How Do We Help Youth Find Direction?
November 25, 2019
by Nigel Pollock, President
I had the privilege this summer of visiting all nine InterVarsity camps across Canada. I was immensely encouraged by what I saw at our four Pioneer Camps and five Circle Square Ranches. Camp is a unique place for young people to discover Jesus, explore faith, grow in character, forge friendships and develop leadership. We are thankful for all who worked, volunteered, gave and prayed in this remarkable season of fun and fruitfulness.
At Pioneer Camp Alberta, a log arch inscribed with the words ‘Happy Trails’ spans the driveway. The words are positioned so you see them when you leave camp, not when you enter it.
This is entirely appropriate. Camp is a fantastic place but we are not just about providing a delightful vacation. We are dedicated to equipping young people for life as they go home. We hope and pray they their time at camp will help them find happy trails. But we also know happiness is fleeting. Trails are often rocky.
This generation of young people faces huge issues around identity, resilience and loneliness. They are living in a culture divided over equality, justice, the environment, sanctity of life and the place of faith.
We are committed to providing intentional support, especially through the major transitions in life so young people will thrive in their Christian faith and be influencers for the gospel wherever life takes them.
This is not new for InterVarsity. Throughout our 90 year history, we have sought to support campers returning to church and school, to prepare high school and university students for life on campus and to encourage graduates entering the workplace. Helping youth navigate the trails between these different environments is key. We know we cannot do it without significant partnerships with volunteers, churches and other organizations.
NEW AND RENEWED
In addition to our ongoing work on campus and at camp, we are beginning some new initiatives and restarting ones that have been dormant. In Calgary, Vanessa Kordupel, Janna Ehrenholz and a small team of interns are re-pioneering high school work. Both Janna and Vanessa direct Leaders-in-Training programs at our camps and they love teenagers!
Under the capable leadership of Rebekah Rotert and Josh Chu, our Ministry Partnerships team is helping pilot new ways to support graduates and other young adults in the workplace.
In Toronto, campus staff Vera Ivakina is linking third and fourth-year students with mentors in their area of study and potential professional area of work. In Vancouver, James Allaway has started as our first dedicated Workplace Ministry Staff as he fosters relationships with younger graduates and helps them think about how faith relates to work, encouraging discipleship and promoting evangelism.
MORE THAN WHERE
Outside the Rugby Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand, there is big sign declaring: This is where we worship. I noted it one afternoon when I was with a group of local church leaders.
“It’s a terrible commentary on the idolatry of sports in New Zealand society,” commented one pastor.
“Maybe,” I replied, “but I am sure you can worship God in a sports stadium as a player, supporter or worker. It depends on who or what you are worshipping more than where.”
“But the sign is still in the wrong place, it should be outside the church,” said another.
“Possibly,” I replied, “but if I had a sign in my church saying ‘This is where we worship’, I would have it inside the church, above the door people walk out at the end of a service because most of us do most of our worship outside church walls, not inside.”
Church is a place to worship, but, as the people of God, most of our worship ought to happen at work, in the home, at school and in sport, music, art and community engagement. We are committed to growing our effort to equip and encourage students and graduates in all the transitions they face in life.
It has been a privilege in this first year of my life in Canada to meet graduates who are influencing many areas of life in this nation and beyond and who came to Christ, grew in faith and took their first steps in leadership through InterVarsity.
We value your investment in our work as we seek to grow that heritage in a new generation. Walking with young men and women, through the twists and turns of life. Together, may we help them find more happy trails.
Hundreds of students make InterVarsity a stop on their journey, but we’d love to reach even more. Would you consider donating so that we can help prepare more youth and students for where God takes them next?
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