By Beth Seversen

The Power of a Personal Testimony

God is doing an amazing thing at the University of Rhode Island (URI). Twenty-five students came to faith on March 11, 2009 at a single event—a large group meeting.

The InterVarsity multi-ethnic chapter called Origins is participating in a semester series on the Book of Acts. Students share “How God has Acted in My Life” at chapter meetings. Faith journey stories from new Christians have sparked student interest in the gospel.

Sharing from experience
Varsity football player Orlando Perez was encouraged by campus staff member Lisa Olson to share his story and give a call to faith at the weekly fellowship large group meeting. Lisa coaches InterVarsity students when telling their stories to be genuine, not pushy, and to share from their own experience, “How God has changed them and how he wants to bring restoration to humanity.”

Orlando invited his entire football team to the large group meeting. Many other athletes were also in attendance. That night 25 students came forward, indicating they wanted to begin a first time relationship with Jesus.

Key to these conversions is the passionate way Orlando has shared his faith in Jesus all year with teammates, dorm residents and classmates. Although the chapter did spiritual surveys and proxe stations weekly throughout the semester, the most influential evangelism resource has been personal invitations, especially from the students sharing their faith journeys—like Orlando himself.

Lisa reports all of the students making a commitment to Christ on March 11th, have stayed involved in the fellowship. The reason for this is each of these students already were connected to someone in the chapter. Several of the students who came forward were Track & Field teammates of Meredith Hannon. Orlando and Meredith are now meeting for bible study with these new believers. Lisa sees her role as Orlando and Meredith’s coach.

Student passionate about evangelism
When asked what lessons she learned about evangelism, Lisa replied, “I cannot champion evangelism alone as staff. I’ve learned to pray for missional students who are passionate about seeing conversions from cynics and seekers who will become missional world-changing Christ followers. I pour my energy and resources into getting those students to the center of our fellowship to model, inspire and teach others.”

URI students are hungry to know God, and God is using InterVarsity students to reach them. God loves and is pursuing each and every person on campus. Sometimes all that is needed for evangelism is for the students to tell their friends the stories of how God is acting in their own lives, thus creating a space for God to work.

Photo: Orlanda Perez (left), Lisa Olson (middle), and fellow student Nikola.

This story and more stories of personal conversions on campus can be found at InterVarsity’s Evangelism web site. You can make a direct financial donation to support InterVarsity’s work in evangelism by following this link.