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ATHEIST TO APOLOGIST

Mary Jo Sharp grew up in the Pacific Northwest in an atheist family who thought religion was for the “weak-minded.” They loved nature, science, and the arts. When Mary Jo saw the magnificence of creation she did wonder who the artist was behind it.

While finishing her senior year of high school, Mary Jo’s band director, who never spoke of God or of being a Christian, handed her a Bible and said, “When you go off to college you’re going to have hard questions. I hope you will turn to this.” His timing was important and he had no idea that Mary Jo was questioning creation, faith, and even the purpose of existence.

When Mary Jo was attending the University of Oklahoma, she began reading the Bible because she said: “she enjoyed reading mythology.” Yet, when she started attending church, the Gospel message made sense to her so she accepted Jesus.

She began to notice a lot of hypocrisy in the church and struggled to fit in. For example, when she was asked to make a public declaration of faith after accepting Jesus, the pastor’s wife took one look at her dress and said, “Oh honey, we have to get you new clothes.” Mary Jo was shocked. She was expecting the pastor's wife to welcome her as a new believer.

As she grew her faith Mary Jo realized that, “The litmus test for the truth of Christianity can’t be the behavior of Christians.”

In contrast, while studying Christian apologetics at Biola University in California, she was inspired by other people who “paid to take classes just because they wanted to know the Lord more.” They were hungry to learn and weren’t afraid to discuss the deep issues of faith. Mary Jo finally found where she belonged.

DARKROOM VIDEO SERIES

One of Mary Jo’s students knew some guys who had a heart for reaching Generation Z. They wanted to find ways to address Gen Z (ages 10-25) who are leaving Christianity in droves, and unlike previous generations, are not coming back. When Mary Jo’s student introduced her to the producers, they were so impressed with her knowledge of scripture that they asked Mary Jo to be the director of content for “Darkroom.” 

“Darkroom” is a 14-episode video series (production of Project SAVVY and OX CREATIVE) that tackles topics like doubt, love, church, sin, science, religion, suffering, the Bible, purpose, identity, justice, afterlife, mission, and the supernatural. The overall purpose of “Darkroom” is to convey to viewers that doubts and questions are a normal aspect of faith development and to invite them to talk openly and dig deeper into their faith.

“As a Christian educator, I have a heart for Gen Z, and I am grateful to be involved in a project that’s so attentive to sparking a student’s curiosity,” says Mary Jo. “Darkroom invites students to discuss these important questions of faith with stunning visual production and trusted Christian resources.”

The conversation-starter videos are available at no cost at www.DarkRoomFaith.com. The first eight videos are available now and the remaining six videos are released one per month. The site also includes discussion guides and leader materials for adult mentors to help facilitate and listen well.

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info

Credits

Director of Content for “Darkroom.”

Author; Assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University

Founder and director of Confident Christianity Apologetics Ministry; Featured in Christianity Today’s cover story “The Unexpected Defenders;”

International speaker; Faculty w/Summit Ministries Student Conferences

MA, Apologetics, Biola University; BME (Biomedical Engineering), University of Oklahoma

Married to Roger, adult daughter Emily.

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