By Amy Hauptman

Standing for Christ on Campus, in the World

God doesn’t just want to save you. He doesn’t just want your soul. He wants redemption in your life, your family, in everything—i.e., in our relationships, our homes, our jobs, etc.”

This challenge has stuck with Mike Poole ever since he heard it at InterVarsity’s 2011 Basileia Conference in a track called “Engaging God’s World.” Not only did the track address issues of social justice, but one of the speakers also preached on the importance of God’s global mission for redemption in the entire world.

“The thought that God wants everything, literally everything, and that he plans to take it all back, is crazy. It’s huge. It’s amazing,” said Mike. “And Christians have a part. Just as Adam was entrusted to take care of the Garden of Eden, we are also entrusted as stewards of God’s world.”

Mike walked away from the conference with a new perspective on God and on our role as Christians. He realized that, while stopping pollution, poverty, crimes against humanity, and injustice may not be part of bringing people to Christ directly, God cares about these issues and how they affect people. And if it matters to our Lord, then it should definitely matter to us as Christians.

Standing Firm on Campus

Back in 2007 (before Mike had arrived on campus), Montclair State University derecognized the InterVarsity chapter there because they felt InterVarsity’s requirement that their leaders be Christian was discriminatory. So, from 2008 to 2011, InterVarsity remained on campus as an unrecognized Christian student organization, which meant that they did not have the same kind of access that other student clubs did.

“My junior year (2012-13), our InterVarsity chapter tossed around the idea of applying to be rerecognized by the campus,” said Mike. “And I took on that challenge: we made a constitution, tweaked it to match our core values, made a presentation, gathered signatures, attended meetings, and filled out paperwork.” The result? The Student Government Association (SGA) at Montclair voted to accept InterVarsity back as a student club.

As a senior, Mike is now president of the InterVarsity chapter as well as the point person who interacts with the SGA every week. “Mike is one of the hardest-working students on this campus and everyone knows it,” said InterVarsity staff worker Travis Skinner. “He worked very hard to get our chapter recognized by our school’s student government again. Without Mike, InterVarsity would not be a recognized club on campus.”

Engaging God’s World on Campus

Even while Mike continues to foster the chapter’s relationship with the SGA, he has also been inspired to invite other InterVarsity students to focus on raising awareness about human trafficking.

“After the New York City Price of Life (a city-wide anti-human trafficking campaign, spearheaded by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) and the Super Bowl (a huge anti-human trafficking campaign related to the sporting event), our InterVarsity chapter decided we wanted to do something,” said Mike. “I gave a series of lessons and activities that spanned three-to-four large groups all about human trafficking.”

Mike and InterVarsity staff also organized a small Price of Life campaign on campus in April, which included a “Tunnel of Oppression,” an open mic night, speaker, a workshop, and a night of worship. But when their main speaker for the event fell through, Mike stepped up and gave a presentation for the main event instead.

So, whether it’s helping plan out large groups, coordinating with the SGA, working with other clubs, or networking, organizing events like the Price of Life campaign, or stepping up when planned speakers fall through, Mike said, “I do the background work so that God can take center stage.”