By Shawn Luis

How InterVarsity Influenced My Son—and Me

When I think back to my son Patrick being accepted into college, a few memories stick out. His first choice was UCLA, but he unfortunately wasn’t accepted there. He was, however, accepted at San Diego State. I knew very little about San Diego State except that they had just had a very large drug bust on campus that spring. Patrick was our youngest of five and the third to go off to college. I remember telling God that I trusted that this was his plan. I always knew God was in control.

The reality, however, was that I didn’t have a strong relationship with Christ at that time, even though I had grown up believing in God. And I had allowed my children to make their own choices in what they believed. So Patrick was not what I would call a Christian when he set off for college. He has always been a good kid and never caused us grief, and he was also very focused and determined, but I knew that he would probably do some partying and want to stretch his wings in college.

I was not pleased when he informed me partway through his freshman year that he was joining a fraternity. He already had a lot on his plate with ROTC and classes, and I felt that a fraternity would be a bad distraction. (He insisted that it would be a great networking tool for when he graduated!). I told him I wouldn’t pay for it, so he would be responsible for raising his dues himself. Little did I know the bigger plan God had in store. 

A Newfound Faith

I remember vividly in April 2009 when Patrick called to say he had found Jesus at a Bible study and was giving his life to him. I was shocked, to say the least, but not because I was against it. Rather, it was because Patrick would always make fun of the Christian radio station I listened to. It was the only station I ever played in my car when he was in high school. After he called me I remember thinking, God, please don’t let this be a phase. At that moment I also heard God whisper to me, This is what you have been searching for too.

A lot happened that spring and early summer. God moved in Patrick’s life so much that, by the time he was ready to head back to school for his sophomore year, he had decided to give up his full-ride ROTC scholarship and instead serve as a student leader with InterVarsity. He wanted to lead his fraternity brothers to Christ. God placed this so strongly on his heart, and it was indeed his mission.

I watched Patrick face some very tough battles with family members who didn’t understand why he would give up his scholarship or why he would embrace Christianity. Some family members ostracized him, labeling him a Jesus freak. He also faced a large financial burden; I was only able to help a little, so he was forced to find loans. But because of his strong faith, he trusted God all the way.  

During this time I also began my journey back to Christ, whom I had accepted as my Savior at 14. When I saw what he was doing in my son’s life, I recommitted my life to him, knowing I could no longer stand on the fence and be lukewarm about faith in Jesus.

What I Want for My Children

Through InterVarsity’s ministry at San Diego State, my son came to know Jesus. InterVarsity is reaching students who are lost—both those who have fallen away from Christ and those who have never even heard of him. I am very proud of Patrick’s ministry with InterVarsity, first as a Greek IV staff worker and now in the Evangelism Department. I know that he is living God’s purpose for his life, which, as a mother, is all I really want for my children.

How has God worked in your life? Give thanks and praise to him by sharing it with us all in a comment!


Shawn Luis, mother of five and grandmother of six, has been married to Mike Luis for 19 years and lives in Ripon, California. She is currently attending Liberty University online to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, specializing in Christian counseling. She volunteers at her church as a leader with the college ministry and as a coach for team leaders who oversee small group leaders. She also enjoys cooking and entertaining, as well as camping with Mike in their travel trailer with their English bulldog.


Find out what really happened on the first Thanksgiving with Robert Tracy McKenzie’s new book.

And get ready for Advent with these InterVarsity Press resources:

Advent of the Savior (LifeGuide Bible Study)

Living the Christian Year

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