Remembering Steve Colby

“I believe God is calling this generation to choose life, and to make their life a blessing to others.  Our mission is to make God’s call on this generation unmistakable and irresistible. I love calling students to take bold risks on campus, and to take bold steps into God’s global mission.  I love how students are geared to think about changing their whole lives, and how their lives could effect the world.”

Steve Colby spoke those words in 2015during a celebration to mark his 30th year with InterVarsity. This week, we are full of grief, even as we celebrate his passing from this world into resurrected life with God. On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, Steve died at home after a 15-month battle against cancer. His wife, Susie, and their three children, Caleb, Phoebe and Lily, were by his side.
Although he could not fully work this last year, he never stopped living into the calling he’d received from God 34 years agoEven in the last few months, when illness began to confine him to a chair in his living room, his heart mind and soul were still actively engaged in mission. Steve never stopped praying for, listening to, advising and cheering on students, colleagues, friends and family as they followed Jesus.
For the past nine years, Steve served as InterVarsity’s Director of Missions, envisioning and moving forward partnerships with student movements all over the world as well as in urban and rural communities in Canada. He loved this world because he loved the people of the world and he loved seeing God’s Kingdom take shape in it. He had deep and significant friendships with colleagues in the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, China Partners, Servant Partners and other mission agencies.
Steve first sensed his calling to student ministry in 1987 when he accepted the role of campus minister at Santa Clara University in California. Susie joined him as a volunteer at Santa Clara, a ministry partnership which grew into marriage in 1990. They served on staff with InterVarsity USA at various California universities until 2004 when they were invited to join InterVarsity Canada to co-direct university ministry in British Columbia.
a photo of Steve Colby and Susie Colby
In 2011, Steve became Director of Missions. Susie currently serves as Vice-President, Campus.
They have always lived as a missional family. Steve once described it this way: “Susie and I cherish the way God has grown our family to love God and His mission through our work with InterVarsity and IFES. Making meals and hosting students and staff from all over the world. I love it when Lily with expectancy asks, ‘How many for dinner tonight? When Phoebe texts at an IVCF function at McGill,  ‘You know that taking us on a global partnership to Sierra Leone was the most brilliant thing ever, right?’   Now Caleb is considering his calling in mission after university, remembering that the urban mission and global partnerships have had the most impact on his life.  Following in his parents footsteps, Caleb currently serves with InterVarsity USA in California.
Steve longed for young people to grasp the truth that God loves the whole world. At Urbana 15, he spoke to thousands of students, challenging them to go to all the nations with these words:

“My conviction is that when North Americans leave home, go abroad and serve, focused on learning from our global partners, we gain perspective, grow in faith and character, and return with a story to tell that challenges our friends at home and at the university – Jesus really is LORD over all the earth!

We welcome your stories and memories of Steve in the comment section below. In this season of restricted gatherings, we lament that we cannot come together to celebrate Steve’s life. We will do that at a later date.


Steve Colby loved recruiting students to the Urbana Student Missions Conference. At Urbana 15, he gave a passionate call to students to see the whole world through God’s perspective.

35 comments on “Remembering Steve Colby


I have never met Steve, but I have seen his caring heart, joy and generosity reflected through his daughter Phoebe, who is truly a light wherever she goes.
Praying for the Colby family during this time.

Casey Jones

Steve and Susie were my college IV staff at UC Santa Cruz. I still remember many of their large group talks. Their love and encouragement changed the trajectory of my life. I love that guy.

    InterVarsity Canada

    This is so cool to hear! Their ministry together has touched so many lives. Thanks so much for sharing.

Janna Ehrenholz

I last saw Steve in November at our Mission Partnerships Debrief. He drove me to the train station at the end of the week and though I hadn’t previously spent much time with him, in that brief car ride, I was privileged to receive the love of Jesus that poured through Steve onto every person that he met. I think it must be rare for employees of a national organization to feel that they are truly cared for and seen by the higher-ups in the organization, but both Steve and Susie have never come across as feeling “higher up”.
I also remember washing dishes in the dish pit at Pioneer Pacific during last year’s speaker training with Steve and Lily. It sort of felt like I was intruding on a fun family party, but that my intrusion was most welcome. Thank you for that!


      I am sorry to hear of the passing of Steve! Last time we met was in Krakow and I remember his passion for us as students and our journey with Christ. May God give strength to his family and friends. Greetings from Belgium.

