Beyond My Comfort Zone

I got involved with InterVarsity during my first year on campus. At the time, my sister was still in school and was involved with InterVarsity, too. I was extremely quiet, and despite my hesitations around being with large groups of people, she insisted that I go with her to some events. It didn’t take me long to realize that InterVarsity was a safe place where I could grow in my faith alongside some amazing people.

Do I Have a Place in the Classroom?

As a student in the concurrent English and Education program at UofC, my voice is very important to me. I went into my degree because I was inspired by my high school teachers; in times when I felt that I was alone, they were always there for me. There was nothing that I wanted more than to spread the love of God and to pay their kindness forward. However, since I had never been the loudest student in the classroom, I began to wonder whether I had a place teaching in the classroom. When I asked God about this at the end of my second year, I felt him tell me that he gave me a voice, that he wanted me to use it and to let him show me how.
That happened around the same time that an InterVarsity staff at my school had been trying to convince me to volunteer with the Senior Girls program at InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Alberta. After many weeks of being on the fence about it, I decided that it could be a great way to make space for God to show me how to use my voice.

Making Space for God

I don’t know what I expected when I arrived at camp for the two-week program, but I do know that getting put in charge of seven preteen girls with endless energy wasn’t it. But as the camp progressed, I realized that God had been working through my life in ways that I could offer to the girls. As someone who grew up struggling with anxiety, being able to extend a sense of understanding around that to my campers was such a blessing.
Those two weeks were a roller-coaster, but they were also filled with little golden moments. Whether it was learning all about my campers’ friends at school and laughing with them over fun memories, or mourning with them about their hardships in life, I had never felt so blessed. It was the most difficult two weeks of my life, and quite often left me in tears, but without hesitation, I knew that it was something I wanted to do again, especially since I knew that I’d have God on my side. That time with my campers forever changed me and taught me more than any classroom ever could.

God Was My Voice

And as I left Senior Girls, I realized that God had been speaking through me the whole time. I’m not the type of person who always knows what to say, but in those two weeks, I didn’t need to. During every conversation, God was there with me. He was my voice. Suddenly, I could call out if I needed to or be still with them if I needed to. I never knew exactly what to say, but God always did.
Camp taught me that I truly do have a voice to give. God doesn’t just use the classic type of leader (loud, outgoing) to lead. He can also use the quiet. When I entered the new school year, I entered it with greater trust, a newfound confidence in my place in my degree and a new position as Student President with InterVarsity at UofC. My InterVarsity staff at school believed in me enough and were gracious enough to give me that position so that I could have room to use my voice. Before Senior Girls, I told them, “I’ll think about it,” because I didn’t think that I would fit well in that role. But by the end of that summer, I said, “yes.” I learned that it wasn’t about how well I fit in the role, but how God fits me into the role. I am forever grateful for my experiences with both camp and campus ministries as both have pushed me to grow in my relationship with God and continue to prepare me for his mission for me.

Richelle is one of over 400 student leaders who took part in InterVarsity last year. Would you consider donating to help more students like Richelle have the opportunity to discover Jesus on campus?

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