Recently I had the opportunity to go to an InterVarsity Reunion for a group at Millersville University that I staffed in the late 80’s and early 90’s. What an encouragement to hear where they are now; most deeply involved in churches, some on the mission field, some in pastoral ministry with their spouses. Some had encountered difficult times; a few had gone through a divorce, some had life-changing medical issues, one had lost a child to suicide, yet all still following the Lord. Three had already gone home to him.
After having a typical IV Large Group Worship, it was time for the current staffers (IV and Navs) to speak. Each shared how someone investing their lives in them impacted them. As I was listening to them, I was struck by the fact that when I was the staffer there, I went to a similar reunion; it was the MU IVers from the 70’s, which at one point had 100 plus students in it. I had told them a similar story of how people had invested in me when I was in college and that was part of why I was doing InterVarsity work.
Then there was a sharing time for this reunion. The group had grown a lot during those years. After the 70’s it had gotten down to 20 some students, but with this group it had grown back up to 100 plus. They recalled singing “Father Abraham” with all the hand motions in a small group meeting, ministering to bystanders when a fundamentalist open-air preacher came to campus, reaching out through a play they did, gathering for daily prayer in the back of the Methodist Church on-campus, smashing hard rock records to get rid of that influence in their lives, and the big outreach we did where 20 gave their lives to the Lord. But one thing came up over and over; person after person shared about another person in the group who had invested in them; meeting weekly, discussing scripture, helping them in their lives and praying together with them. It was a powerful time as you could sense the emotion in the room. One fellow got so choked up all he could do was go over and give that person a hug.
I was especially taken back when Gene, the president of the group for some of that time, shared some of his memories. At one point he got very quiet as he could hardly speak, then as he composed himself somewhat he said “I am especially thankful to Craig for taking the time with me. I don’t know what he saw because my home before college was not so good, but I am so glad he did.” What an encouragement! Gene was a bit raw when he came to MU, but he was the kind of person we in InterVarsity invested in, “faithful, available and teachable.” And he made a big difference as he became a leader in the group and helped it grow. Somehow I had contributed to his growth, and consequently the growth of the group.
We were seeing it there that night! Generation after generation of students at Millersville from the 70’s through the 2010’s were affected as people invested in people, who invested in people and it went on and on there and beyond to other situations even to other countries. The same is true of the church as on the campus. God is faithful as we do our small part.