This school year is like no other, and thousands of students are mourning its many ongoing disruptions and uncertainties. They want community. They want hope. They want to have fun.
That’s why InterVarsity launched our first ever national Online New Student Outreach (ONSO) this year. We’re meeting students where they are through digital spaces, and since August, we’ve helped thousands connect to InterVarsity chapters in addition to the local efforts of our Campus Staff Ministers.
The last national ONSO event took place October 4–9: the #ActLoveWalkChallenge, a virtual, team-based scavenger hunt. One hundred forty-six teams of students from across the country registered. With prizes––from a Nintendo Switch to scholarships for InterVarsity’s Ambition 21 Conference––chances to connect with new friends, and plenty of fun along the way, they were challenged to live out Micah 6:8, “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God.”
Besides giving InterVarsity students an opportunity to connect with each other, we encouraged them to invite friends and classmates to join this event, longing to see Jesus reach hundreds of new students with his real hope and connect them to Christian community, many for the first time!
“My favorite part [was] bonding with new people of faith through these challenges,” said one undergraduate student, who had never attended an InterVarsity event before.
During the challenge, new missions were added daily (some goofy and some serious), including:
- sharing a post of thankfulness on social media
- creating care packages for others on campus
- recording a video of what they love about their school
- inviting five or more new friends to join in for the rest of the challenge
As the scavenger hunt neared its end, participants shared how God moved. One student said that he experienced listening prayer for the first time during the challenge. Another shared that she and a friend stayed on Zoom after their team completed the day’s mission. She opened up about some personal struggles while her friend prayed for and encouraged her.
An upperclassman InterVarsity student leader said that as a result of the challenge, his team decided to wake up every day at 6:30 a.m. for devotions, so they could spend more time in Scripture together. “As a college student, I never would have woken up that early, but it was so fulfilling and God-given,” he said.
We praise God for all he did through the #ActLoveWalkChallenge. “It was a really fun way to bond with my chapter and bring joy to what’s been a lonely semester,” said one participant.
To find out how you can support this year’s new and returning students, who are struggling with loneliness due to COVID-19 and in need of Christ-centered community, click here.