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Created for This

Published on March 27, 2023

Scott Barkley

Mitchell Rans has a unique set of skills.

At one time in his life, Rans didn’t think those skills were very special. They were a liability, even. But at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI), his name reflects his ability as a cross-country runner. His ability to focus has helped him in his sport as well as an FCA Huddle Leader.

That focus can be attributed to Rans’ diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was a child. Those with ASD often experience challenges with social communication and interactions as well as restrictive or repetitive behaviors and interests.
Though he didn’t quite understand why, Rans knew as a kid that others saw him as “different.”

“It was a struggle,” he said. “Even though I didn’t know I had ASD, I could tell people thought differently of me when talking to other adults or kids my age.”

Those people made comments that made Rans feel he was “less than” or even bad. It affected the way he saw and valued himself.

As an energetic kid and one of the quickest guys in his grade, you’d think Rans had trouble staying still in class, but if the topic interested him, he was fine. Athletically, he discovered running in the 7th grade and never looked back.“

The things I love and am obsessed with, I do not get distracted at all,” he said. “I shut off my phone to watch movies. I tune out everything when I listen to music. I don’t get on my phone during my time with God or anything I absolutely love.

“In those moments those are the only things I care about.”

A teammate suggested he go to an FCA meeting his freshman year at IUPUI. At the time, about five were attending the meetings. Since then, it has grown to approximately 30, with Rans as a Huddle leader and FCA intern last summer.

“He excelled at communicating the mission of FCA,” said Willis Overton, Central Indiana Area Director. “After every experience and camp, he would post highlights to his social media accounts. He used those forums to share the Gospel.”

During his two-month summer internship, Rans served as a Huddle leader at five FCA Camps while completing FCA E3 Discipleship training. He and two other interns also joined Overton in reading through the book of Genesis together.

His interactions at camp could only be defined as special, and perhaps9VGbKa5c only capable by someone with a unique set of skills.

“He struck a chord with a lot of them,” said Overton. “Although we may be created differently by God, we are created to be unique and special.

“His testimony was very impactful to campers and several came up afterwards and shared how that was life-changing for them.”

The sentiment ran both ways.

“Interning with FCA was amazing,” said Rans. “I saw so many kids grow in their faith and accept Christ as their Savior. I met two of my best friends there and other really great people.”

His influence extends to other college peers and adults.

“Everyone loves Mitchell,” said Overton. “He is encouraging to everyone he interacts with.”

Secure in his Creator, Rans’ routines largely center around his faith and running. After morning practice, he says a prayer of thanks to God for the opportunity. An hour of reading Scripture or a devotional book precedes bedtime. He contributes to a private Snapchat story with other Christians and FCA members.

“God has a plan for me and so I trust in that,” he said. “He has a purpose, so let’s go live it out.”

Pray for Rans as he continues on the path God has for him as he finishes school and discerns what’s next. Get involved with Central Indiana FCA or support Overton and his ministry.