As the Evangelism Coordinator for Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana, one of first verses that James Chambers points out to staff and students is Mark 3:14-15:
“Jesus chose twelve and called them apostles. He wanted them to be with him, and he wanted to send them out to preach and to have the authority to force demons out of people.”
From this passage, James reminds students and staff that Jesus wanted his disciples to be with him first; then Jesus sent them out with the authority to do his work in our world.
James believes that if this invitation was important to Jesus while he was on earth, then this invitation should be just as important today to any student or staff who wants to do evangelism on campus.
“I tell staff and students: ‘If you haven’t spent time with God lately, than you are missing out on the greatest invitation available to us. Jesus came to give us eternal life, so that we could know God. We cannot do ministry on campus and forsake the greatest invitation: to know Him,’” said James.
This was one of the first things James learned as a student.
Call to Evangelism
James had never considered sharing the gospel to his friends at Lake Forest College until one Sunday during worship he felt God call him to become an evangelist to his campus. James started inviting students to study the Bible with him on a regular basis. As he shared the gospel, more and more students began coming to the weekly study and responding God’s word.
Soon after a group started to form they met Beth Hedges, an InterVarsity staff worker who began meeting with some of the leaders of the Bible study. As they learned more about InterVarsity, they decided that their Bible study group should become an affiliated chapter.
After graduation, James still felt called to bring the gospel to Lake Forest College, so he joined InterVarsity staff. Now seven years later, James is still working with InterVarsity to bring the Good News not to just one campus but many campuses as the Evangelism Coordinator for Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana.
James and the staff from his division are seeing students respond to the gospel across their division’s 27 InterVarsity chapters:
- Over the past three years, their division has seen a 41% increase in their number of conversions.
- A president of a prominent community college has personally asked the staff team that James developed to ‘bring Jesus’ to the campus.
- James and his staff partners started an annual campaign for college students called the Invite 2 Campaign—this campaign empowers Christian college students to share the gospel with two friends.
“I want the church to know that students are responding to the Good News of Jesus,” said James. “In fact, God has convinced me that students are being added to his kingdom every day.”
One day John, an InterVarsity staff worker, led a group in evangelism at one campus. John spotted a guy with long hair, who was dressed in black, and appeared intimidating. But John decided to take a risk and ask if he could sit down with him and share about Jesus. The student didn’t respond with a yes or a no, but instead just grunted.
John tried to engage this student in conversation, but this student remained unresponsive. John went ahead and shared the gospel, but eventually left. This student never looked up to acknowledge John.
Weeks later, a student with a joyful demeanor approached John after InterVarsity’s Large Group Meeting, and said: “I met you a few weeks ago.”
John, sure that he had never met this student before, asked: “Where did we meet? I don’t remember meeting you.”
It was that same intimidating, non-responsive, dressed-in-black student who was now completely transformed. This student proceeded to tell John that after their socially awkward interaction (or lack thereof), he had gone home and decided to start following Jesus and actually prayed to make Jesus his Lord and Savior. He cut his hair, got rid of all his black clothes, and his face was completely lit up and full of joy.
James said there are many more stories like this happening on campus.
“Every student needs the joy that only comes from knowing Jesus. I had no idea how much joy there was to be found when I was a student,” said James. “I thought being a Christian meant ‘following rules.’ But now as I follow Jesus, joy seems to show up everywhere.”
As Evangelism Coordinator for over 27 chapters, James hopes to empower those who have never shared their faith before to experience the joy of seeing God work His miracle of salvation through them before they graduate. He and other staff are equipping and training students to share the gospel, and students are responding in amazing ways!