Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Compelling Experience

In October 2000 I attended my very first InterVarsity training conference. I remember learning how to study the Bible in a way that opened my eyes and heart. Realizing that my relationship with God had so much room to grow significantly impacted me then, and has shaped the course of my life ever since.

Eleven years later, freshmen continue to encounter God in meaningful ways at their first InterVarsity conference. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in and witnessing this at Compelling, Michigan’s annual fall conference. With nearly 700 students in attendance this year, it’s clear that God is using Compelling to bring many students to a new understanding of his love and purpose for them.
Close to 700 students from all over the state of Michigan gathered in Lansing for Compelling
Reconnecting with old friends from my former region was, simply put, good for my soul. I loved hearing about all the growth and new work that God has been doing around the state of Michigan. I also met new staff, including the woman who now runs Compelling’s registration. I was excited to see the process I created 5 years ago improved upon, as she dealt with more than double the number of students!
Students spent time in "tracks", receiving practical training in areas of Christian life such as prayer, spiritual disciplines, Bible study and evangelism. Topics such as relationships, life after college and homosexuality were also featured in some of these tracks.
The most special moments for me, however, were conversations with students. I loved reconnecting with AIV, now almost a completely new chapter. The seniors were just freshman the year I left! I had a great conversation with one particular student looking for a way to merge his interest in graphic design with his passion for ministry. During the free time on Saturday, 2100 invited interested students to talk with us about our internship program. It was exciting to meet 8 students with a wide variety of skills and interests in media communications.
Over 60 students from AIV participated in Compelling
At the end of the conference I sat in on AIV’s chapter sharing time and heard many students testify to God’s work in their lives over the weekend. One student who suffered from depression for years finally had the courage to bring it to God and receive healing and peace for the first time in her life. Another student addressed a certain sinful addiction and felt a deep sense that the Holy Spirit had truly removed it from his life. Other students mentioned newfound truths they learned about God and exhorted one another to be passionate about his mission on campus. The time ended with wonderful heartfelt prayers of thanks and praise from many students. It was clear to me that the Lord was with us in that time.

Overall the conference was a huge success, with at least 15 first time decisions to follow Christ, and hundreds of other decisions to follow Him in new ways. It is hard to quantify the significance of weekends like this, but if these 700 students experienced anything like I did eleven years ago, I know that God has accomplished great things. Praise God for his faithfulness and power at Compelling and other conferences like it all over the country! Students are encountering Jesus and being empowered to take the Gospel to campus.

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