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Barry Sudduth is the Vice President of Engineering for ShareSafe Solutions. He has held several engineering and management positions in industry over the last three decades. Barry has been the Chapter Director for Ratio Christi at Clemson University since 2012. He lives in Central, SC with his wife, Ann Summers. They have three children: Emily, Casey and Lauren.
The testimony of my faith in Christ begins many years before I was born. The mystery of how the Holy Spirit works through the lives of people and the events in this world is profound. When we are privileged to have a small portion of this mystery revealed to us, it heightens our sense of wonder and awe that the Creator of the universe continues to act the in affairs of Man. When that which is revealed is significant in one’s own ability to hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it deepens our love and gratitude to God. So it is in my life.
A few years ago, I discovered a letter written following the death of my maternal grandfather. It tells of his conversion to Christianity during a revival meeting in 1919. An excerpt from the letter on the impact of his conversion reads as follows:
“His conversion brought such a change in his manner of life, that his former friends were compelled to take notice of it. Previous to his conversion he had been so committed to a life of sin and unbelief that he expressed the belief that salvation was impossible for him. But he was constrained to seek the lord[sic], and he experienced a glorious conversion.”
Four years after his conversion, my mother was born. She was a Godly woman and was the spiritual leader of our family. She read the stories of the Faith to her children and made sure we faithfully attended the local Baptist church. I am thankful to God for the church who hosted the revival in 1919, for the pastor who preached there, for my grandfather coming to faith in Christ, for my mother being raised in a Christian home, and for her raising my siblings and me in a Christian home. I sometimes wonder if I would have become a Christian if this had not been my heritage.
I am grateful for my upbringing, but because of it, I cannot point back to a time when I “converted” to Christianity. I have no recollection of not believing that Jesus Christ was God in human form and that we could be saved from our sins through believing in Him. The fact I had no “Damascus road” experience troubled me for many years, but finally I ultimately trusted the following promises given in Romans and I John: “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 – HCSB), and “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 – HCSB).
My Christian journey is similar to many others who grew up in the Bible Belt in the 70’s and 80’s. I joined the church as young child, participated in most – if not all – of the programs and activities provided for my age until I graduated high school and went away to college. While at college, I became involved in the Baptist Student Union (BSU) at Clemson University and was blessed to be able to spend two summers as a student missionary, first to the Grand Strand region of South Carolina in 1985 and then to the San Joaquin Valley of California in 1986. Faith often grows through obedience and service. I experienced such growth during those brief missionary stints.
I met my future wife in BSU at Clemson. She and I were two of the ten students on the Grand Strand mission team in 1985. We married in 1989 and have been actively involved in three different Baptist churches since that time as we have lived in different locations. We both have been ordained as deacons, taught Sunday School, sung in the choir, participated in mission trips, served on various committees, chaperoned youth trips, and generally tried to be faithful members of the local church as best we can. We have been blessed with three children and are eternally grateful that they all are faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
For many years, my exposure to Christian Apologetics was limited to having read a few books over the years – Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and The Case For Christ by Lee Stroebel. Looking back, I think that my upbringing and life experiences shielded me from the influence from other religions and philosophies. I often joke that when I was growing up, the most significant rival worldviews in my hometown were ones held by the Baptists and the Methodists. The simple world of my youth is no more, and as society changed, I became more sensitive to the need for Christian Apologetics.
In 2010, I discovered the book On Guard by William Lane Craig and was introduced to a world of Christian thought that I hardly knew existed, but I immediately saw the value of the information. Also, as our oldest child would be graduating high school in 2011 and heading to college, I began to wonder if we had done enough to help her withstand the onslaught of secular and anti-Christian perspectives that would be confronting her. As is common with budding apologists, I began voraciously reading apologetic works. I guess I was trying to make up for lost time. During this period, I was asked to teach a Sunday School class at our church. I suggested that I would like to teach an Introduction to Apologetics course as I suspected that many of my peers were in the same situation as me – long tenured Christians with very limited exposure to apologetics. My suggestion was accepted and I taught apologetics for the first time in the Fall of 2010.
A significant event occurred soon after completion of that course. I was having lunch with a gentleman who had taken the course and he remarked to me how he wished I had taught the course a few years earlier so that he could have better communicated with his daughter who had walked away from Christianity while in college. Her loss of faith was due in part to the influence of the atheistic views of her roommate. This was the second young person from our church of which I was aware who had renounced his/her faith in college. As I drove home from lunch that day, I became increasingly angry about the lack of preparation provided to young people by the Church at-large which could equip them with the intellectual foundation to defend their faith. Later that day I called our pastor – who has a doctorate in Church History – to express my frustration and to ask if he could point me to resources that would explain how American higher education, with its origins steeped in Christianity, had transitioned to such an unwelcoming place for Christian thought. He directed me to several sources, the most significant being The Soul of the American University – From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief by George Marsden.
I continued along the path of self-education in both Christian Apologetics and Christian higher education for several months. While conducting one of my many apologetics related internet searches, I stumbled across a website for Ratio Christi in the Spring of 2012. The website shows all the colleges where a Ratio Christi chapter exists. There was not one for Clemson. I decided to call the organization and express my desire that a chapter be started there. I was informed that Ratio Christi would love to have a chapter at Clemson, but they needed to have someone be the Chapter Director. I then understood why I had been so consumed with an interest in apologetics for the previous two years. I expressed my willingness to be the Chapter Director pending formal training and helped officially start the chapter at Clemson at the very end of the 2011-2012 academic year. During the summer of 2012, I completed the Certificate Program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Ratio Christi at Clemson held its first meeting in August 2012 and has continued uninterrupted since that time.
Clenson University, MS in Electrical Engineering, 1995
Clemson University, BS in Electrical Engineering, 1986