Christopher Swedes: God Desires Relationship

Christopher Swedes, an accounting major, was one of the first students to join our newly formed Ratio Christi chapter at the University of Cincinnati. I could tell right away that he was very interested in apologetics and the evidence behind our Christian convictions. As a sophomore, Christopher became a regular attendee and started inviting his friend, Riley, to the weekly meetings. He became our first treasurer after we were accepted as an official student organization in Spring 2023. He played a key role in procuring funds from the University to pay for Frank Turek’s signature presentation “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” He also made sure that the club could access University funds for smaller expenses like food for our weekly meetings. As Christopher’s interest grew, so did his study of Islam. In 2024, he gave a presentation on the differing beliefs of Christians and Muslims, concluding that the tenets of Islam cannot stand up to scrutiny, while the Christian worldview can. Another main apologetic topic that interested Christopher was the resurrection of Jesus. After reading books by Michael Licona and William Lane Craig, he concluded that the resurrection of Jesus was the only logical answer to the question of what happened to Jesus’s body. Over the last year, Christopher frequently joined our tabling and evangelism efforts at the University of Cincinnati. Reading and studying the book “Tactics” by Gregory Koukl helped Christopher confidently discuss spiritual topics with others. In April 2024, Christopher was elected to the office of Ratio Christi chapter president, an office that a former Legatus Christi recipient, Chris Stockman, held since last year.    – Cade Cover, RC Chapter Director at University of Cincinnati

When did you come to Christ as Lord and Savior, and how did that come about?

I was blessed to be raised in a loving, Christian family. They taught me the basics and fundamentals of the Christian message, making this a potentially dull answer. However, we (as 21st century believers) take in information from many spheres of influence. As I confronted issues at school and with friends, I realized my faith had to be my own. As a result, I had an epiphany from Psalm 73:23-26. God is not a disinterested watchdog of the universe. Rather, God deeply desires a personal relationship with us, who He made “in His image”. This beautiful breakthrough led me to baptism in 2013 when I was 10, and I fully accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

In your high school church youth group, how much did you learn about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?

Having been raised in the Assemblies of God, both the churches I attended in my upbringing were unfailing in their emphasis on the authority of scripture. However, I found that being evangelical, the focus was more on the ‘experience’ of the Holy Spirit (e.g. speaking in tongues). Our pastor and youth pastor devoted plenty of time to studying scripture, but I would not classify it as exegesis or apologetics.

How did you become interested in apologetics, and how did you get involved with Ratio Christi?

When I began studying at the University of Cincinnati, I sought out the handful of Christian ministries on campus (at this point, Ratio Christi’s UC chapter did not exist). Soon, the Lord led me to one, and for the rest of freshman year, we met every Tuesday for scripture reading, fellowship, and a social hour afterward. At this point, though, my close friend group was almost exclusively agnostic. Try as I might, my attempts to bring them to Christ were largely failures. Fast forward to the beginning of my sophomore year, and one of my professors sent me an email that a man named Cade Cover was coming to start an apologetics ministry on campus. Aha, just what I needed! After reaching out and realizing Cade was an outstanding source of knowledge and wisdom, I began regularly attending Ratio Christi meetings in January of 2023. Soon, I found that my conversations with non-believers were much more fruitful. As they say, the rest is history!

What impact has the Ratio Christi College Prep ministry had on your walk with God and your personal ministry?

Ratio Christi has filled a huge gap in my faith, specifically in relation to evangelism. To be clear, I will be the first to defend the infallibility of the Bible. However, I have found that simply citing the Bible is often not enough to convince a non-believer. Today, “Why would I believe the Bible?” is an all-too-common response. Ratio Christi has equipped me with Biblical (e.g. historical reliability of the gospels) and non-Biblical (e.g. Kalam cosmological argument) evidence to evangelize more effectively. In a world where emotional experiences sell, Ratio Christi gives young Christians the mental toolbox needed to repair a broken world.

What is this RC chapter like?

At the University of Cincinnati, our Ratio Christi chapter meets every Tuesday at 6pm in the heart of campus. Meetings usually consist of 1) guest speakers/presentations or 2) roundtable discussions with a laptop/projector to fact-check and research as needed. Outside of meetings, we set-up a table every T/Th (weather permitting) on Main Street, the primary thoroughfare through campus. Usually, we engage students with a question on a white board. For example, we may simply ask, “Does God exist? – yes, no, or maybe”. Following the advice of Greg Koukl, our objective is not necessarily to convert students in 15 minutes. Rather, in the words of Koukl, we would like to “put a stone in their shoe” and invite them to join us at our meetings.

What were some of your favorite areas of involvement with your local RC chapter?

At UC, our Ratio Christi chapter is young, as we only became a student organization in the spring of 2023. In that time, my favorite memory is hosting apologist Frank Turek at UC. We partnered with a local church and brought out ~300-350 students in a lecture hall. It was a sight to behold!

What does the Legatus Christi award mean to you? 

Translated as “ambassador of Christ”, the Legatus Christi award (to me) involves discipleship, leadership, evangelism, and the over-arching fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians. Fortunately, there is a perfect example, who lived out these qualities 2,000 years ago! In addition, I am incredibly grateful for my parents, my friends, Cade (our director), and Chris (our co-director), who have spiritually mentored me. They too live out the qualities of the Legatus Christi Award, and have shown me what it means to walk with the Lord.

How do you envision taking the apologetics you have learned through Ratio Christi into your future endeavors?

Although America is “one nation under God”, we cannot assume that our co-workers, friends, or family know Christ. Unfortunately, we cannot even assume they are familiar with Christ’s message. Personally, I have not been called to be a foreign missionary, but God has already placed people in my life, who I can witness to. One of the great benefits of Ratio Christi is learning simple ways to evangelize in a quick conversation. Whether it be one of Greg Koukl’s “tactics” or William Lane Craig’s facts of the resurrection in “The Son Rises”, Ratio Christi has equipped me with how to have healthy, informal conversations in everyday life.

What are your short and long-term career/ministry/mission plans?

As I am an accounting major, my primary goal is sitting for the CPA exam to become licensed. Upon graduation, my primary goal is to either 1) start a master’s degree, 2) take the CPA, or 3) begin working in public accounting. Long-term though, the gospel of Matthew clearly states, “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Although I would love a fulfilling job/career, I would also love to volunteer and care for those in need. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, section 8 housing etc. teach us that in times of need, the government is our safety net. I propose that the church should serve these roles instead, and in so doing, expose outsiders to the gospel and better its reputation. Thus, I would love to volunteer or potentially be a deacon at my local church.

Would you consider coming back to work with your RC chapter, starting one at another school, or working with RC in any other capacity?

Since I will be in the Cincinnati area for the next several years, I would love to stay involved with Ratio Christi UC, even after being a student. Whether that equates to a co-director or simply attending weekly meetings, Ratio Christi is a special, unique community in the city and on campus.

What would you say to other students who might be considering getting involved in Ratio Christi, whether they be skeptics, seekers, or believers?

My first point of encouragement is always “try it out”. Of all the Christian groups a student may find, I believe Ratio Christi is one of the least threatening or forced. In fact, truth and open dialogue are some of our main tenets. If someone disagrees with us, we still encourage them to attend our meeting to hash something out. Further, if they are Christian and actively attend meetings, I would encourage the individual to seek out an officer role in their chapter. As mentioned previously, Christianity in 21st century America often lacks deep philosophical understanding. And worse, I suspect most Christians (including myself) lack the time or interest to study history or watch documentaries in their free time. Ratio Christi solves that problem by adding in discipline and a supportive community.

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