Ripple Effect

Alan's monthly letter for April 2014

We have only one lifetime to make a difference for eternity. It’s not always easy to measure our impact, but sometimes we get a peek.

My friends in British Columbia, Canada had longed to invite me to their church. Believers in their country face many challenges to their Christian convictions, and they were concerned about the apathy they encountered when trying to get people more active defending their faith.

That’s why I was excited to visit Vancouver Island in February to be the sole teacher at a two-day theology and apologetics conference. The hosts were expecting 50-60 people, but praying for 100. Instead, nearly 200 people attended. I taught for two days on why we should trust the Bible, the evidence for the resurrection, relativism, the problem of evil, and tactics in defending the faith. I also covered hermeneutics (how to interpret the Bible) and taught on the Epistle to the Philippians. I closed the conference with a session on how to stay Christian in college, which was geared towards high school and college students.

It was a great time of teaching, questions and answers, and fellowship with many of the believers on the island. Several Christians told me this was their first exposure to apologetics. They loved it and I received positive feedback both days.

But the impact didn’t end that weekend. In fact, the conference had a ripple effect. One of the volunteers who helped promote the event was inspired to take apologetics more seriously. She decided to take an extra day off work each week just to study more on her own. Now, she’s considering formal theological training at a college.

Her friends and co-workers noticed a change too. One of her conversations with a non-Christian colleague lasted until 2:00 a.m. During their exchange, she answered questions about the Bible, its validity, manuscripts, Jesus, and objective truth. She was prepared. At one point, she grabbed her Apologetics Study Bible because it contained helpful visuals. By the end of their conversation, her non-Christian friend asked if she could have a copy of her apologetics Bible. Why? Her non-Christian friend told her, “This conversation was different than talking with any other religious person on faith because it actually seems very logical and you have answers. Most people don’t.” That’s the kind of difference we want our training to have on believers. For this non-Christian, Christianity became something worth thinking about.

The youth pastor at the church is now also excited about apologetics. After sitting in on part of the conference, he held a follow-up apologetics class during the student service the following week. He’s now decided to incorporate five apologetic workshops into his student training.

The senior teaching pastor also sat in on some of my teaching. Then, during his sermon the next morning, he reviewed my six points on why the Bible is reliable. He has also asked my friend (who hosted the conference) to teach an apologetics series to the congregation.

This is a great example of leveraged impact. I equip believers with the knowledge and wisdom to effectively share their convictions. Then, those ambassadors of Christ are able to use their training on the frontlines as God uses them to change hearts and minds. Let’s pray this impact ripples into eternity.

article |
Alan Shlemon