This week, more than 500 students from across Canada are immersing themselves in community scripture studies. Led by Inter-Varsity Campus Ministers, the students are spending time digging into the Gospel of Mark or the first 11 chapters of Genesis. They are pondering the passages alone and then bringing their observations, questions and applications into small and large group discussions. By the end of their seven days together, these students will be changed.

Inter-Varsity has been hosting MARK camps for university students for more than a decade. Over the years, close to 5,000 students have been shaped by Scripture in this particular way. One of them is an Ontario College of Art and Design University student named Joyce.

Weaving art and Scripture together
Like many students today, Joyce struggled with emotional stress and anxiety. In addition, she endured physical pain from scoliosis. When she first decided to attend Mark Camp, she remembers hoping to “feel cared for, loved and comforted.”

God answered her prayer and then gave her an additional gift – artistic inspiration. Following her Mark camp experience in 2016, Joyce began creating art that reflected her reading of Scripture. Last winter, she mounted an exhibit of her artwork in a downtown Toronto gallery and coffee shop. A centerpiece of the show was a large wall hanging called “Marks on Mark”, which Joyce created by hand writing the whole of the book of Mark out on newsprint and then weaving it together as a tapestry, or as she calls it, “a visual parable.”

You wouldn’t know the tapestry has the entire Gospel of Mark written on it unless you were to unravel it, explains Joyce. “Like art, if we don’t engage with the Word, we won’t understand it.”

Creating this piece and others for the art show was therapeutic for Joyce, but it wasn’t what brought true healing to her life. Art, she says, “doesn’t solve anything. It just helps you identify the problem in a more concrete and visual way. If art is the question, then Scripture is the answer.”

Nonbelievers curious about Scripture
This week, Inter-Varsity staff are inviting students to seek the answers to all of life’s questions through Scripture. Most of the students attending MARK camps are already following Jesus. But surprisingly, each year a number of nonbelieving students choose to attend as well. They come because they are part of an Inter-Varsity community on campus, are curious about who Jesus is, or are seeking answers to life’s questions

Pray for Open Hearts
From April 30-May 7, we are hosting seven MARK camps across Canada. Students from British Columbia to Newfoundland are gathering together to hear from God and learn from his Word. Please pray with us that everyone who participates, students and staff alike, will discover more of God’s love and purpose for their lives.


24-hour prayer reshapes ministry at University of Regina

Fran Purvis knows first-hand that the best way to learn how to pray is to do it.

It’s a lesson she learned during her time at Ontario Pioneer Camp, and it’s one that she and fellow Inter-Varsity staff at the University of Regina have been trying to put into practice.

“The past few years we’ve be praying that we would become men and women of prayer,” says Fran.

If that statement sounds self-fulfilling, it’s because Fran knows that prayer is a practice that demands participation. You can’t learn to pray by reading a book or being taught about it, in the same way you can’t get in shape by reading about exercising or watching someone run a marathon.

Fran and Kyle

  Campus Ministers Kyle McLean and Fran Purvis

   (far left) and students spread the word about

Inter-Varsity on their campus.


Last year, Fran noticed the practice of prayer was lacking in her campus community at the University of Regina where she is the team leader for Inter-Varsity’s Undergraduate Student Ministry.

“Community and scripture felt like strengths, but prayer and witness felt less natural and prayer is something we wanted to press into more.”

In response, Fran decided to host a 24-hour day of prayer for her Inter-Varsity group on October 17th, joining thousands of others participating in the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students’ World Student Day of Prayer.

The day of prayer was hosted at a nearby home known as The H.O.G. (or, “House of Guys”), a student house near campus that is home to six Inter-Varsity members. They turned a room in the basement into what Fran calls a classroom for prayer and focused most of their prayer specifically on international issues. They hung a world map on the wall alongside profiles of different global communities and set aside time to pray for issues like the Ebola outbreak and conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The 24 hours of dedicated prayer helped raise awareness of world issues, but it also created a hunger for even more prayer among the group. In response to this hunger, they recently hosted another full day of prayer January 29-30th, this time focusing more on their own campus and their desire to share the Gospel.

“This time around, we spent a lot of time praying for the university, taking time to pray for each faculty,” Miranda, a third-year Education student says. Being a Christian on a secular campus comes with obvious challenges, where faith is often disregarded or minimalized.

“We prayed for wisdom to know how to stand up for our beliefs, and to be able to do it graciously,” says Miranda.

Following the two 24-hour days of prayer, Fran and fellow Campus Minister Kyle Mclean started a daily half-hour of prayer on campus. They hope prayer will become more and more a part of everyday ministry. Fran is already seeing a shift.

“The Lord is softening our community to prayer, freeing us to hear from him and talk with him… It feels like we’re just waking up to the reality of prayer; that it is powerful, that it is substantial, that there is more to prayer than we thought.”

Top 10 Reasons from a 10-Year Mark Camp Veteran

Students studying scripture at one of our Mark camps

Students studying scripture at one of our Mark camps

by Communications writer Elsie Lee.

I remember clearly saying “yes” 10 years ago to attend the first Mark Camp in Ontario. I had just finished my second year at the University of Waterloo – I burned out after a semester on leadership with another campus fellowship, I ended a dysfunctional dating relationship, and I had nothing to lose when my friend Grace from the University of Toronto invited me to go to a week of Bible study with Inter-Varsity. So I said yes.

