Stefanie Klaves competed in NCFCA for four years. Her NCFCA highlights include placing 2nd and 3rd in team policy debate at the 2014 & 2015 National Championship, 1st place in Persuasive at the 2014 Minnesota National Open, and 1st place in Apologetics at four tournaments including the 2016 Region VI Regional Championship. While in high school, she also authored for Monument Publishing’s debate sourcebooks and worked as an intern at the Hildebrand Law Firm LLC.
Stefanie is currently attending a Bible school & ministry internship in Kansas City, Missouri. This upcoming March, she will move to Taipei, Taiwan for a five month YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School. In the Fall of 2017, she plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in political science. Her dream is to become a lawyer specializing in international law.
1. When did you start competing in apologetics, and how long did you compete?
I started competing in apologetics my second year in NCFCA as a sophomore in high school. I competed through my senior year.
2. Why did you compete in apologetics?
Growing up in a Christian home, I thought I “knew” God and Christian fundamentals. After engaging in a few conversations with Buddhists and Atheist friends, I realized that I couldn’t adequately articulate why I believed what I believed, why the Bible is more reliable than other holy books, or why the Christian faith is preferable to their religious beliefs. Desiring to equip myself for future conversations, I wrote almost 100 apologetics cards over one summer and signed up for apologetics at the next tournament.
3. What is one thing you would do differently if you went back again to do apologetics?
Read books! I wish I would have delved deeper into the apologetics topics by reading Christian classics. I wrote most of my cards by gathering information from websites. However, in the past months I’ve read books that tackle many of the 101 topics with in-depth analysis and explanation. Helpful classics that I wish I read in high school include: Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer (This is a must read. What does it mean that God is eternal, omniscient, merciful, and omnipotent?), Knowing God by J. I. Parker (Another great source for Category 1), The Case For Faith by Lee Strobel (Why is there suffering? Why does a loving God send people to hell?), and The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (Category 5 tool). Taking the extra time to read books will strengthen your speeches and help you stand out. Many speakers I’ve talked to feel that their answers are “too generic”, and that’s mainly because a lot of them (including myself) prepared their speeches from the same, top ten webpages from Google. Reading classics will help you find fresh perspectives and unique illustrations.
4. What was your favorite “moment” while competing in apologetics (favorite ballot, special connection, a conversation, something you studied, etc..)?
Many of the NCFCA apologetics topics include common objections to Christianity. My favorite moments were when I heard those common objections that I studied while writing my apologetics cards in real-world contexts. For example, while street evangelizing at a Haunted House fair, one lady I talked to believed “All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part” along with reincarnation, extra-canonical books, and truth relativism. I loved the opportunity to share what I learned in humility and love.
5. What are you doing now (that you’re done.. out of competition, etc.)?
I just finished a six month bible school internship, and I will be attending a YWAM (Youth With A Mission) Discipleship Training School in Taipei, Taiwan in March. In the fall, I plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in political science and eventually a law degree.
6. Anything else you’d like to say that’s on your heart?
Compete in apologetics for the Lord. I know you want to win tournaments and give perfect speeches, and pursuing excellence is not a bad thing. In high school I spent hours upon hours writing cards and practicing speeches. I gave apologetics speeches to the bathroom mirror, backyard tree, and neighbor cat. When my last Regionals neared, I wanted to speak my absolute best and show the judges I deserved to win. And then… I got sick. My voice was hoarse, my nose was running, and my cough was obnoxious. Perfect presentation? Not going to happen. I was unsure if I’d be able to compete at all. At Regionals I had to reexamine my heart and remind myself of the reason why I decided to compete in apologetics. I surrendered to the Lord and told Him that I was competing for his glory. I put aside fancy language and spoke from the heart. (And you never know what might happen when you do that. At this particular tournament, I placed 1st in Apologetics after all.)