Tobey Williams: Economics Student, Evangelical Christian

“If the message of salvation is true, and there is eternal damnation for our souls, why am I not doing more?”

Jack Crosbie
Sep 27, 2018 · 3 min read
Illustration: Mallory Heyer

Pineville, Louisiana

Medium: What drew you to the church?

Tobey Williams: I’ve grown up in the church, but it wasn’t till I was like 14 or 15 that I came to realize and understand what Christianity was about. I knew all the facts and could tell you everything about Jesus and God and all these things, but I didn’t have my own faith, I guess. It wasn’t my own; it was just how I was raised and what I was a part of. And so, once I understood it, it kinda flipped a switch for me, and I realized that this was something I wanted to be a part of.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to do so far?

I recently moved out. I’m living on campus now. I think that was difficult, just because the reality is that I’m no longer dependent on the parents, the reality that I’m no longer completely connected there and that it’ll never be the same relationship it was before. That was kinda hard once it really hit me. Months ago, thinking about moving out, all I could talk about was myself and how much freedom I would have and all this, but it really changes the relationship and the dynamic you have with your family. It’s been kind of a weird, hard thing that I didn’t anticipate.

Do you think you’ll have kids yourself?

Yeah, I do. Assuming I get married, that is. I gotta do that first. I gotta find a girl. I don’t have fears of bringing them into the world. I’m more concerned about how I’d raise them than about what is going on in the world at the time. It’s never really crossed my mind that I may be completely broke with four kids or whatever. If I raise my children to stand by their values — I’m not afraid of what the world may throw at them.

Would you say you’re an optimistic person?

I tend not to take a pessimistic view in general, but I will say this: I think that, as a whole, the state the country and the world isn’t moving in the right direction. I’m coming from a faith background, but I believe that the further we are from God, the worse that things are going to get. I know that’s kinda not a common view, not a popular view, but I feel that the further we immerse ourselves in our self, the more broken we become.

What else keeps you up at night?

One of the things that comes back to me a lot — and not only at night but in the daytime — is this idea that if the message of salvation is true, and that there is eternal damnation for our souls, why am I not doing more? Why am I not being more pursuing of people that do not believe that? Sometimes the weight of what I’m called to hits me, and I realize I’m falling short in telling other people about the need that they have. That kinda falls heavy on me.

When things get hard, what inspires you to keep going?

There’s a character in the Bible, David. The Lord chose him despite his lack of significance — he was a shepherd and not really considered much more than that. He eventually became king and was promised an eternal kingdom. But one of my favorite things about him is that despite all of those things, he still messed up. He cheated on his wife with another man’s wife. That’s a chapter in the Bible that I refer to a lot when I struggle with pride and with sin. I know that even in my pride, even in my sinfulness, the Lord still loved David.

This interview is part of The Edge of Adulthood: Forty-Six American Teens Discuss Their Lives, Their Struggles, and What’s Next.

Writer-photographer, mostly in New York, preferably elsewhere.

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