Dr. James Tour - No One Ever Told Me

Portrait of Dr. James Tour
Hearing the revolutionary claims of a man whom I thought was just another religious figure impacted the course of my life, revolutionizing the way I viewed relationships and my purpose in life and taking me from my years as a typical college student into a fulfilling career leading other students in challenging academic studies.
Rice University Logo
My name is James Tour, and I serve as a professor of chemistry, mechanical engineering, and computer science at Rice University. The turning point in my life also took place on a college campus.

A Noticeable Difference

As an undergrad at Syracuse University, I had been drawn to the behavior of some groups of Christian students in my dorm and in the cafeteria. They enjoyed each other's company, prayed together, hung out together, but I never saw them making fun of each other or having to defend themselves the way other students did. Coming from a Jewish family living just outside of New York City, I had never observed such consistent kindness and camaraderie amongst college students.

Life Altering News

These observations made me open to the words of a young man who approached me and told me about Jesus Christ. When this young man, who was with the Navigator's campus ministry, told me that I was a sinner, I argued that I was not. I generally thought of myself as a good person. When shown Jesus' definition of sin from His words in the Bible, I had to admit, that yes, based on what I had just been shown, I was a sinner. He then went on to tell me that God had done something about my sin problem through His Son Jesus Christ: Jesus had lived a perfect life and then died on the cross for my sin. This information was new to me. I had always thought of Jesus as a religious man, but had never known that he had claimed to die for sins or even that anyone claimed that Jesus was God.
Praying Hands
Over the coming days, I gave that conversation a good deal of consideration. Alone in my dorm room, I got down on my knees and prayed to ask God to forgive my sins in light of Jesus' payment for them by His death on the cross. Immediately, a sense of peace and of God's presence came over me, like a wave of peace such as I had never experienced before. I knew something had changed for me.

Changes for Good

God had immediately changed my outlook. A couple weeks later, another student questioned me. "Have you become a Christian?" he asked. I answered positively but was curious what had prompted his question. He replied, "You haven't stopped grinning for two weeks!"
Bible page
Another change had occurred in me. At the time the young man had shared the good news of Jesus with me, he had also advised me that if I wanted to remain close to Jesus, I should read my Bible daily; if I didn't, I would probably drift away in my relationship with God. I decided to put this simple process to the test and from that day began reading portions out of the pocket New Testament I had received.

As I finished my degree, I joined the academic world as a professor. I had at one time considered that God might be calling me to serve as a missionary but in the end had concluded that God wanted me to serve other students on campus in helping them to know God. I pursued several other degrees to equip myself for this future in serving God through my field of expertise. Today I find my leadership of students in the fields of chemistry, math, and computers challenging and exciting.