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The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
October 27, 2011
What Are You Thirsty For?: A Photo Essay
The University of Chicago is inaccessible to the gospel.
That’s what we’ve believed, explicitly or implicitly, for decades. We’ve functionally believed that Jesus cannot or will not meet students here and change their lives.
He used the Red Cup to change that perspective.
The Red Cup Campaign is based around Jesus’ conversation
with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus cuts through her hurt, pain, and disappointment by asking her the question, “What are you thirsty for?”
That’s what Jesus did at UChicago this fall.
It’s strange that we would need this sort of reminder here. Over the past four years, the fellowship has quadrupled in size, launched two new strategic ministries, and gained campus influence like never before. But after all of this, we were tired and our expectations of God were low. We figured that this Red Cup thing would probably be more of the same—we would see God move within our expectations and celebrate accordingly, and then UChicago (and our fellowship) would go back to the way it’s always been.
The closer we got to the first day of school, the riskier the Red Cup looked. After all, we’d never focused specifically on evangelism at the beginning of the school year. This time was usually reserved for gathering those students already searching for a Christian community on campus, not in searching out the spiritual seekers. What if we were headed for a year of shrinkage instead of growth?
Yet we kept encountering the Red Cup question—what are you thirsty for? Are you content with the way things have been? Do you believe that Jesus can transform students even here? So we took a deep breath and trained our 60 student leaders to man the Red Cup station and share the gospel.
When we set up the Red Cup station, we were surprised by the openness of the student population to discuss their deep thirsts with us, and the boldness of our student leaders to invite their friends and peers into spiritual conversations. Over the course of the week, our student leaders had explicitly shared the gospel over 100 times.
Yet, no one had come to faith. Our suspicions seemed confirmed that UChicago is inaccessible to the gospel. We braced ourselves for disappointment.
That night, we held our large group in one of the largest halls on campus. After the speaker preached about the prodigal son, he invited those who wanted to respond to the gospel to raise their hands. We watched as one, two, three hands were raised… and then hands started popping up all over the place. Twelve people put their faith in Christ, which is more decisions in a single night than we’ve seen in a single year.
Since that evening, seven more people have come to faith. InterVarsity students are praying daily on campus, confessing and repenting of sin while praying for the revival God has started at UChicago. Many InterVarsity students have gone from fringe chapter members to missional Christians through this experience. At least 20 non-Christian students are involved in evangelistic Bible studies, where they’re reading Scripture, encountering Jesus, and asking tough questions alongside Christians.
God has used the Red Cup Campaign not only to change individual lives, but also to radically reorient the vision, direction, and expectations of our fellowship.
The gospel is breaking through at the University of Chicago.
Lauren Dueck is a Campus Staff Member at her alma mater – the University of Chicago – and blogs at http://laurendandiv.wordpress.com/.