My senior year at Maryville College (pronounced Mare-Vul by native Southerners) was a pivotal year for my InterVarsity chapter. The chapter president (my roommate and best friend) set a goal of leaving a legacy on our campus, which seemed like a monumental task. She didn’t rely on herself to get things accomplished and never lost sight of the goal. At the end of our senior year, the unthinkable happened.
Maryville is a small liberal arts school with extremely progressive views and a large party scene, filled with intellectuals who often abandon their faith after their freshmen or sophomore years. Our chapter was intentionally active on our campus and focused on outreach.
After hard work, many prayers and a lot of fun, InterVarsity at Maryville College was awarded the Student Organization of the Year award. I remember sitting in the awards ceremony in awe of the announcement that we had been recognized. I watched in tears as my friend made her way forward to accept the award. I hugged her as she returned to her seat and said “It’s happened. We’ve left the legacy!” Little did we know that this award was not the true legacy we left on the campus.
I returned to Maryville’s student center in April 2013 and saw the award hanging on the wall to the campus café. A sense of satisfaction and pride filled my heart. I had returned to campus to speak to the current InterVarsity chapter where my little sister is a member. It was nine years since I had graduated, and I was honored and humbled to return.
The chapter had changed from what I remembered. The meeting location was different, and the worship had a different sound. As I shared with the students, I reflected on how college life had changed since I was a student. We used landline phones; google was a novelty. Certain dorms weren’t there. They laughed and I quickly identified that there were serious generational differences. I shared my story of involvement with InterVarsity as a student, how God worked in my life, how others had invested in me, and more. I ended by talking about my discipleship experiences as a student and also about my current role with the Discipleship initiative.
It was then that the true legacy was revealed. I shared how my InterVarsity big sister, Lindsay, had invested in me when she was a senior. We met for lunch weekly and talked about life, what God was doing in us and saying to us. The weekly meetings were what I needed as an undergrad student. When I became a senior, God placed on my heart to have a similar relationship with an InterVarsity little sister. Ashley soon entered my life and I invited her to weekly meetings. We walked through life, shared what God was doing in us, and saying to us. I still have relationships with Lindsay and Ashley and it’s been great to see God continue to work in their lives.
After sharing about these relationships, a friend of mine who had served as a campus staff worker with the chapter said that Ashley had, in turn, invested in Patrick, a current volunteer who was present at the chapter meeting. I had heard of Patrick and knew he had invested in my sister and others. It dawned on me at that point that the legacy of my chapter at Maryville College wasn’t a brass plaque with our name on it. Instead, our legacy was the lives transformed through relationships based on Christ.
The legacy of discipleship was sitting in front of me and the realization of it was extremely emotional. Lindsay’s obedience in spending time with me had trickled through Maryville’s InterVarsity chapter for 10 years! I soon imagined this taking place on all the InterVarsity chapters across the nation, with students choosing to invest in others and never knowing how their obedience would affect the generation of students after them.
I challenge you to take time to ask God what he is calling you to do to serve your chapter, even if you have graduated. The effect of your prayers and intentional investment in others may have an impact for years to come. And who knows, maybe in ten years you, too, will be hearing stories of how God used your obedience to minister to students after you leave campus.
Bethany is InterVarsity’s Discipleship Project Manager who originally came to InterVarsity as the Communication Director for Urbana 12. You can often find her attending concerts, cheering on the Denver Broncos, reading tons of IVP books, and always enjoying soul-stirring conversations with others.
The blog is an avenue for staff and student leaders to hear from the visionary leaders of Collegiate Ministries about theological formation, discipleship, chapter planting, chapter growth, and other key ministry themes for campus work.