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Spiritual Growth within Witnessing Communities
March 17, 2009
Jamie’s heart was changing. Three weeks ago, she had endured an InterVarsity students’ large group meeting at Johns Hopkins University, feeling her heart constricting as a guest speaker talked about the love and forgiveness of God, until she could bear the calling inside her no longer and bolted from the room. That night as she said goodbye to the classmate who had invited her to the meeting, she had added, “I think I’ll just remain an atheist.”
But the next week she returned to the meeting, drawn by her desire to experience again the warmth and kindness of her newfound InterVarsity friends and to relieve the chronic pain of her secret wound. During the following weeks these new friends listened to Jamie’s heart, showing genuine interest in her welfare and empathy for the family tragedy that she had lived through.
Hurt and shame began surfacing in Jamie’s mind as she acknowledged the bitterness she had hidden since childhood. Then on the Saturday night that she attended an InterVarsity retreat, she felt a mysterious welling up of hope as she listened to the Bible reading and finally knew in her heart the preposterous truth that God was real and that Jesus Christ truly loved her. That very night Jamie gave her heart to Jesus.
Similar to many students and faculty members who have experienced the love of God through InterVarsity’s witnessing communities, Jamie’s heart was changed. More than a momentary feeling, this change to her very spirit now promised healing, wholeness, purpose, and joy. From this day forward, her life would be forever different. And her new life as a disciple of Jesus Christ held the promise of her being a part of God’s mission of changing this sinful world.
Not Alone But Together
InterVarsity witnessing communities on campuses throughout this nation are dedicated to calling students and faculty to a relationship with Jesus Christ and to developing in young Christians the spiritual maturity needed to further God’s mission not only on campus but around the world. Campus witnessing communities express InterVarsity’s belief that God teaches us discipleship to Christ and servant-leadership in this world within the context of the body of Christ. That is why our staff encourage InterVarsity members to participate not only in their campus witnessing community but also in the local church of their choice.
Developing in young Christians a love for God, God’s Word, his mission, and his church are Core Values for InterVarsity.
And spiritual formation is at the heart of those values. Spiritual formation for InterVarsity witnessing communities begins with a love for God’s Word found in the Bible. We emphasize the importance of personal, daily meditation on Scripture and one’s ability to articulate the gospel to other people.
Love for God’s Word is deeply rooted in InterVarsity’s history. Within a year of the founding of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA in 1942, staff member Jane Hollingsworth utilized inductive Bible study as a primary means of developing followers of Jesus. Two decades later, Barbara Boyd launched Bible & Life, a program which eventually involved over 50,000 students, and later Paul Byer developed the Gospel of Mark Manuscript Bible Study. Today we perpetuate the legacy of leaders who have taken Scripture seriously.
The world needs a joyously serious truth. We continue to celebrate the transformative power of God’s Word through campus Bible studies, InterVarsity Press publications, Urbana Bibles, and leadership training at our camps, among other activities. And our Fellowship affirms, not only through our Doctrinal Basis but also through our policies for staff and our partnerships with donors, the unique, divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible.
Study of the Bible within small groups and meditation on biblical truths during personal quiet times are integral to the lifestyles of InterVarsity students and faculty. We believe that spiritual formation that is based in study of the Bible, nurtured by God’s Holy Spirit, and exercised through opportunities for missions produce mature Christians capable of servant-leadership in this world. Through InterVarsity witnessing communities, students, faculty, and even academic administrators learn about the saving grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Witnessing Through a Community
Today InterVarsity is reaching more students and faculty for Jesus Christ than ever before. Through the friendship of InterVarsity students, the bold proclamation of the gospel on campus, and the nurture of a campus witnessing community, Jamie’s heart was changed.
Hundreds of thousands of students—hurting, confused, and needing spiritual salvation through Jesus Christ—attend this nation’s colleges and universities. For Jamie and others, InterVarsity is on campus, reaching out with the gospel, inviting people of every ethnicity and economic background into the fellowship with our witnessing communities.