CAMBRIDGE — Damian DeKezel’s doubts about his own faith led him to reading “Relational Apologetics,” written by the Rev. Michael C. Sherrard.
Sherrard is not only an author, but also senior pastor at Crosspoint Church in Peachtree City, Ga., and founder of the Ratio Christi College Prep program.
He will lead a conference, “Evangelism in a Secular Society,” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Cambridge United Methodist Church, 120 W. Exchange St. There is no cost to attend the conference, and lunch will be provided for a freewill offering. For more information, call the church office at 309-937-2018.
The conference’s subtitle is “Defending Your Faith With Love and Truth,” and topics to be covered include:
- The problem of evil.
- The reliability of Scripture.
- Religious pluralism.
- Modern social issues.
- Sexual ethics.
- Conversational strategies.
- Personal evangelism models.
- The church’s witness.
- The power and role of the Holy Spirit.
DeKezel said his interest in apologetics — the branch of theology that deals with the defense and proofs of Christianity — stems from his own doubts about his faith.
"I have had doubts about everything from how dinosaurs fit in to how do we know Jesus is real," he said. "Many of the answers I would get from my questions were ‘Because that is what we have always believed.'"
His doubts became stronger when his brother, Darren DeKezel, died in 2004 at the age of 30 after being diagnosed with cancer.
“I was hoping he did go somewhere after his death, so I guess instead of being angry at the world after his death, I decided to try to find truth that there really is a God and hopefully that my brother is with God,” DeKezel said.
That led him into learning about apologetics and searching for the truth.
He also learned more about Ratio Christi, a program created by Sherrard that is aimed at equipping people, especially members of the coming generations, to make the case for Christianity.
DeKezel said he learned more about Ratio Christi after discussing the program with a friend whose daughter was getting ready to go to college.
“I emailed ratiochristi.org, and a lady replied to my email, and she led me to Michael Sherrard,” he said. “I contacted Michael Sherrard by email, and he responded. I shared my story of how my own faith had faltered because of lack of knowledge. He replied to my email and then contacted me after he returned from speaking in England.”
DeKezel was contacted by Sherrard in April 2018, and that's when he learned about Sherrard’s book, "Relational Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith with Holiness, Respect, and Truth.”
“I read the book and loved it,” DeKezel said. “The book explains how to defend your faith, and I found out that you do not have to be a scholar to defend your faith, and that was the biggest thing I got from the book. It took the fear out of me that even someone like me can defend my faith. I found out that I do not have to know every Scripture in the Bible.”
When the Rev. James "Jim" Aniol came to Cambridge United Methodist last year, DeKezel talked with him about inviting Sherrard to speak at the Cambridge church.
DeKezel said, “Pastor Jim has the same passion as I do, and he asked me to contact Michael Sherrard and set up a call between the three of us so we could ask him to come to Cambridge.”
“I always knew it would happen, and I am so excited to meet Michael face to face,” DeKezel said.
Aniol shares that excitement about meeting Sherrard.
"Ever since God called me to be a pastor, He has made it my mission to go and make disciples," he said. "God never gives us a mission without providing us with the necessary tools, training and people, and that is why I feel that He has placed me here at His church in Cambridge.”
He said after his very first meeting with the leadership committee in the Upper Room at the Cambridge church, “God told me were going to hit the streets running.
"God confirmed that message when He put Damian DeKezel in my life. Damian has a heart to serve God only, and every idea and program that Damian has suggested has borne great fruit, so when Damian proposed that we call Pastor Sherrard, we got it done.
“God is doing incredible things here in Cambridge, and I pray that this event will create a revival of God’s church in Cambridge, not only in our United Methodist church, but in every church in town, and across the state,” he said.
“We have notified all of the churches in the area, advertised in our United Methodist Conference newsletters and emails, and Pastor Sherrard also has been scheduled for an interview on Moody radio (a Christian radio network). Damian and I are praying for the growth of God’s Kingdom that will exceed the capacity of every church building in the area.”
DeKezel said admission to the conference is free for an important reason.
"We could have charged for the conference, but some people may not have been able to afford it, and we believe it is more important for people to have the tools to spread God’s word and also help them in strengthening their own faith.”