“Before I came on staff, while I was a Trinity student in San Antonio, Texas, God gave me a vision for Trinity InterVarsity to rise up and become the most diverse place on campus. I believed God would use that vision to renew our liberal arts university of 2,500 students.”
– Laura Abrams, speaking at staff conference 2011
Laura Abrams was a part of InterVarsity during all four of her years at Trinity University, and chapter president as a senior. Her first experience with an InterVarsity Bible study overcame any hesitancy that she had about getting involved in a Christian organization.
“I went and found a community that was taking God seriously and having fun at the same time. That was really exciting for me,” she said.
Laura first met her staff partner Jacob Foor when they were on the same recreational soccer team. He was a freshman and she was a junior. He was a friend to some of the students in InterVarsity’s Asian American Fellowship, and as a sophomore he responded to an invitation to attend a chapter retreat.
“At the chapter retreat I came to the blunt realization that my life needed changing and I decided to follow Christ,” Jacob said.
Laura has been on InterVarsity staff at Trinity for five years. Jacob joined the staff two years ago. First as students and then as staff, Laura and Jacob have seen the transformation of InterVarsity at Trinity from two moderately successful chapters (one multiethnic and one Asian American) to one multiethnic chapter that has grown to contain 5 percent of the student body. (Although it has a historical connection to the Presbyterian Church, Trinity is an independent university.)
Unifying the two groups, rather than expanding them, was a difficult decision. And the process was not easy. “It took two-and-a-half to three years for the transition to solidify,” Laura said.
But now, looking back, the wisdom of the decision is clearer. “God’s call to interweave was the linchpin for renewal,” Laura said. “With each step of faith towards God, the campus has taken notice,” Jacob added. Laura and Jacob gave a report on their ministry at Trinity during InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference in January, 2011 (video above).
More Effective Outreach
The change to one multiethnic chapter also helped to make InterVarsity more interesting and attractive to international students. The chapter now works with Trinity’s International Students Office to help the students settle into their new campus home. “We meet 70 percent of each new international class within 24 hours of their arrival to the states,” Laura said. “Internationals comprise 14 percent of our fellowship and the majority of our GIGs (investigative Bible studies).”
One of the biggest hurdles for the chapter to overcome was the students’ reticence about proclaiming the gospel boldly. “On a small campus proclamation is very costly,” Laura said. “You’re outed as soon as you do it, because there’s nowhere to run and hide.”
But students learned to depend on God and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the campus culture began to change. “The desire of our fellowship is to be the most authentic place on campus, where people are experiencing God,” Laura said.
The Trinity chapter is also having an impact on other campuses in the region. Over the past five years six Trinity students have joined InterVarsity staff. Laura and Jacob are pleased that three more will join staff after this year. Laura is now planning a new transition, moving to the Dominican Republic to do campus ministry through InterVarsity’s Link program.
Working as a staff team at Trinity, Laura and Jacob have grown to appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Their differences complement each other well. “What we care about most is God, and the mission,” Laura said. “Recently we’ve been seeing more fruit from our efforts. I really pray that we become people who are dependent on God in prayer. I trust God that he will do that.”