In May, our rhetoric students went on a missions trip to Berkeley, California with Stand to Reason. "Stand to Reason trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square." Brett Kunkle, the Student Impact Director at Stand to Reason, led the missions trip. During the trip, our students met with atheist professors and engaged college students in conversation on the campus of U.C. Berkeley. Nicholas Bruhl, class of 2017, shares his experience.
Going to Berkeley and speaking to students, pastors of other religions, and atheists was incredibly beneficial to my walk with Christ. The trip strengthened my faith immensely and showed me that I had nothing to be afraid of when it comes to debating these important questions about life. I have been blessed with the answers to these questions and this trip has given me confidence in that. Though it was hard to see lost souls who have never thought through these things, I am thankful for the experience I was given.
One of the biggest things I took away from the trip was the training we had in approaching and having conversations with people who had various views that differed from ours. We were taught to be warm and kind when we spoke to the students, but to not yield on our stance concerning a topic. Making sure that we listen to them and smile and nod and let them speak was very important and helped further conversations greatly. We were also taught to stay on topic and not let our discussions veer off in an unnecessary direction. It became obvious that thinking through what we were going to say before we said it was really important to good, deep conversations. Picking through the arguments of those we spoke with and finding what made sense and what didn't was really interesting for me. Being able to talk about the arguments that were made afterward with our group was really great. Another huge part of this aspect of the trip was being humble. We were given many examples of humility from those we talked with and that encouraged us to follow their example. Being willing to simply say, "I don't know. Let me get back to you on that," was really stressed in our talks with Brett Kunkle. All of these things really helped make talking to the students and others more enjoyable and one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Another important part of the trip was the devotionals and studies that we were able to do. Understanding the Bible and reading/studying it helps a great deal when attempting to defend the Faith. We were taught to master the Bible through repeatedly reading and rereading a book many times until we understood it very well. During the course of our time at Berkeley, we read the book of Philippians numerous times and studied the main themes and teachings found throughout. We also discussed the different reasons some people have for not wanting to listen to what the church has to say. For example, we talked about intellectual doubts, emotional doubts, and moral doubts and how these affect people's view of Christianity. Understanding these will help me when I have a disagreement with someone who may be a Christian and help me to understand about how they got there.
Overall, the trip has taught me how to communicate more clearly and courteously while being able to see logical inconsistencies within arguments of others, to be humble no matter the circumstance, and lastly to study and constantly be improving in my knowledge of God's Truths. Our leader, Brett Kunkle, was fantastic and was a gifted apologist/friend during our trip. In the end, the Berkeley mission trip provided me with a great deal of beneficial life experience, and opened my eyes to the world outside of Tehachapi. I am very thankful for the opportunity and would love to go again.
Training with Brett Kunkle at the U.C. Berkeley campus
Meeting with atheists, poets, authors, and professors