Mesa student, Myles, and Alan
Myles had been in and out of the InterVarsity community for the last 7 months, his first interaction with us was outside the library on campus. When I (Alan) had first spoken with Myles he had told me bluntly that “I am an atheist and I don’t believe in Jesus, but I’m checking things out”. I tried to tell him about how Jesus was worth exploring, to be honest I never knew why he stuck around after that challenge. It was probably the Holy Spirit working in his life, but after that Myles began listening at a distance. He was sporadic at best in attending bible studies on campus and our large group gatherings. However, he did “feel good” about serving the poor with us whenever we served at the homeless shelter.
Everything changed at Spring Break Camp….
“I’ve grown up in a family of Christians, but I never truly knew Christ as the God of love. Instead I knew him as the God of judgment that would frown upon my every wrong. At the same time, I was fighting through a life full of rejection and darkness. Finally, a few weeks ago, I found myself with a great challenge: I found that I would be graduating a year and a half earlier than I expected. This would mean going back to my home which brought me memories of pain and hurt, but God used this as an opportunity. A few weeks before I went to Spring Retreat, God sent a John the Baptist to prepare my heart for what would be a life-changing experience. He gave me a community that would not reject me, no matter how hard I tried to push them away. Then came the moment that would change my life: Spring Retreat. God spoke to us through Anna and Julie. We were all moved when we realized that God’s love was unconditional, already given to us before we were even created. He showed that He would rather take us to our darkest fears in order for us to grow in faith. It finally hit home when I was standing on a bluff overlooking the sea and just speaking to God. I felt him telling me I was to be sent back home to not only grow in faith, but also for healing. Healing that would touch the wounds that divide my family. It has been almost a week now since Spring Retreat and I already can see God working in our family. I recently had a talk with my Mom and wounds were soothed and scars were healed. I am grateful to many people in IV who have changed my life, but I owe it all to the Lord who has changed me in ways I would never have imagine.”
*Name changed to maintain privacy
Women praying a blessing over guys
One word to describe last week’s Spring Break Retreat with UCSD students: INTENSE. This was my (Anna’s) 7th year teaching inductive study on Mark and every year, the Lord moves in my own heart as he moves in the students. One of the key themes that struck us during the week was how people/humanity are valuable to the Kingdom of God. In Mark 3:27, Jesus talks about how he is the “stronger man” binding the strong man, Satan, to plunder his goods, which are people. I love that Jesus is willing to fight for people. That was a truth that struck many of the students during the week as they were fighting through the ways that other people and situations have made them feel NOT valued.
The photo above shows one of the powerful moments of the week. It was about midnight on Wed. night and we had just finished studying the section on King Herod beheading John the Baptist. We looked at how daughters are treated in the Kingdom of Herod versus how daughters are treated in the Kingdom of God. This was a powerful night as we looked at how even our gender identities live in the tension between the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Satan and can cause brokenness, confusion, and sin. So we ended the night with the women praying affirmation over the men and the men praying affirmation over the women. It was a powerful example of what healing and restoration can look like in community.
This was just a snapshot of what God did during the week. The Lord spoke to me personally even affirming my call by promising that just as he gave me more than I gave in the past 7 years in ministry, he has even more still for me in this next season. I’m so grateful to know that I myself am valuable to God’s kingdom and that I can be a part of Jesus “plundering” his loved ones for his kingdom. 🙂