“One of the most exciting and challenging things that I did in college was when I and some other InterVarsity students sat on couches in the middle of campus holding signs that said, ‘I’m a Christian,’” recalled Benjamin Reese. Having graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2010, Benjamin reflected on how God used the InterVarsity chapter at USC to teach him what following Jesus looks like.
“InterVarsity was very evangelical and mission-oriented, which was kind of a shock to me. Before I came to college, my Christian faith was pretty luke-warm,” said Benjamin. “I was one of those kids who knew all the Bible stories, went to church on Sundays, but I never had a personal relationship with God.”
Thriving Faith After College
If you knew Benjamin today, you would see that Benjamin is not only a very different person than he was when he was a freshman in 2006, but you would see someone with a faith that is thriving beyond college.
Today, Benjamin works for Disney Imagineering, the organization within Walt Disney Company which creates all of the attractions and experiences for the theme parks across the globe. He applied to Disney while still in college, and didn’t hear from the company for a long time. Two weeks after graduation, job-less, and living with his parents, he got a call for an interview and landed the job. He considers it a “gift from God.”
While it might be tempting to get caught up in the “wonderful world of Disney,” Benjamin hasn’t missed a beat and continues to be bold about his faith in his workplace.
“My last InterVarsity fall conference that I went to, we talked about the fact that as Christians, we have to be willing to carry our crosses daily,” Benjamin recalled. “So I literally got a cross and attached it to my work backpack to remind me of my daily call as a Christian – that we are to lay down our lives for the sake of others.”
Christian Fellowship at Disney
Benjamin not only has shared with his coworkers about how Jesus has changed him, but he has also discovered other Christians and even a Christian fellowship at Disney. Now he and other Christians at his work study God’s Word and pray together weekly. Besides growing with other Christians at his work, Benjamin said that finding a church home was crucial for his transition out of college.
“I would say that finding a church after graduation is probably the most important thing graduates need to do,” he said. “It’s a really difficult transition after college. You leave InterVarsity, a radical and close-knit community, and you enter the real world where you don’t know anyone.”
Benjamin recommended that graduates find a church within a month of graduating or relocating, and then start building that community. For example: join a membership class, take part in small groups, go to church services, etc.
“Finding a new community can be really hard. I am an introvert – I know! It takes me a lot of energy to meet new people, but now I have a great community,” he said. “Leaving your college community behind doesn’t mean community will no longer be great. I now have great friendships with people half my age to twice my age and some of them even play Dungeons and Dragons!”
Just say Yes
In regards to those students who have not graduated yet and are involved in InterVarsity, Benjamin has three words of advice for these students: “Just say yes.”
“Saying yes can be the most radical thing we can do as Christians. In some ways, there are so many opportunities that I missed with Intervarsity that I regret so much because I didn’t start getting involved until my sophomore year. I wish I could have been a leader. I wish I could have gone to the summer conferences. I wish I could have studied Mark 2,” states Benjamin. “Just say yes and encourage others to say yes.”
Even though, Benjamin might have regrets about opportunities that he missed out on, those regrets haven’t stopped him from seizing opportunities that present themselves today. Just last Easter, he had an opportunity to lead by example, by partnering with another church member and inviting neighbors to their church’s Easter service.
“We went door to door and invited people to this service. The person that went with me was so nervous, but she was ready to be transformed. She said yes, and who knows how God plans to use her yes so that others might come to know Him,” said Benjamin.
“I truly believe that God is setting up mighty works that he will help us complete,” Benjamin concluded. “When God invites you into opportunities, just say yes. He will meet you.”