The fire and brimstone preacher at the youth retreat he attended in high school didn’t make much of an impression on Mike Icardi. But on the bus ride home he noticed his seatmate reading a paperback Bible and he was intrigued.
As soon as he got his hands on his own copy of a New Testament translation called Good News for Modern Man, he read it through in a week. In another month and a half he’d read it through again. Even though he’d attended a Catholic school, he said that his reading of scripture is what attracted him to the Christian faith.
Attracted by Bible Study
When he arrived on the campus of Florida State University he considered himself a new believer. Noticing the InterVarsity book table, he got into a conversation with the leader of a weekly Bible study, who invited him to check it out. Once again he was intrigued and decided to attend.
“We spent 45 minutes studying the salutation of Colossians,” he remembered. “I’d never seen or heard of an inductive Bible study before. I was hooked. And I was leading the study by December.”
Chapter Leader for 3 Years
His InterVarsity staff worker, Fred Kerr, recognized Mike’s leadership gifts and met with him twice every week, for Bible study and mentoring. After attending chapter camp the following summer, Mike became chapter president. And he held that job for three years.
Paul Tokunaga, now an InterVarsity vice president, became Mike’s staff worker for those three years. They hit it off immediately when they met at chapter camp. “The words that come to mind as I remember Mike’s tenure as chapter president are ‘reliable’ and ‘committed.’ He was a gentle but strong leader,” Paul said.
Called to Public Education
Mike met his wife Joyce through InterVarsity. He got degrees in Business Administration and Public Administration but ended up in education, coaching and teaching. Today he’s a high school principal, relying on his organizational gifts as he prepares to open a new alternative school for the Seminole County School District in Florida. This will be his second time leading such a school.
“Although it’s a public school, I look at it as a ministry to the staff and to the students,” he said. “We try to formulate a staff, as close as we can in a public institution, that demonstrates God’s love for people.”
He didn’t intend to be a principal, but he’s always been focused on working with at-risk students. “I believe I’m right in the center of God’s will,” he said. “I have no question how he has orchestrated all of my life.”
Living his Faith Every Day
Paul said that he is inspired by Mike’s dedication to at-risk students. “Mike lives out his faith in incredible ways,” he said.
InterVarsity not only nurtured Mike’s dedication to serving God through his occupation, but also through the church that he and Joyce attend. He has spent a number of years as the missions committee chair at their church.
“InterVarsity opened my eyes to missions,” he said. “A lot of that had to do with the focus our chapter had on reaching the whole world.”
Looking back, Mike Icardi knows that his life could have gone in many directions when he reached Florida State. He is thankful that God led him to InterVarsity and that God has been leading him ever since.