Can you believe it is 2013? The 21st century is a teenager! Hopefully it will have a better adolescence than the last 3 centuries (lots of wars!).
So far it has been a good year at MIT Graduate Christian Fellowship, with a record fellowship attendance ushering in the new year at the Urbana missions conference and 20 attending an investigative Bible study leaders training session on Groundhog Day. It has been an exciting time for us in what is my 24th year at MIT and 19th with GCF. By us I mean the current students of GCF; the leadership team led by co-presidents Stephanie Lam (course 5) and Sze Ze Yong (course 2); and the IV staff: myself full-time, Marianne Smith part-time, and volunteer Mary Thompson, who has been on a well-deserved sabbatical this past semester.
This was something of a landmark year for me personally since in the tradition of MIT lateness I was given a 25-year roast just in time for my 26th anniversary on InterVarsity staff (to be fair this is only my 24th year at MIT—I spent several years at an unnamed university on the other side of Cambridge before coming to MIT as a temporary replacement in May of 1989—I’m still hoping it works out OK).
If it has be a while since you visited Cambridge, you would find significant changes have happened to the campus and its surroundings. Kendall Square is increasingly regarded as the center of the biotech/pharma research world, and extensive new offices, labs, and residential complexes are constantly being added around the campus. Restaurants and other amenities are following (you can still find food trucks, mostly between the T and MIT Medical).
In the same way that MIT’s campus has expanded in recent years, MIT GCF has also experienced growth—numerically and I believe in faith, hope, and love too. During the Fall in any given week 80 students gathered in 8 small group Bible studies: 2 in the Northwest campus (location of the Sidney-Pacific, Ashdown, Edgerton, and Warehouse grad dorms), 2 in Tang, 2 married couples’ groups (Westgate and Eastgate), an “On Campus” group (for off-campus students, of course), a group specifically for Architecture/Urban Planning students, and a group at Woods Hole. Large Group still meets every Friday evening—this IAP and Spring semester we are looking at a different fruit of the Spirit each week— and there is also a weekly “Fun Lunch”, 2 Mark Manuscript Studies, and 2 prayer meetings.
The video of this year’s forum will be posted soon at http://www.veritas.org/Talks.aspx#!/v/1267 , where you can also look at past MIT Veritas Forums.
From Marianne: To kick-off the Spring semester, Boston Area IV Staff provided an evangelism training day, aimed directly at the graduate school environment (20 MIT GCF members participated). We helped students think through who is in their lives and what will help them take one step closer to Jesus. Acknowledging that for some, they simply need to be heard. Moving students from cynical or distrust to trust is just one of the thresholds we find on campus. Using research from our staff partners in California (I Once Was Lost) we explained thresholds important to spiritual conversations: Trusting a Christian, becoming curious, opening up to change, seeking after God, to Entering the Kingdom. As a component of moving our friends from trusting a Christian to entering into the Kingdom, we provided GIG training. GIG’s are “groups investigating God”. Our main tool for investigation is scripture. We introduced students to material available on our evangelism website (iv website). Gospels of John and Luke, and the studies found there, work particularly well for introducing friends to Christ.
Students at MIT have already been hard at work having spiritual conversations and thinking about these thresholds before we hosted this training, the outflow of which is that many are eager to start leading GIGs with their friends! This month we anticipate that 4-5 GIGs will begin on campus. Please pray for students as they take this bold step and invite their friends to study scripture with them. Please also pray for the 10-12 student seekers who will be investigating God.
Also exciting are the things GCF students are doing in service on and off campus. We are seeing more and more serving as Graduate Resident Tutors in the undergraduate dorms–where we also saw a record high number of Christian Faculty Fellowship members serving as housemasters. Others are looking for mission opportunities off-campus–or figuring creative ways to tie their research with service and mission. Check out the New York Times profile of GCF small group leader Peng Shi here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/education/no-division-required-in-this-school-problem.html?hp&_r=0
Please remember MIT GCF as you pray—that we may continue to do the things that were important to you to when you were here, and that we would be able to continue to grow and do the things you only hoped for as a student. At this time of year we would especially appreciate prayers for the next generation of student leaders.
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Hoping God’s grace and joy continue to surprise you,
Kevin, Marianne, and Mary