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Bartlesville Students Get Strategies To Defend Their Christian Faith

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Attendees at a conference at Oklahoma Wesleyan University listen to Josh McDowell. Attendees at a conference at Oklahoma Wesleyan University listen to Josh McDowell.
Josh McDowell will be at Tulsa's Asbury Methodist Church from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Josh McDowell will be at Tulsa's Asbury Methodist Church from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Abdu Murray grew up in a Muslim home and converted to Christianity 13 years ago. Abdu Murray grew up in a Muslim home and converted to Christianity 13 years ago.
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -

Do you think today's culture is increasingly hostile toward Christians? That's at the heart of a conference at Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville.

The event by Josh McDowell Ministries talked about the issue and strategies for Christians.

More than 700 people, mostly students at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, packed the auditorium for a discussion on hostility toward Christians and how to win over others to the Christian faith.

"You're not being mocked, ridiculed and stones being thrown at you just by driving down the streets, but the fundamentals of the Christian faith are being undermined and eroded slowly," said speaker Abdu Murray.

While one of the speakers, Abdu Murray, says it's not often blatant, outward hostility toward Christians, he does say many Christians are concerned about erosion of Christian values. He says it happens on college campuses, in the workplace and in politics. 

"We're seeing the clash of ideas, and we're supposed to see it there, we want to see it there, but I think the Christian message is actually being suppressed," Murray said.

The conference is designed to inform students and others on how to handle those kinds of issues.

"I do believe it's the call upon the church to give a defense of the faith that lies within," said Everett Piper, Oklahoma Wesleyan University president.

Part of the program teaches participants how to pass their faith along to the next generation. Another covers how to reach people of other faiths.

Abdu Murray grew up in a Muslim home and converted to Christianity 13 years ago.

"This is not an impossible task," Murray said. "People are always afraid of the other: 'Muslims are terrifying, I don't want to talk to them.' They're just people. They're just people. They have a certain faith, and we can reach out to them."

More than anything, the conference goal is to get Christians thinking about the issue, and prepare them to address it.

"If you're a believer in Christ and you share Orthodox Christian faith, you should be prepared and capable of explaining that and defending that regardless of what the controversy or what the contention is in culture," said OWU President Everett Piper.

Not overt, but gradual where people aren't attacked, but their beliefs are targeted.

"It's not the kind of thing where, 'we don't want Christians here,'" said Abdu Murray. "That's not happening, but there is a slow eroding of this kind of thing and if you erode the Christian faith, you will eventually of course erode the Christian culture."

Everett Piper is Oklahoma Wesleyan's President. He gives Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby as an example, as the company fights the Affordable Care Law's requirement to provide insurance coverage of the morning after pill.

More than anything, the conference goal is to get Christians thinking about the issue, and prepare them to address it.

"I don't care what your world view is, if you're not prepared to talk about it, explain it and defend it, you probably ought to re-think it, because you probably don't own it," said Everett Piper, OWU president.

The Josh McDowell Ministry event continues from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa. It is especially designed for high school and college students.

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