When I went to my first InterVarsity meeting as a freshman, I hated it. The people there seemed so weird to me. I don’t think I would have gone back if it hadn’t been for Kelli and her enthusiastic invitation — and because we were wearing the same shoes.
A personal invitation is a powerful tool. Kelli’s casual invitation to me, a freshman, to go with her, a senior, had a radical impact on my life. It was her personal invitation to get involved, even though I really didn’t want to, that led me to walking with Christ. Looking back, I have changed dramatically since I was a freshman, and I owe much of it to Kelli’s friendly invitation — and our matching shoes.
I grew up going to church because that was the right thing to do. I learned about the Bible and its stories that took place eons ago. This didn’t keep me from partying or getting into trouble throughout high school. I went to church but I didn’t have a relationship with God, and my life was becoming a mess.
I had no desire to go to college, but my family expected me to. I enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville because I had a friend there who went to my church and I liked hanging out with her.
The first week of college confirmed my thoughts that my life was only going downhill. I was in a new place, an introvert surrounded by outgoing people. I went to the freshman events only because I had to, or because my roommate was going.
Eventually the friend from my home church found me on campus and invited me to an event called “Quest,” sponsored by InterVarsity. I was sick of staring at my computer screen in my hot dorm room, so I went with her and some other people I had just met. We walked across an unfamiliar part of campus and into a strange building, down the hallway and into a room with tons of people in it. These people weren’t your normal, don’t-bother-me-because-I-don’t-know-you people. I was greeted at least twelve times in the first two minutes, and I had to wear a nametag. That meant that everyone who looked at me saw my name. It was like they knew me before they had even met me.
My friend and I made our way to some seats in the back few rows. A band in the front started to play some worship songs that I didn’t know, while a guy in a row in front of me was dancing and raising his hands — weird. When the event was finally over, I wanted to go back to my room and never deal with these crazy people again! The only problem was that I had no idea where I was or how to get back to my dorm. So I stood by my friend while she talked to some other people.
As I waited, a girl I didn’t know came running up to me, put her foot by mine and screamed, “WE HAVE THE SAME SHOES!” She freaked me out. I looked down at my red Converse Chuck Taylor All Star low-tops and managed to smile, but I was nervous and petrified. This girl was talking loud and fast and I had no idea who she was or why she was talking to me, a scared freshman who was feeling very small in a large sea of people. She finally introduced herself to me, saying her name was Kelli, “with an i.” She was a senior in her last semester, but she invited me to the “After Quest Party.” Since my friend was still talking to other people and I didn’t really want to go back to my dorm, I said yes.
Read the rest of this story at StudentSoul.org, InterVarsity’s website for students.