Transforming lives

TESTIMONIES
FROM STUDENTS

Esme Hugo

As a first-year engineering student, I encountered a lot of opposition to my faith: sceptical professors, unbelieving acquaintances and compromising Christian friends. I was constantly on the lookout for opportunities to share my faith with my new classmates. The ideal moment happened right after we attended a lecture on Nihilism and was on our way to a Calculus class. Yet, just as the conversation began, I realised I was out of my depth. I could not explain why I did not agree with the lecturer nor why the Christian faith provided better answers. I knew what I believed but was unable to share the hope that I had in Christ effectively.

Then I found Ratio Christi. I began by attending their worldview weekend retreat. I was excited to hear that there were compelling answers to the questions I had! During the year, I attended their weekly lectures on fascinating topics and engaged in stimulating discussions. It is amazing to discover the many good reasons to believe that the Christian faith is true.

Now I can share my faith with joy and confidence. Not all my questions are answered, and I still have lots to learn. Yet, Ratio Christi showed me I can rest assured that Christianity provides the best explanations to the most important questions of life.

Claris Mosdell

Going to Ratio Christi for the first time, I was a curious first-year student eager to expand my understanding of the world of apologetics. Little did I know that this community of equally curious minds would become my friends, mentors, and teammates in wrestling with thoughts. 

My understanding of truth, reason, and logic used to be limited to whatever bits of information I picked up in faith communities throughout my life. Ratio Christi challenged my ability to confront difficult questions and concepts that would prove essential when confronting critics and other curious minds. This exposure to new ideas has ignited a curiosity in fields I had never heard of. It has provided an open platform for discussions and questions that have led me to a deeper understanding of the Gospel, forged an unshakeable faith in God’s Word, and cultivated a bigger appreciation for the beauty of Christ’s statement that He is the Truth.

The diversity of thoughts and opinions present in the Ratio Christi circles had also been valuable in conversations with sceptics. The ethos of freely sharing one’s perspectives and ideas is what makes it such an inviting space. Each week’s discussions brought along new minds with completely unique backgrounds.

Albeit a bit paradoxical, this diversity has cultivated the most beautiful unity among believers. I have come to see how an understanding of why the Gospel is true, is the essence of what unites this Body. Ratio Christi is one of the few communities in our modern society that embodies this oneness and encourages differing opinions.

It has been a blessing working alongside other passionate apologists and thinkers to further the reach of the Gospel to the sceptical, secular mind. I cherish each moment of contemplation, mental wrestling, and unity with my fellow workers of the Good News at Ratio Christi.

Benjamin Abraham

I was an outsider to Pretoria and Tuks, having lived my whole life in the Eastern Cape. I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t rely on anyone for help starting my first year of PhD at Tuks. Luckily for me, I encountered Ratio Christi on campus and was invited to one of their first meetings in February of 2022. I have attended every subsequent meeting when I have been in town and each week has been filled with topical discussions and lectures that have been informative. There is a deep wellspring of knowledge and wisdom within the RC group that has been a pleasure to experience. My background is science and only had an “enthusiasts” knowledge of theology and philosophy and so meeting people with formal training in apologetics has been a blessing and I continue to learn at each and every evening event.

I have become friends with many at RC, having a shared love of God and the values of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Naturally we agree on many topics but also disagree amicably on a few. RC has helped me be charitable and reasonable when I debate others with divergent perspectives. My friends and colleagues have treated me with similar kindness if not more so, which I am very thankful for. It has helped me be a better Christian in the search for Truth. I can only hope that I have added value to the lives of the people I have met, in the same way that they have been a blessing to mine.

There is a shared goal of uniting reason and faith. Members of the RC community continue to guide me towards this goal. I have stumbled along the way but the dear friends  I have made here have helped me and continue to help me along the journey. I pray that we will all continue this journey until the end of our lives.

“There is a love within reason that can help you get beyond reason, to what reason always sought”.

Motlatsing Moreki

Ratio Christi South Africa (RC SA) as part of the Christian Apologetics ministy is of great value to the testimony of our Christian faith and thus to evangelism. This is especially imperative due to the deteriorating nature of the moral and ethical culture throughout the world. Christians need more means to learn how to address all issues of humanity from a Biblical viewpoint and thus continue to be the “light of the world”; to share the Gospel with others and make the Christian stance clear.

It is in this need, met through RC SA, that I got the opportunity to be exposed to the intentional address of difficult topics and challenges experienced by the Christian community today as RC aims at equipping believers in how to engage in critical discussions and respond to the world.

