By Gordon Govier

InterVarsity Alumni - Andi Saccoccio

It’s been ten years since Andi Saccoccio was on staff with InterVarsity, but she’s never been far from her InterVarsity roots. She’s still involved with student ministry and still interacting with InterVarsity staff.

After leaving staff to finish up her Masters of Divinity degree at Fuller Seminary, Andi became director of leadership development at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. She helped coordinate the small group ministries of the large church, relying in part on her InterVarsity small group training. But she missed working with students.

She moved on to become an associate chaplain at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Once again she was coordinating small group ministries, but this time back on campus.

Student Discipleship

Training and equipping students with leadership skills was one of her top priorities. “Leadership is a natural by-product of discipleship,” she said. “To me discipleship is all about a life-long commitment to following Jesus.”

There are a variety of small groups on Whitworth’s campus. Some are dorm-based, some are issues-based. “Some are the InterVarsity equivalent of a GIG (Groups Investigating God),” she said. “They are a place for students to talk about basic questions of faith.”

She wanted to challenge the students to grow their faith, and ask questions, because that was how her faith had grown through InterVarsity. “I was allowed to be a doubter, and still be with the faithful and not feel awkward about it,” she said. “It’s okay to have questions, in fact it’s essential to have questions.”

Campus chaplain was a job that she says was tailor-made for a former InterVarsity staff member. So she was surprised that she didn’t stay longer than six years at Whitworth. A new job offer with International Justice Mission (IJM) caught her off guard.

A Passion for Justice

“It was such a perfect confluence of all the things I’m passionate about. Plus it brought be back to the east coast, where I’m from,” she said.

IJM works to end human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. Now, as IJM’s Campus Ministry Director, Andi works with students of all ages, “from grade school to law school,” developing materials to help students understand God’s desire for justice. “We’re focused on seeing a passion for justice as a natural outgrowth of discipleship,” she said.

Like InterVarsity, IJM has chapters on college campuses. Many IJM chapters are a part of InterVarsity or some other campus ministry. Andi says that what InterVarsity students like about IJM is that it offers an opportunity to get involved in a mission that has tangible benefits for suffering people.

“There are 27 million enslaved people in the world today, and three million children exploited in the global sex trade,” she said. “Students wonder, ‘what difference can I make?’ Well, it does matter what I do because I can make a difference. Here’s how one guy [Gary Haugen, the founder of IJM], an InterVarsity alum, has mobilized a whole organization to make a difference.”

Urbana Makes the World Bite-Sized

Andi is looking forward to partnering with InterVarsity as a part of Urbana 09, our next student missions conference. She knows from her own experience that many students will be leaving Urbana with a passion for changing the world for the better.

“Urbana made the world a lot smaller and a lot more reachable for me. The world was so out there, very far away. But when I came to Urbana I realized the world was not very far away, the world was right here. To the degree that I invest in where I am, I am invested in the world that God loves. It breaks the world down into bite-size for people.”

Through events like Urbana, and InterVarsity’s manuscript Bible study, Andi Saccoccio learned to see the world through the lens of Scripture and then take action to make it better. Today she’s in a position to help thousands of others do the same.