Some debaters instinctively know they want to compete. Others remain oblivious until their parents provide hints by signing them up. Josiah McGee fell into the latter category. Once Josiah experienced tournament competition, however, he immediately loved debating. He found camaraderie amongst his Stoa peers and connected with them on matters both serious and hilarious. He remembers, “I was shocked when my little brother and I won a duo impromptu tournament. I’m absolutely terrible at it, but, in finals, he pretended to be an alien and carried us to victory.” His Stoa experience provided much more than just a good time though. Debate not only became a passion that continued through college, but it also initiated friendships that last to this day and opened his ears to hear the Lord’s calling.
Josiah grew up in Kansas City, MO, and competed for KC Animi primarily in Extemporaneous Speaking, Apologetics, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and Parliamentary Debate from 2011 to 2015. In the Lord’s timing, the Arab Spring started only a year before Josiah joined Stoa. More than a coincidence, this event served as a divine catalyst. Studying political topics, including the Middle East and conflict resolution, softened his heart to a God-given passion for the region. In 2019, he graduated from Union University with a B.S. in International Relations and a minor in Economics.
In college, Josiah traveled to Israel with Passages, a non-profit that takes Christian college students to Israel to explore the roots of their faith and the modern dynamics of the region. This experience left a deep impression and Josiah felt drawn toward the diverse people, history, and landscapes of Israel. In a strange way, returning to the U.S. made him homesick, so he keeps visiting the Middle East. Since 2016, Josiah has returned to Israel eight times and made additional trips to Jordan and Poland.
Initially, Josiah believed he would work for the foreign service. God must have a sense of humor because Josiah felt led to the nonprofit sector instead and now serves as the Associate Director of Alumni Education for Passages. He leads the development of content for more than 7,000 alumni on topics including faith, Jewish-Christian relations, leadership, Middle Eastern politics, and more. Josiah says, “The best part of my job is talking with students who are truly discovering their faith for the first time. It makes my job more than a job, knowing that I help equip students to make a difference for the Kingdom of God wherever they go.”
Josiah credits Stoa with introducing to him many skills necessary to thrive in this role. He has a wide range of responsibilities—from project management and partner relations to customer service—which require excellent organizational, communication, and coalition-building skills. He especially enjoys working on two video projects—a leadership devotional collection and a biblical site series. Thankfully, in Apologetics, Josiah learned to study Scripture both on a thematic and a detailed level. Stoa equipped him to develop theological applications intended for a broad audience. Additionally, his passion for making the issues of the Middle East accessible to young Christians is rooted in the Extemporaneous speeches he gave in high school.
Recently, Josiah’s most important project has been a Digital Speaker Series. He coordinates live, public webinars with high profile individuals and executives, including author Yossi Halevi, Senator Marco Rubio, and former Ambassador Nikki Haley. This opportunity challenges Josiah professionally and provides space for new growth.
Looking forward, Josiah trusts the Lord to continue working through the Stoa community in these uncertain times. He mentions, “The Lord continues to use Stoa friendships around the country to broaden my horizons and encourage empathy. These are challenging times, and we need both critical thinking and compassion to represent Christ well in polarized, suffering communities.” In the short term, Josiah is thrilled to marry his best friend, Rebecah, in July 2020. In the long term, God’s plans will continue to reveal themselves. No matter what Josiah’s future holds, it will likely involve the Middle East as he continues to follow the path that the Lord sets before him.
*Thanks to Laura Williamson (CO) for serving as a contributing editor for this Spotlight.*