While many college students have spent part of the summer diligently pursuing Pokémon, now is the season when they arrive on campus with a similar determination to seek and find new relationships. The people met on the first days on campus typically define a new student’s relationships for the next year, four years, and sometimes a lifetime.
That’s why relationships are crucial. And Crucial Relationships is the name of the new InterVarsity outreach tool appearing on many campuses across the country as the fall semester begins.
Crucial Relationships is an artistic display called a Proxe Station, set up along campus walkways. InterVarsity students and staff use the display to initiate conversations about the desirability of relationships. The students they talk with are invited to upcoming InterVarsity events on campus and, in some cases, invited to begin a relationship with Jesus.
The first three days the display was set up at San Diego State University (SDSU), two students made decisions to follow Jesus. “This Proxe is bringing people right into awareness of a core need for relationship with God,” said SDSU campus staff member Julie Day.
At Shepherd University in West Virginia, four students made decisions to follow Jesus the first day the display went up on campus. At the University of California–Merced two students responded positively the first day to invitations to begin a relationship with Jesus.
At Macomb Community College in Michigan, a woman walked up to the display and said she wanted a spiritual connection as her crucial relationship. “She had never read the Bible before and loved hearing the story of the four friends who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus,” reported InterVarsity area director Ann Beyerlein, who prayed with the woman. “She kept thanking me for telling her the story and explaining the gospel to her.”
At Chapman University in Orange, California, where the InterVarsity chapter is just in its second year, InterVarsity campus staff member Daniel Allen said, “We have seen more students engage with this Proxe than any Proxe I have previously been involved with."
When a student at California State University–Fullerton was asked which of the many relationships illustrated on the first Proxe panel he was most wanting, he responded, “Honestly, I would take any of these if I could have just one friend.” Now he has a dozen new friends in an InterVarsity Bible study.
On other campuses, such as the University of California–San Diego and the University of Utah, creative staff have also been using Pokémon Go to connect with new students and invite them to InterVarsity activities.
Becoming a follower of Jesus is the beginning of a journey. Helping students learn how to grow in their faith is another important part of InterVarsity's campus mission. A new resource for new believers has been developed, called GROW: Learning to Follow Jesus.
Some relationships that begin on campus last longer than a lifetime.