In InterVarsity lingo, NSO stands for “New Student Outreach,” the first few weeks of the school year in which InterVarsity staff and student leaders meet incoming freshmen and other new friends and invite them to become part of our communities on campuses all over the country. These posts are a few snapshots of the beginning of the school year on a few of the campuses where I either staff or oversee other IV staff. This story happened on Monday, the first day of school.
On Sunday, I went to a campus ministry fair at UMSL for the first time and got to talk to several students, all of whom I invited to meet me for pizza the next day to celebrate the first day of school.
As I’m still learning the UMSL class schedule, I planned the lunch to start in the middle of the last class before the lunch break (awesome). So, while I was sitting there, by myself, with four boxes of pizza, a random guy asked me if he could sit down and eat his lunch at the table. We ended up having an awesome spiritual conversation that he just sort of kept pushing his way through. By the end, he pretty much asked himself to study the Bible with me and we’re going to be studying John together on Mondays for the next little bit.
Bonus Points: After about 30 minutes of this, the other students I had met (mostly Christian) also started showing up and got to interact with him and watch me invite him into the GIG. When he left, I got to debrief that with a freshman who had stuck around until the end.
Not exactly what I was looking for when I bought the pizzas but, hey, I’ll take it! One of my (sometimes begrudgingly) favorite parts of ministry is when God shows up and destroys all the expectations and plans I had for the day and opens the door for something much better than I had imagined. I love it when students are along for the ride when this happens as well. I can’t imagine a better place to learn than in the throes of an unexpected interruption where we have to trust God to work. These students will (hopefully) know from Day 1 that it’s not my skill in planning that makes ministry happen; it’s Jesus showing up and our deciding to walk through the doors that he opens.