By Jonathan Rice

Preparing Students for Future Service

Daina Norusis, an InterVarsity student at Lewis University in Illinois, recently received the De La Salle Medallion for Exemplary Volunteer Service.

As a student leader of her InterVarsity chapter, Daina learned about service to others, particularly the poor and marginalized, through her chapter’s regular small group Bible studies and through frequent opportunities for service with both local and global missions. Daina has twice visited the Philippines to help build homes for the poor. And this August 2009, she began traveling with a missions group to countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. “I have a passion to serve and make a difference in the world,” she told The Home Horizon newspaper.

Daina’s compassion for people motivates her passion for service. Love for people of every ethnicity, culture, and economic background is a virtue that InterVarsity nurtures in students and faculty. Our witnessing communities train student leaders for lifelong service.

Beyond Personal Transformation
While InterVarsity desires to see non-Christian students and faculty become transformed Christians through a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, we equally desire to develop in our students and faculty advisors the holy character, biblical knowledge, and missions experience for their being Christ’s lifelong followers and witnesses.

We believe in nurturing people in a holistic Christian life that ministers to the whole person—body, mind, and spirit. And we believe that being a Christian calls us to lifelong obedience to God’s mission of reaching people with the gospel and ministering to their needs.

God’s love calls us to get involved in the needs of people and the social issues of this world; God’s love calls us to help change neighborhoods, communities, cultures, and nations for the better. So we teach and encourage our students and faculty advisors to mature as Christians for their entire lives.

While we care for students during their college years, we prepare them for their post-college lives. “InterVarsity was transformational for me in my college experience,” says C. Tinglong, a graduate of Colby College. “InterVarsity helped solidify my call to urban, multicultural ministry.”

Developing World Changers
One of the ways that we prepare students for their future lives is by nurturing in them Christian character. Through daily prayer and weekly corporate worship times, our campus witnessing communities facilitate ways in which God’s Spirit may work in our students’ lives, creating in them a Christ-like character that desires to love God and people.

A second way that we prepare students for their futures is by offering them sound biblical knowledge. Weekly small group Bible studies are a hallmark of InterVarsity witnessing communities. Studying God’s Word together in small groups and meditating on biblical passages daily has proven to serve the spiritual needs of many students and has helped establish their now life-long habits of reading the Bible every morning.

“I’ve been blessed to take part in a Bible study,” said D. Devasto, a graduate from the University of Iowa. “It kept me focused on God throughout a trying time in my life.”

A third way that we prepare students for their futures is by provided them with experience in servant leadership through missions projects. Every year, particularly during the students’ spring and summer breaks, we offer missions projects that help students discern God’s call to lifelong service in missions. And we offer annual training retreats, forums, and institutes, and our well-known triennial Urbana Student Missions Conference, which many missionaries throughout the world remember from their younger years as the place they first heard God’s call to lifelong missions service.

A Lifelong Witness
Developing in students’ Christian character, sound biblical knowledge, and missions experience ensures that InterVarsity students leave college as growing witnesses for Christ. Many of our InterVarsity alumni have gone on in the world to contribute in extraordinary ways.

Tom Hsieh was an InterVarsity student at Harvey Mudd College in California. “It was there that my faith came alive,” he told the Orange County Register. Tom graduated with a degree in Physics in 1993 and was offered well-paying jobs. But during his years as an InterVarsity student, he had grown passionate about helping the poor and homeless. So he accepted a lower-paying technician’s job that permitted him time to volunteer with missions organizations. In his late thirties Tom became the CEO and co-owner of a telecom consulting firm with a six-figure salary. In an extraordinary gesture of love for the poor, he and his wife decided to maintain the same standard of living and increase their donations to charity.

No less extraordinary is the life of Frances Thompson-Gee, who was an InterVarsity student at Drew University. After graduation she served for a time on InterVarsity’s staff in the New York area. Since then she has raised two children, who now participate in InterVarsity at their colleges, and has hosted holiday diners for international students. Recently, Frances was appointed the director of the Mid-Hudson affiliate of Love INC., which provides through local churches practical care to people in need.

For over sixty-seven years InterVarsity has been preparing students and faculty for mature Christian lives and service in this world. Today we are planting more campus witnessing communities on more campuses. Tomorrow’s InterVarsity students will continue our tradition of providing the church and the world with dedicated Christian leaders, committed to serving people in the name of Christ.