Matt Kammerait, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin—Madison, shares how Christian community transformed his life, not only during his college career but also in anticipation of his future career as a pastor.
“I was raised in a Christian home but growing up held the belief that faith was just one small part of a balanced life. Christian faith was the kind of thing you did on Sundays, at Youth Group, and the occasional church retreat. I had so far compartmentalized the religious aspect of my life that I figured if I did those things, the rest of my time could be used however I saw fit. As long as I wasn’t doing anything too bad I was probably fine.
“I was involved pretty heavily in the ‘party scene’ (drinking, drugs, and the like). By the time I went to college, I was in pretty bad shape. I wasn’t really sure what path I was going to follow, or even where the path I was on would lead. Over the course of my freshmen year, through involvement in InterVarsity, many of those long-standing beliefs I had were challenged. I realized that faith couldn’t just be a small part of a balanced life, but needed to saturate the very fiber of my being. Faith had to be the direction and reason behind everything I do.
“During freshman year, I reconsidered some of the choices I had made and the path I wanted to choose going forward. Though it was a tough process at times, I began to live more in line with God’s will. I transferred schools after my freshmen year, from the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire to the University of Wisconsin—Madison and I became involved with Greek InterVarsity on campus. I was overjoyed to find a place where two spheres of my life, Christian fellowship and the Greek community, could overlap and even interact.
“Throughout the next few years, I began to take on leadership roles in ministry. I became President of Greek InterVarsity at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. As I led the chapter, I began to feel my calling to full-time ministry take shape. Everyone’s call to ministry is unique. Mine was not a miraculous one-time event but a constant, gentle tug where I heard the “still, small voice of the Lord.” As my passions, interests, and gifts became clearer, a picture started to emerge of what I wanted my life to look like. I couldn’t ignore my desire to help transform the lives of others for Christ when choosing a vocation.
“I knew that seminary was the right choice for me because of the inspiration, or fire, that still ignites whenever I think about the possibilities. God used a variety of means to speak into my life. Beyond prayer and his Word, he placed an amazing array of leaders in my life; older student leaders in InterVarsity to serve with and the InterVarsity staff members on my campus. It was such an incredible opportunity and privilege to have the guidance of people who had been called into ministry and were a few years further down that path. The discipleship, support, and encouragement offered to me played a huge role in my spiritual growth. The friendship and accountability I had with other students played a formative role as well.
“Financially, seminary after graduation was not a possibility for me. It has been a struggle for me as irresponsibility early in my college career and the consequences of my pre-Christ lifestyle left me with a significant amount of debt. It is not easy to understand why, if God has ministry and seminary in my future, I would have to wait, enter the working world, and put off that call.
“I graduated this past December and accepted a position in “the marketplace.” Right now, the waiting part is frustrating but I know that God has a plan for this period in my life, too. This time of waiting and working will provide insight that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and value will come from it. My ministry doesn’t start when I enter seminary. It started the day I became a Christian and continues right now. I have a new opportunity, a new sphere of influence and relationships in which to make an impact for the Gospel. My hope is that this time of waiting will prove more useful than frustrating when I move towards what I feel is my specific call.”
Through Matt’s desire, he developed an understanding of why it is necessary for us to wait on God as he clarifies our calling and equips us to fully participate in his Kingdom. Many students on campuses across the country have similar questions and InterVarsity desires to guide them as they seek the answers.
photo: Matt with fellow Greek InterVarsity students Jenni and Serina. Jenni (middle) is now on staff with Greek InterVarsity.