UCSD InterVarsity Seniors share their last words of encouragement for the community. It is amazing how many of them encouraged the fellowship to be intentional with non-Christians; it is evidence of a faithful culture of evangelism and witness in our community. Praise God!
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
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. 🙂
I (Alan) can’t believe that the Spring season is upon us. I am reminded that this season is when Christians are filled with anticipation to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. I am often in awe by the way in which Christ entered our world but at the same time I am even more surprised and humbled by Jesus’ resurrection. At Mesa InterVarsity we long for God’s resurrection power in students’ lives. Many students on campus struggle with addictions and self-worth, this week a student confessed his temptation fat me saying, “Thanks brother.” There are few times where I realize the power that is behind prayer and our lives as Christians. This does not mean our aim is Christ’s power, rather it is because of his power that we are brought under his authority. Christ brings authority on campus and in our personal lives. The Holy Spirit is alive and active on campus. I have come to believe that it is the Holy Spirit who truly brings people to our events on campus. In John 11, when Lazarus died there were many that did not have enough faith to believe that Jesus could do anything. I have often felt what Martha felt when she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then Jesus blows me away by raising Lazarus/my broken faith to life. God gains the glory for himself and his own name. I think about the Lazarus moments in my life; our fundraising, our students, our future, our money and I realize I need to lay them down before Jesus. In San Diego we have not been able to bring on a new staff worker for Mesa because of the large need across the division, Patrick Zaccaria is our first staff hire for Mesa College in 6 years! What I am excited about is the personal development and leadership DNA that I can now pass on and the new leadership dimension that this requires of me. I know that for Anna and I we need to trust in faith that God will move in our ministries. Thanks for continuing this journey with us.
“Does God belong in the discussion about social justice?”… “Is there a connection between God and sex?”…”Does God play favorites?”
These are the questions that we have been asking to find out what UCSD students think about God and relevant issues. We set up a chalkboard with one of the questions each week in the most trafficked area on campus and asked students to “vote” and give us their thoughts. The first day, I (Anna) had a conversation with a student who was so open and wanting to learn about Jesus that I had a bible study with her right on the spot! About a half hour later, I ended up having a conversation with the editor-in-chief of “the Koala,” the most controversial student newspaper on campus. He self-identified as a secular humanist (a type of atheism) and instead of debating with him, which would’ve just been unfruitful, I just asked him questions to listen where he was coming from. We’ve been having conversations with many atheists and though it has been really hard to change their minds about God, we just hope that we can at least change their minds about Christians and that we are not just people trying to shove the Bible down people’s throats, but that we are people willing to listen. The amazing thing is that the student I talked to who wanted to learn about Jesus agreed to meet up with me again later that week AND she came to visit our church that Sunday! I asked her where she was at in her spiritual journey and she said that she is like a sponge right now, wanting to just soak everything in about God. I’m going to be meeting with her again to look at Jesus’ life together so please be praying for her! The Lord is definitely pursuing his children!