University: A place to meet Jesus
“I was walking home late from a bus stop, and a guy got off at the same stop. I was worried, so I decided to just turn around and say “Hello!”
And thus began the steps of an amazing journey for Mary*, a student at a university in Halifax, Nova Scotia some 20 years ago. Mary, now married with two children of her own, had no idea that night how much her life was about to change.
“It turned out that he was an Inter-Varsity staff worker, coming to speak at my university that night. I decided to go. He spoke on the words of God in Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you – they are plans for good.”
“It really spoke to me what he shared, so I decided to come back the next week. But as it turns out, it was the last meeting of the year. They had made up a calendar of people to pray for each day of the month over the summer. And my name was on that list!”
As the semester ended, Mary was invited to attend an Inter-Varsity student retreat. “So I went, then I realized what it was, and here I was, not even a Christian. But I couldn’t go home, so I thought I’d just stick it out, and enjoy the weekend.
“By the third session, I was leading a small group Bible study. Then I gave my life to Christ that night. I was leading a Bible study on the feeding of the five thousand, before I was even a Christian!”
Mary’s new faith was nurtured and grew quickly through the next year. The Inter-Varsity staff worker and friends she met in her campus group became her mentors.
“I became a Christian through Inter-Varsity. It totally shaped me. It’s also where I met my husband. Small group Bible studies were where I grew, made friends, developed. People really mentored me; they took me to church. They gave me the opportunity to explore my faith, to ask questions, and seek answers. It was a very welcoming environment for becoming a Christian. Not an environment of rules, but accountability and support.”
That accountability and support is something that she now applies in her own life, as a homeschooling Mom and an active participant in her local church.
“I work with kids at church. I think a big part is just allowing the kids to ask the questions. Not to answer: ‘because it’s so’, but to really seek and to ask God the questions and seek the answers and not to be afraid. I think that a lot of people who grew up in Christian homes can be taught faith ‘because it’s so,’ then when they get to University, they have a million questions they can’t answer. I learned from Inter-Varsity that it’s okay to ask the questions. You don’t have to be afraid; God has answers to the questions.”
As she and her husband model faith to their children, they try to encourage healthy questions.
“It’s always a lot easier and shorter to give the answer ‘because God says so.’ But I try not to; I try to look for the answers.”
And, she says, that approach is good preparation for university life.
“I always caution parents: don’t hold the leash too tight, because this is the time where young people need to make their faith their own.”
For Mary, the journey of faith began when she courageously attended her Inter-Varsity campus meeting. Pray for the thousands of students who are heading to university this fall, that they, like Mary will meet friends who will introduce them to Jesus Christ.
*Mary’s identity is protected because of the country she now lives in.