The Christian Leaders Fellowship, a group of 11 ministries on campus, joined together for the first time in years to bring MU graduate Lee Strobel to the Hearnes Center Fieldhouse to speak on his religious beliefs.
Strobel, a graduate of the School of Journalism and Yale University School of Law, gave a presentation called "If" about the facts he said prove the existence of Jesus.
Strobel said he decided he was an atheist at age 15.
"Skepticism was in my genes," he said.
Strobel said he believed people who were afraid of death created God, but after seeing the positive changes that Strobel's wife made in her life after turning to Christianity, he decided to systematically investigate Jesus' existence.
Strobel said he tried to prove that Jesus did not exist through sources and data from various historical texts, religious and secular.
Strobel said he traveled more than 2,000 miles during the course of his research to speak with scholars and important religious members from various religions.
He read documents written by atheist, Christian, Muslim and Jewish writers that spanned hundreds of years.
At the end of his two-year investigation, Strobel said he wrote in his legal pad every point for and against Jesus' divinity.
After studying both sides, he said he could not find any way to defy that Jesus was the son of God.
"He's alive, he is resurrected and I believe in him," Strobel said.
The Christian Leaders Fellowship, which includes the campus ministry group The Navigators, brought Strobel to MU after Navigators Director Eric Briner met him in California.
"I knew he was a former student of MU that was convinced there was no God, but after investigating, he came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was who he said he was, the son of God," Briner said. "He is a dynamic speaker, and we wanted to start the year off significantly."
Strobel declined to receive any pay for his speaking engagement, airfare and transportation, Briner said.
Now a resident of southern California, this was Strobel's first time in Columbia in 18 years. He and his wife are both MU alumni.
Sophomore Cedric Cunigan said he thought Strobel had a unique perspective on religion.
"Well, I'm already a Christian," Cunigan said. "He backed it up with facts, and that's what I found interesting. People usually believe science or the Bible, but he used both together."
Freshman Derrick Austin said the lecture strengthened his faith.
"I need to study the Bible more, find deeper meaning in verses and just have more conversations spiritually with peers," Austin said.
Amanda Kretsinger, a freshman and a member of the Navigators Christian ministry group, said she was pleased with the presentation.
"Leaders of Navigators have prepared for months for Lee Strobel's coming," she said. "We did not want anyone to not be here because they didn't know about it. We arduously prayed for Lee to speak."