InterVarsity alumni - Julie Hettinger

Julie Hettinger was already looking for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship when she arrived at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo as a freshman almost 20 years ago. She wanted Christian fellowship, and fellow students in her home church recommended InterVarsity highly. Almost immediately she joined the worship team for the Large Group meetings and a small group Bible study. “Each week I looked forward to Friday evening Large Group when I would get to hang out with friends that loved Jesus as much as I did,” she says.

In fact, Julie was so involved in Poly Christian Fellowship that she used to joke that she was minoring in PCF. She took advantage of a number of leadership opportunities and made some lifelong friendships. But more importantly, she learned how to be more like Jesus. “Participating in PCF expanded my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ and helped me discover what I still needed to turn over to God in lordship,” she recalls. “PCF was also where I first learned about short-term missions and God’s call on all our lives to make Him known worldwide.”

Julie traveled from California to Illinois for Urbana 90. She investigated missions organizations working in Latin America and two years later spent five weeks of her summer working with street children in Bogotá, Colombia.

“That summer changed the direction of my life,” she says. “I saw up close the affects of malnutrition in the street kids we were ministering to. I knew I wanted to return to Latin America someday with a profession that could help these children physically, so they could respond spiritually to God’s purpose for their life. That profession ended up being nutrition.”

Her desire to be obedient to God’s call led her to the University of Maryland for a Master’s Degree in Nutrition, then to Denver for an internship with a ministry that worked with teen moms and homeless women. Then she came in contact with Food for the Hungry, the perfect answer to her prayers for an opportunity to help nourish hungry children in Latin America. “In every life changing decision that I’ve had to make, God was there paving the way beforehand, and making the way clear for me to follow afterward,” she relates.

Julie’s position now is National Nutritionist for Food for the Hungry – Bolivia, and she can hardly wait to get to work each day. “Instead of just helping a few malnourished children like I had planned, God has placed me in a position to shape policies, programs, and personnel to address the nutrition needs of thousands of malnourished children! I love having a vocation, not just a job. And I love that my vocation doesn’t just allow me, but requires me, to express my faith in a tangible way.”

This spring Julie was sent to Mozambique for two months to manage a relief project for Food for the Hungry.

“I led a nutrition surveillance project that required more from me than I’ve ever given. My daily prayer was that God would go before me in every activity that I needed to accomplish, and I was able to see that happening in both little and big ways on a daily basis, which was so cool. I experienced God preparing the way by making my tasks just fall into place with coincidental meetings, phone calls, etc. In those first days in Mozambique, I was desperate – the task of implementing the nutrition screening project felt daunting and way beyond my capacity. So everyday I had to pray ‘God, go before me and prepare the way for this project, because there’s no way I can do it on my own.’

“As time went on, I became more confident and I knew what I needed to do on a daily basis, so I forgot to pray and invite God to join me in the project. And I found myself feeling more stressed out and losing my patience more often. Things stopped falling into place, and I felt like I needed to clone myself in order to get everything done. It was like running the last kilometer of a triathlon, with no one to run me in to the finish line. Then I realized what had happened. Oops, I blew it again. I’m so grateful that I have a forgiving God that lets me learn from my mistakes.”

Julie is also grateful for the chance she had to return to InterVarsity’s Urbana 06 Student Missions Convention this past December as a Food for the Hungry representative. “Serving at Urbana was like coming full circle, coming home to the place where God first called me to missions,” she says. “God spoke to me about my role in the lives of this next generation of Kingdom workers – to be a mentor. I was astonished at the sheer number of students interested in using their nutrition gifts in a community development context. I left Urbana seeing the need for mentors to shepherd these individuals with a missions calling from where they are now to where God will eventually lead them, and I left with my own specific calling to be that kind of mentor, especially for individuals like me that have a desire to use nutrition as a means to serve the poor around the world.”

The mission of Food for the Hungry is “To walk with churches, leaders and families in overcoming all forms of poverty by living in healthy relationship with God and His creation.” For more information go to You can make a direct financial donation to support InterVarsity’s work at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo by following this link.