By Kristine Whitnable

InterVarsity Alumni - Gary LeDonne

Gary LeDonne sat contentedly at the water’s edge, looking out over the cove at Campus by the Sea. He and his extended family, including eight grandchildren, were enjoying Family Camp at InterVarsity’s training facility on Catalina Island. Gary was remembering the many times they had spent vacations on the island, learning of God’s love and delighting in his creation. As Gary cast his mind back over the years, he realized that InterVarsity had been a significant part of his life.

In 1963 Gary began his college career at Shasta Junior College in Redding, California. When he arrived, InterVarsity had no chapter on campus. He had heard of InterVarsity from two young men who had spoken at a youth meeting when he was in high school. He thought that having a Christian community in college would be a good thing.

With the help of InterVarsity staff members in the area, Gary established a chapter. Over the next two year, Gary was a part of the chapter leadership team. The InterVarsity student community that he left has continued to this day.

Gary continued his education at Chico State University, where he was again used by God to advance his kingdom. In the spring of Gary’s junior year, the InterVarsity chapter on campus was faltering. Gary was asked to be chapter president. He was not sure if he had time for the extra responsibility, since, in addition to his studies, he was newly married.

But Gary decided to serve after Ruth Siemens, an InterVarsity staff member, told him, “You can do it.” Gary took over the ailing chapter and left a vibrant community that eventually developed leaders such as Pete Sommer, InterVarsity’s Graduate & Faculty staff member at Stanford.

After graduation Gary took a job as a probation officer in Redding. He and his wife Patty began attending a church that offered a place for them to serve and a good youth group for their growing family.

In the summer of 1972, Gary and Patty and their two children went to Family Camp at Campus by the Sea. During that week Gary was challenged to consider working for InterVarsity as a campus staff member. He took the challenge and worked at various schools in northern California from 1973-1980. After that he continued in full-time ministry, working with Young Life and starting a ministry at the local jail. In 1992 he returned to his original career as a probation officer.

Gary has used the lessons he learned in InterVarsity throughout his life. He had learned to love people as God loves them. As a probation officer, Gary had many opportunities to see his clients from God’s perspective, as people loved by him rather than outcasts of society.

InterVarsity had also showed Gary how to be a servant leader. As an elder in his church, Gary has continued to grow in his understanding of leading through service rather than the exertion of authority. InterVarsity taught Gary the inductive Bible study method. As he helps others to search the Scriptures, he has continued to plumb the depths of God’s Word with new applications to his own life.

Gary’s oldest grandchild came running along the Catalina shore. Gary was pulled from his reverie as he heard the teen-ager calling over the sound of the waves. Gary’s mind drifted back. InterVarsity leaders had counseled him and helped him live his Christian life, what might he tell his grandchild about how to live the Christian life after college? Gary decided that he would tell his grandchild to find a good church where he can serve and grow, to love his spouse so that the family might prosper and pursue his career in a manner to pleasing God.

They walked along the beach together to join the rest of the family for dinner.