It’s a funny thing how God brings the right people into your path at the time He most needs them to be there.

I first learned who the infamous Mike Adams was back in the summer of 2013. When I started college that year I had been following the Facebook pages of a number of well-known Christian apologists, including Scott Klusendorf. One evening, Scott posted that he was “about to have dinner with the great Mike Adams!” Immediately, this was met with a smattering of “I hate that guy!” comments on the post, which confused me greatly. My confusion only increased when Mike Adams HIMSELF commented “Yeah, I hate him too!” This was my introduction to what may very well be one of the greatest inside jokes of all time (go Google “I hate Mike Adams” and you’ll see why).

After a close friend and Summit Ministries Alumni explained what the joke was all about, I was immediately intrigued. Mike Adams, it turned out, was someone who loved to be hated. He was the liberal, pro-choice atheist criminology professor turned Conservative Christian with a sharp mind and wicked sense of humor. At this time, I immediately began devouring everything he wrote. See, in my second semester of college in Spring 2014, I had a history professor who was a staunch liberal who constantly ridiculed conservative Christians in the classroom, mocking them as backwards, fetus-obsessed idiots who hated the poor, racial minorities, immigrants, and anyone not like them. Frustrated, I came across Mike Adams’ books, Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel, Feminists Say the Darndest Things! and Letters to a Young Progressive. Not only did Adams point out in these three books that by and large, it was the liberal “open-minded” academics he worked with (and in colleges across the country) who were some of the most intolerant, hateful, and small-minded people in society, he also made the entire lesson enjoyable with constant puns and gags. Even if you disagreed with him, you could do so and still enjoy yourself while at it.

Around this time, I also found out about Adams’ work in defending free speech on the college campus, in particular his free speech lawsuit against his own university where he taught, UNC Wilmington. He stood out as someone who was willing to stand up for what was right, even when he was alone. Little did I know my life would end up taking a similar path shortly thereafter.

In late 2015, I found out I had all the credits needed to transfer to a four year university, except for one. Because of this, I was stuck at my community college for one more semester just to meet that one requirement. I was greatly disappointed, but then an idea popped into my head out of nowhere: start a pro-life club with the time you have on campus. Looking back, this became one of God’s greatest blessings.

I began putting together plans to start a Students for Life group in Spring 2016, and with the help of my friend and colleague Rebekah Dyer, we launched Students for Life of Palomar College. At the time, Mike Adams served as a great source of inspiration: if he could stand up for life on his campus, even while he was relatively alone, so could we.

After several successful outreaches at our school, (and finally obtaining that stupid transfer credit) I moved on to California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) to finish my education the following semester. At the time, I was planning to complete college, and finish an ROTC contract to commission into the Army as a Second Lieutenant. I figured I would let someone else take care of the pro-life efforts on that campus.

God had other plans.

I soon became president of the Students for Life club at CSUSM, or what was left of it, and began rebuilding the group from the ground up. Along the way, I began devouring everything Mike Adams had ever written about campus free speech issues, so I could be ready to respond if and when an issue regarding free speech arose. In September 2016, I found out he would be speaking in Orange County, California at the Stand To Reason Rethink apologetics conference. I figured I should go and meet him, and learn how to better understand the free speech climate on college campuses to be better equipped to lead my pro-life group.

At the conference, I introduced myself to Dr. Adams, and told him I was leading the pro-life group at my school and wanted to know what issues I should be aware of. He told me to make sure I attended his talk the following day, “Three Threats to Free Speech on the College Campus.”

So I did. Dr. Adams told the audience about several free speech incidents he had been a part of, including a bizarre incident at UNC Greensboro where the College Republican club had been denied funding for a speech by Dr. Adams, but the money had been instead given to a porn star to give a talk at the school a few days before. Mike explained how they had exposed this inherently corrupt act by the school and sought out justice for the students at the school. Mike pointed out that the Supreme Court had already established legal precedent about the use of mandatory student activity fees collected by the student government at a university. Southworth v. Wisconsin established that student activity fees needed to be redistributed to student groups on a basis of viewpoint neutrality. UNC Greensboro failed to do that, and got publicly shamed into changing their policies through the efforts of Dr. Adams and the students.

The story was very humorous, but I did not realize I would end up having the exact same incident take place just a few months later at CSUSM.

