March is Women’s History Month. To honor this, the Baltimore Christianity Column will be featuring the profiles of talented and accomplished women in the field of Christian Apologetics all month. These are trained, professional, and accomplished women who champion Christianity through their expertise in fields such as philosophy, history, and science.
Letitia Wong is a busy woman.
At Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis; she directs a student chapter which is devoted to providing those students with resources for defending the Christian worldview against cultural and intellectual challenges. In addition to helping college students, she also helps teenagers with apologetics through a local organization called Faith Ascent Ministries.
Letitia is a cohost of a weekly radio program - named TRU-Life Fridays Radio - which focuses on educating and promoting the defense of a healthy ethic of human life.
Letitia’s hard work and devotion to expressing and defending her Christian beliefs has blossomed from a struggle to understand these beliefs, especially in the light of her cultural heritage:
“I grew up as a child of immigrants who became Christians through the efforts of missionaries. Growing up in ethnic Chinese church congregations has its benefits as well as pitfalls. Every American-born child of immigrants values her cultural background but struggles with how that fits into her identity as a part of the larger and often contrasting American identity. As a Christian, I felt like I was in an even smaller subset of people, and reliance on my identity in Christ Jesus became fundamental. Everything on the outside could describe what I am, but only in Christ Jesus did I find who I am.”
Her faith was challenged at the tender age of 7, as it clashed with other faith systems to which she was exposed. Letitia was not content to simply believe that Christianity was right and all other worldviews were wrong; she wanted to know the difference and see if there were, in fact, reasons that confirmed the truth of Christianity:
“At age 13, I started studying the differences in teachings between each of those religions and Biblical Christianity. Not only that, I studied the rationale behind the belief systems as well as evaluating what I had been taught in church. Those experiences ushered me into reading many, many books on worldviews and evidences for the reliability of the Bible.”
Letitia soon had opportunity to put her education into practice as she worked with friends – many bitter and skeptical toward Christianity – to help them see the difference between Christian stereotypes and what the Bible actually teaches:
“[I] sought to answer those objections with gentleness and respect. After all, they were my friends, and I felt as though I was contending not only for their hearts and minds but for their trust.”
It is this compassion for others, more than anything else, which has driven Letitia in her apologetic pursuits:
“Two years ago, I felt the need to intensify my focus on bioethics and pro-life issues after meeting a friend whose mother had been pressured to abort him. She refused, and he was consequently sterilized as a baby. I woke up to the extent to which inhumane practices that I believed were almost unthinkable today are still present - even being revived - in secular academia and increasingly in popular media.
“Among Christian apologists, you will find a slim minority interested in the defense of life. Among those who defend life, you will find a slim minority interested in the defense of the faith. I’m interested in both and use the strengths in both arenas to speak for defending the faith as well as how to live out that faith consistent with the Christian worldview.”
Letitia is well-qualified in her specific focus on the defense of life, having studied Health Sciences at Purdue and Medical Technology at Arizona State. Letitia’s unique capacity to uphold the Christian worldview does not stop here, though:
“This is a very exciting time to wrestle with questions I think students who have grown up in church have come to believe haven’t been encouraged to ask. Such was my experience growing up, so I have a lot in common with those students.
“My cultural heritage and upbringing have allowed me to frequently challenge stereotypes. The caricature of the American Christian as a suburban raised white person who has limited cultural experiences outside his immediate milieu doesn’t quite match my life. I am able to speak about how faith in Jesus Christ transcends any reduction to mere cultural or subjective influences."
However, it is not simply Letitia’s academic and cultural backgrounds that empower her to challenge attacks on Christianity. Letitia has found that, as a woman apologist, she has a distinct voice among both Christians and non-Christians:
“Apologetics is already a narrow focus within subject matters that have historically attracted mainly just men (Christianity, theology, and philosophy) and not very many men.
“For as long as I can remember, critics have accused Christianity as a legalistic religion that is anti-woman among other things. This seems to demand that Christian women come to the forefront to proclaim that Woman was created as the completion to humankind. How appropriate, then, that women engage and complete the argument for the validity and veracity of the Christian faith. Plus, women who can communicate well and teach other women make the disciplines used in apologetics so much more accessible so that more women can become involved.
“I have many times heard women disparage apologetics study, questioning its relevance, worried that it causes people to complicate faith or be combative. I want to shift this perspective. Women tend to invest heavily in their children’s education and spiritual and worldview formation. However, they also tend to disconnect at the most crucial point in this investment, the point at which the Christian worldview relies heavily on sound reasoning about philosophical and theological matters. The need to follow through is key to bringing the heart and the mind together to apply all the knowledge of their education (history, science, and the humanities) to be able to have and share an integrated Christian worldview. Apologetics study completes what women begin in earnest in properly educating their children, and I believe what is beneficial for children is likewise beneficial for women. Apologetics bridges the gap between knowledge and application. Knowledge and application together are the key to communication of truth to a world that is skeptical about the claims of Christianity.”
Letitia has found that in her emotional and existential struggles her Christian faith is not the problem, but rather the solution:
“The times I doubt the most don’t come from intellectual challenges but personal struggles with pain and fear. During those times, when my emotions go on a roller coaster ride, God has always reminded me (most often through my wonderful husband) that He exists, and that Jesus still died and resurrected for me. After all, I have a battery of arguments and a minimal facts case to support that Jesus knows hurt and pain better than anyone could, right?”