USA (InterVarsity) — In the moment, it can be hard to think that God is at work. It may not look like a lot has been done. But, once you look back, you might be surprised at how much He has done. In this blog post, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship reminisces on the last ten years of growth, and the stories of change that have come about in the lives of U.S. college kids:
God has been drawing students to himself in extraordinary ways through InterVarsity over the last few years. In the 2014-2015 school year we saw 4,269 students make first-time commitments to Jesus, a 21 percent increase from the previous year and a 172 percent increase over 10 years. And at our Urbana Student Missions Conference in December, we had a record-high 676 students decide to follow Jesus for the first time. We could not be more grateful.
God’s powerful work in students has continued in the present school year as well. Here are a few snapshots of new believers on campuses across the U.S.:
WILL, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY—FULLERTON
At CSUF, an international student from Japan named Will happened upon an impromptu game of soccer. Two student leaders who were playing, Kristy and Natalie, became friends with him through weekly soccer games and through a small group Bible study that they invited him to join.
Will had heard some stories from the Bible, but he had never really heard the gospel. Over the course of the year he asked them many questions about God. It wasn’t until he was preparing to leave campus to go back home to Japan that he finally decided to follow Jesus. “I didn’t know that leaving Japan I would find God,” Will said, “but maybe I can bring the news of God back to my friends in Japan.”
Will’s InterVarsity staff member, Ben, reflected, “Will didn’t know that he was going to have an encounter with Jesus that day at the park, but God had placed his disciples there with a soccer ball and eyes to see students like him. There are hundreds, and often thousands, of international students at our universities, and God wants to meet them and call them into his kingdom. Oh, that more students would answer their call to mission on campus so we can celebrate conversions like Will’s every day.”
CARLY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN—DEARBORN
Despite being a Wiccan, Carly joined InterVarsity this past fall to meet friends. She was often fidgety and evasive when Jesus was mentioned in Bible studies and claimed she didn’t believe that Jesus was God, but she continued to come. Soon Carly began studying the Gospel of Mark with her staff member, Christy Patterson Hamilton. “Do I trust in Jesus?” she said to Christy one day. “Yes, but I don’t know if I can devote my life to him yet.” In December, Christy sent a letter to her ministry partners asking them to pray for Carly, and several days later, Carly gave her life to Christ.
HUNTER and JACKY, GREEK INTERVARSITY, UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC and CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY—LONG BEACH
The harvest is particularly ripe among fraternity and sorority students, with 148 students making first-time commitments to Jesus at our three Greek Conferences this year.
On a whim, Hunter, a student from the University of the Pacific, decided to attend LA’s first Greek Conference with his fraternity brother, Trevor. Like many students figuring out how they want to live, Hunter had grown up in a Christian home, but fell away from faith when he entered college. Thankfully God had other plans. At the conference, Hunter stood up to accept Jesus during a call to faith and has now become involved with InterVarsity at his school.
Jacky, a student from California State University—Long Beach, also attended Greek Conference. He is from a Buddhist family, but the message of Jesus touched him so deeply that he decided to follow Jesus. Jacky is so excited about the movement of God in his life and on his campus that he and one of his fraternity brothers have decided to launch a Greek InterVarsity chapter at their school.
NICK, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Before coming to college, Nick had very little exposure to Christianity or Christians, and the little exposure he did have had led him to believe that Christians were hypocrites. His roommate Isaiah, however, was a Christian and began to invite Nick to InterVarsity events, where he began to study the Bible for the first time and to explore who Jesus is more deeply. “If I’m going to follow Jesus,” Nick said then, “I don’t want to look back.” In January, after several months of exploration and study, Nick accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him.
Of course, the 2015-2016 school year is not over yet on most campuses, and we believe God will continue to draw students and faculty to himself in these last few weeks, as well as through the weeklong Chapter Camps that take place at the end of the semester. Rejoice with us that students are finding Jesus all year long through InterVarsity!