FIRST-TIME CAMPER GROWS INTO FULL-TIME LEADER

“I didn’t know it was a Bible camp,” Quin Stouffer says about his first trip to Austin Circle Square Ranch in Manitoba. “But it was probably the most fun camp I’d ever been to.”

At age seven, Quin was a first-time camper at the Ranch, in a program for kids age 6-11. During the week-long program, kids have the opportunity to do activities from horseback riding, archery and crafts to zip-lining, wall-climbing and swimming. They also participate in daily Bible studies and campfire sessions where they can explore faith and hear staff members tell stories about following Jesus.

“I accepted Jesus my first summer at the Ranch,” Quin remembers, saying that hearing those stories helped him understand who Jesus is. But he says he didn’t have any kind of support system outside of camp to keep up with his faith after the summer. “When I was about 10, my mom converted to Islam, so we stopped going to church altogether,” he says. “So yeah, each year I’d sort of fall back and then recommit at camp again.” He acknowledges, “I didn’t really have a relationship with God at all.”

Love for Camp Lived Out
But he loved going to camp, so he returned to the Ranch every summer until he was 15. He then had the opportunity to be part of Circle Square’s Leaders-in-Training program (LIT), a two-to-four-week program that equips teenagers with skills to become future leaders.

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Through the Leaders-in-Training program Quin (third from right) developed key leadership skills that serve him in his role today

“I took the LIT program at Austin and then stayed on as staff the rest of that summer. I came back every summer since then as a staff in the children’s program.” At only 19, Quin was in charge of program scheduling, managing staff and assisting with the kids. Eventually, Dan Ingram, Executive Director of the Ranch, suggested that he try the Leadership Experience and Discipleship program (LEAD) at another Inter-Varsity camp, Alberta Pioneer. It is an eight-month program for young adults age 18-25 that helps them practically apply their leadership skills.

“He’d been serving at the Ranch for a couple of years and was pretty committed to staying,” Dan says, “but we thought the best thing might be to have a more structured context where he could learn and be developed as a leader. We spent a lot of time in prayer, and, though he didn’t agree right away, eventually he did feel Alberta was where God was leading him.”

Stepping into Sacrifice
“I was pretty set against it for a while because I’d be moving far away and not making a lot of money,” Quin remembers. “I was focused on getting a job in the fall, but LEAD kept coming up over and over in my mind, and as I would pray, I just felt more and more like God was wanting me to do it.” He realized “it was kind of the only choice,” and signed up to be part of LEAD at Alberta Pioneer.

quin5“It was really stretching,” Quin says. “I’ve always been a person who likes to do things the same way, so moving to a totally new place where I don’t know anybody and don’t know the land made me rely on God more.” And while adjusting to a new place, Quin also had to adjust to new ways of leading.

“One of my main responsibilities in LEAD was to host guest groups for a weekend and kind of be the first person to meet them. I’d never done anything like that. It was never what I’d expect me to be doing.”

Growing through Experience
The experience has helped Quin grow in his interpersonal skills and his ability to take initiative, qualities that Ruth Lewis, Executive Director of Alberta Pioneer, took note of when deciding to offer Quin his current role as a Team Leader.

“He’s incredibly dependable,” Ruth says. “And he’s quite young, but he’s got a sort of wisdom and maturity to him. He’s really willing to learn and grow, and he’ll really do anything you ask him to.” Now, in addition to hosting groups and organizing work schedules, Quin also supervises new LEAD staff.

“Quin is steady,” Dan says. “He’s a strong leader who shows the kids in his programs amazing care.”

Passion for Camp Paid Forward
Now, at 21, Quin’s passion for camp is still growing. “It’s where I met God,” he says, “and it’s where I’ve seen my life and others’ lives change. It’s a really powerful, life-changing ministry, and I want others to experience what it’s like to be away from home, try new things and meet God there.”

This summer, Quin will return to Austin Circle Square Ranch to assist a new Program Director with their transition into his former role. Afterwards, he will return to his post as Team Leader at Alberta Pioneer.

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500 STUDENTS DIG INTO SCRIPTURE

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.

Celebrating the life of Yvonne Woods

“With the passing of Yvonne Woods, we say farewell to a faithful partner and significant contributor to the story of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada,”  says President Geri Rodman.

Yvonne, the widow of former Inter-Varsity Canada General Secretary C. Stacey Woods, died on Monday, April 7, 2014 at the age of 98. Throughout her life, she was actively committed to student ministry in Canada and around the world through the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES).

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, April 15 at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA.  The service begins at 11 a.m. EST and can be viewed via podcast. Her remains will be buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto at a later date. For more details on the service scroll to the end of this story.