Although “apologetics” as a Christian ministry may not be a calling for all believes on a fulltime basis, it however stands as a calling to all believers to not only “make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28:18b -20), but to always be prepared to give an account for the reason of their hope (1 Peter 3:15).

I have been especially blessed through RC SA at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus from the years of my postgraduate studies (2017 to 2018). I continue to be part of the organisation through opportunities to utilise the resources shared on different platforms (website, Facebook, etc), as well as invitations to physical meetings and conferences/symposiums continue to expose me to relevant information that is of aid in my discussions on issues of humanity with others, especially in evangelism to both believers and nonbelievers alike. I am also able to share the social platforms with others who can access the resources provided and go deeper on topics that I am not able to explain better.

I have also gained friendships from gatherings with other RC members and staff. This has especially blessed me because relationships enable deeper discussions as one can express one’s concerns, doubts, shortfalls, and limitations in one’s understanding of Christian truths and the challenges experienced when conversing with others about matters of faith. These personal discussions carry on without fear of being misunderstood or attacked for held thoughts or opinions. Instead, a conducive platform is created that allows for authenticity in the pursuit of the Truth.

Special thanks go to Simon and Nel Brace for not only allowing God to use them in this ministry, but for opening their home for fellowship, and hearts for relationship.

Shalom

Jaccie Zeelie

At the time I started attending Ratio Christi in Potchefstroom, I was a believer experiencing cognitive dissonance. In church, I felt that intellectual reasoning was presented as contrary to things of the Spirit. I felt that I was not allowed to state what I considered to be true, so as not to contradict others who had different experiences. I did not have liberty to ask the questions that were truly bothering me. Not only did this leave me with many questions and a shaky foundation for my faith. I also felt very lonely and unwelcome.

When I started attending Ratio Christi, I began to learn and see that truth can be clearly defined and known. It was a wonderful and exciting journey to learn about the rich intellectual heritage of Christianity, to learn of all the arguments of God’s existence, the evidence supporting biblical accuracy and the strength and explanatory power of the Christian worldview. I felt excitement as I learned that many believers, past and present, used reason to glorify Jesus and to reach the lost. This freed me from any pressure to separate my intellectual life from my faith. I found new purpose as I began to realize that I could use my rational capacities and intellect for Jesus.

Although I had always considered myself to believe in objective truth, I began also to see the influence which post-modern subjectivism has had on my thinking. In subtle ways, it had led me to believe that objective truth cannot be known. Once I became aware of this falsiehood and began to be convinced that truth can indeed be known and that truth sets you free (John 4:16), I began to have more liberty to engage in discussions, no matter how controversial, with both fellow believers and unbelievers. I experienced first-hand that such conversations are very meaningful and that the vast majority of people appreciated such honest, truth-seeking conversations.

Besides the weekly Ratio Christi events, I began to attend weekly Bible study hosted by Simon Brace as well as weekly logic and philosophy classes.

The weekly Bible study has been deeply meaningful to me. Through Simon’s guidance in a study of the gospel of John, I have experienced, really for the first time, what it truly looks like for an older Christian man to disciple a group of younger believers. Although there are lots of discussions about discipleship in churches in Potchefstroom, when the rubber really hits the road, there are not many examples of older men taking charge and discipling young men. The lessons learned from the Gospel of John have themselves also been life changing and I have fundamentally changed my view of Christian living and the church.

The weekly logic classes have been enjoyable and enriching. The study of logic has breathed new life into my Bible reading. I now approach old familiar texts and passages with new excitement and vigour as I am keen to use what I have learned in logic to discover what the text is saying. Furthermore, I have found the study of Aristotelian logic to be beneficial in many different areas of life: it has improved my thinking, my reading, my writing and my conversational skills.

The study of philosophy in our weekly philosophy club with Simon has been one of the most surprising and fulfilling journeys I have undertaken. When I started, I was completely ignorant regarding philosophy and tended to scoff at philosophy. It has been fascinating to learn how ideas in modern civilization and everyday life here in Potchefstroom have ancient roots and that many fundamental questions have already been raised and answered by great philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas. The study of philosophy has given me categories of thinking that have truly deepened my worship of God and improved my theology. Another surprising effect of studying philosophy and worldviews is that it has opened doors for evangelism and engagement with unbelievers. Philosophy is often a useful stepping stone to conversations about God and faith. 

