MADISON, WI – InterVarsity has more than 1,000 active chapters throughout all 50 of the United States on more than 650 college campuses. Since coming to the U.S. from Great Britain in the 1940s, nearly 300,000 student participants have been challenged to enter God’s global mission field through the triennial Urbana Conference alone.
The many who are familiar with the InterVarsity ministry tend to think of it as “a campus ministry that advances witnessing communities of students and faculty” which, in fact, it is.
“The Purpose of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is to establish and advance at colleges and universities witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord: growing in love for God, God’s Word, God’s people of every ethnicity and culture, and God’s purposes in the world.”
InterVarsity is more than a program to reach students on college and university campuses for Christ. It encourages students and faculty to go beyond their comfort zone to understand the needs and challenges of global missions by challenging them to participate in a Global Urban Trek.
Each year InterVarsity sends about 20 teams of students and staff to international mission fields. In 2018, the group commissioned 213 participants in 23 programs to 18 different countries. Teams partner with local Christian ministries to reach people living lives of desperation in marginalized urban slum communities in megacities around the world.
The teams are immersed among the people in the communities that “most would prefer to ignore or avoid.” Those people are longing for hope. The hope that is available only by the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. That hope can is available only when someone is willing to take the message to them.
For that reason, the purpose of the Global Urban Trek is greater than offering students a chance to travel and experience life in other countries. The students who participate are already contemplating God’s call upon their life to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus among “the least of these” for the rest of their lives.
As InterVarsity describes it, during the entire seven-week trek
“Students will fast from home culture, technology, clothes, friends, achievements, and their usual food. They will learn spiritual disciplines like submission, prayer, lament, and celebration.”
The Global Treks thrust participants in experiences of beauty and brokenness. They live among the local people and share the Gospel in various outreach experiences including working in children’s programs, clinics, and leper communities.
Our intense struggle between the flesh and the spirit was eloquently described in this excerpt from a student participant’s blog from a 2015 trek to a slum in South Asia.
“There is an internal storm within me because my heart says to be the hands and feet of Jesus. However, my flesh reminds me that you are dirty and that I do not know the diseases and infections that lie rampant on you. It’s a constant struggle. Do I wipe the dirt and dust off of your face or do I walk away?
If I am honest with myself there are days that I choose to walk away because I don’t know how to process the fact that you are a human being that is dying on the side of the metro station. The days that I choose to engage and love you are hard.
As I get down on my knees to wipe your face, I have to remind myself that I am not a saint but rather a sister who has come along your side for this moment in time.”
May the love of the Lord and His love for the lost grip us as it did this student servant.
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