How I Became a Christian – Vas Avramidis
I was raised in a very nominal Christian home, while I attended church on most Sundays and went through youth group and religious education, my family didn’t make faith an important part of our home life. When I went to college, I was instantly drawn by the many new ideas to which I was being exposed. Under the influence of a charismatic philosophy professor, I renounced my faith and became an atheist and communist. This professor taught that Jesus never existed and that religious faith was foolishness. I became a staunch apologist for atheism; studying philosophers like Bertrand Russell, I absorbed all their arguments against Christianity and a belief in God. I would seek out Christians to debate with and found them to be easy marks, as most Christians I encountered had no answers to my challenges; they may have known what they believe in, but not why they believe it.
Slowly however, my assuredness in atheism began to unravel. I found that materialism and the atheistic worldviews had no satisfying answers to offer to questions of suffering, pain, evil, and purpose. So one, spring afternoon I took my first step towards faith and became a Wiccan; I still wanted nothing to do with the Christianity of my youth, for me it seemed shallow and empty. But God had other plans for me. I quickly abandoned Wicca and explored other faiths such as Buddhism and Hare Krishna, but still found no satisfaction. Jesus kept on chasing me; I counld not avoid Him. I found myself inexplicably listening to Christian talk radio and buying a New Testament, but still I resisted.
That January, I was invited by an old friend to a Gospel concert in Newark New Jersey. I wanted to go and support her but I was uncomfortable with the idea. Reluctantly I went. During a song called Anchored in the Lord, the Holy Spirit changed me. The song compared our lives to a ship at sea with no anchor. In the day, you may be able to spot land and know where you are, but in the dark of night, you are pushed by the tossing of the waves out to sea, and in the morning, once again, you realize that you are lost. That song moved me, it perfectly described my anchorless life. Jesus was the anchor that I needed to find safety and assurance. But I still resisted. That is until tha pastor asked all the men to stand and dedicate their lives to Christ and His church; still I sat, unmoved, not ready to make any commitments. It was then that the woman sitting next to me looked over and said words I will never forget: “Boy, stand up and be a man for once in your life!” I instantly stood at attention like a soldier whose commander has just walked into the room. My commander did walk into the room that day: Jesus Christ. I gave my life to Him in that instant.
Since that day I have been drawn to apologetics. I didn’t want to be one of those Christians who didn’t have answers to the challenges of skeptics; I wanted to have a reason for the hope that is in me. Almost immediately I began to read and study apologetics. Now I get to share that knowledge and experience with college students at Rutgers.
Statistics show that 70% of young Christians will renounce their faith and leave the church by the time they graduate college. Of those who leave, only 30% will ever return. I was one of the fortunate ones, God called me back and after a long time struggling against Him, I submitted. My hope, work, and prayer is that I can keep young students from leaving the faith in the first place; that they might see that Christianity is a reasonable faith, and that we have answers to the toughest questions leveled at us by the skeptics. And for those who already left the faith, I want to strive to bring them back home. This is the core mission of the Ratio Christi fellowship at Rutgers University.