By Katie Montei

An Urgent Invitation

Belief in Jesus should not be put off until tomorrow. This urgency for belief is the motivation for Can This Wait, a conference that the InterVarsity chapter at the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA) has hosted for non-Christian students for the past four years.

Every spring InterVarsity students who have relationships with non-Christians are encouraged to invite their friends to Can This Wait. The conference is designed for non-Christian students: Christian students can only come if their non-believing friend comes. This assures that half of the students who come are non-Christians and creates an atmosphere of openness and welcome.

Who is Jesus?
At the conference, basic questions about Christianity are discussed, such as, who is Jesus? And what is Christianity? InterVarsity students help their friends by making sure they feel comfortable and interacting with them in small groups that take place after each session. The weekend ends with a gospel presentation about the Great Banquet that Jesus speaks of in Luke 14. Students are given a personal invitation to join Jesus’ banquet table.

Scott Hall and Tracey Gee, the area directors for the Los Angeles area, have been thrilled with how successful the conference has been. “Can This Wait has thrived because by the time a non-Christian student is ready to say yes to his friend’s request to spend a weekend exploring faith, he is seeking God, and often he is receptive to the Holy Spirit and ready for an invitation to belief,” said Scott.

Friends Invite Friends
This year 24 InterVarsity students each brought a friend to the conference. Twelve of the non-Christian students accepted the invitation to Jesus’ banquet. Before one young woman accepted Christ, she prayed with a staff about giving her life to Jesus. During the prayer she saw an image of Jesus inviting her follow him. She was so moved by this vision that she knelt, weeping, as she offered her life to Jesus.

Because of the fruit that UCLA has seen from the conference, the chapter decided to encourage other schools around Los Angeles to participate in the conference. This year only two other schools participated, but others are showing interest.

A Time of Transformation
The weekend is a powerful time of transformation for the non-Christian students. This year half of the students became believers, and the other half communicated to the staff that they left the conference feeling honored and respected during the weekend; the staff believe that many of them are close to becoming Christians.

“The conference this year was probably the most fun, the most profound, and the most significant conference I’ve been a part of in my 14 years on staff,” Scott said. And the significance carries over to the Christian students as well. InterVarsity students at the conference grow in prayer for their friends, boldness in sharing the gospel, and discernment in seeing the Holy Spirit work in the lives of their friends — in big and little ways.

You can make a direct financial donation to support InterVarsity’s work in evangelism by following this link.