Since 1928, we have been committed to inspiring the next generation to follow Jesus. Whether at our summer camps, in high schools, on university campuses, or in the workplace, we introduce students to Jesus, encouraging them to follow him in every part of their lives.
Having spent the past 30 years investing in the lives of young people all over the world through the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, it is a privilege to focus this next chapter of leadership and service in Canada.
All over the world, students are facing similar challenges. They are highly informed but not always thoughtful, widely connected but often lonely, well supported but struggling with mental health and resilience. Young people today are influenced by a broader range of cultural influences than ever before and this gives them enormous opportunities to make an impact for good with the Good News. Young people are engaging, passionate, concerned to make the world a better place, hungry for authenticity and looking for love.
Please pray for our mission as we seek to engage young people with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.
MISSION / PURPOSE
Our ministry with emerging generations is anchored to these five aims:
Discover Jesus. This reflects our commitment to evangelism. We are unashamed of the gospel. We help young people discover Jesus in the Bible, in creation, in community. Culture continues to evolve but the good news of Jesus centred on the cross, resurrection and future return of Jesus does not change.
Undivided Life. This captures our commitment to whole-life discipleship. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it and the Bible has application to every area of life. Following Jesus is an all-encompassing call that includes relationships, studies, work, money and leisure.
Engaged Thinking. This reflects our commitment to Christian thinking. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds. It is vital that we engage with universities as centres of teaching, research and consideration of ideas. We help young people relate faith to culture and integrate faith with studies. Post-graduate study and teaching are missionary callings.
Global Vision. This speaks to our commitment to the worldwide mission of the church. We are a founding member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students where we continue to contribute and partner in global initiatives. We show hospitality to international students. We pray for and actively pursue social justice, reconciliation between peoples and solutions to global issues.
Growing Influence. This affirms our commitment to leadership development. We invest in student leaders at camp, in high school and university and as they enter the workforce. We provide training, support and mentorship, encouraging young people to explore God’s calling and to be salt and light at home, at work and play.
It all began with one student.
At 25, Howard Guinness followed God’s call to put his medical studies on hold, leave his home and friends in Oxford and sail across turbulent waters for the sake of reaching out to university students in Canada.
It would have been easier for Howard to say no. To stay where he was comfortable. But he said yes. And with the help of a few friends, he raised funds for a one-way ticket to Canada.
He spent the next year travelling the country, urging students to see the campus as a place where God would capture the attention—even the very lives—of their friends. Broadening their strategy beyond the university, Howard and a group of student leaders organized the first InterVarsity camp for high school students. Going further, they took part in forming the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, a mission determined to introduce Jesus to students all over the world.
Through it all, they pursued Jesus with unwavering conviction. And because of the risky obedience that Howard and countless others have shown through the years, we can continue their work today, helping thousands of students across Canada hear God’s call. Almost 90 years later, they’re still saying yes.
WHO WE SERVE
It’s the five-year-old going to summer camp for the first time, and the parents who entrust her to us. The teenager who leads worship night at his high school, and the university student who’s unsure about how God relates to her studies. It’s the exchange student who’s never been part of a Bible study, and the recent grad who agrees to come on staff after a year interning with us on campus. No matter where they come from or what their background is, we’re eager to serve Canada’s youth, students and graduates so we can help them follow Jesus.
“By students for students” has always been the theme of the ministry of InterVarsity. Birthed out of the student movement in the United Kingdom in 1929, we began as a small group of students and recent graduates, committed to one thing: sharing the message of Jesus Christ with student-aged Canadians. The mission of InterVarsity is to radically change the globe with that message, carried by young people to every corner of Canada and the world.
Building a Legacy
In retrospect, this has been our legacy. In the 1940s, the Canadian movement of InterVarsity answered the same need south of the border. General Director C. Stacey Woods served both countries for many years, establishing the same hope for our friends in the United States. Within a few years, the American movement was strong and beginning to transform lives. With the help of the parent movement in the U.K., and several others, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) was born in 1946.
At that time, Canada was one of ten founding countries. In 2006, at the 60th anniversary of the IFES, more than 150 countries had member movements, uniting the worldwide ministry to students and bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to all parts of the world.
Around the same time, Inter-Varsity in Canada had a group of students dedicated to God’s global mission. It was in December of 1946 that 500 young people gathered for the first Student Missions Convention in Toronto, Ontario. Partnering with the InterVarsity/US movement in 1948, this conference was moved to Urbana, Illinois and began six decades of conferences under the Urbana name. In that time, hundreds of thousands of students have attended. Countless missionaries – both locally and globally – have been met with the challenge of living their lives with a Kingdom purpose.
In the 1950s, InterVarsity matured into a movement dedicated to the honest and confident proclamation of Christ on the campus and at Pioneer Camps.
On campus, students were called to study the Bible and embrace the academic world. The challenge to address the questions of the intelligentsia with a disciplined and structured account of the faith characterized the work. This has continued to be the emphasis of our ministry.
Pursuing God's Calling
Through the years, InterVarsity has been committed to student leadership, being shaped by each generation and helping them find their own voice. God has truly provided for this ministry since the first days and is working through individuals of great Kingdom influence to see his purposes expressed to every student generation.