Working as a Christian speaker in a secular society
After coming in from an overnight flight and completing a radio interview, Jojo Ruba was put in front of a group of students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax to talk about a very sensitive topic.
Abortion, which Ruba says he is unrepentantly against.
As a Christian speaker, Ruba is aware of the challenges he faces, but his commitment to God and to Christianity means that there is a responsibility to spread his beliefs, he says.
“I want to be able to say that I left a legacy behind where I’ve helped many, many Christians talk to their non-Christian friends” says Ruba, “in a way that those non-Christian friends can actually understand and even if those non-Christian friends don’t become Christians, they can begin to at least think.”
Christianity had always played a large role in his childhood. Ruba’s father was a pastor, which meant he saw firsthand the issues that were a result of ministering people. Through an infamous teenage rebellion, Ruba decided to separate himself from his Christian based environment and found a secular university that tested his beliefs.
Ruba first thought to challenge his beliefs when he was walking back to residence in his first month at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he was studying journalism.
“No one would ever know that I abandoned my faith and I was a time zone and a half away from my parents. No one knew who I was there,” says Ruba. “When I first started school, it was a thought, not necessarily a temptation but something that made me think about what is it that I want to believe and why would I believe that.”
After deeply investigating Christianity, and coming to the realization his beliefs had value, he decided to take advantage of his background in communications.
This would enable Ruba to translate what Christians believe to a culture that he says misunderstands them.
Photo courtesy of Jojo Ruba
“One of the things I learned about communications is that when you communicate an idea, it’s not nearly just trying to tell people what you think, it’s making sure you understand what they think.”
As a pro-life speaker, Ruba speaks on what he considers to be truth. Co-founding the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) and executive directing Faith Beyond Belief, he says he realized that there is no way to get the public to talk about abortion unless they forced the discussion.
Part of showing graphic images in public is meant to be offensive Ruba says, “every major social change for the good happened because people were willing to offend the traditional views of that society of that day.”
Ruba says one of the problems that individuals against abortion face is that they aren’t popular. This results in limited opportunities to engage with the public.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is an organization that, according to Ruba, is supported by everyone. The organization is brought into public schools to show public awareness videos and advertisements that will leave students with “lasting impressions on the dangers of drinking and driving” according to their website.
Denise Dubyk, director of MADD agrees organizations that use impactful images are bringing awareness to a subject that the public may not want to watch. “We always say if we change one person’s choice, if we save one life, then we’ve accomplished something through our ad campaigns and programs”
“Everyone is anti-choice about drinking and driving,” Ruba says, but then most Canadians are in favour of allowing individuals to make up their minds. “In that kind of situation the images aren’t welcome and the discussions aren’t welcome.”
Photo courtesy of Jojo RubaChoosing to focus his efforts in anti-abortion advocacy, Ruba is almost guaranteed to offend a lot of people who don’t agree with the Christian worldview, many of whom he has already had to face.
Back in 2009, Ruba was invited by students of a “pro-life” group at Saint Mary’s University to give a presentation about abortion. Protestors from the Coalition for Choice blocked the projector and remained at the presentation for 35 minutes before campus security and Halifax police arrived. Eventually the group successfully forced him off campus to a local church to finish the presentation.
“Even if people hate us, Jesus commanded us to love those people who hate us and turn the other cheek,” says Ruba, “so when you have angry protestors, yelling and calling us all kinds of names we can’t do the same.”
Ruba continues in saying “That’s a key element of a Christian speaker. Even in our mannerisms and how we treat people who oppose us, we have to show gentleness and respect without compromise of what we believe.”