Now a man who practices community in the church, the neighborhood, and the workplace, it was first in Intervarsity that I came to the conviction that Christian community is different. As I reflect on those years, I realize that it is not about having friends, staying up late, or studying the bible. It is about joining together as the body of Christ to serve the Kingdom of God. Let me explain my story.
My parent’s church is all about community. In fact, it’s more about community than Jesus. So I thought it strange when Intervarsity started to focus heavily on Jesus. “You mean Christianity is about more than potlucks and singing?” I thought, “Count me out.” So I made friends with my dormies and was isolated in DeNeve. I went out to IV small groups and conferences but I spent my nights playing Halo or worse. I took the world up on the best offer it could make me.
Junior year, I moved into the apartments and felt lonely. I started hanging out with people after small group. God worked in my desperation. I distinctly remember two activities that showed me the paradigm shift which Christian community presented. On Valentine’s Day our small group didn’t feed each other little confections. Instead we loved the unloved by serving soup and chili on skid row. Later, we had Sister’s Appreciation Night where men served women out of gratitude. Both times, I felt the counter-cultural behavior of our actions. The Kingdom of God was manifest.
At the beginning of senior year, Tracey Gee gave a talk on legacy. My heart sank as I listened to her. I hadn’t chosen relationships during college. I would be forgotten. I told Tracy my feelings and she said simply, “It’s not too late.” She was right but I didn’t believe her. Feeling like I had nothing to lose, I filled my schedule with Intervarsity activities. I craved the love and familial relationships which the student-leaders around me displayed. I gave up time to go home, work on homework, and study for tests.
I dove right in to Christian Community and God did more in 3 months to build relationships than I had achieved in 3 years. Participating wasn’t half as hard as I thought it would be. I showed up, hung out afterwards, and volunteered to bring snacks and more the next time. God began to use me as a leader not because I was strong or able but because I was willing. I also learned how to be a follower and even a servant. Jesus revealed himself in the observations and questions of my brothers and sisters. The prayers my friends prayed moved mountains in me. Now I carry this testimony to relationships with me wherever I go.
It was in community that I learned how to pray, that I met the men who would be my groomsmen, that I found a way to challenge future IVBCF students, and that I started dating the godly woman who is now my wife. All of these things happened in that last year of community when I dove into it and saw at the end that Tracey was right, it hadn’t been too late.
“Late in the midnight hour, God’s gonna turn it around, and around, and around, and around.”
Love in Christ, Grant Jenks