InterVarsity students Janie San Pedro, a junior serving as President of InterVarsity at Adelphi University-Long Island, NY, and Yi-an Huang, a sophomore studying economics at Harvard, were chosen to attend the National Prayer Breakfast and National Student Leadership Summit, February 5-9, 2003 in Washington, D.C. Each of them learned something wonderful about the God they serve.
The student delegates from InterVarsity participated in a tight schedule of meetings, dinners, and talks given by politicians during their five days of visiting our nation’s capitol. “This whole notion of having politicians speak to me was mind-boggling enough, but to find out that they had made a decision to follow Christ just blew me away. I always had this mentality that politicians were liars, shrewd, and selfish. Christ and politics never mixed for me,” Janie said.
As Janie listened to the speakers, she noticed the peace they demonstrated. She began to see the reality of God pouring His Spirit upon all flesh. “Jesus calling Matthew to become one of His disciples was a great example of that; and when God broke through that box I put Him in, I began to see the politicians as family,” Janie said.
People from different political perspectives and religious backgrounds are invited to hear politicians testify to Christ during these events. “They’ve had atheists, Buddhists, and Muslims come to these events, which have the focus of lifting Jesus up as the greatest leader and hoping they too would fall in love with this Jesus. They want students to bounce thoughts and ideas back and forth, so that they decide on their own. After hearing some people’s testimonies of how this event really challenged them to study Jesus and follow Him, that’s evangelism to me,” said Janie.
Yi-an also had little idea about what the National Prayer Breakfast and the Student Leadership Forum was really about. But he was changed by his experience there.
“At school, I work a lot around issues of global justice, focusing especially on the AIDS pandemic. When I arrived in D.C., I was filled with a burning desire to find out what was driving our national leaders. In an age where our nation is rich beyond belief, how can we be doing so little for 42 million people infected with HIV/AIDS, for the 30,000 people dying every day from hunger, or the thousands of children being killed by diseases treatable for less than the cost of a fun-sized pack of Doritos? However, as the conference progressed, I began to let go of my narrow agenda and eventually open up to what God wanted to show me. My bitterness softened as I listened to Senators and Congressmen speak about their faith and discipleship to Jesus; and though I never got an answer to my questions about policy, the scales that blinded me were shed. I saw that when something grips me, however noble, it is binding and restricts my freedom to worship God. At that moment, I felt an incredible peace.
“Living for Jesus (according to Matthew 22:37-40, which says to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind,’ and to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’) was one of the themes of the forum. We were talking about what it means to follow radically, what it means to love like that. One of the students shared that his greatest dream was to be a father. . . . It was staggering to realize that God asks us to give even our most noble dreams to Him, not that we cannot ask for what we want, but that we are to follow His will, wherever that might take us. We are not to put conditions on our future. If we give everything to God and delight in where He takes us, because He is trustworthy and good, He will give us all that we need and our deepest desires will be fulfilled.
“It was like opening the floodgates, washing away all I was grasping onto and freeing me to see God’s will. The rest of the forum was suddenly a whirlwind of hearing God speak, feeling His presence and enjoying deepening fellowship with brothers and sisters I’d only just met days before.”
The students and speakers at the National Leadership Summit and Prayer Breakfast helped Janie and Yi-an see the greatness of the God they serve. Janie serves a God that takes people from many different backgrounds and unites them to form a family. Yi-an learned that God gives us the desires of our hearts, if we put Him first.