Ryan Bomberger believes life has purpose. Every life. And not a manmade purpose. Humans are created in the image of God, after all.
It’s his life’s calling to spread such truth—“factivism,” as he calls it—drawn from his Christian faith, God’s Word, and his own journey to the truth that sets captives free.
“A lot of my calling stems from my own background story,” Bomberger says. “I was conceived in rape, but I was adopted in love.”
Postmodern culture tends to want to put a price tag on human value, Bomberger says, and if someone is devalued by the culture, then they are seen as lacking purpose. “But when you come from a Biblical perspective, you understand that we are all made in the image of God, and we’re fearfully and wonderfully made regardless of whether we’re humanly planned.”
Fourteen years ago, Bomberger and his wife, Bethany, founded The Radiance Foundation, a Christian nonprofit that uses creative means such as videos, billboard campaigns and even social media memes to engage the culture with Biblical truth.
A former advertising creative director, Bomberger says his aim is to “bring clarity and context to a whole host of worldview-shaping issues in order to equip people to shift culture.”
He has become a frequent speaker on college campuses, which is one of his favorite—and most challenging—assignments. He has written op-eds in major publications and shared his views on cable news networks.
In 2013, Bomberger and The Radiance Foundation drew attention when, after he wrote an article criticizing the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) for supporting abortion, the group sued Bomberger and his organization. In the article, Bomberger, who is black, had referred to the NAACP as the National Association for the Abortion of Colored People.
Around the same time, The Radiance Foundation had gotten on the NAACP’s radar because of a billboard campaign in cities like Atlanta and Oakland with messages such as “Black and Beautiful” and “Fatherhood Begins in the Womb.” Each bore the URL #toomanyaborted.com.
Bomberger felt like David going up against Goliath.
In 2015, after two years of litigation and with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, The Radiance Foundation finally prevailed.
“I had thought, How are they not on our side?” he said, about the NAACP. “I mean, they were created to fight racism, and there is no better example of a more systemic racism than what we see in the abortion industry.”
While Bomberger’s bold method of communication is not always received with enthusiasm from critics, the message—that human life is sacred and precious and that God’s truth is nonnegotiable—is unassailably authentic.
“I live an experience of being adopted and loved,” Bomberger says. “Those two go hand in hand, both in the natural and the supernatural.”
One of 13
At only a few months old, Bomberger was adopted by Henry and Andrea Bomberger, a white couple from rural Pennsylvania who already had three biological children but felt called by God to provide a home for children from varied backgrounds. Bomberger was their first adopted child, and 10 more would follow, to make 13 kids under the Bomberger roof.
“The biggest takeaway for all of us was the faith that my parents instilled in us,” Bomberger recalls. “There was never an instance in my life where I felt like, ‘Wow, my parents are hypocrites.’ They loved Jesus, and we knew it. We knew it was real, and that made a huge difference in my life.”
The family lived on a farm they worked part-time—a great experience, Bomberger says. The Bombergers also owned a store in a nearby town, which put food on the table though it didn’t provide a wealthy lifestyle.
The kids were a diverse group; Native American, black, Vietnamese, white, mixed, abled and disabled.
“My parents celebrated the various hues of skin in our household,” Bomberger says. “That became such a foundational pillar in my life, which is really the truth that we’re one human race. We could challenge racist moments because we were loved for who God created us to be.”
Even so, Bomberger says he was burdened from a young age with a self-loathing and a sense of rejection he believes started in the womb. A stubborn and rebellious kid at home, he acted out in ways that caused stress and difficulty for his parents. In his teens, after coming to a place of surrender to Jesus Christ, Bomberger became an easier son to deal with, but the self-loathing and a nagging depression hobbled him for another 15 years.
Bomberger eventually went to college, graduated and started an advertising career. He was living in Virginia Beach, Virginia, when he met Bethany. Both had shown up at a planning meeting at Regent University for a concert to benefit a crisis pregnancy center. They were immediately smitten with each other.
They began dating, but eventually, Bomberger’s depression derailed the relationship. Several years passed, and Bomberger, at age 30, had come to realize his debilitating depression was based on falsehoods. After years of struggle, he says God delivered him from the depression in one night.
“Years and years of all these lies in my head,” Bomberger recalls. “This is why we’re told to take every thought captive. The Bible doesn’t say hold every thought comfortable, where it’s lounging in your mind. No, take every thought captive … and I wasn’t doing it. It was a long journey of allowing God to redeem things within me that I was holding onto.”
A Glorious Radiance
A few months later at a wedding, he ran into some mutual friends of his and Bethany’s. She had drifted from the Lord, they told him, and had left an abusive relationship only to learn that she was pregnant.
“I had never fallen out of love with her,” he said. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” He reconnected with her in 2005, they got engaged in early 2006, and were married later that year.
“We definitely took the scenic route toward marriage,” Bethany says. “But the Lord was doing a deep work in both of us. … There was a lot of deep healing and looking at ourselves and really coming to grips with places in our hearts that needed to be refined.”
Now, after 16 years of marriage, the couple has four children ranging from age 12 to 18, two of them coming by adoption. The oldest child, the baby girl that Bethany gave birth to in 2004 and whom Ryan was able to legally adopt in 2009, is now old enough to vote.
Her name? Radiance.
Bethany recalls the day she laid eyes on the ultrasound image of that tiny little girl and how in that moment she felt “the tangible presence of God” embracing her and her child and calling her back to Him.
She went home that night, opened up an old prayer journal and saw written in a margin: “I sought the Lord, and He delivered me from all my fear,” it says. “Those who look to Him will be radiant, and their faces will never be covered with shame” (Cf. Psalm 34:4-5).
“That night I decided that my daughter would never grow up feeling the shame of the situation I was in and that the radiant, glorious God would replace all of that,” Bethany recalls.
When Ryan and Bethany were thinking of what to call their ministry, Ryan asked, “What about Radiance Foundation?”
“She typifies our journey through life and how God just exchanges our brokenness for His glory,” Ryan says.
Thus, The Radiance Foundation was born.
“When I see these worldly ideologies like critical race theory that are so destructive and contrary to Scripture,” Ryan says, “I have to speak about race and racism. We’ve talked about fatherhood and poverty, because it’s impossible not to talk about fatherhood when addressing poverty since one of the causal factors in poverty is fatherlessness. We’ve talked about the deliberate erasure of women [through the transgender movement], which is really the erasure of objective truth.
“So, we address all of these culture-shaping issues in the context of God-given purpose.”
Bomberger says a culture hostile to Scripture has taken hold not just on secular campuses but also at some Christian colleges. Few young people, even those from sound churches, have any semblance of a Biblical worldview.
“I really have a heart for young people,” he says. “I love being able to be there to listen to what they’re going through and to help them reason through these things on a spiritual level,” he said. “And there’s so much brokenness, confusion and chaos.
“There tends to be a vast ignorance about basic truths, and the pressure to conform is overwhelming. It’s heartbreaking, but there’s hope. God enables me to speak truths in places that are screaming lies.” ©2022 BGEA
Photo: Courtesy of The Radiance Foundation