“Three Reasons Why I Thought God Could Never Use Me”
After watching the video below, it’s hard to imagine that Socorro ever questioned if God could use her to plant a new thriving ministry. But in the months building up to this moment and even behind the scenes of the video, God was shepherding and guiding this California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) junior through many doubts.
No Car . . . No Problem?
When Jesus first put the Bakersfield College Delano Campus on Socorro’s heart, she tried connecting her friends from Delano with her InterVarsity campus minister to plant a chapter there. Lord, use them, Socorro prayed.
In the silence that followed, she felt like she heard two words: Just go.
Immediately, excuses crowded Socorro’s mind. Lord, no. I can’t.
Still that conviction wouldn’t go away. After wrestling with herself, she finally answered, Okay, Lord, if you want me to go, I will. But I have no idea how you’re going to do this.
Of her many reservations, Socorro had no clue how to plant a chapter at a school 45 minutes away. Especially with no car. But a few weeks after Urbana, one friend, Ryan, offered to drive her, and another friend, Katie, agreed to help with planting.
As the video highlights, there definitely were some challenges, especially at the outset of their ministry, but by the end of that first year, the chapter had 12 students consistently attending, digging deep into God’s Word and growing together in community.
“Still A Hot Mess”
The semester before Socorro got involved with InterVarsity in 2018, she was going to school full-time, working two jobs, had just moved out of her home due to domestic violence, and had no place to stay. She vividly recalls her mentor sitting her down and asking, “Okay, what’s the plan? This isn’t going to work.”
Socorro honestly didn’t know what to do. Her mentor offered to help her get into CSUB’s dorms if she was willing to quit her jobs, go to counseling, and get involved on campus.
Socorro agreed and soon joined InterVarsity. God began working in her life, convicting her about how she had been living a double life between who she was at home and who she was at church. And later through Urbana 18, he inspired Socorro to help launch the chapter at the Delano Campus.
Even so, Socorro was quick to point out, “Something that you don’t see in the video was that my mom was at a rehabilitation center. My father lost the house that I grew up in and ended up moving to a different town. There was stuff going on health wise with me. I felt like why would God use me when I was still a hot mess? [But] God still called me even when I didn’t think I could do it.”
Not an Evangelist
As Socorro began her ministry on the Delano Campus, another excuse flared up. “When I thought of evangelism, I didn’t think of me,” she said. “I’m a shy Latina. I was like, ‘How am I supposed to do this? I know the Scriptures, but I don’t know how to make people saved.’”
But the same night at Urbana 18 when Socorro committed to going to the Delano Campus, God started providing her with the resources and support she needed. During one of her training meetings with her planting coach, Jamie Ladipo, Associate Director of Evangelism, Socorro had a breakthrough: “[I realized that] the Lord could use my own story, [and] I could use fun and games to create an atmosphere for people to feel safe in.”
Since Socorro was little, God had established a strong connection between fun and faith for her. As a young girl, she had first gotten connected with a church after investigating a fair and bounce house at the church across the street from her home. And to hear now that God could use her fun-loving personality to share the gospel was a deeply life-giving message for Socorro.
A New Generation of Planters
After seeing how God worked in her life as a student, Socorro sensed a new invitation from him: joining InterVarsity as a campus minister. Since then, the Delano Campus has continued to thrive, and Socorro now works with several community colleges. She’s especially excited by the new online Bible study that has started among students from three different campuses.
Thinking of InterVarsity’s upcoming Ambition 21 online conference, Socorro can’t wait to see more students saying yes to the adventure of chapter planting and learning how to share Jesus with others. She encourages those still wrestling with objections by saying, “List out your fears. I literally listed out my objections to Jesus and then gave them to him [saying], ‘Lord, if you’re telling me to do this, and if I’m saying yes, this is yours now.’
“I know that no matter what [you’re] going through, if God calls you to go somewhere and is like, ‘I got you, fam!’ then Jesus is going to show up,” Socorro said. “Jesus is going to give you the tools and the people to do what you got to do!”
Nathan Peterson is a writer on InterVarsity's Communications Team in Madison, Wisconsin. He formerly was the Urbana 18 writer. When he’s not at work, you can find him working on his book, at the gym, or watching movies at home.