“This is my story of how my friends at UCSD InterVarsity helped me see the signs of God in my life and begin my faith. I began going to church two years ago, and got off to a good start learning about Christianity. A few months passed without me feeling any real connection to God however, and I lost momentum, eventually giving up on religion altogether. Coming into college, I had already decided I didn’t need Christianity in my life…
Armi (a SDSU freshman pictured left with staff worker, Jenn) shared her testimony in front of 100 SDSU InterVarsity students in November. Read her story below!
“Hi everyone, my name is Armi and I am a freshmen here at SDSU. I first heard about InterVarsity during club rush here at State. I was handed this flyer which I am so grateful for today. When I first received it, I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I should try this out…”
Craig (name changed to maintain privacy) was a freshman at UCSD who came into the school year as an atheist (as shown above on his Facebook page). He met some InterVarsity students who were part of the freshmen bible study in his dorm and started coming out to the bible studies out of curiosity. He also began going downtown to feed the homeless with InterVarsity’s urban ministry. During the Fall quarter, he began learning more about Jesus through the Scripture as well as developing deeper friendships with the students in his bible study. At the last large group of the Fall Quarter, we had asked Craig to share his story about his journey of checking out faith. He shared his story in front of 200 students and ended his story with: “I’m not a Christian, but I want to continue to learn more about God and myself.” Later that night, Dora (one of the InterVarsity staff) gave a call to faith inviting any students who wanted to give their lives to Jesus to stand. After a moment of quietness with no one standing… Craig stood up!!! After that night, his freshmen bible study threw a “Jesus birthday” party for him celebrating his faith decision and also had an informal interview of what happened for him. Here is the email that Hannah, his dorm team leader sent to us about that night:
Hey IV staff!
Here are some notes I jotted from when we interviewed Craig:
Q: Why did you decide to stand?
A: I was not completely sure. But it felt real. I wanted to stand up and knew that I wanted to live like Jesus. And I felt so loved when people were praying for me, I almost cried.
Q: How did you feel when you first checked out IV?
A: I had never been to anything like this. I wondered “why do they believe all this stuff?” I wanted to know. It was nice hanging out. It felt like anyone could be accepted.
Q: What did you think of God?
A: I thought it would be pretty cool if there was a god like that, but that would be La La land. It wouldn’t be possible. It wouldn’t be real. Like believing in Captain America.
Q: What was one moment when you felt “hey this God could be real”?
A: Definitely felt real when I was sharing at large group and heard other people’s stories at large group, like the story of how God changed the life of that guy from Mira Costa. Also, last night at Homeless ministry. The homeless weren’t complaining or asking for anything. They were just sharing about their lives, and they were so thankful and said they felt blessed, and that was so inspiring. That got me thinking, they have some love that the world isn’t giving them. What could it be?
Another cool thing: So his suitemate Micah, who was in the freshman track at fall retreat, couldn’t make it to large group so Craig read his testimony again from his paper. What was interesting was that on his paper he had written something like this toward the end: “I’m not a Christian, but I want to continue to learn more about God and myself.” But he didn’t read that part when he was sharing at large group, and then he stood up to become Christian moments after he stepped off the stage. 🙂
Also, another cool thing is what I mentioned at breakfast! Nick, who is agnostic, volunteered to pray for Craig at his Jesus bday celebration!! I know he is uncomfortable with prayer, but he still volunteered. And I remember this exact sentence from his prayer : “God it’s so cool to hear Craig’s story of how you are moving in his life today.” And this was super significant to me because earlier this quarter Nick and I had a vulnerable spiritual conversation and he told me one of the reasons why he doesn’t believe in God is because its hard for him to believe that God is present and moving in our lives actively today, in the present time. So yea that was super powerful!
But yea here’s the email 🙂 praise God for all that He is doing!!
Craig’s story is just an amazing example of how the Lord uses friends, community to reach out to someone to bring them to Him. One update about the story… later in the year, Craig’s agnostic suite mate, Nick, also gave his life to the Lord! But that will take another blog post to share his story 🙂
Check out this video to see what God is doing through InterVarsity in South San Diego!
“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
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. 🙂