Tessa, a student at Mayo Medical School-Rochester, MN, developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the welcoming student community she found in InterVarsity. Chuck Hohnbaum, InterVarsity staff serving as Associate Regional Director for the North Central Region, met Tessa three years ago. When Tessa met Chuck she told him, “I hate God and want nothing to do with religion.” Tessa had even told a friend, “Since I’m engaged, when we get married I want to have a God-free wedding.”
Her view came from the fact that her family practiced Christian Science and didn’t approve of medical treatment from doctors. Her family was not happy with Tessa’s desire to become a doctor. As students within the InterVarsity chapter at Mayo Medical School prayed for Tessa and showed her the love of Christ, she began to attend a weekly Bible study. Tessa had never looked at a Bible before.
After a few months, Chuck asked Tessa if she was interested in becoming a Christian. “No”, she said, “I feel like I’m in a dark room trying to understand Christianity.” But Tessa continued to attend the Bible study because of the friends she had met there.
The next year at school, Tessa invited Jennifer, one of the InterVarsity students from the Bible study, to be her roommate. Through the Bible study, Tessa had learned about Jesus, but now she saw Jesus in Jennifer. That’s when Christianity started to become real and make sense to Tessa. Tessa’s advisor also shared the power of Christ in his own life with her. As Tessa’s wedding approached, she told the Bible study group that her fiancé wasn’t interested in Christianity or the Bible, and she wouldn’t be attending anymore.
The students felt Tessa had made progress in learning. The group began praying fervently for Tessa and her fiancé. The InterVarsity students’ prayers were answered when Tessa and her husband showed up one night for Bible study. Chuck asked Tessa, “Are you any closer to accepting Christ?” She replied, “I admire Jesus and like what I’m learning; but, no, I’m not interested in becoming a Christian.”
Another six months passed. Tessa and her husband continued to attend the weekly Bible study. Tessa didn’t miss more than a dozen Bible study sessions in three years. Chuck again asked Tessa if she was ready to receive Christ. This time she replied, “I just want to wake up one day and have it all make sense. Then I’ll accept Christ, but I’m not there yet.” Chuck suggested that Tessa pray every day for the morning to come when Christianity made sense. She said she would pray, and even began attending church with several InterVarsity students.
One Sunday morning during a worship service, a comment during the sermon about surrendering to Christ really struck Tessa. The next day she heard her academic advisor make the same comment and asked him, “How do I do that?” After a conversation with her advisor, Tessa accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.
The friendship InterVarsity students showed Tessa led her to accept Jesus Christ in her life. Their encouragement and patience allowed Tessa to realize her need for Christ at her own pace. God used these InterVarsity students to reach out with love and acceptance and welcome Tessa into His family.