University of Iowa was on my supervisory itinerary back in September. I had actually never set foot on the campus. I landed on a sunny Wednesday morning at The Encounter Cafe (a very nice place, Kevin). Kevin Kummer is our GFM Staff Member at Iowa. He and his wife Maria are veteran staff – not only with InterVarsity but also the IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) for a combined 39 years of ministry now with students and faculty!
The guy on the left is Dr. Cary Covington – political science professor at Iowa. I sat down that morning to one of the most interesting conversations about faith and politics. People with Cary’s level of education are themselves an education to be around. I was not only given a front row seat to Kevin’s friendship with Dr. Covington, we also talked at length about current events. “So, from your perspective as a political scientist and a devoted christian, what do you think explains Trump’s impact not only on the republican party but also on the Church?” Yes. We talked about that! Dr. Covington’s thoughts were deep, historically rooted, incredibly intelligent and earnest. “I’m just not used to having someone like that to talk to,” I remember saying to Kevin. “Cary usually doesn’t have that much time to talk – I was surprised he hung out with us that long,” Kevin mentioned to me afterward.
One of the best things about working with GFM is that there are absolutely no boring people. You just have to ask the right questions (off the record, of course). Later that day Kevin gave me a walking tour of the campus. “There’s the building where the Iowa Writer’s Workshop is located. Pulitzer Prize novelist and christian Marilynne Robinson teaches here at University of Iowa, did you know that?”
Kevin had the best stuff lined up for me to experience while I was in town. We got to spend about 45 minutes with Brandon, a new grad student in theatre. We met with Yooneui, Katrina and Shu – Kevin’s leadership team.
I spent the evening in the Kummer’s home learning more about their extended family and history with InterVarsity over a delicious dinner. This is the kind of time with staff that helps me serve them better. Experiencing their ministry context, being more up-close to their work, and getting in touch with their families.
My Fall 2018 line up!
- Aug 15, Lawrence, campus visit to KU with Jake Evans
- Sept 18-19, St. Louis, Wash-U, time with George Stulac on campus, dinner with George and Barbara, meet up with St. Louis Comm College faculty, breakfast with Ryan Weed.
- Sept 26-27, Iowa City with Kevin on campus, stops in Ames and Pella on way back home to meet faculty and undergrad Regional Director Kathy Haug
- Oct 9, Ministry Partnership meeting with potential donor in Overland Park, coaching with Jake, meet Christina and the Evan’s kids.
- Oct 10-11, Campus visit with Mark Hansard to Emporia State, dinner with his wife Leanne, campus day with George Gardner at K-State in Manhattan
- Nov 7, Ministry Partnership conversation in Topeka – resources and networking for GFM Kansas.
I’m so grateful for Kevin and his work. Let’s see… we got George a smoker after his 20th year with IV. I’d better be thinking about what InterVarsity should do for a staff member who has given 40 years! Thank you, Kevin! Thank you, Maria! You two are a treasure to this ministry as well as hundreds (if not thousands) of students and faculty all over the world. Our team is so blessed to have you!