For this Q + A we corresponded with Davis Ridley, Former Charlotte Fellow class of 2012. Davis currently lives in Dallas, TX with his wife, Chelsea, and their newborn child, Bear Samuel Ridley. He works in business development for Encore Live, a full-service event production company. Before spending nine months in the Fellows Program, Davis graduated from Clemson University. 

How did you first hear about the Charlotte Fellows Program?

I was looking for something to help me feed the flame of spiritual renewal during my senior year of college. I mentioned this to my sister, who is a member at Hope Community Church in Charlotte, and she told me about the Fellows Program.

Why did you ultimately decide to become a Charlotte Fellow? 

Ultimately, I felt a call from the Holy Spirit, and it was as clear as any calling I've ever heard. After reading the description on the website and knowing what God was telling me to do, it was an easy decision.

Which components of the Charlotte Fellows Program were most impactful to you and why? 

For me, it was my time spent with my host family. Bob and Connice Dyar are so well equipped for this type of ministry. Learning from them over the course of nine months stands out as the most impactful element. But after that, everything else sits at a very close second place. The time at Brookstone, Barnabas Center, and Mark Upton's class are impossible to separate in terms of ranking their importance. Those stand out as extremely important to me. 

What were some of your biggest takeaways from your experience? 

A Christian's primary calling is to love God and love others. Loving people is hard. But the Charlotte Fellows Program equips you with so much knowledge and experience to help you begin to grow well in that area. My biggest takeaway is that there are tools and practices out there to help you love God and love other people better than you currently are. Growth takes effort. God leads us, and when we open ourselves up to instruction from godly advisors, the growth and change from Him really happens.

How do you think the Charlotte Fellows Program impacted the way you live your life now? Or put differently, what did you learn as a Fellow that has been helpful in your current stage of life? 

I think Mark Upton's class on culture and work completely opened my mind. For me to know that Christ exists in all things and he delights when we create in his ways—that helped me be open to all kinds of ministry, work, and art. I became far more well-rounded in my faith and life, and I think that's incredibly important as it pertains to relating to the modern world. Boxing yourself in and only exposing yourself to parts of creation that are familiar to you limits your ability to really grow in all that God has created. Just because it's different or uncomfortable does not mean God isn't working through that thing. 

Mark's class also taught me to be open to all of what God is doing and what the world is doing. Engage it. Taste it. Listen to it. Watch it. Read it. Think about it. Research it. WHATEVER "it" is. God is not distant from "it." He created "it" and wants you to experience "it". And after that, you still might not like "it," but I bet  you'll appreciate "it" and grow deeper. I think it's vital for Christians to be as informed, engaged and well-rounded as possible. That's what his class taught me, and that's what I think makes the biggest difference for me today.