Local OutreacH & Evangelism
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem..." Acts 1:8
College campus-based ministry featuring conversations with students about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Living Hope sponsors this ministry every third Thursday of the month from 10am to 2pm at the Tate Center of UGA, but members are welcome to participate at any time.
A native of West Virginia, I enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school graduation. From 1995 to 1999, I attended West Virginia University, earning bachelors degrees in Communication and Psychology. I moved to Georgia in 1999. There I took up the professional study of neuroscience at the University of Georgia (UGA), earning an M.S. in 2003 and a Ph.D. in 2005. Having already been teaching at UGA for two full years while earning my doctorate, I was hired as full-time faculty upon my graduation.
During my time at the university, I gradually surrendered my beliefs in God and the Bible. While I would still drop in on a church service or Bible study every now and then, my worldview became increasingly secular. A friend of mine who grew up Catholic but became an ardent atheist challenged me to read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I enthusiastically jumped aboard the "new atheist" movement, going so far as becoming the faculty advisor for UGAtheists--the student atheist group at UGA.
While atheism felt liberating at first, I found it completely inadequate when I began thinking critically about its implications. It failed to provide satisfactory answers to life's greatest questions, including questions of purpose, meaning and truth. On a more personal level, my marriage of several years was failing and would ultimately end in 2008. Atheism offered no insights for navigating that dark chapter of life other than to focus self: self-improvement, self-sufficiency, and self-gratification.
Even while I was running as far from God as I could get, his goodness to me was evident in the greatest treasures of my life apart from knowing Christ--my daughters! Two years after my divorce, my oldest daughter, Annabel, professed Christ as Lord and Savior and was baptized. Her atheist-on-paper-but-rethinking-things father was in attendance that Sunday. My atheist friends and I had discussed at length the importance of rearing children to be critical thinkers who would shun the sort of wish-thinking that Christianity required. I planned to have a pointed conversation with my daughters to discourage religious belief. It is telling that I was never able to get those words out of my mouth. Instead I realized that, for some reason I didn't understand, it warmed my heart that my daughter had come to experience Christ. How does one reconcile that with being the faculty advisor for the campus atheist group? It caused some powerful feelings of cognitive dissonance to say the least!
Having concluded that atheism didn't add up and that there had to be something higher than humanity--something eternal--I determined to take a fresh look at what Christians believe. The more I studied the historical basis for Christianity, the more I became convinced that there was something fascinatingly and undeniably unique about Jesus Christ and the movement he inspired. I realized that most of the criticisms and complaints I would level against Christianity as an atheist were either misconceived or false. In 2011, I returned to Christian belief, was baptized and joined a church.
I knew that God was calling me to more, but I was tentative, lacking faith and spiritual maturity. There were even certain idols in my life that I was unwilling to relinquish. It wouldn't be until three years later and after some serious life turmoil that I would fully surrender my life to Christ. The following year, I left UGA and began a graduate program in Christian Apologetics at Luther Rice Seminary. That same year, I made the acquaintance of Tom Short at my first Faithwalkers conference. That spring, Tom invited me to spend a few days with the Truth on Display team at Florida State University. From the first hour of the first day on campus, I knew that this is where God was leading me!
One of the ways the Lord has called us to reach our "Jerusalem" for His glory is through our block party ministry. Whether it's the annual Back To School block party, focused on reaching our immediate community, or the Hispanic block party which is geared toward Latino families in the Athens area, these events combine strategic relationship-building, practical helps and evangelism with over-the-top FUN!