Perhaps the most precious aspect of being involved with Ratio Christi is the wonderful friendships and relationships that have been fostered. Through Ratio Christi I have become involved in a Christian community that loves the truth and are passionate about reaching people with truth and hope of the Gospel of Jesus. I believe that Ratio Christi is playing a very important role in Potchefstroom, not only through the impact in the lives of the individuals, but also as an interdenominational ministry that is building bridges and connections between Christians from different denominations and churches. Furthermore young people are being equipped to share the Gospel as they themselves become truly and deeply convinced of its objective truth.  I am thankful to God that he has led me to become involved with Ratio Christi, for the precious friendships that have developed, for the deepening and solidifying of my faith, for the enrichment and for the equipment to engage people with the truth of the Gospel. For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Rom 11:36)

Gerhardus Middel

Ratio Christi has not only equipped me to defend the Christian faith on and off campus, but has also strengthened my own conviction of its truth. In their community, I have experienced the opportunity to ask honest questions, to invite others with their doubts, Christians and non-Christian alike, and to realize that there are good and reasonable answers to these questions. Their ministry has also inspired me to pursue a life of loving God with my mind, not only equipping but also inspiring me. Faith and reason are not opposed, as many would proclaim, but actually enhance each other. Talking to others has never been so easy and I’ve shared my faith with more people than ever before. Through their ministry I’ve also seen that there are essential truths that we as Christians (regardless of denomination) need to hold on to and that we should unite to defend these truths against those who do not. More and more, the need for apologetics is becoming apparent in our societies, on university campuses and even in our churches. I am convinced Ratio Christi will continue to help water the soil of society, in the least, to make Christianity a reasonable option, and ready the crops for harvest.

Karnu Van Heerden

When I first joined, I was just a new student passionate for the Lord, but totally unequipped to engage in meaningful conversations with other people, especially those who objected to the Christian faith. However, over the years that really started to change. As I learned from the example of our student leadership at the time, I really began to be more and more confident in speaking to others regarding my faith and also seeing the importance of having reasons for why I am a Christian. For many years in my life, despite my passion for the Lord, there had always been that doubt at the back of my head that I couldn’t get rid and just repressed. However, for the first time in my life, I could start addressing my own struggling doubt with confidence.

Now 2016 marks the next milestone, it is the year when Simon and Nel Brace came to help Ratio Christi in South Africa. After having the privilege of meeting with them, and now also working with them now for four years in this ministry, I quickly realized that I had so much to learn. I remember one of the questions that really impacted me was “What is truth?” However, struggling with this question opened up a whole new reality, in that the message of Christianity is really real! But at the same time this opened the reality that there are false and deceptive ideas everywhere that ensnare so many… In that moment Jesus’s words for us to be a light unto the world, become very tangible.

In the end, in what capacity has this ministry impacted my life? I would say, it has completely changed my life and I would shudder to think where I would be if the Lord did not guide me onto this path. It is the influence of Ratio Christi that really gave me the tools and motivated me to further my studies, both formally and informally, to speak the truth of the Gospel boldly, not be afraid when facing adversity and to know what it means to love the Lord with your whole mind as well. But the most amazing thing is to see how this ministry has changed the lives of so many people. Having non-Christians admit that for the first time Christians have “given me something to really think about.” I have also seen time and time again fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, who wept after coming to the RC meetings. They were tears of joy, joy in the fact that what they believe has solid ground to stand on, it is actually true! “Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?” is the frequent question that keeps you going in this ministry.

So, for all those who are reading this, continue to fight the good fight. Seek answers and ask questions. Boldly commend and defend the faith for as the Apostle Paul says in Acts 26:25 “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.”

Khwezi Hogana

I came to know the Ratio Christi chapter at the University of Pretoria through my younger brother Lukhanyiso. He was the chapter president of Christian Lawyers Associations at the University of the Witwatersrand, who happened to have friends at Ratio Christi. I am working as a quantity surveyor. Though I am no longer a student on campus, I enjoy intellectually stimulating discussions, especially on themes of religion and its applications in daily life.

Lukhanyiso invited me to the annual Ratio Christi Symposium which started on 8 July 2019 (my birthday). My interest was pricked by the wide spectrum of thought-provoking topics. I ticked off the topics I had the most curiosity about and was available to attend – ‘The Religious Rhetoric of Land Reform;’ ‘Decolonizing Jesus;’ ‘Capitalism vs Socialism;’ ‘Aren’t All Religions Fundamentally the Same?;’ ‘Ancestors: Remembered but not worshipped;’ ‘C.S. Lewis on Doing Justice to the Other: The Implications of a Democratic Society;’ ‘Atheism for Lent?: Bringing Merold Westphal and the Masters of Suspicion into an African Context.’ There are many more topics I wished I could have attended from the symposium, but I was only free to attend sessions after working hours. Since the symposium, I have attended a number of Ratio Christi Wednesday evening discussions. The discussions are set up to be informal and relaxed, yet very engaging and informative. I like the systematic approach of exploring the topic of the day, the open engagements, the cordial atmosphere within which we agree and disagree, and the Christian spirit that drives the discussions.