Alejandra, Abdiel y Luciana

En casa, desde el lunes, hemos estado llorando y orando con los Colby. Abdiel y yo vivimos un poco más de año en su casa, durante nuestro tiempo en Canadá. Steve y Susie fueron nuestro amigos, mentores y a quienes alquilamos nuestro “basement suite” en Vancoouver, el primer hogar de nuestra hija. El amor por la música de Raffi, los primeros libros en nuestra experiencia como papás y los mejores consejos para esas primeras semanas vinieron de ellos. Steve, era todo lo que este tributo dice de él, y también era un esposo, papá y amigo admirable. Lo extrañamos mucho. Oramos por la familia Colby.

    InterVarsity Canada

    Gracias por tu palabras amables. Estamos tan graciendos de que hayas tenido tiempo con los Colbys.

Sue Lee

Steve Colby was one of a kind, we affectionately referred to him as the Energizer Bunny in our home. We all weeped over dinner the other night when we found out of his passing. Steve influenced all of us for the better and he left a significant impression on my boys who are now young men. My husband Troy was very well loved and mentored by Steve (we both were), but Steve had a special way with Troy, so much laughter and love. We wept, laughted and cried again with gratitude for the many years we were blessed to work together. Love to Suzie and the kids.

    InterVarsity Canada

    Oh, we’re so thankful that you shared these memories! Steve truly was an ‘Energizer Bunny.’ So grateful he had a positive impact on you and your family.

Rosie Leon

Steve and Susie Colby were very influential in my life and faith during my time at UCSC, I met Steve my first year in college when I joined InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We went on a summer mission trip to Bulgaria. I know he is in a better place. I am stunned and shocked. Literally in tears an unable to process this. Steve Colby was a man of God, he ran the race and he is now with our Heavenly Father. Death hurts those left behind. RIP Steve Colby. Praying for his family and everyone Steve loved and whose lives he touched. Steve Colby was a man that had a deep profound and lasting affect on my life.

    InterVarsity Canada

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Rosie. It is truly a sad loss, but it brings us comfort knowing that Steve is with Jesus.

Paul McCluskey

So saddened to hear of Steve’s loss, he was truly a committed soldier in the Lord’s army.

I me him 40+ years ago via a mutual friend and he would always welcome me whenever our paths crossed.

Just a wonderful, Godly man and I’m saddened by the loss, but take heart that Steve is in a better place.

Vaya con Dios, mi amigo

    InterVarsity Canada

    Gracias, Paul. Steve truly is in a better place. It’s so sweet to hear a bit about how you knew him. Thanks for sharing.

James Siebert

Steve Colby knew he was loved by Jesus… and this impacted his life completely. Steve was passionate that others should have a chance to meet this Jesus. Everyone loved Steve. He lived life to the full. He was a wise man. A visionary. Full of humour. Loved by all. So grateful that Steve paved the way for us to take students on a Global Project to a new area. God used Steve to impact the world. It’s hard to believe that he is gone. Praying for his wife Susie and family.

Jan Basañes

I first met Steve when he came to a MarkWest in Manitoba, I was a student then. The man brought an amazing, distinct energy to our Mark I track. You could tell that he believed in us, and that he was so convinced that the word was going to change our lives for good. I also got to play a pick up game of basketball with him! I share Janna’s feelings. How cool is it that the director of missions was down-to-earth enough to want to play basketball with the students? 🙂

    InterVarsity Canada

    Aw, what a sweet story! Steve was such a great guy. Thanks for sharing, Jan. So glad you got to spend some time with him.

I named my daughter after Steve’s sister, Sarah. his parents were always very good to my family. Steve and Susie were people I looked up to in my intervarsity days. I grieve with their family.

Doreen Westera

I have never met Steve but did correspond with him regarding IFES, and also have met Susie on staff meetings when I was on Associate Staff with IVCF Canada. So sad to hear of his passing. What a wonderful legacy he has left and I know that God will continue with the work Steve was involved with.

    InterVarsity Canada

    Thank you so much for your comment, Doreen. We’re so grateful for the way God worked through Steve.

