Robert grew up in a Jewish home. Although he had extensively studied the Torah, he didn’t believe it. He arrived at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in the fall of 2003, skeptical about the teachings and values of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
At an InterVarsity small group meeting early in the fall semester, Jen Ripley, InterVarsity staff at SFSU, spoke about God’s desire for all people to know him. She challenged the group’s members to express their Christian beliefs by inviting two new people to the meeting. She gave them fifteen minutes and all of the 40 members left and returned with friends. Laura, a new Christian who attended regularly, came back with Robert. It was his first experience with InterVarsity.
During the meeting, the students broke into four groups to perform skits about blind Bartimaeus in the Gospel of Mark. Robert seemed uncomfortable with the hectic, creative activity and wanted only to play a small, non-speaking role. Jen was worried that Robert would never return to their small group.
Robert did come back, with a huge Bible borrowed from Laura. He was intensely focused on the study topic, adding historical and Jewish commentary, but seemed uncomfortable staying after the meetings to talk and drink punch. One day, he asked, “What’s the Christian understanding about our physical bodies?”
Jen asked what Robert thought of the records in the Gospels that describe Jesus’ feeling thirsty and tired. The discussion prompted members of the small group to think about what Christians mean by the claim that all people are created in the image of God.
Robert has continued to attend the small group, and he attended a Skit Night at a local black church with members of his group. In the beginning, Robert attended the small group for the intellectual stimulation. Now he is learning more about a relationship with Jesus.