Why I continue attending Ratio Christi programs is because I appreciate: 1) the level of detail they go into when defending or exploring a particular stance or belief; 2) the juxtaposing of the Christian religion with other paradigms, worldviews, or interpretations of reality; and 3) the friendships built over agreements, disagreements, differences, and a bowl of biscuits.

Louise Malan

When I went to my first Ratio Christi event, I couldn’t have known the ways it would impact my life over the next few years. I couldn’t have known that I would be making new friends all over the country and overseas. I couldn’t have known the interests it would spark in me. I couldn’t have known how much I would learn. And I certainly couldn’t have known that I would meet my husband there.

The Ratio Christi events are bursting with opportunities to meet people. I’ve gotten to know world-renowned experts in various fields, peppering them with all my questions and occasionally entering into correspondence. I’ve also made friends, and I’m very grateful, because it’s not just new people I’ve met, but like-minded people.

I’ve been exposed to fields outside of my everyday bubble, such as logic, philosophy, politics, science, apologetics, law, and sociology. Learning about some of these fields, I’ve developed new interests. It’s been incredible! I’m humbled by how much I don’t know, but excited to learn more.

My learning has been facilitated by weekly discussions on topical issues, weekly logic classes, and conferences with world-class speakers. It was so stimulating that I started doing some of my own reading. One can learn content as well skills, such as effective communication, thinking more critically—more logically—and expressing my ideas in a clear and logical fashion, and to recognise mistakes in reasoning.

In between the excitement and activities, I encountered a person. He was also not afraid to discuss difficult questions and interesting topics. And not afraid to make jokes. And not afraid to ask me to get a coffee with him. And eventually not afraid to ask me to marry him.

I look back fondly on my first few times at RC, and think about the adventure it has been. It has strengthened my faith, helped me answer some nagging questions, and guided me in difficult conversations with people who do not hold a Christian worldview. I am so grateful for everything.

Martin Mushomba

I first heard about Ratio Christi (RC) from a close friend of mine, Christo. As a theology student, he had already stumbled over Christian apologetics in his coursework, an experience he’d often lamented as quite dry and blunt. He nonetheless appreciated that apologetics might be very useful if it wound up in the hands of a Christian passionate about proving knowledge and engaging in arguments. One who revels in the ‘dry and blunt’ aspect of the Faith. Someone like me, Christo must have thought. So, in late 2017 after hearing of a group of people from RC were gathering to discuss the opening of a chapter in Pretoria, Christo took me to the meeting. That is where my journey with RC began.

It was a blessing to meet Daniёl Maritz and a number of other Tuks students keen in apologetics at the meeting in November 2017. I didn’t realize there were so many people in Pretoria who had a keen interest in a field many Christians were often reluctant to engage in. In January 2018, Daniёl our Pretoria Chapter co-ordinator hosted a planning meeting at his house where more Tuks students attended and I was impressed at how excited everyone was to start doing apologetics. Our first event of 2018 was a talk on Cults. Having had experiences with friends in cults, the approach in the talks laid out a structure of classification for cults as well as some insightful wisdom on how such groups continue to grow. Having some knowledge on cults already, I realised that the talk allowed me to arrange what I already knew such that my understanding was better structured. That was a preamble to my other experiences in RC.

The next sessions were focussed on Worldviews in which we worked through the book The Universe Next Door. These sessions were quite insightful for me personally as I realised (as with our first RC talk) they helped me better organise some of the knowledge I already had on the topic, forming a rigid base on which I could build up more knowledge. As I continued to investigate these ideas, I gained a new sense of appreciation for the value of worldviews different to mine as well as the value of western philosophy as a tool for understanding the Natural World.

