Jamie MacArthur Named New Atlantic Director for InterVarsity
March 20, 2020
Jamie and Christy MacArthur met each other as university students involved in InterVarsity in Atlantic Canada.
Jamie MacArthur recently accepted our invitation to lead InterVarsity’s ministry in Atlantic Canada, and we are delighted. Jamie has a long history with us, beginning as a junior high school student and continuing on through university and even in the IFES world.
In this interview with Lynda MacGibbon, Vice-President, People and Culture and a former regional director in Eastern Canada, Jamie shares his passion for reaching students with the Gospel and tells a bit of his own story of faith.
Lynda: Welcome, Jamie! We are so glad you have joined our ministry team. Tell us about how you ended up applying for this position.
Jamie: InterVarsity, its values, people and mission have never been far from my heart and my work. In recent years I have worked with many students at the high school and university level, and have seen the challenges they face in our complex world. I know how helpful it was for me to have “friends along the Way” in the form of InterVarsity staff, student leaders and groups God used to shape me as a disciple of Christ at school and on campus.
Though in many ways these times and today’s students are different, I am passionate that today’s students, too, should experience Christian community and become all that God wants them to be, in the present and future. Recently, I have felt God stirring me to discover the best fit for me in ministry at this chapter in my life. Having prayed about and investigated this over many months, I can confidently say this is the work to which God is calling me now, once again, and I welcome this opportunity with deep gratitude and enthusiasm.
Lynda: Tell us more more about how InterVarsity experiences influenced your life as a disciple of Jesus.
Jamie: The interdenominational mission aspect of InterVarsity has always been very influential for me, helping to broaden my perspective about the faith and work of Christians from diverse backgrounds and theological positions. Our focus on Jesus as Lord of the universe and hope of the world unites Christians to serve, love and help students in their quest for truth and meaning in life on campus, in schools, and at camp.
Learning to take the Bible seriously as the word of God, and to apply it carefully in my life and work, was a huge part of my development as a disciple of Christ. Being mentored and encouraged into using my gifts in leadership has had a massive impact on the person I’ve become, and the work I have done over the course of my adult life.
Lynda: What do you sense are some of the greatest needs of teens and young adults today?
Jamie: It’s complicated! They have great potential, God-given gifts and vast arrays of information and technology available to them. With stress about the future, measuring up, fitting in, finding your path among so many people and loud voices pushing you in many directions for a variety of reasons – this is not an easy time to be a teenager, nor to become an adult (whether you want to or not).
In today’s challenging environment, where youth sometimes seem to have everything and nothing all at once, anxiety and identity are central issues. It’s hard for youth to talk to people in person about many of the questions they have and the issues they face.
Into this changing context, InterVarsity brings the stabilizing influence of Christian community, a place to be, and to discover who you are, in the context of who God is, and what he has done for us by sending Jesus to save and orient us. What youth – and all of us, actually – need most is an encounter with Jesus and an ongoing relationship with Him supported by community.
Lynda: What are your roots and where has life taken you?
Jamie: Though I’ve travelled to other countries and to other parts of Canada, I’m from Atlantic Canada, and have lived in Halifax for the last 19 years. I was born in Moncton, NB, into a Christian family, and grew up in Mount Uniacke and Port Williams, NS, where I had the privilege of attending Horton High School and Acadia University.
Lynda: When did you first connect with InterVarsity?
Jamie: I first joined ISCF in Grade 7 in Windsor, NS, and was part of it for the next five years, until graduation from High School. I went on to be part of the InterVarsity chapter at Acadia University. Thanks to the discipleship of IV staff workers I grew in my leadership capacity and experience throughout my years as a student, investing my time on the executive and as chapter president.
I met my wife, Christy, also a student leader, through InterVarsity. I was blessed by years of attending Atlantic Pioneer Camp. As a student attending the Urbana missions conference, I was inspired, and felt a call to ministry in the former Soviet Union. Volunteering and connecting with international student ministry in Vancouver, and working with IFES in Ukraine were further steps in my connection with student ministry.
Lynda: How did your time in Ukraine impact how you see the world?
Jamie: It was a great privilege, and a big responsibility, when Christy and I were welcomed as part of the IFES staff team in Ukraine. We were glad to be able to serve alongside such skilled and bright leaders, the staff who were our colleagues there. I came to understand in new ways how our cultures shape our lives and understanding, no matter where we come from.
I also developed a new appreciation for the way God, by His Spirit, moves in all people and all cultures, to call people to acknowledge and serve Jesus as Saviour and Lord. God uses His word to bring people closer to Him, “from every nation”.
Lynda: You’ve been pastoring churches in Atlantic Canada for the past 20 years. Tell us about that.
Jamie: Our work with students and staff in Ukraine was made possible by a partnership, as we were seconded to IFES by Canadian Baptist Ministries, the denomination in which I grew up. When we returned to Canada, the Lord led us to serve first in one of our supporting churches, Birch Cove Baptist, in Halifax, where I served as full time associate in Youth and Christian Training for 9 years. Following that I led Eastern Passage Baptist Church, also in the greater Halifax area, where I was concurrently lead pastor and youth pastor, until 2019.
I have always believed that the local church is God’s chosen community, and He uses us – how humbling – in the process of growing in discipleship and faith. The Church mobilizes us to join Him on His mission of saving sinners, and incorporating as many people as possible into His family. The Church is “not of” the world, but it needs to be “in” the world, as Jesus taught, helping the poor, connecting the lonely, and bringing the love of God to the people of our communities in tangible, understandable ways.
Lynda: As you think about leading InterVarsity’s ministry in Atlantic Canada, what are some of your hopes anddreams?
Jamie: My vision is that youth and students today should experience an effective, loving, truth-telling, Jesus-centred community wherever they study. InterVarsity is uniquely placed in Canada to help facilitate this, but we can only do this work through the prayers, encouragement, support and financial contributions of God’s people.
My dream is to rebuild relationships across the Atlantic region, not just for the good of InterVarsity and the effectiveness of our mission, but also for the good of God’s kingdom, as the Church becomes better acquainted with itself across denominational lines, and engages more fully in the ministry of reconciliation which God has entrusted to all those who believe in Him.
Let us pray that God, the Lord of the harvest, will bring this about in our time.
Lynda: You’ve joined our team at an unusual time in the world. Thank you for taking on this role at a time when ministry doesn’t look like it usually does! But there is definitely still ministry to be done as we seek to support young people and their families in the midst of an unsettled world.
We invite people to partner with Jamie in prayer, encouraging words and financial gifts. Eventually he’ll be recruiting volunteers to help him as he rebuilds ministry in Atlantic Canada.