Rich Suplita

Staff Evangelist

 

A native of West Virginia, I enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school graduation. From 1995 to 1999, I attended West Virginia University, earning bachelors degrees in Communication and Psychology. I moved to Georgia in 1999. There I took up the professional study of neuroscience at the University of Georgia (UGA), earning an M.S. in 2003 and a Ph.D. in 2005. Having already been teaching at UGA for two full years while earning my doctorate, I was hired as full-time faculty upon my graduation.

 

During my time at the university, I gradually surrendered my beliefs in God and the Bible. While I would still drop in on a church service or Bible study every now and then, my worldview became increasingly secular. A friend of mine who grew up Catholic but became an ardent atheist challenged me to read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I enthusiastically jumped aboard the "new atheist" movement, going so far as becoming the faculty advisor for UGAtheists--the student atheist group at UGA.

 

While atheism felt liberating at first, I found it completely inadequate when I began thinking critically about its implications. It failed to provide satisfactory answers to life's greatest questions, including questions of purpose, meaning and truth. On a more personal level, my marriage of several years was failing and would ultimately end in 2008. Atheism offered no insights for navigating that dark chapter of life other than to focus self: self-improvement, self-sufficiency, and self-gratification.

 

Even while I was running as far from God as I could get, his goodness to me was evident in the greatest treasures of my life apart from knowing Christ--my daughters! Two years after my divorce, my oldest daughter, Annabel, professed Christ as Lord and Savior and was baptized. Her atheist-on-paper-but-rethinking-things father was in attendance that Sunday. My atheist friends and I had discussed at length the importance of rearing children to be critical thinkers who would shun the sort of wish-thinking that Christianity required. I planned to have a pointed conversation with my daughters to discourage religious belief. It is telling that I was never able to get those words out of my mouth. Instead I realized that, for some reason I didn't understand, it warmed my heart that my daughter had come to experience Christ. How does one reconcile that with being the faculty advisor for the campus atheist group? It caused some powerful feelings of cognitive dissonance to say the least! 

 

Having concluded that atheism didn't add up and that there had to be something higher than humanity--something eternal--I determined to take a fresh look at what Christians believe. The more I studied the historical basis for Christianity, the more I became convinced that there was something fascinatingly and undeniably unique about Jesus Christ and the movement he inspired. I realized that most of the criticisms and complaints I would level against Christianity as an atheist were either misconceived or false. In 2011, I returned to Christian belief, was baptized and joined a church.

 

I knew that God was calling me to more, but I was tentative, lacking faith and spiritual maturity. There were even certain idols in my life that I was unwilling to relinquish. It wouldn't be until three years later and after some serious life turmoil that I would fully surrender my life to Christ. The following year, I left UGA and began a graduate program in Christian Apologetics at Luther Rice Seminary. That same year, I made the acquaintance of Tom Short at my first Faithwalkers conference. That spring, Tom invited me to spend a few days with the Truth on Display team at Florida State University. From the first hour of the first day on campus, I knew that this is where God was leading me!

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Anna Shicks

Ohio | Fall Intern

Favorite Verse: 

"In my desperation, I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles." Psalm 34:6

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Abigail Harmon

Indiana | Fall Intern

Favorite Verse: 

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

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Katelyn Trujillo

Florida | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." Matthew 25:21

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Dave Warshaw

Maryland | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 5:19-20

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Danielle Millar

Virginia | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Romans 12:9-13

Shannon Zirnhelt

Minnesota | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.' Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" John 3:1-3

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Resse Whitlatch

Ohio | Fall Intern

Favorite Verse: 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

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Sofia Calderon

Florida | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3

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Kelly Gordon

Florida | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" Philippians 3:20

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Steven Ferguson

Maryland | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Philippians 1:20

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Ethan Lynch

Maryland | Fall Intern

 

Favorite Verse: 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21