Larry Simonsen

I was a freshman at Santa Clara University in 1987, the year Steve and Susie landed there together. All these years later, it is still palpably fresh in my memory. At the time, the pain, searching, and isolation of my adolescence had only been exacerbated by the transition to university. One fall afternoon, I was wandering in disoriented mental circles in my dorm room, and a skinny blond guy (who looked too old to live on my floor but young enough to illicit a feeling of hope) knocked on my door. I followed him to an ultimate frisbee match, and to dinner, and lunches, and softball, and eventually to many gatherings with people who felt convincingly loved by God. While under Steve’s mentoring, the Holy Spirit invaded my consciousness and convinced me of that same love. For the many years I knew Steve, his countenance was as consistent as the weather in SoCal: he had the joy, humor, insight, and peace of a person convinced that God was good, and involved. I never once met with him, or spoke on the phone, without experiencing his trademark wit, gentle teasing, and grace-filled laugh. And, we always left our conversations by formally giving them to God in prayer. I knew that his life was not pain or trouble free. Steve had his own valleys and shadows to manage. But when Jesus invited him to walk the dorms, mazes of privilege and darkness, he trusted God enough to overcome his own inadequacies and pick up a lantern to come and find me. I later walked those floors for Intervarsity for the better part of 5 years as a campus staff worker, and understand viscerally what it meant for Steve to follow Jesus there. I am so thankful that he did that day, because several imperfect decades later…”I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38
Thank you Steve and Susie.

    InterVarsity Canada

    Aw, this is a really moving story, Larry. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Steve has had such a far-reaching impact, and you’re right: his countenance was as consistent as the weather in SoCal! Love that. God bless.

Alan Lensink

Steve was my intern director in Vancouver in 2009-2010, and my colleague in InterVarsity for the past eight years. Throughout this time, Steve has been a mentor and an inspiration and a friend. I love how Steve could challenge and inspire you, while also being pastoral and compassionate. I love how Steve opened up the scripture — it seemed that he was shaped by God’s word in such a deep and lively way. I love Steve’s humility. With such a charming personality, it would have been easy for Steve to bolster his own ego. But he was down to earth, and was open about his mistakes. I really respect how Steve was a champion for Susie’s vocation, and believed in the young women he worked with. I love how Steve inspired so many to follow Jesus and to follow him into mission. He was really loving and fun; he was really mature, he had an amazing spark, and he loved people so well. He fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith. I will continue to be inspired and encouraged and blessed by Steve’s life.

    InterVarsity Canada

    Thanks for sharing this, Alan. Steve really was one of a kind, and we also remain inspired by his faith, exuberance, and compassion for others.

Thomas Allen

Our hearts grieve at the news of Steve’s passing. Denise and I met Steve (and Susie) at Orientation for New Staff for InterVarsity USA in 1987. More recently i crossed paths with Steve in a series of gatherings over several years leading up to Urbana 18. I love the Canada-themed mittens he gave a group of us during one of our meetings in Toronto. Over those several years I was blessed, encouraged and inspired by Steve’s confidence in the reality and advance of God’s kingdom in the world, his hopeful spirit, quickness to laugh, love for students everywhere, his curious mind and keen interest in me and others. Thank you, Lord, for Steve, and the gift of his life. We pray that God’s peace and comfort will guard and surround Susie and their family. ——-Tom and Denise Allen

    InterVarsity Canada

    It’s great to hear how Steve was part of your life, Tom. Thank you so much for sharing! We really appreciate your prayers.

Brendan Lewis

I graduated from Santa Clara in 88, and Steve and Susie had amazing influence on us, and in particular, he put me (and many others) on the path to the Bulgaria Global Project that was life-changing. It’s been great to hear all the global amazingness that God led Steve, Susie, and the family on these many years.

Samantha (Fullen) Elliott

Steve and Susie Colby have left an indelible, eternal mark on our lives. As our IVCF leaders at Santa Clara University, they poured God’s word and God’s love into our hearts. Susie, who stayed on staff at SCU when Steve jumped in at UC Santa Cruz, discipled me particularly. I will always be grateful for her wise counsel and faithful prayer for me. As I have grown into a life of serving Christ, I can think back to specific IVCF lectures that Steve and Susie gave, just as so many others have said. I am also very grateful that they both encouraged me to attend Urbana, which was a life-changing event. What a reunion it will be in heaven, where there is no more pain and there are no more tears. Steve Colby Is busy carrying many crowns to the feet of his Savior!

Eileen Li

Steve was such a warm, goofy, outgoing, and joyful person. He and his family were so hospitable and open in sharing their lives with others and pointing us to Jesus. I remember specifcally our China gp trip and the training together. He was always there to give wise counsel and lift our spirits up.
He will be missed.

I can tell that he has left a huge legacy and will be remembered in our hearts. It is so nice to read all your comments in how he has impacted you. He is now with the Lord. I can picture him with the same smile he has here on Earth and it’s probably even bigger in heaven

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