Dreaming of Growth for Campus Ministry

Andy Wong

Andy Wong remembers his first InterVarsity Chapter Camp. He was part of a newly affiliated Asian American chapter at the University of Texas at Austin.

And it was at Chapter Camp that for the first time, he had a sense of being Christian on campus as part of a national movement. “It was kind of eye-opening,” he said.  And, also for the first time, he received leadership training. “I walked away from that experience feeling equipped to lead a small group, and it felt good.”

From that point on, he was involved in a fellowship with a sense of purpose. “That challenged us to consider what being a missional presence looked like,” he said. “It changed the course of some of the things we were engaged with.”

It also changed the course of Andy’s career. He had changed majors several times and even left school to work in a tech job for several years. But as Andy was invited to become a chapter leader and then was mentored by his InterVarsity staff worker, he was encouraged to consider joining InterVarsity staff after graduation.

It was at Urbana 03, InterVarsity’s student missions conference, where he realized more deeply the significance of InterVarsity’s impact on his life and had his call to go on staff confirmed. “I had a sense of God saying to me, ‘Look at what I’ve done in you. How could you serve me to do that for others in reaching the campus?’ It was compelling and convicting; that’s why I’m still in campus ministry,” Andy said.

Andrea Thomas, InterVarsity’s director of marketing and one of Andy’s former supervisors, calls him a maven—an expert in chapter growth who enjoys sharing his expertise with others. “As a Campus Staff Minister, Andy led the largest Asian American chapter in the country to become even larger and more focused on sharing the gospel,” she said. “Now, as the Area Director at UT Austin, he’s leading a huge multiethnic ministry at the alma mater he loves.”

With a South Asian chapter, a Black Campus Ministry chapter, and a LaFe chapter for Latinos, all of which started at about the same time the Asian American chapter affiliated with InterVarsity, plus an International Student Ministry chapter and a multiethnic chapter at UT Austin, Andy believes that InterVarsity is uniquely positioned to help students address difficult race and identity issues as they share the gospel message.

He also believes InterVarsity has some of the best training available for students to help them develop into culturally competent witnesses to the gospel, on campus and beyond. “Our student leaders are developed and trained and then we send them out into the world, to serve in the church and in the marketplace,” he said. He particularly enjoys hearing about InterVarsity alumni who become leaders in their churches, because that also reflects InterVarsity’s vision.

About 500 UT Austin students are involved with InterVarsity one way or another. Andy is also nurturing two new chapters, one at Texas State University at San Marcos and one at St. Edward’s University in Austin.

In addition, the UT Austin staff have just begun a new campaign called Even Greater to engage more alumni as ministry partners to support InterVarsity activities at UT Austin. “We’re sharing the vision of reaching the whole campus and inviting alumni to partner with us," Andy said.

Andrea’s husband Jason Thomas, InterVarsity’s National Field Director for the south central U.S., said that Andy is having a national impact on InterVarsity’s ministry through his membership in the National Chapter Growth Steering Committee. “He uses his design and technology skills to produce high-quality growth resources that are being used around the movement. He loves to make anything he gets his hands on more efficient and relevant,” Jason explained.

Andy admits he enjoys wrestling with a good challenge. “I love working with staff on problems and dreaming of something big,” he said.

With 55,000 students, UT Austin is the fourth largest campus in the U.S. Andy is in the right place.

- Gordon Govier

Sabbath & Spiritual Formation by Josh David & Kyla Smith

 SAUP Week 2

Greetings family and friends!

I'm proud to share that being here in San Antonio has not made me into a Spurs fan! My SAUP family and I are all experiencing God at work.  We've all been physically, mentally and even spiritually challenged.  Stepping out of our comfort zones with each other for seven weeks will force us to rely on God. 

So far, my favorite memory from SAUP was spending my Sabbath day with the SAUP crew.  It was probably my first time exercising Sabbath for the whole day!  The Sabbath demands trust and faith from God.  Our Sabbath also included a lot of space for reflection.  Spending all that time with God, the SAUP family, eating (probably my favorite thing to do!), playing games, singing songs, talking about life, sharing what the Lord has done in our lives so far and resting from our first week working at our different ministry sites was great.  Since that Sabbath, I've already constructed a schedule for after this mission trip to continue practicing the Sabbath in my life in college.

It's been amazing to see and hear the great things God is doing in the community of San Antonio and our community here at SAUP.  Please pray for us as we continue to try to reflect Christ as a community.

Josh David
University of North Texas

One of the very first things I learned at SAUP was what spiritual formation actually was.  Spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.  When living in a community, your spiritual formation plays a very important role.  Still, we have to realize that it comes in steps (it's a process!) and we must follow those steps in order to truly live in the Kingdom of God.

