Midway through my time at Winona State, I was looking for college groups to join, but wasn't interested in ones that were geared to my major (the Marketing Club, the IT group, etc.) I'd heard that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship did a lot of fun activities. I was like, "The Christian group does "fun" things? You're kiddin' me?" I figured I'd give it a try, though, and see what they had to offer. They met once a week in the early evening in a classroom at Minne Hall. I walked in the door and a young lady gave me a couple handouts. As was usually the case during my college years, I sat near the back of the room.
The meeting started and the bloke in charge, a guy named John Carson, told those of us assembled the upcoming activities. Dang, they did a lot of stuff: going out to eat, bowling, sledding, I'm talking cool socializing things that a guy just getting over depression needed. Keep in mind, I wasn't really a Christian, not in the fundamental sense, anyway. But I appreciated many of the Christed One's precepts. The kids there were very friendly and not at all "preachy". I went to many of their meetings and don't recall a lot of discussion of Bible verses and things like that. It was almost like a summer camp meeting. The most memorable part of the meeting was usually the end when this lady named Kristen, brought her guitar up to the front of the room and sang the following verses from the Bible:
Peace I leave with you
My peace I give to you
I do not give as the world gives
Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.
As the meeting ended, every one of us had beatific smiles on our faces. It was quite an uplifting group, I have to say. Earlier that year, I had gone to another Christian college organization called Christians in Action (CIA), but had found them to be a bit too somber. It seemed they spent half their meetings in prayer. They seemed to be more reflective, not quite as outwardly joyful as those in InterVarsity.
I spent several afternoons with members of InterVarsity as they designed posters with info about upcoming meetings. It felt a bit weird when people would walk by, probably thinking I was a Christian, a Bible-banger. But I supposed there were worse things. One evening, the lot of us got together in a house and socialized. There wasn't any boozing, but shit, who wants to ingest substances that deaden the brain? No hanky-panky, either, but I was inexperienced at such things, anyway. I think we played Twister, though.
I kid. Another afternoon we went sledding and I remember finding a 20 dollar bill underneath the snow. When no one was looking, I picked it up and put it in my pocket. Thank you, Lord. In some ways, the disposition expressed by the members of InterVarsity are reminiscent of what I experienced in Chicago last month (as detailed in my other weblog).
As winter came, I continued to enjoy spending time with them. John told me one evening I might get a lot out of a retreat coming up called Break-Away. It was taking place way up north. I told him I didn't really have the funds. He said to see what I could put together and that he might consider me for a scholarship trip. It would be cool to get away, but then again, I wasn't up to attending "Christian" lectures all day, either. My mom said she could put some moolah towards it. A few days before it was to start, John said I had been approved to go. There were several different classes I could attend. The one that resonated most strongly with me was something like, "Why be a Christian? Why Believe? What proof is there?" Would it turn me into a true believer? Time would tell.