“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 2015, during 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 ago. Even 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 cheeringon 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.
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.