InterVarsity Alumni – Steve Hardy

Having grown up in a Christian home, Steve Hardy wanted to attend a college that would challenge his faith. He chose Oberlin College, and the challenges began as soon as he arrived for the fall semester of 1967.

“InterVarsity was the only Christian group on campus,” he recalled. “There were only four other students besides me in Oberlin Christian Fellowship.” By the end of the first semester, discouragement and loneliness weighed heavily on his soul.

But when he arrived at Urbana 67 and saw the University of Illinois Assembly Hall filled with four times as many Christians as Oberlin had students, his perspective changed completely. “I was blown away by a vision of what a community of believers might look like,” he recalled. “I went back from Urbana with an intense commitment to see God at work on our campus.”

Steve attended InterVarsity weekend conferences and was trained in evangelism and Bible study. He also attended InterVarsity’s month-long Student Leadership Training conference at Cedar Campus in Upper Michigan. He served for two years as president of Oberlin Christian Fellowship.

“God blessed our efforts and by the time I graduated we actually had become one of the largest student groups on campus,” he said. “A fair number of us have gone into full-time Christian ministry.”

Steve intended to go to law school to prepare for a career in foreign service. But the weekend he was to take the bar exam he was asked to staff a training conference on evangelism. He enjoyed the challenge of working with college students and ended up on InterVarsity staff for several years.

He went on to get advanced degrees in theology and missiology and got involved in theological education on the mission field, living in South America and Africa. He worked with Serving In Mission since 1985, but as of July 1, 2008, Langham Partnership International named him International Program Director – Scholars. The vision of Langham Partnership International, and its U.S. affiliate John Stott Ministries, “is to see Majority World churches being equipped for mission and growing to maturity through the ministry of Christian leaders and pastors who believe, study, expound, and apply the Word of God.”

Now, almost 40 years after graduation, Steve still has fond memories of his on-campus days when he “majored in InterVarsity.” Maintaining a strong prayer life and daily Bible study was essential to survival in the spiritually hostile campus environment of the 1960s. Today at his home in South Africa he remembers that life after college seemed more superficial in many ways, particularly when most of the people he met (even believers) didn’t seem to take their faith very seriously.

He is sad that some fellow believers seem to have lost their spiritual focus over the years that he has known them. “I want to stay usable by God,” he said.

He is thankful that co-workers recognized his teaching gifts early on, and steered him towards that profession. Now as a teacher, and a teacher of teachers, he is greatly encouraged whenever he hears about former students who are doing well. “The greatest joy of any teacher is seeing one’s students being used by God as they flourish in life and ministry,” he said.

The goal of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is also to see students and faculty flourish in life and ministry, as they come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.