

Matthew: I became a Christian around 2002, while in the third grade. To my recollection, the reason behind it was that my Aunt’s involvement with the church guided my family and me.

Tim: By the grace of God, I was raised in a Christian home and had wonderful examples and teachers in all my family members. I was baptized when I was in the fourth grade.

Q: If you were in a high school church youth group, how much did you learn there about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?

Matthew: If I may be honest, my faith during the high school years was stagnant. I studied more about philosophies outside the Christian faith and kept an open mind about other religions. However, I still went to the Bible study and held on to my faith. I never felt the need to leave or abandon God, so I stuck to what I knew.

Tim: I was in a youth group during high school where I learned some of the reasons to believe (in Christ). It also gave me a sense of loyalty so that even when I didn’t live like a Christian I never wanted to be considered anything else.

Q: How did you each get interested in apologetics, and then how did you get involved with RC?

Matthew: My first time going to RC is an interesting tale. I remember finishing a walk when I saw the group watch a documentary exposing Scientology. At the time, I wanted to write a poem with allusions to the cult. After watching and discussing the documentary, I decided to join the RC group. This was back in the spring of 2017.

Tim: I think I first became interested in reading apologetics when I was young and encountered questions in my own life, but it was only to answer specific questions I had. I started reading more apologetics during my freshman year of college and got involved with RC after seeing it mentioned in an article online and searching to see if my campus had a chapter.

Q: How would you describe your chapter?

Matthew: For a small group, the chapter is well-structured and very open to anyone. The topics come from what the students want to know more about. This gives students the opportunity to choose what subjects will be taught in the upcoming weeks.

Tim: Our RC chapter meetings usually have about seven students. The meetings are pre-planned topics that were requested by members to discuss. Members bring others to meetings. Engagement with secular thinkers is often done on an individual level but sometimes in an organized way. Our campus environment is certainly tolerant toward the Christian viewpoint.

Q: So what do you think about receiving this Legatus Christi certificate?

Matthew: I felt honored and surprised. I was not expecting to be the one of two to receive the certificate, but I was proud to accept it regardless.

Tim: I was very grateful to receive the Legatus Christi certificate. I have not been a part of the chapter for very long and I hope that I can someday live up to the title of ‘ambassador’ -- not just with words -- but with my life.

Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith, and your witness to others?

Matthew: Learning about subjects ranging from evolution and Christianity to obscure existing sects was thought-provoking. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I share what I learn among friends. It helps to keep the information fresh and actually enlightens others with the logic behind our Christian belief.

Tim: Apologetics has certainly enriched my witness to others in that it is a way of thinking and can be applied as a ready answer most easily to familiar questions, but also to those more personal questions that someone may be struggling with.
Most importantly in my life, however, is that defending the faith led me to ask the question “What faith shall I defend?” Would I defend a misrepresentation of the faith or would I “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints?” (Jude 1:3). Apologetics led me to search for the full and true Christian faith -- “The Pillar and Ground of Truth” (1 Tim. 3:15); “The fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23), and Christ led me to find this in His Orthodox Church.

Q: Do you think you will take the apologetics you’ve learned into the future with you, and please describe how you imagine doing so.

Matthew: While I enjoy studying apologetics, I’d say it depends on the situation. The ideologies and logistics studied in RC can help with the films I plan to make in the future (Matthew’s major is Cinema Studies).

Tim (who majors in Accounting): I think I will absolutely take apologetics with me. In any setting where I may find myself there will be doubts and questions and a need to give an answer to those who are troubled. I hope that I can use the skills I’m learning in school to glorify God. How that will look, only God knows. I am reminded of these verses:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:13-14).

Q: Define in your own words the “Exponential Evangelism” component of Legatus Christi - i.e., multiplying disciples by supporting and building up other students.

Matthew: For me, the “Exponential Evangelism” component stems from my sharing of the information discussed in RC.

Tim: The Exponential Evangelism component is essentially to utilize apologetics in evangelism and to help others do the same. I think these apologetics and evangelism are inseparable for conversion and for edification – one to heal the heart and the other the head. I’ve had great opportunities in several college courses where the specific assignment was to give a persuasive presentation to the class. In these persuasive presentations, I’ve presented evidence of the resurrection of Christ. The first time I did so, I was very disappointed when a listener told me they were convinced but they weren’t ready to become a Christian. The important lesson I learned was that “casting down arguments” is an essential task, but belief is a matter of the heart. For this we can only pray and live in such a way that they see Truth in us.

Q: Could either of you imagine coming back to work with RC, and perhaps in what capacity?

Matthew: Perhaps by making shorts/videos for educating people about whatever topics apply to apologetics.

Tim: It’s not something I’ve thought about a lot, but RC has certainly been helpful to me so I’d like to do what I can to enable it to help others.

Q: Tell us anything else you’d like our readers to know:

Matthew: My advice for young Christians is never be afraid to ask questions about your faith’s beliefs and always leave room for the opposition’s beliefs.

Tim: Pray! The most essential and beneficial task is to pray. Here is a quote that has been very helpful to me: 'If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The holy fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. The kingdom of heaven is taken by force.' - Saint Ambrose of Optina."

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