As a student, I was involved with helping to start an InterVarsity chapter on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. After my freshman year, I was interested in starting a fellowship that would reach black students. None of the other fellowships on campus seemed comfortable to me as a black woman, and the gospel choir on campus did not meet any deep, spiritual needs. The gospel choir director introduced me to another student in my class that was also interested in starting another fellowship.
We met and discovered we had similar visions. The following year, we looked into bringing two InterVarsity staff, Jesse and Liz North, to campus to spearhead this new ministry at Bucknell University. My sophomore year, I attended the first dorm Bible study offered. I was intrigued by how the Spirit met us and how Scripture came to life! I attended Atlanta ’98, and got to see the heart of InterVarsity as a national movement. I was struck by the sincerity of those in leadership to care for black students, from making sure I got to Atlanta to experiencing a conference that addressed my issues as a black woman. I also attended my first Fall Conference, Spring Conference, and Chapter Camp my sophomore year. Through these events, I saw the character of InterVarsity and was offered more opportunities for spiritual growth as my picture of Jesus was enlarged.
My junior year, I went abroad to London and when I returned God continued to work on my heart as I questioned how I fit into the things that he was doing on campus. Consequently, the end of my junior year, I was asked to lead a Bible study. It seemed very much in line with what God was doing in my life, and so I agreed to lead the study my senior year.
As I went into the dorms to meet freshmen, led a Bible study in the African American studies house, and sang on the worship team, ministry began to awaken something in me. I experienced a joy and excitement I had never experienced sitting in a Computer Science class. Ministry was lifegiving to me and something I had a passion for. I started to think, as I sat in class looking at binary numbers, that maybe the Lord had something different for me after graduation.
As I searched for jobs in the Computer Science field, Liz, who had spent so much time with me over the years, asked if I had thought about InterVarsity staff. “She must be crazy!” I thought, “I admire her and Jesse for working with InterVarsity, but that is not for me.” Being on InterVarsity’s staff had not been on my list of options after school.
Even though I knew the Lord was doing something new in my life, I still had plans to take a job somewhere far, far away from home with a starting salary of at least $40,000, work hard, look good in my business suit, and ultimately have the “good life,” while putting money down towards a house for my mother.
I had wanted to go into Computer Science since I was eleven and had followed that dream all the way up until that point. My family depended on me–everyone knew that I was going to be the one to make it and bring home the money. You didn’t take the path that I took from the streets of Baltimore’s inner city to the campus of Bucknell University to go onto InterVarsity staff.
But, God had another plan for my life. I attended Fall Conference where Susan Van Risen was the speaker. I automatically connected with her as she spoke of her freshman year on campus. She described herself as a “fisher of men” because she attracted and had relationships with a lot of men that year. She described my first year experience exactly. She had won my trust, and I listened intently to her story that weekend. She challenged us repeatedly to take risks.
She talked of how God had turned her life upside-down time and time again, but with the same constant bright smile she would say, “My life is so good.” I was particularly taken aback by hearing her story of what it was like for her to come on staff against her family’s wishes and the hardship for her to choose ministry when it would put her against her family. She still smiled and said, “My life is so good.”
I was blown away! How could her life be good when it seemed that God had wreaked havoc in her family and caused separation between her and her loved ones? There was something deep in her risk-taking and trusting God that made her life good. I could hear God saying, ‘Let me turn your world upside down. Trust me. It will be good’. The ‘good life’ that I had always imagined of following my dream in Computer Science didn’t seem to hold any light to the good life God wanted to give me through taking risks, trusting him with my life, and joining InterVarsity staff.
If you are interested, you can donate to Nakhia’s ministry directly.