During the fall semester of 2020, COVID-19 had many campus ministries on restrictions. The Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) took advantage of being able to be on campus and each week they set up a table with the goal of sharing the gospel. One such day, Dr. Jeremy Chamberlain stopped by and engaged the students in a conversation. Dr. Chamberlain was very cordial, but it was also revealed that he was an atheist. At the end of the conversation, he stated that if there was ever any type of forum, that he would love to be a part of it.
In the fall of 2021, Hillyn Vardeman, one of the key leaders in the BCM at SAU, suggested that the BCM host an event that would allow for there to be an exchange of philosophies. “Students get to hear only one perspective (evolution) most of their lives and we need to give them the opportunity to hear the other side” Vardeman said. The idea would be that the event would not be a debate, but rather an opportunity for each perspective to be shared uninterrupted. Point CounterPoint was born.
Vardeman asked Dr. Chamberlain if he would want to participate and Chris Kohlman from the ABSC (Arkansas Baptist State Convention) College + Young Leaders Team, who is well versed in apologetics, was also contacted. Both agreed to take part in the event. Three topics were decided upon: creation vs. evolution, the reason for chaos and disorder, and intelligent design. Although the topics overlapped to an extent, it provided the participants with an opportunity to come from different angles in discussion.
On April 7, well over 200 students from SAU gathered in Foundation Hall to observe the event. Each speaker was given seven uninterrupted minutes to share their perspective. Additional time was given for each to respond to what the other had said. Michael Sandusky, the campus minister for the BCM at SAU stated, “The event went well beyond our imagination! There was great discussion between the two speakers, and the gospel was sprinkled throughout.”
During the course of the discussion, Kohlman brought up the four philosophical questions: Who am I, where did I come from, where am I going, and what is my purpose? As students were allowed to ask questions, a student presented the question that asked Chamberlain and Kohlman to share their answers to these questions. Dr. Chamberlain’s answers aligned with how one would expect a person who did not believe in God to answer. Kohlman’s answers gave him the perfect opportunity to share a Christian perspective that gives a person purpose and hope that comes through Christ.
It is unknown whether any students had a change of perspective concerning the issues addressed or if any students had a change of heart concerning God. What is known is that they heard the truth on these issues, and they heard that there is a God, and that God loves them and has a purpose for them. “The hope is that afterwards there were a lot of discussions that allowed students to follow up with Gospel conversations” Sandusky said.
The event went so well that there is hope that this will become an annual event.