Core Commitment #12: We serve God and partner with his people to extend his kingdom cross-culturally on campus and around the world.
InterVarsity’s first president, Stacey Woods, once observed that we are essentially a missionary movement to students, but all students need to seriously consider the will of God for their lives in terms of missions. Sixty years later, missions continues to be a major focus of our ministry.
We serve God and partner with his people to extend his kingdom cross-culturally on campus and around the world.
InterVarsity’s first president, Stacey Woods, once observed that we are essentially a missionary movement to students, but all students need to seriously consider the will of God for their lives in terms of missions. Sixty years later, missions continues to be a major focus of our ministry. For example, last year alone over 4500 of our students participated in Global and Urban Projects or church projects and 56 Link staff served overseas. Four months from now, we anticipate that 18,000 students will converge upon Urbana, Illinois for our 20th Student Mission Convention.
We Serve God
Our Purpose Statement beckons us to “grow in love for God’s people of every ethnicity and culture.” This call is consonant with God’s missionary purposes from Genesis onwards. Jesus amplified the Father’s global heartbeat with the commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19) and with his final pre-ascension charge to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth” ( Acts 1:8).
Our commitment to God’s mission, and consequently to particular missions efforts, is rooted in obedience to our master. We are compelled to reach outside our comfort zone, our particular tribe. Mission includes not only the obvious – taking the gospel overseas – but also training students to reach their “Judea” (unreached campuses) and “Samaria” (via Urban Projects).
We Partner with His People
Last month, I had the great privilege of attending the World Assembly of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) in the Netherlands. Every four years, national member movements of IFES send students, staff and board members for fellowship, training and envisioning the future of worldwide student witness. This year, 150 nations were represented. My small group included leaders from Swaziland, Finland, Singapore, Senegal, Papua New Guinea, Germany and South Korea. What a thrill!
Once again, I realized that the Kingdom is not built in cultural isolation. Missions is not a solo effort. Rather, we revel in our partnerships with IFES, churches and parachurch ministries. As part of a conscious strategy, we second Link staff to other IFES movements, enable Global and Urban Projects to partner with churches and invite over 300 mission organizations to exhibit at Urbana.
To Extend His Kingdom Cross-Culturally on Campus
We are currently ministering to more than 3500 International students. Over the past five years, this aspect of our ministry has grown by nearly 60%, and many regions are adding more ISM staff, making it one of our most exciting outreaches. Building bridges to Internationals is a particular passion of mine. In Seattle, I led numerous Bible studies with Internationals and was even included in an International Students Inc. (ISI) training film!
We also want to be conscious of niche campus groups in our “Jerusalem,” that is, affinity groups that may fall outside our comfort zones. These groups may include Goths, gays, geeks and Greeks, or artists, athletes, astronomers and accountants. Jesus calls us to reach them all, to engage in cross-cultural mission right where we live.
To Extend His Kingdom Around the World
Our ultimate goal, of course, is to follow Jesus as he extends his Kingdom globally. This is why our students engage in evangelism, service and reconciliation projects in cities such as Cairo, Philadelphia, Warsaw and Los Angeles. This is why we send talented campus staff to nations such as Mongolia, Gabon, Turkey, South Africa and Armenia. This is why we sweat bullets over getting students to Urbana.
I believe that the Lord has blessed InterVarsity through the years in no small measure because of our passion for missions. My predecessor, Steve Hayner, once estimated that a third of all Americans serving as missionaries today have been impacted by an Urbana convention – a staggering claim. May we continue to so align ourselves with God’s purposes for the world!