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Faith on Campus

Preeya Ninan (right, background), the treasurer of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Brooklyn College, speaks to a student interested in the organization at a club fair. PHOTO/ Brooklyn College.
Preeya Ninan (right, background), the treasurer of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Brooklyn College, speaks to a student interested in the organization at a club fair. PHOTO/ Brooklyn College.

By Stephanie Farrier

Published: February 28th, 2018

Being a Christian is hard work, especially for a young Christian on a college campus. Chances are, you know the struggle between merging Sunday you, and Monday through Saturday you. You know they’re not supposed to look very different, but it’s so much easier to be Godly in a room full of people who share the same values and belief system as you. It’s quite another thing to maintain that identity in a space where others either believe differently, don’t believe at all, or are actively against your faith. How then, do you continue to represent Christ in culture? Well, there’s no clear-cut answer to that question, but I will say this; it’s nearly impossible to do it on your own.

Community is imperative in any instance. Whether we’re talking about a sports team, a book club, or a group of friends, being in a community of like-minded individuals offers support and accountability, and helps you to grow and stay the course. Believe it or not, Brooklyn College has really helped foster this sense of community for me in a way I didn’t expect. My first semester here, in Spring 2016, I made a friend by the name of Katherine George, who was in my Devising and Creative Collaboration class. Around the time of the Super Bowl, she mentioned she was helping jumpstart a church, Trinity Church Harlem, and that they were having a party and invited me to come. I wasn’t attending one at the time, but had been praying for a church that “fit” me, one that I could feel I was actively a part of through service. I was slightly apprehensive about going at first but decided this might just be an answer to my prayer and decided to check it out. 

Fast forward to about a year and a half later, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m a service leader on the Host Team, have made a slew of new, amazing friends, and have grown more complete, yet hungrier than ever for Christ in my time there. It’s also made me more outspoken about my faith and has given me the confidence to carry Jesus around with me at all times instead of just leaving him at church on Sunday and going about the rest of my week on my own. With this newfound sense of passion, I started thinking about the Christian community on campus. I had never been exposed to or heard about a formal club or group that met regularly and wondered if there were any resources.

Before I had even realized God may have heard my thought, I saw a friend from Brooklyn College at church this past Sunday, Vanessa Chung, who told me about an organization called InterVarsity.

“They meet every week!” she beamed at me.

Next to her were her two friends, Johnathon and Christian, who she said she met through InterVarsity. I figured this was something specifically related to Brooklyn College, but when they said they didn’t attend the school, I realized that this was a fellowship across college campuses—687 campuses to be exact!

When I got home, she had forwarded me an email from InterVarsity’s Brooklyn chapter, which they called their Sunday Brief. It was filled with inspirational memes, weekly song suggestions, information about their prayer calls, and different events they were having on campus throughout the week—tables with free hot chocolate, worship nights, as well as large and small-themed groups. I was elated and decided to check out their website to find out more.

They describe themselves as a “vibrant campus ministry that establishes and advances witnessing communities of students and faculty.” “Witnessing” is a term faith communities use to describe ministering to others. The InterVarsity Chapter at Brooklyn College is not new to the campus; in fact it was founded in 1975 with less than 10 students and now has over 60 students “who envision a campus where each student has the opportunity to hear the gospel and have an encounter with Jesus Christ.” I wondered if the fact that I hadn’t heard about them up until now was a good or a bad thing. In one sense maybe that meant they weren’t pushing themselves or their beliefs on anyone and were therefore Brooklyn College’s best kept secret, or maybe it meant that I had kept my head down and haven’t been as involved an observant about my campus happenings as I should be. Perusing the website, I felt a tug on my heart. It was that all-familiar tug I usually felt whenever God was giving me a new direction to go in. It’s my last semester on campus and I often look around and wonder if I made as much of an impact here as I could have or if I soaked up everything the college had to offer. I’m not sure about the answers to those questions, but maybe exploring the Brooklyn chapter of InterVarsity is a chance to find out. I haven’t met for any of the get-togethers yet but I plan to pop in to one next week and get acquainted with my brothers and sisters in Christ to see how I can help. I also plan to join their IVBC Google group so that I can stay updated with their events. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you there.     

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