At Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, staff worker Kate Schoenemann-Torrey hopes that through InterVarsity students will learn to use their undeniable gifts to honor the Lord and bring people into his kingdom.
Many students do not know who they are without their music. As Kate explains, “These students have taken music lessons since they were three or four years old – it’s so much a part of who they are.” So, the InterVarsity chapter spends time every year dealing with issues of identity and self-worth.
Helping to Change Lives
One way in which InterVarsity reaches out to the campus is to host a Concert once or twice a semester. The concert centers on a topic that deals with injustice, or questions of faith. At the concert performed several weeks ago, the topic was, “How do you justify a loving God in a world with so much suffering?” Students, invited by InterVarsity, performed pieces that they wrote themselves or that were written by other musicians in response to some injustice.
During the intermission of every concert, a Christian professor, or professional musician, speaks to the audience about the topic from a biblical perspective. Then, afterwards, while enjoying the post-concert refreshments, InterVarsity students will discuss any questions that their classmates may have.
Last year, a student named Sara became a Christian as a result of one such concert. After hearing that we should allow God and not other people to shape us, Sara accepted Jesus. She has continued in her Bible study with the graduate students this year and is growing in her new faith.
Building a Christian Community
The InterVarsity chapter’s commitment to offering authentic community as opposed to the lonely alternative has been used by God. This year, in a fellowship of approximately 35 students, about four non-Christian students take part in the fellowship regularly.
Kate has learned that ministering to music students brings challenges that are uncommon in a normal university setting. Their immense talent has shaped their identity to the point where their self-worth is tied up into their music; and they also hunger for community that is hard to find outside of the practice room.
With Kate’s leadership, Eastman’s InterVarsity chapter offers an authentic community to students, and by using their gifts as a way of honoring God they are spreading light onto a dark campus and becoming a place where non-Christians feel safe to explore their questions about Christianity