How did CDA help form your worldview?
The saying “character is caught, not taught” rings true. As I think back on my time at CDA, I value the teachings from our theology and apologetics classes, but I also value the experience of being around a group of teachers who followed Jesus. There is something special about having a science teacher who pauses in class to talk about emulating God’s character or having a history teacher who invites your family over for dinner and encourages them in their walk with God. I was kind of a nightmare in the classroom (sorry, past teachers!), but I learned about the importance of truthfulness, respect, and sensitivity from the ways the teachers and administration responded to my behavior.
My senior year, one of the last papers I wrote in my apologetics class was a statement of personal belief called a credo. Being pushed as a high school student to spend hours coming to terms with what I believed about truth and ethics was both challenging and enriching.
How have you impacted culture around you for the glory of God?
I have been involved in campus ministry through an organization called Fellowship of Christian University Students (FOCUS) for five years now--three years as a student and two years as a full-time campus missionary.
Most people at the University of Texas at Dallas (where I do ministry) are not even aware that I exist. That being said, I believe God has transformed me into someone who can faithfully point a handful of students to Jesus each year.
I remember the pastor of my church reflecting on the state of our culture. In response to this reflection, he said: “You know what I’m going to do about it? I’m going to sit here with a bunch of young campus ministers and try to teach them everything I know. I’m going to meet up with a fourteen-year-old high school freshman later today and study the Bible with him.”
I may never impact culture on a stage larger than the few hundred college students who I occasionally get to speak in front of, but each student I disciple is a student who will go on to meet and influence scores of other people in all sorts of ways. Right now, I am mentoring a student leader who has a following of tens of thousands of people in the electronic music scene. He is much more talented and “known” than I am, but I have the privilege of discipling him, which is so cool to me!
What advice from your CDA experience would you give to help future CDA graduates?
As you enter college, I think it is tempting to view your high school experience in absolute terms. I have watched students leave CDA who are convinced that they have already seen theology, community, and learning done exactly right, and I have also seen students leave who think there is not much from their time at CDA that is worth holding on to.
Both of these approaches are arrogant. I promise you, God taught you a lot through your time at CDA, and you are going to want to hold on to that. Remember, though, that your time in high school was only a starting point.
Be open to changing quite a bit as a person, but make sure it is God and His people who are changing you, and not the voices of your own insecurities!