InterVarsity introduces students to Jesus Christ and trains them for servant leadership in this world. Through their participation in our campus witnessing communities, students learn to trust God, and love and serve people. InterVarsity’s graduates become world changers.
Leadership Trusts in God’s Guidance
Rex Walheim, an InterVarsity student leader in the 1980s, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California—Berkeley and a commission in the U.S. Air Force. He planned to become an astronaut. Today he thanks God that through InterVarsity he learned to trust in God’s guidance.
As a student Rex often worked at InterVarsity’s book table on Sproul Plaza. God was teaching him to persevere in sharing the gospel, and InterVarsity’s campus community was encouraging him to trust in God daily.
After graduation Rex’s career plans suddenly changed when doctors found that he had a heart murmur, disqualifying him from a pilot training program. Disappointed, but trusting in God’s purposes, Rex eventually became a flight test engineer instead, a position that allowed him to fly without being the pilot.
He enjoyed being a flight engineer, but still felt called to be an astronaut. So he was grateful when he learned that doctors no longer detected the heart murmur. Encouraged, he applied again for astronaut training, but once more he was not selected. He prayed for God’s guidance. He wondered if his vision for becoming an astronaut would dim. But his hope of exploring the frontiers of science through space exploration remained as constant as a distant, glowing star.
Then twelve years ago Rex applied one more time for astronaut training—and he was accepted! Now looking back, he clearly sees God’s guidance over the years. “Frankly, I don’t think I would’ve ever been an astronaut if I’d become a pilot,” he now admits. “As it turns out, I’m a much better flight engineer.” And now a flight engineer who goes into outer space. Today Rex has logged 36 spacewalk hours in five missions to the International Space Station.
Rex credits his InterVarsity experience at the University of California—Berkeley with helping him learn to trust God. “InterVarsity was important in forming how I approach this world,” he said.
Leadership Models Christ’s Love
Dr. Mildred Clarke retired from her obstetrics/gynecology practice in 2001. Today she volunteers as an advisor to the InterVarsity chapter at Brooklyn College in New York City. “Dr. Clarke has modeled leadership and compassion for many years in this InterVarsity chapter,” said New York City area director Jason Gaboury.
Dr. Clarke first participated in InterVarsity’s campus ministry while a student at Hunter College fifty years ago. After graduation, she renewed her connection over the years through her support of InterVarsity’s campus staff. These days her influence among the faculty and administration of Brooklyn College has resulted in their increasing respect for the InterVarsity chapter.
“Being a Christian is not just reading Scripture and having Bible studies,” said Dr. Clarke. “Our Christian faith is about relationships—and that makes it relevant to the everyday problems of life.” Dr. Clark demonstrates the relevance of her relationship with Jesus Christ by participating in medical missions trips to different regions of the world and by offering her medical skills every summer to residents of the Mississippi Delta.
“Dr. Clarke’s love for students is real,” said Julene Wilson, a 2005 Brooklyn College graduate. “And we love Dr. Clarke.”
Leadership Calls Us to Serve
John Mein connected with InterVarsity as a freshman at North Carolina State University in the 1990s. The InterVarsity chapter was promoting community service on campus. John volunteered some kayaking lessons—he was a member of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Team in 1998 and 2000.
This ministry experience ignited in John’s heart a love for people and a passion for them to know Jesus Christ. So he bought an old luggage van and began offering weekend kayaking and sightseeing trips to international students. He also led Bible studies for them. “John was always serving other people and sharing the gospel,” said Amy Philips, InterVarsity’s campus staff person.
After graduation, John worked as a youth director for a church in Washington D.C., where God called him to a ministry with inner-city youth. This experience opened the door for John to minister particularly to juvenile offenders.
At the Oak Hill juvenile detention facility, John won approval for summer excursions to Arizona, where he led the boys toward greater self-discipline and respect for life. John is still leading young people toward God’s grace through his gift of service.