After the conference, I told Dr. Adams it would be great to have him come and speak at my school on behalf of our Students for Life group. He said he would, but when I told him how the school was having speakers regularly come to campus to promote abortion or bizarre sexual activities, he told me sternly to keep on the lookout and contact Alliance Defending Freedom if anything seemed out of place.

That I did. A few weeks later, in Spring 2017, we got denied the funds to help pay for Dr. Adams to give a talk defending the pro-life point of view. The maximum amount we could request for a club event from the Student Government was $500, with the odd stipulation it couldn’t be used to pay for a speaker.  However, a few days after we got turned down by the Student Government, I was walking on campus when I came across a poster advertising for an event called the “Pleasure Party,” an orgasm and masturbation workshop paid for using our student activity fees. The same fees we could not be given back to pay for our own event. I was furious. I also found out there was an event afterward, an interactive event on sadomasochism — with a guest speaker, also paid for by the same student activity funds we got denied for. Were we angry? You bet we were.

I told Mike about the incident, and he told me to get in touch with Alliance Defending Freedom and get the information in front of an attorney. I did just that, and one thing led to another until we filed suit against the university in May of 2017. In short, we picked a fight with the biggest university system in the United States. The case would take three years to resolve, during which time I would finish school and spend a year overseas on a tour with the Army.

Mike stood by me and my group the whole way. The day after we filed, he ran a column on Townhall dubbed “Welcome to CSU S&M!” to bring attention to the corruption at CSUSM. All along the way, Mike would tell hundreds of people about our fight with the CSU system for equal rights to engage in free speech, for all students, without regard to viewpoint.

Along the way, he became a good friend. Every time he was in Southern California to speak at a church or conference, I would make a point to go visit with him. He loved catching up and telling other people about what we were doing at CSUSM. In July 2019, he and I spent several hours after a conference in Rancho Santa Fe, California, chatting with people about how they could get engaged in defending life on their own campuses. It was a very special night.

In August 2019, we received the verdict from the judge: Victory. We had won our case against the school, and the administration of both CSUSM and the broader CSU system would agree to attend settlement negotiations to come to a resolution. In short, the entire CSU system would have to enact changes on every single campus (all 23 of them) to better promote and protect free speech for all students, not just the few who hold currently favorable views. In February of 2020, our case would settle, and a three year battle would draw to a close in victory. Mike continued to share about my lawsuit and give students encouragement to step up in boldness and in faith to do what was right. He would tell my story to thousands of students nationwide. On multiple occasions I have had people reach out to me after hearing about my case from Dr. Adams, saying they were both infuriated by what had happened, and were inspired to begin stepping out in boldness as well. Just as Mike Adams had once inspired me to step up to defend those who could not, I was able to pass on what he had taught me to others.

Mike had a saying he coined during the darkest days of his own legal battle with UNC Wilmington, “This is not defeat. This is Providence.” God’s good providence guided me to not only follow in the footsteps of one of my personal heroes, but also to find a friend and a mentor in Mike Adams. I got to cheer him on from a US military base overseas when he debated the “Christian” abortionist Dr. Willie Parker in February of 2019; something most Christian leaders were unwilling or afraid to do. When we got the news of our legal victory a few months later, Mike celebrated with us and wrote further columns to draw attention to what we had pulled off. Mike was someone who would see things through to the end when he was helping you, no matter who you were.

Mike Adams passed away last week, leaving many of us who knew him personally heartbroken. Many more who never knew him, but were inspired to become bolder in their faith because of him, have been deeply saddened by this loss.

However, I know I will one day see him again. He has now finished his race, and has entered into the presence of the Savior who loved him.

Because of Mike Adams, thousands of young people are now emboldened to carry on his legacy and continue fighting for the preborn. Many children are alive today who would have been otherwise lost to abortion because of Mike’s courage and tenacity in fighting for their recognition as fellow human beings. Many students have now been given great courage to make a difference in the lives of their friends and peers when they go back to their colleges this fall, to stand up for the freedoms we have taken too much for granted. And many people have been pointed to the love of God through Mike’s testimony and his example of trusting the Lord in the midst of darkness.

Mike’s passing is not a win for the evils now rampaging through the culture. His life was one of victory and inspiration. Even now, nearly a week after his passing, thousands of people are learning of his legacy and being inspired to step out of their comfort zone and do the right thing. As Mike himself would say if he were here with us today, this is not defeat.

This is Providence.

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Nathan is a staff apologist for the Life Training Institute, equipping pro-life advocates to make the case for life. Also a contributing writer at The Millenial Review and CampusReform

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.