The Eleven.

PSW 2019

Who do you see when you look at this picture?  There were some of US.  And there were some of THEM.  Can you tell which is which?  The US, were 6 Staff Directors in my four-state territory.  The THEM, were 11 potential InterVarsity staff candidates.  I got to join the undergrad side of my ministry in hosting Prospective Staff Weekend (PSW) down in Kansas City last November.  The six of us were able to spend a couple of days with terrific students and faculty involved in our ministry.  Hopefully the US…are still young-looking enough to make it nearly impossible to pick us out in the crowd.  Maybe not…

Of “The Eleven” there were several I especially loved meeting up with.  One is a faculty member at St. Louis University in the Chemistry department interested in a part time position working with faculty.  Two were graduate students connected with our Undergraduate and International Student Ministries. Three more were possibly headed to graduate or professional school within the next year!  So much potential.

Not… in the photo.

Three other possible candidates are currently looking at Graduate Faculty Ministry applications.  A recent graduate living and working in Iowa might volunteer part time as she helps start a new GFM group.  A PhD student in Theology at St. Louis University is strongly considering GFM ministry after finishing his degree later this spring.  And the spouse of a Wash-U faculty member, herself a PhD in Environmental Science, is applying for the open position we have at Washington University.  I’m so encouraged to cultivate these seeds of interest!

I just booked a flight today for St. Louis.  Pray for me on Feb 14th.  Yes, while everyone else is eating those nasty candy hearts and enjoying Valentine’s Day greetings, I’ll be spending the day following up with several of these terrific people.  Pray for great conversations, asking and answering the best questions.  Pray for God to move in bringing the people we need on staff in just the right locations.  Pray for the application process to move along.  For potential obstacles to be worked through.  For people to say “Yes!” who should.  For God’s call to be clear.

Other people.  Other places.

One of my GFM staff members at K-State has been having conversations with an International (PhD student with two years left to his program) showing great potential for ministry.  He’s been a key leader in his context and lives out his faith leading others to Christ.  I am accumulating connections with faculty and grad students at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.  But I have no staff member there.  The nearest GFM staff team-mate that I have is over two hours away.  I would be immensely blessed with a staff colleague here in Omaha!  Des Moines also has so much potential for faculty work as well as possible new ministry with Occupational Therapy students at Drake.  Keep praying.  Hopefully good news is coming!

Thank you so much for your partnership.

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Ethiopians have a lot to teach us.


Coming to you today from the Rosen Center in Orlando.  The entire InterVarsity staff team is together this week meeting, eating, gathering, worshiping, praying, searching scripture and hearing stories of God’s work among university students and faculty.  As I mentioned in my last post, today is fasting day.  We’re seeking God to bring a new work among us and through us on campus.  Would you take a few minutes somewhere in your day to pray for us?

Last night in our plenary we heard from Robel Chemeda, General Secretary of the Ethiopian IFES student movement known as EvaSUE.  Some of our leadership spent time with Robel in Addis Abbas in 2019 seeking to learn from a truly remarkable student movement.

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James Choung, one of our national leaders interviewed Robel.  It went something like this:

James: So you lead a movement of 50,000 students with a staff team of 70 people.  There are about 1,400 InterVarsity staff workers in this room who are dying to know how you do it?

Robel: We actually can’t do staff work the way you do here – our students aren’t given permission to meet on campus.  They have to meet where they can off-campus.  Staff members are there for support, but most things are led by students.  Small groups are a very big deal.  And we experience quite a bit of persecution.  Many students have rocks thrown at them.  Students and staff have actually been sent to jail!

James:  Jail?  Who sends them to jail?

Robel: Christians.  Many churches are infected with legalism and don’t like the student movements.

James:  God is obviously blessing their faithfulness. It doesn’t seem to slow the growth of your movement.  What impact does the persecution have on them personally?

Robel:  They are actually happy about the persecution – they count themselves blessed to share in Christ’s suffering.  It builds their faith instead of tearing it down.

James: What is the secret to their resiliency?  How can they stay so strong in the face of persecution?

Robel: It’s their discipline of prayer and fasting.

James: Could you describe that for us?

Robel: When our students call a prayer and fasting gathering they will decide to skip breakfast and lunch.   They will meet up at about 9:00am and pray without stopping till 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  They pray in “one voice”.  One Voice is when everyone is praying out loud at the same time.

James:  You mean, students pray for 6 hours?  Do they like that?  Do they take breaks?  Why do you do it that way?

Robel: They are so encouraged to be together.  They sometimes have to find creative places to meet so they aren’t harassed.  Students who are new find it a challenge at first.  But they long to be together.  It’s scriptural to gather – that’s what they see the early Church doing in Acts.  They don’t take breaks!

James:  We’re here this week to cultivate our longing for revival.  Your movement has grown incredibly in the last several years, but that’s not what you’d call revival?

Robel: The growth we’re seeing in our movement now was actually rooted in much more severe testing Christians experienced in the past.  EvaSUE was born out of the spiritual climate of the 1960s.  It totally went underground for a period of about 8 years.  People much more fervently sought God in daily sustained fasting and prayer (eating just one meal a day and praying multiple hours a day).  In our experience revival is when the kingdom grows though intensity of trails and results in extensive growth every where!

That was last night’s set up for our day of fasting today.  As I write this the InterVarsity staff family has spent this whole day (following breakfast by the way) in prayer and scripture.  We’ve begun with an extended season of prayer of lament.  Lament over the needs we see in our nation’s universities and colleges.  The mood is pretty heavy.  I’ll have to give you an update in my next post.  Please keep us in your prayers!

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