I have never regretted that yes. My feeble little “yes” began the journey that our every “yes” to following Jesus takes us on. In my years as both learner and teacher at Mark Camp, I have lived and breathed the story of Mark – the walks around the lake, the storms, the questions, the parables, the feedings, the cross, the resurrection…. Life with Jesus is incredible – incredibly challenging and joyful. It is filled with suffering, joy, pain, doubts and fears. It is by no means easy, but oh, it is so Good.

This will be my tenth Mark Camp in 10 years. I keep going back because studying the life of Jesus with a bunch of people for a week is amongst the most life-giving things I have experienced… along with lactose-free sour cream.

So take it from a 10-year Mark Camp veteran – say “yes”.

Top 10 reasons you should go to Mark Camp (register here):

10. It’s a good deal! $400 for 40 hours of instruction, that’s $10/hr! Not to mention a clean bed, three meals a day plus lots of snack food, camp activities (see #7), and oh yeah, life-changing stuff.

9. You’ll make new friends from other campuses. Who knows, maybe you will find your new BFF over your favourite colour of highlighter or your pre-study stretching ritual.

8. You’ll get in on the secret… 

7. You’ll experience a week at camp – kayaking, rock climbing, making art. But for grown-ups.

6. You’ll worship with a diverse group of people – from different schools, fellowships, countries, cultures, abilities and languages. A little taste of heaven.

5. You’ll receive prayer. You know that question you’ve been mulling over all year. Come work it out.

4. All your friends ARE going. The power of peer pressure is pretty strong.

3. Your summer job CAN wait a week. Ask your boss to start a week later, there’s no harm in trying. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. But they haven’t said no yet!

2. Your summer course CAN start without you. If it’s a semester long class, you will miss one lecture, usually the one where you get the course syllabus and get out early.

1. The only way to find out how good it is – is to go see for yourself.

Glimpses from my 10 years of Mark Camp (previously City/Script):

Students Meet Jesus Through Friends and Studying Scripture

What is Jesus really like? What did he say about…?

This generation of young people did not grow up in a Bible-reading culture, and they are looking for answers to their many questions about faith. According to the Hemorrhaging Faith report, 60 per cent of those disengaged with faith would consider studying the Bible if a friend asked them. When young people spend time studying scripture, they come to know who Jesus is and what it means to follow him with their whole lives.

Take a look at Alexis’ story. He met Jesus during a week-long intensive study of the Gospel of Mark. “You could understand him abstractly as a concept and leave it at that,” he says. “I’m lucky enough that this isn’t the turn my life took.”


Alexis was first invited to an Inter-Varsity event by his friend, Louisa.

Take a look at J*’s story. She had many questions about faith and God, and her parents didn’t like the idea of her becoming a Christian. But with the support of her friends and time studying scripture, she decided to follow Jesus.

Read the stories of Alexis and *J , who met Jesus for the first time through studying scripture with friends.

“Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of Mark – Friends lay foundations of faith for university student” – Alexis Chicoine

“A Skeptic Meets Jesus – An International student embraces the faith she sees in her friends” – J*

What should I do with my life?

Kingdom Calling

By Susanna Muntz, Central Field Director for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and the Director of Kingdom Calling

It’s like learning to play the guitar. Some people learn to play one song and memorize it, but that’s the only song they will ever play. But other people learn chords and can play many more songs; they know how to improvise with the tools they have.

From December 27 to 31 this year, students from across Canada will gather in Toronto to learn how to use their skills, aptitudes and education for the sake of God’s Kingdom.  They’ll be attending an annual conference called  Kingdom Calling designed specifically by Inter-Varsity to help third and fourth year students and recent graduates discern what God would have them do with their lives.

The goal of Kingdom Calling is to inspire students to stake their lives on the fact that God is true and to imagine what it would be like to live faithfully in radical communities. Participants will hear stories about people who make lots of money but tithe much of it to the urban poor. They’ll meet people who have moved into diverse neighbourhoods and formed cross-cultural relationships for the sake of the gospel. They’ll learn from people who have re-imagined their lives to the extent they’ve left home and family for a whole new country and culture.

Kingdom Calling instructs and guides participants in the process of discernment. The end of university or college is a critical time in students’ lives — they are making big decisions that will affect their life’s trajectory. Kingdom Calling gives them space to reflect on how they have heard from God in the past, and helps them think biblically about discerning God’s will for the future.

Participants will consider specific invitations at this conference as they spend time in conversation with people who are serving God in diverse ways in the marketplace, neighbourhoods, local church and around the world.

The conference gives space for imagining, or as I like to call it, “imagine-planning”. As participants imagine what their life might look like, they will start to think of plans to make and the community they need around them for discernment and prayer.

Inter-Varsity staff are committed to helping students learn how to hear from God. We want to help them feel confident in the skills that God has given them; to be free and creative in whatever context they find themselves after they leave university.

Inter-Varsity is committed to launching leaders who practice discernment, live fruitful lives and value life in community. It’s not so much about getting the one right answer about what to do after graduation, but about creating space to pay attention to the path of faithfulness.

It’s like learning to play the guitar. The more chords you learn, the more songs you can play.

For more information about Kingdom Calling or to register for the conference, visit http://www.ivcf.ca/KingdomCalling