One of the best parts of my job is to receive first-hand accounts of students and faculty accepting the Father’s gift of salvation through Jesus. And that has been occurring with increased frequency recently. Since 2006, we have experienced the most fruitful three year period – in terms of response to the Gospel – in our history. To illustrate, I joyfully share three stories from this spring.
Missouri at Kansas City
An older international student began to participate in a small group investigative Bible study. As is often the case, his primary motive was not to explore the Christian faith, but to improve his English. However, after reading about Jesus turning water into wine, he gasped in shock. Staff member Erin Straughen fondly recalls: “It was really fun to watch him discover who Jesus is and get more and more engaged in the study.”
During Easter, he decided to attend a Good Friday play at a local church. Erin remembers that “he was pretty indignant that I hadn’t told him yet that Jesus died at the end of the story. We talked about the significance of Jesus’ death, and then, breaking into a smile, he told me that he had gone back to see ‘part II’ of the play.” The next week, after studying John 3, he said that he wanted the eternal life that Jesus was offering.
Unnamed Public University
InterVarsity’s purpose is to reach students and faculty. As a former professor, I am particularly touched by stories of faculty members coming to faith. Due to sensitivities involved with public universities, I will not disclose the name of the nursing school dean who recently led a faculty member to the Lord through a Nurses Christian Fellowship chapter. But I will share what she wrote: “The (professor) is growing by leaps and bounds. We are doing a Bible study together, and I have trouble keeping up with her. She is beginning to share with family and a few friends. . . .” Thanks be to God!
Ferris State in Michigan
In partnership with International Justice Mission, the chapter spent a week focused on child prostitution. At a Proxe Station in the student union building, staff member Dave Fick engaged two students. “How do you think that God responds to these situations of injustice?” he asked. “I guess he wouldn’t like it,” one responded. After further discussion, Dave asked, “Would you like to hear how I think God responds to such situations?” A lively discussion ensued.
Dave then drew them a picture of the impact of sin upon our relationship with God and asked them where they saw themselves on the diagram. Both responded that they were not near God. “Is this something you would like to have?” he asked. With a mixture of fear, hope, urgency, and despair, each answered, “yes.” Dave told them that this involved a very serious decision and that each had to be ready independently of the other. After an awkward silence, one finally said, “I want to do that today.” After Dave explained the way of salvation, the second responded, “I’ll do it too.” All three then prayed together.
In addition to individual stories, there are many wonderful accounts of effective witnessing communities. I want to particularly acknowledge chapters that had 30-plus new believers this year:
- University of Maine at Orono
- University of California at San Diego
- Sonoma State University
- Bemidji State University
- Purdue University (Greek)
- Baruch College (City University of New York)
- University of Houston
- University of Rhode Island
- University of Illinois (Greek)
Finally, I give thanks for the remarkable harvest that is occurring in our New York/New Jersey region. In 2004-2005, fifty-four students became Christians. This school year, that number has jumped to 217, and counting. Glory be to God. And thanks to the staff, volunteers, and student leaders who have made sharing the Good News such a priority over the past four years.