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Inter-Varsity Canada President Geri Rodman with Yvonne Woods at the 80th anniversary of the Canadian movement.

Yvonne Katherine Richie grew up in Toronto in a home where Inter-Varsity’s ministry was greatly supported.   Her mother, Joyce Ritchie, directed Girls’ Camp at Ontario Pioneer Camp and served on the camp committee in the 1930s. Inter-Varsity staff worker and Order of Canada recipient Cathie Nicholl lived with the Ritchies when both women were in their teens.

Yvonne was a student leader in Inter-Varsity’s University of Toronto chapter in the early 1930s, reporting to the board in 1934 that prayer meetings on campus continued even through exams. When Stacey fell in love with Yvonne, he offered to resign from his position as General Secretary, concerned that the organization would not be ready to support a married couple. The Inter-Varsity board quickly welcomed Yvonne as Stacey’s partner and refused his offer of resignation.

Yvonne and Stacey married in 1938, beginning a life-long partnership in student ministry. Stacey would often refer female students to his wife, believing it best that males be counselled and discipled by males and females by females. Together they led many students to Christ and mentored many more to faithful discipleship in Jesus Christ.

Even when Stacey and Yvonne left Canada, the couple continued to be connected and supportive of student ministry here.   When Stacey passed away in 1983, Yvonne continued her active interest and support of Inter-Varsity and IFES.

Yvonne rarely missed an opportunity to celebrate milestones and important events with Inter-Varsity in Canada. She was a special guest at both our 60th and 80th anniversaries and at the IFES World Assembly held in Canada in 2007.

When introducing Yvonne at the 6oth anniversary celebrations, Inter-Varsity Canada staffworker Cathie Nichol commented that the Woods’ “combined teamwork in the student field was just tremendous. Stacey would start one thing after another and he was ably supported by Yvonne.”

“With Yvonne’s death,” said Geri Rodman, “a chapter of our history, going almost back to the beginning of our ministry, comes to a close. But the legacy left by both Yvonne and Stacey continues today as we see young people committing their lives to Jesus Christ.”

Read a tribute from IFES General Secretary Daniel K. Bourdanné here.

For details on the memorial service, click here.

 

 

Young people thrive when good mentors invest in them

Young people have the drive, desire, and guts to make a difference in the world. What they often don’t have is someone who can walk alongside to coach and encourage them.

According to the Hemorrhaging Faith report, young people who were supported as they led felt affirmed and found joy in their service. When youth have the chance to lead alongside a trusted mentor, they grow exponentially in the ways they lead and invest in others’ lives.

Wasim, one alumnus, now works with Free the Children.

Wasim, one alumnus, now works with Free the Children.

Take a look at Wasim’s story. After graduation, his mentor from Inter-Varsity continued to walk alongside him as he made life and work choices. Now, in his work with Free the Children, he is putting leadership lessons into practice.

 

 

In Korea, Sydney learned new ways of praying with friends.

In Korea, Sydney learned new ways of praying with friends.

Take a look at Sydney’s story. He pursued his unique identity as a cultural bridge-builder to befriend international students and go on an exchange to South Korea. “My Inter-Varsity staff workers have been a tremendous influence,” he says. “Many of them met with me on a weekly basis.”

 

 

Carrie spends a lot of time investing in the lives of fellow staff at camp.

Carrie spends a lot of time investing in the lives of fellow staff at camp.

Take a look at Carrie’s story. She grew up going to camp and now works at Ontario Pioneer Camp full time. “I get to see people meet Jesus for the first time to challenge them to ask him questions, and to walk with them while they search for him,” says Carrie.

 

 

When she graduated high school, Ruth passed the leadership baton to her friend Ness.

When she graduated high school, Ruth passed the leadership baton to her friend Ness.

Take a look at the story of Ruth, Agape, and Ness. They realized their dream of starting a Christian fellowship in their high school and have returned as mentors since their graduation. “I want to see a group of students loving on others and not be afraid to show their love for God in school,” says Ness. “I want to see students grow.”

 

 

Read the stories of these young leaders, who are investing deeply in others because they have been mentored by those who came before them.

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

That’s a great question

Have you ever really just hated life?

What do you think is completely overrated?

What were some of your struggles in high school?

These questions were posed recently by high school girls attending one of our summer camps. Invited to ask any question, the girls responded.  Some of their questions were cheeky, some ironic, some deeply serious.

Continue to the Transfusing Life blog to read more from Geri Rodman, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s president, on engaging questions with young people.

Transfusing Life is a platform for members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Youth and Young Adult Ministry Roundtable to share insights about the Hemorrhaging Faith report – Why and When Canadian Young Adults are Leaving, Staying & Returning tot he Church.