By Gordon Govier

Pastor Partnerships in San Diego

For the first time ever InterVarsity leaders at the University of California—San Diego reserved Mandeville Auditorium, the biggest auditorium on campus, to host their first large group meeting at the beginning of the fall semester. They had worked hard and planned well; they were hoping for 800 students to attend the Wednesday night program.

The day before, they had cooked and given away 1200 burgers, to help spread the word to students about InterVarsity’s activities. They had set out an information table to talk with students and invite them to the meeting. They had prayer-walked the campus, and held numerous planning sessions.

They had also invited local pastors. The half-dozen pastors who responded were not in the auditorium though. They were two floors below in a tiny basement recital room, interceding in prayer for the students to respond to God’s call.

Pastors Come to Pray
“We weren’t on the platform, up in front,” said John Moser, pastor of Mt. Soledad Presbyterian Church, one of those pastors. “We were praying on our knees. We were doing what we tell our people to do.”

Since arriving at Mt. Soledad church two and a half years ago, John has been reconnecting with InterVarsity’s campus ministry. InterVarsity discipled him in the faith during his undergraduate days at the University of California—Santa Barbara and helped him clarify his decision to become a pastor. “Daily Bible study, getting into the text, understanding its context, letting the Bible speak for itself—those are instincts and reflexes that have really served me well in 30 years of being a pastor,” he said.

John met InterVarsity campus staff member Brandon Buzbee not long after arriving at Mt. Soledad. Brandon shared about InterVarsity’s ministry in a Sunday service and taught an adult Sunday School class. He also invited John to come on campus and see InterVarsity in action during the New Student Orientation events at the beginning of the semester.

Prioritizing Partnerships
Brandon and his fellow campus staff members in San Diego have been prioritizing their partnerships with local churches. So when John and almost a dozen other pastors responded to an invitation to attend a Sunday afternoon meeting with InterVarsity’s student leaders, InterVarsity staff felt like they were seeing the partnerships pay off.

The InterVarsity staff members and student leaders were blessed when the pastors prayed for them and affirmed their outreach on campus. “That was a powerful moment,” Brandon said. “It encouraged us to know that we aren’t at odds with the church but are truly shoulder to shoulder in the mission.”

Tom Bush is another ministry leader who responded and prayed for InterVarsity’s outreach that day. He is a prayer mobilizer with Vision San Diego, a Southern Baptist-affiliated ministry support service, and appreciated the chance to affirm InterVarsity’s ministry on campus. “There is a mutual sense that partnerships are the way that we need to be doing church,” he said. “God is taking an active part in moving it along.”

Prayer Brings Results
John and some of the other pastors who prayed for the large group meeting made it up to the auditorium for the end of the program. “They got to see 35 students stand and make first-time decisions to follow Christ,” Brandon said. “Another 130 stood to commit their college years to God’s purposes.”

After grilling hundreds of burgers for InterVarsity, bringing water and snacks to students at the outreach table, praying for student leaders during the Sunday afternoon meeting, and praying for students during the large group meeting, John was energized. “All of it was important for me to reignite my passion for collegiates to come to Christ,” he said. “It was really a life changer for me.”

Since the New Student Outreach John has shared with his congregation about the exciting things that are happening in campus ministry in San Diego. He’s also been meeting on a regular basis with a new prayer partner, a fellow pastor he met at the prayer meeting in the tiny recital room below Mandeville Auditorium.



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