A diverse cohort of students and scholars– all of them passionate about applying their Christian faith to their academic discipline – joined IFES’ new Logos and Cosmos Initiative (LCI) in April. Since then, these 36 “catalysts” have benefited from a transformational program of mentoring and training.
So far, the catalysts have taken part in three online workshops, two e-courses and journeyed together through an online training platform that connects participants from 22 countries across Latin America and Francophone Africa. The goal is to equip these young leaders to run projects that will foster dialogue between theology and the sciences in their universities and local contexts.
For seismologist Jonás De Basabe, who you may remember from this October edition of IFES Prayerline, the Introduction to Science & Theology e-course was particularly impactful this year.
“The course gave me the tools to understand the relationship between my faith and academic work, and challenged me to analyze this relationship from a biblical perspective,” said Jonás, who is from Mexico.
“It left me with a sense that we can meaningfully contribute as Christian scientists to our church and society,” Jonas said. “It also encouraged me to let my academic research be more inspired by the values of the kingdom of God.”
For some, it was being part of a learning community that has been most powerful.
“Being part of the LCI made me realize (as Elijah did) that I am not alone in this journey,” said Deborah Vieira. She recently completed her master’s in literature and now volunteers with several art initiatives with ABUB, the national student movement in Brazil.
“I was encouraged that there are other Christian students desiring to delve into the Word of God and science in such an intense way so that not only the testimony of their work and experience can testify to Jesus, but the scientific production itself too.”
In addition to learning about theology of science and biblical hermeneutics, the Logos and Cosmos Initiative is an integrated program. It trains catalysts in the knowledge, skills and character needed to thrive in whole-life discipleship, which includes their academic lives.
Isaac Daama, a geologist from Cameroon, says his studies through the LCI helped him succeed in his recent, six-hour-long PhD defence: it helped him to be a good listener. John Stott’s advice about attentive listening in his book The Contemporary Christian stayed with Isaac long past the assignment he did on this book in May.
“This chapter taught me how to really listen to what my questioners and respondents were saying,” Isaac said. “It helped me be fully open to them and to not be quick to defend myself or stress my point.”
Isaac now plans to apply to be a researcher and teacher at his university. “I believe this is where God is calling me for mission,” he said. “My training at the LCI has equipped me sufficiently to engage there as an academic, ready to fully interact with the university for its transformation.”
His PhD may be complete but, Isaac continues to progress through a personal development plan as part of his training as a catalyst. Top of his list is developing his English skills since Cameroon’s official languages are English and French.
“If I want to be excellent in my discipline, English is a must,” he said. “My university environment is more and more bilingual so it will also help me to better dialogue about my Christian faith.”
The catalysts are now on the cusp of an exciting new phase: planning their first projects. Most recently, the catalysts have been conducting field research, pilot projects and consultations with their national movement. Their projects, which could take the form of conferences, publishing initiatives and scholarly networks, will launch in Spring 2022.
Isaac, for example, wants to start a science and theology group on his university campus. “This ‘cell’ will incubate Christian students for an inclusive, prophetic, constructive dialogue for the glory of Christ,” he said.
While the current catalysts will apply to progress onto the second year of this five-year program in Spring, the LCI will also be accepting applications for more catalysts. Applications open on 1 February 2022 on the LCI website.
Please pray with us for the Logos and Cosmos Initiative and the catalysts:
- Thank God for the catalysts and their passion to live as disciples of Jesus in their academic communities
- Pray for wisdom for the catalysts as they plan their projects and for fruitful collaborations with their national movements
- Pray that God would draw the right candidates to apply for the next phase of the program