The first step is realizing it is a process.  When God brings you into a different setting, you cannot expect it to be easy or even the same as other times.  The second step is to be conformed. You won't just be conformed to Him on the inside, but also on the outside.  The third step is to be an image bearer of Christ.   You will have to remember that God is changing you to do the work of His Kingdom.  The people we are meant to interact with need us to be the image bearers of Christ so that when they see us, they see Christ as well.  It is for the sake of others that we are conformed into the image of Christ.  

So far my journey has been nothing but eye opening to be able to see what God is doing on the East side of San Antonio as I work with Servant Partners.  From the people I intern with to the people we encounter daily - I see God in new ways.  I'm thankful for this opportunity!

Kyla Smith
Texas Southern University

Imagine by Nancy Li

SAUP family 2016

Imagine living with a group of 18-20 college students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and values, including students who have primarily been immersed in ethnic-specific fellowships, and those who have experienced only ethnic-specific fellowships; students who mainly identify as extroverts and those who mostly see themselves as introverts; those who don’t mind being late and those who value punctuality.

Now, imagine this group of vastly different individuals doing a simple and sometimes tension-filled task: coming together to plan and budget meals for one week, during which students become frustrated, disengaged, and confused.

In case you have not realized yet, I have been describing my SAUP (San Antonio Urban Project) community, a group of people with a big heart for Jesus and good yet different values that can sometimes clash with each other. Together, we have done activities and tasks that have taught us more about each other and ourselves and created joyous and frustrating moments. These things include doing activities that reveal our personalities, driving to sites together while being anxious about being unpunctual and geographically lost, recognizing during our meetings about budgeting and food that not everyone grows up eating the same things, and meeting potentially life-long friends that share the same spiritual backgrounds and personalities.

Throughout these six weeks, I pray that God will growing our hearts and transform us so that we can become a community-centered SAUP family that gives the Good News to our neighborhoods and witness God transforming San Antonio for His Kingdom. In order to become such a community, we need to be one that is willing to learn about each other’s cultures and upbringing and engage with them in a grace-filled and Spirit-filled way. I pray that we can do this in all parts of our lives so that we be filled with the Spirit and grace as we witness and spread God’s love in San Antonio. I hope that you can join us in praying for our SAUP community and San Antonio.

Nancy Li

How to get the most out of Urbana!

by Ana Graves

Prepare your heart now!  If you haven’t started the Matthew Challenge, I encourage to begin reading through Matthew to prepare your heart for what God has to speak to you at Urbana!  The few days before Urbana, will be very full of holiday activity, set aside 10 to 20 minutes from 12/20-12/27 to be alone, meditate on God’s word and ready your heart for what he has to tell you at Urbana15!

What to bring with you:

  • Bible
  • Pens
  • Journal
  • Warm Clothes (its for real cold in St.Louis!) - Warm Jacket, Gloves, Hat, Scarf. Clothes for 5 to 6 days (depending on how you’re traveling!!)  B/c we’re from Texas, we tend to bring TOO many warm clothes out of fear of freezing.  Limit your packing to just what you need
  • PJs
  • Toiletries
  • Comfortable shoes for walking and remember it could SNOW!
  • Spending Money for meals, books and other things you might find while you’re there. 

What to expect while you’re there:

“Learning God’s Story”: Some of the best Bible Study leaders from InterVarsity will be facilitating this time.  You will want to plan to be up early enough to go these sessions. It really will be rich time in the Word.

Meals:  Your responsible for all your meals on Dec 27th and lunches on Dec 28th-31st.  Plan where you’ll eat lunch according to what you’ll be doing each afternoon.  Lunch places will be VERY crowded, so plan accordingly.  One way to save time is to go to a grocery store and get food for lunch.  The closest is Culinaria @ 315 N 9th St, St. Louis, MO 63101.

Seminars & Sessions:  Before getting to Urbana, look over the schedule, seminar options and special gathering times.

Places for quiet:  There will be prayer reflection rooms set up in the Convention Center.  I would encourage taking one slot of time off at least two days of the conference for reflection, sleep and or time alone.  

Lounges:  There are ethnic specific, arts ministry, Catholic, and other lounges available.  Look over the options for places and choose one time slot to go to one of the lounges in order to process the conference from different perspectives.

Exhibit Hall:  Hundreds of mission’s agencies, seminaries and other non-profits will be available all week! Go to Urbana’s website and login to your account to peruse different organizations you might want to talk to.

Bookstore:  There will be MANY books available to buy.  Every day there is a book of the day that is significantly marked down in cost.  Bring money to buy books and other paraphernalia.  I encourage you to limit yourself on how much you buy.  Remember you have to take home everything you buy! 

Prayer Ministry:  There will also be rooms during seminar times where you can receive prayer ministry.  Take advantage of this opportunity.  While at a conference like this, there are always things that get stirred up emotionally and spiritually.  It’s a gift to have space to receive prayer from trained prayer ministers.   

Room Huddles:  Processing what you’re learning during the conference will be integral to applying what you’ve learned as you leave the conference.  Be intentional to make space for these times.

Urbana Schedule