By Nathan Peterson

How God Is Growing Black Student Leaders in Alabama

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re featuring God’s work through InterVarsity’s Black Campus Ministries (BCM) in Alabama. As a student herself, all Summer wanted was a deeper relationship with Jesus. Now as a campus minister, she gets to witness Jesus drawing students closer to himself. Read more of her story below.

Full Circle

Summer’s jaw dropped as she saw Amanda kneel down, weeping with arms raised as the worship music built. God, what’s happening? Summer prayed. The Holy Spirit answered: There’s nothing wrong. She’s worshipping me.

Whatever relationship Amanda has with you, I want to know you that way! Summer prayed.


Summer gave her life to Jesus before her freshman year at the University of Alabama. She told God one day that she wanted to go to a conference about faith and would say yes if she got the chance. Only a week later, she heard about InterVarsity for the first time when a classmate announced an upcoming conference.

Through this conference, through meeting Amanda and others, Summer came back to campus eager to connect more with InterVarsity’s ministry. And at a similar conference her senior year, after all the growth she’d experienced with Jesus during her years of college, Summer felt the urge to kneel, just like Amanda had. Soon, nearly everyone in the room was kneeling with her in worship and thanks.

Tuskegee University –– Growing in Size and Faith

Group photo of Summer with studentsSummer was so deeply shaped by InterVarsity that she decided to become a campus minister after graduation to start planting BCM chapters in Alabama.

At Tuskegee University, Summer’s ministry got off to a bumpy start because she had to wait an entire year to visit campus due to COVID and then only had four students — all relatives of people she knew — get involved. Still, Summer continued her planting efforts, focusing on Bible study and doing her best to encourage and disciple her four students.

One student, Jhamal, told Summer he didn’t feel comfortable sharing during Bible study. But he was curious about God and wanted to sit and listen. Summer continued to ask him to share his thoughts during Bible study without pushing too much.

By the end of the semester, Jhamal thanked Summer for her persistence because she helped his faith grow dramatically. As more students join the chapter — there’s now 18 — Jhamal is now a leader, going out of his way to talk to quieter students and encourages them in their own growth with Jesus.

And it’s not just Jhamal. Summer continues to see God grow the size of this small ministry at Tuskegee and grow students’ faith. This semester, she’s watched students become confident in sharing the gospel with others, Bible study meeting rooms filling to capacity, and even — just a few weeks ago — three non-Christians coming to faith during a Bible study!

“I’ve never seen students run after people [to share the gospel] before! And it’s welcomed!” Summer shared, reflecting on how God continues to surprise her.

Auburn University –– A Space to Belong

Summer sitting with students and staff on grass on campusWhen she first went to reach students at Auburn University, Summer didn’t feel a strong sense of calling there. The campus already had 30 other ministries.

But as she visited and met Black students at Auburn, she heard many of them say they didn’t feel like there was a place where they felt comfortable worshiping God. Summer then knew she needed to plant a BCM chapter there.

A few months later, a student shared that he planned to transfer to another school. He didn’t feel happy or like he could be himself on campus. Summer prayed for him, and God quickly provided two good friends to him in the chapter, helping him grow deeper in prayer and bonding over working out.

“He’s been sending encouraging messages in the [chapter] group chat,” Summer said. “It’s so beautiful seeing people have that space.”

As Summer mentors students at both Tuskegee and Auburn, she longs for them to grow in their ability to study Scripture and to be quick to do what it says — to care for the needs of those around them and give back to the Black community.

“For me and my ethnicity as an African American,” Summer said, reflecting on how God has moved through her ministry, “I tend to relate to God as a liberator. When fear grips me, I find hope in my God.”

InterVarsity’s Black Campus Ministries is committed to reaching Black students and faculty at majority institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities nationwide, ministering to the unique needs of the community and laboring to develop extraordinary Black Christian leaders and world changers. For more information about BCM, check out their website.

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Nathan served as a writer for InterVarsity for five and a half years. He currently works for a ministry serving adults with disabilities. He enjoys writing and drawing and staying in shape.

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