Austin Fischer drove up to campus as he has for the last four years. But this time, it wasn’t to get a degree or play flag football on the intramural fields; it was to share a message of grace at Focus— the campus’ weekly worship service.
“There’s a lot of confusion as to what it means to be a Christian,” Fischer said. “Life and faith seem like two friends that don’t get along very well. You like them both, but you don’t know how to get you, life and faith together because it feels so forced and weird.”
The ’09 alum—currently studying to get his master’s of divinity at Truett Seminary in Waco—wants to communicate to students that doubt is not a sign of faithlessness.
“You don’t have to be afraid of questions,” Fischer said. “There is freedom in asking, and when we do, we
find a faith so much deeper.
Asking questions is the beginning of faith.”
Fischer spoke at Focus for the last two weeks, and will speak again Wednesday night at 8:28 p.m. in the W. W. Walton Chapel.
His hope is for Crusaders to see their relationship with God as a safe place. His advice is to “ask a lot of questions, say a lot of prayers and be mindful that God is in everything— no matter how big or mundane.”
However, Fischer is quick to admit he hasn’t always done these things.
“I was not very fond of Jesus or the church in high school,” he said. “I found a lot of different things enticing
and never felt guilty for doing them.”
God captured Fischer his sophomore year of high school, he said.
“I just came to a place where I realized that what God had to offer was so much better than what I was doing.”
Fischer believes his past experiences allow him to relate better with others, especially students.
“There are certain things you can’t empathize with people unless you’ve been there,” he said. “I definitely remember what it’s like to want to believe but not be able to find much reason to.”
Fischer struggled in college like most students, which is why his messages hit home for many Crusaders.
“When I was a sophomore at Mary Hardin-Baylor, I went through a time of difficult questioning,” he said.
“It’s easy to start questioning what you’ve been through.”
He reminds students of the grace that can be found in this search.
After graduate school, Fischer would like to pastor and teach introductory philosophy at the collegiate level, but only, he jokes, if his other three dream jobs don’t end up a reality— becoming the United States president, hosting the Colbert Report or being the next dog whisperer. But for now, Fischer said he will live life to the fullest by focusing on the present and letting God have control of his future plans.
“Abraham Lincoln said that ‘Whatever you are, be a good one.’ Honestly, I feel like there are a few things I could do in the future that would make me happy,” he said. “So I want to find one of those places and serve God and bless people.”
When not studying or preaching, Fischer enjoys hanging out at the lake, playing sports and making music. He notes, however, that he’s not good at the latter.
“I think God knew if I was good at an instrument, I would be real cocky, so it’s fair enough that I’m not,” he admitted laughing. “My brother got all of the musical talent.”
Fischer’s younger brother Adam, a junior psychology major at UMHB, plays a large role in Austin’s life.
“I am very close to my family,” Fischer said. “My mom and dad and my brother are (three) of the best people I know, and not very many people can say that.”
Adam, likewise, looks up to his brother.
“He is definitely the biggest mentor in my life, and it’s cool to see him impact students here,” he said. “He’s
not just a speaker who goes up there as one thing and then is a totally different person when he gets off the
Junior psychology major Miles O’Neil believes Fischer’s authenticity is what makes him inspirational to others.
“He is a good leader and has a good vision,” O’Neil said. “Everywhere he goes, it seems like he really impacts people.”
O’Neil has known Fischer for seven years. They grew up together in Lubbock, and O’Neil participated in The Cleft, a Bible study spearheaded by Fischer. O’Neil said he has grown to respect Fischer as both a friend and mentor.
“You can speak to try and glorify yourself, and you can speak to try and glorify the crowd,” O’Neil said. “But Austin speaks to glorify God.”