The two biggest highlights for me this year was a talk I gave at our RC chapter on Islamic Theism and the annual RC symposium in Pietermaritzburg in July 2018. Having had a keen interest in Islam, I quite enjoyed researching and presenting a talk on a topic I could literally talk on for hours. The RC Symposium was an incredible learning opportunity, as it opened my eyes and ears to theological discourses I’d never heard of, particularly Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy. Along with picking the minds of renowned theological scholars such as Richard Howe, Mike Willenborg and many others, I also met Rudolph Boshoff, a Pastor specialising in Islamic Studies. Rudolph debated Abu Bakar, an Islamic scholar at the Pietermaritzburg town hall on Jesus Christ in Islam and Christianity. While I’ve seen many debates on YouTube, this was the first one I attended and it was quite an experience. The Muslim community were present in numbers as was the Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI). Being present and witnessing that close encounter between the two faiths emphasised the importance of apologetics not just as talks behind closed doors but as a tool in breaking walls and preaching the gospel. After the debate I met two Muslim coverts from the IPCI who I’m still keeping in touch with via WhatsApp to this day. They’ve both been keen to share their faith with me, and I am finding opportunities to preach the Gospel to them as we compare our beliefs.

My involvement with Ratio Christi has been profoundly rewarding. In addition to learning about new worldviews and discourses, I had an incredible opportunity to deepen my understanding of Islam which is a great passion of mine. It is an experience I profoundly enjoyed as well as meeting and learning from people who share the same interest in finding, sharing and testing knowledge. Of course, for me this year at RC isn’t the end, but only the beginning of a longer journey of learning and growing in faith.

Pierre Le Roux

Ratio Christi (RC) has been instrumental in strengthening my faith. Apparent contradictions between faith and science created a split between my academic work and faith. However, RC has introduced me to a wide range of material that has shown me how to integrate my love for Christ with scientific research and do my academic work to the glory of God.

Before learning apologetics, I was scared to engage people about their beliefs, especially people who followed another or no religion. However, after joining RC my faith has been strengthened and I am now confident to engage others both in public and in private. RC has taught me how to engage people in a meaningful and comfortable way in order to be more effective at evangelism.

RC has become a home for me filled with dear friends and family in Christ. Somewhere where I can turn when struggling with the intellectual problems of the Christian faith. A place I can learn and grow to become more effective at apologetics and evangelism. And a community to go to for fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ!

Tiaan Coetzee

I remember my first encounter with apologetics. My mind was blown. I was 16 years old, enthusiastic and above all, curious. I was completely mesmerized by the confident and logical approach in which the most difficult world questions were addressed and systematically analysed by the speakers. Most importantly, I wasn’t left with the uncomfortable feeling that reason replaced faith. In fact, it was the first time that I felt empowered and more prepared to act according to the instruction of the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:15-16: “but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.” From that day onward my passion for apologetics grew and I was continuously reading, studying, and searching for answers to satisfy the many doubts and questions that I had.

During my time at university I was constantly challenged to defend my beliefs and I also challenged myself to engage in religious discussions. However, I found it very difficult to articulate the various arguments and answers in a convincing and coherent way. Furthermore, there was no “safe space” to discuss these contestable topics and I was constantly drawn into unhealthy and circular argumentation. This left me frustrated and isolated. Ratio Christi was exactly what I needed: a safe space where open, constructive dialogue was encouraged and managed. It was at Ratio Christi where I had the opportunity to develop and practice my debating skills, specifically according to the second part of Peter’s instruction in verse 15– “yet do it with gentleness and respect”. I was always excited to attend the weekly sessions, and we had the privilege of hosting some of the most renowned apologetic speakers in the world on numerous occasions. Even though everybody did not have the same outlook/opinion/belief, there was mutual respect and friendship within the group. Ratio Christi gave me, as a Christian, the opportunity to explore the underlying questions, issues and meaning of this world. Most importantly, Ratio Christi gave me the opportunity to listen before I speak. It is by listening that I became deeply conscious that we live in a horrible world, filled with sometimes inexplicable pain and suffering, but through Christ there is immeasurable joy and beauty. I thank God for the spiritual growth that I experienced at Ratio Christi and I pray that He will continue to give strength to those who are devoted to defending His name.

Tineke van de Wetering

When I entered Simon and Nel’s house for my first Ratio Christi (RC) event, I knew I found a gem. Finally, I found a place where tough questions are allowed to be asked and where satisfactory answers were given. As I continued attending the weekly RC gatherings and logic classes, I slowly began to form a new and more clear understanding of the Christian faith, the relationship between faith and reason, the absurdity of Postmodern thinking, other religious views, etc. Ratio Christi has given me a new zeal for Christian apologetics, opened a new world of interests like philosophy and logic but most importantly Ratio Christi has strengthened the foundations of my faith, and thus my relationship with the Lord, for which I am immensely grateful.