Scott Cherry is a full-time ordained minister and RC’s founding Chapter Director at the University of Michigan at Dearborn, now going into his third year with us. He also serves as faculty advisor for the chapter in addition to his own outreach, Advance Ministries. Cherry chose three outstanding students for Ratio Christi’s Legatus Christi certificates this past school year, and presented all the same evening.
“I wasn’t aware of the Legatus Christi certificate the first year of our chapter,” he says, “So this past spring was the first time I decided to use it. We held a ceremony on the last Wednesday meeting of the semester. The ceremony went very well and generated a lot of excitement, which I hope carries on with the students who are continuing in the chapter.”
The LC certificate has very specific requirementsfor what the students must demonstrate as they learn apologetics. Cherry’s recipients were Olivia Mensah and Cody Bouse, who graduated in spring of 2014, and Brian Bercea who graduated a year earlier.
“I originally invited Brian back to present the certificates to Olivia and Cody, but then decided he deserved one too,” says Cherry. “By the time all three of them graduated, they capably displayed their ability to defend the faith as logical and reasonable. I did role-playing with them and made them explain the Christian faith. I have set high standards and am taking many things into consideration, adding students’ other qualities to their apologetics knowledge and competencies.”
Bercea is already off on other endeavors and not available for this story, but we were able to interview Mensah and Bouse. You’ll see these students are well-deserving of the Legatus Christi recognition, and how they feel about Ratio Christi’s training. Here in Part One, we feature Mensah.
Olivia Mensah went to church with her grandmother when she was little. Then she moved, went to another church and feels she found the Lord at about age 13.
“But I didn’t really get committed to the faith until I was about 19,” she says. “I sort of grew up with my church. It was a young church. I learned a lot and there was always “meat” from the Bible but I was too young
to really be able to digest it.”
Mensah started her college experience at community college, where she was in Christian groups.
“But then I got a job with Red Bull and had a lot of fun. I went on out of town trips with them, but after a trip to Canada with a different group outside the company, I soon realized this was a good time to display my faith. In Canada, you can drink legally at 19. I didn’t really like the taste of alcoholic beverages, and I started feeling tipsy one night. This made me think about my church. My mom kept asking me on Facebook what was going on. I was on the Praise Team at church, and some of my team members were texting me, saying they were praying for me. Worshipping through song is a very important part of my life, and I knew these people cared about me.”
Because of this love, it made her change and start taking her faith seriously. After coming to UM Dearborn, she found out about Ratio Christi through Scott Cherry, the Chapter Director.
“He was working near the office where I had a job on campus. I saw him doing a conversation table, got interested, came to a Bible study Ratio Christi was sponsoring and then came to meetings.”
Q. Scott says you are very emotional about your faith, and combining it with the intellectual component of RC made you a good student president. How so?
A. I felt my role at RC was to bring my emotional and spiritual side to the intellectuality of it. We witness to the Muslim community a lot . There are also people on campus who want a connection to things they’ve read in the Bible. Discussions can get heated, and I wanted to show how love can be displayed through RC in addition to the reasoning of apologetics. I would periodically ask the group for times of prayer and fasting.
Some people go to church just to go to church but there’s so much to learn. The Muslim students often come to our display tables or meetings. They’re ready to discuss their faith. So must we be.
Q. What difference has apologetics made in your life and your own faith?
A. With RC’s apologetics information, I’m able to have more knowledge for conversations with people. Our chapter did a video series where we learned other people’s arguments for and against Christianity, and we had a debate on evolution with two RC members speaking for Intelligent Design. There was no winner declared, just a moderated open debate which was very enlightening.
Apologetics is very useful in knowing the truth and it helped me learn how other people think. We had a professor on campus just like the one in the movie “God’s Not Dead” whose personal agenda is reflected in his classes. He rips Christianity apart. It’s very important to become settled in the truth and not be carried by the wind of opinion.
Some people we encounter believe that Christians are naïve and not intelligent. Apologetics is the basis to say faith and reason are not exclusive – you don’t need to have blind faith.
Q. You received your Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and hope to be a therapist. Will it be possible to talk about faith with people in that field and with patients?
A. I interned at a substance abuse center and was surprised how often I could talk about faith – people wanted to discuss it. I believe I’ll be able to carry this forward in my career. I’m currently praying for the finances to go on for a Master of Psychology. In psychology, a lot of the theory is humanistic – “you yourself can do it” – and I hope to be able to speak about the spiritual side of life to other students.
Q. How did you feel about receiving the Legatus Christi certificate?
A. I felt very honored to be found worthy of the LC requirements. Scott had discussed them before that night, but I was actually surprised to receive one.
Cherry explains why he selected Mensah.
“Olivia came to us in January of our second semester, not as an intellectual but from more of an emotional standpoint about her faith. She took a lot of notes and soaked up the apologetics explanations. After a while, as her intellectual side emerged, she blended this well with her emotions about the Gospel. Because of this, I discovered her to be a great asset. When the students wanted to make her the
president, I asked them why. It turned out we all felt she was wise, a good listener, and a good encourager. She did a great job leading meetings.”
Before moving on to Cody Bouse’s interview, have you watched the video embedded here? It was made specifically for this article by Cherry, who tells about their chapter’s particular involvement with the Muslim community in Dearborn as mentioned here, as well as with seekers, skeptics and atheists.