3 Reasons Why I Love Being an InterVarsity Campus Minister
I’ll never forget my first impression of an InterVarsity campus minister during my freshman year at New York University. My friends and I were scanning the halls for a free classroom for our Bible study when we bumped into someone who seemed a little too old to be an undergrad student.
“What does he do?” I asked as we walked away.
“Oh, he’s an InterVarsity staff worker. He helps coach students and stuff,” my friend said.
“As a full-time job?” I remarked with surprise.
“Yeah, and he has to fundraise for it, I think.”
Wow, that seems so sad. Why would someone want to do that? I thought to myself.
If only my freshman self could see me now: on staff with InterVarsity and loving it. I can imagine the look of shock—and possibly horror—on my young spectacled face. But it’s true! I love it. Why? I get a thrill seeing God at work!
I love seeing God transform students.
Once, I wanted to experiment with something new in our small groups: I wanted leaders to take a break from their usual Bible study and instead study a passage where God invited someone to give up everything to follow him. After that, the leaders would share their testimony and proceed to invite their small group to follow Jesus.
This had never been done before in our chapter, and the leaders understandably freaked out. One student told herself, Alright, whatever, I’ll just do it because my staff worker is making me.
When she shared her testimony, one of her friends in the group chose to follow Jesus. As we reflected, the student leader said, “I realized how big God actually was and how he could take my small faithful action and change someone’s life.” I loved seeing God not only bring new life to her friend but also expand this leader’s faith and understanding of him.
I love seeing God transform me.
One semester, I was tabling alone. No one would stop or even look at me. “I hate myself,” I muttered. I was shocked at my own words, but they resonated deeply.
Later that day, I took time to reflect and realized that the experience of being ignored or avoided while tabling brought up the same kinds of shame and rejection I felt as a child because of my weight.
I took those memories to Jesus and asked him to remind me of how he sees me: beloved, cherished, and worthy of love. That inner healing and transformation helped me begin leading and working free from insecurity of what others may think and instead from a response to God’s love and grace.
I love seeing God make a difference beyond me.
Recently, I sat down for lunch with an international student, who shared how Christians in Hong Kong used their bodies to shield young protesters from attack. Another student shared how Christians in her country smuggled a Bible to her under the table.
“It felt like we were doing a drug deal,” she said. “But despite the danger, they had so much faith that God could do things, and it increased my faith as well.”
An alumni messaged me: “I taught my church how to develop deeper community and discipleship around justice issues!”
I didn’t directly contribute to any of these acts of courage and transformation. And it’s a good thing that they weren’t dependent on me! God has taught me to be at peace with my limits so that I can see his unlimitedness—whether that’s through places of social unrest or troubled communities. As a campus minister, I am exposed to these stories of how God is moving more often, and I am moved to awe and worship by how he’s moving and working beyond me.
I’m not 100 percent sure if freshman me would have been convinced by all this (I had a lot of growing to do!). But if you’re someone who wants to see the difference God can make in you and the world, coming on staff with InterVarsity is a great place to start. Perhaps you’re a student wondering if this is for you or an alum who’s rethinking your career path. I invite you to consider taking this journey. It’ll give you a front row seat to witness God at work, to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed!
Stephan Teng serves as an InterVarsity Campus Staff Minister at Cornell University, where he currently staffs an Asian American chapter and plants a Black and Latino chapter. You can support his ministry at givetoiv.org/stephan_teng.
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