For Immediate Release
(Madison, WI) -- Over the course of college, InterVarsity strives to help students build a foundation of faith that will last a lifetime. But applying faith lessons often starts before graduation, particularly for students who participate in InterVarsity’s Global and Urban programs, which take place each summer.
This summer, InterVarsity has 150 students and staff in Global Programs from Minsk to Manila, and from Quito to Nairobi, living and learning alongside local residents at each location. They experience the local culture and learn what God has to say about injustice and cultural differences from a biblical perspective. And when appropriate, they share their own Christian faith.
Several hundred additional students are participating in Urban Programs from Tacoma to Tampa, and from New York to Los Angeles. A program in rural West Virginia also helps connect students with issues of rural poverty and the environment.
“As students are displaced in these locations, they meet God in profound ways,” said Scott Bessenecker, InterVarsity’s Director of Missions. “They learn to stop and listen, to love others practically, and to die to themselves in healthy ways.”
Sixteen students from eight colleges are participating in the second year of the Richmond Justice Program in Virginia. During the day, each student partners with a local nonprofit or ministry that addresses poverty, immigration, and racism. In the evening and on weekends, they meet with their InterVarsity leaders and one another for prayer, Bible study, and other activities.
“Despite the hard conversations we have had surrounding various issues, like education injustice, broken health systems, and the dark history of this city, I have found peace in the never-changing character of our God, who is always good and always just,” said Rachel, a University of Virginia student.
Another group of InterVarsity students were at the U.S. southern border this summer, working with the organization El Paso Encounters and learning the realities of the immigration situation. “Being there, actually talking with an asylum-seeker or giving them a hug, or sharing a meal with them, there was beauty in our shared humanity,” InterVarsity Campus Staff Minister Christina Foor told World Magazine.
During her Global Program in Manila, one InterVarsity student Melanie, from the University of Texas, was worried that her shoes would never dry out because of the rainy season. Her host jokingly suggested that she might have to throw them out and then wondered how much they cost. ”3,000 pesos,” Melanie said softly, suddenly struck by how much food, medicine, and clothing that sum would buy in Manila.
Melanie didn’t know what to say after that. “So I sit in the tension,” she mused. “And these Chacos are the heaviest they’ve ever felt.”
Putting faith into practice is not always easy; InterVarsity students like Rachel and Melanie have been discovering that this summer.
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