This is an excerpt from Area Director Trever Risinger’s Presentation from the 75th Anniversary Dinner on October 18, 2014.
Privileged to be Part of a Legacy
I’ve been reflecting on the unlikely-hood of a continuous student ministry presence from 1939 to now. Each student generation has to hand the fellowship and the mission off to the next. It’s like getting a coherent message in a really long telephone game. Or a relay race with 75 hand-offs. You can drop the baton at any point and be out of the race.
We really have been privileged to be part of something special.
From my point of view as an alumnus from the 90s, I’m looking both backward and forward. I have a debt of gratitude to the students and staff who came before us. They were faithful and sacrificed to build the chapter and make sure it was handed on to us. They gave us the blessing of growing through the community and mission, and the opportunity to be in partnership with God in his mission here.
Looking forward, those of us who were part of the chapter long ago have a deep sense of gratitude to those who came after us and were faithful and sacrificed to build the chapter and make sure it was handed on to others. They give meaning to our sacrifice by extending the legacy of the partnership we had with God here.
Alumni Giving Matters
Like no one else, you InterVarsity alumni understand. You care about the vision of InterVarsity: students & faculty transformed, the campus renewed, and world changers developed. Just like when you were here as a student, alumni helped make InterVarsity on campus possible, and today’s students need you.
1. Across the country, it is true: large, healthy chapters are built by staff who stick around long-term and pursue excellence. These are people who stay long enough to get beyond passable and become expert and efficient.
2. Staff work is a difficult job to stick with. Besides the discouragement and stresses that come with this kind of life, and other people’s issues, and setbacks in ministry, you have to be able to earn a salary for self and family. When you add up the budgets of the dozen staff on my team, many of whom are not fully funded, in total we are underfunded by $208k/year. Which means, about half of my team is earning about half of what they are supposed to.
These folks are living out their calling. They have a front row seat to see what God is doing students’ lives. They aren’t having a bad time. But in spite of their good work, we can’t keep them long-term at that half salary. I hope God will urge you to help us continue to deliver expert chapter building to U of I.
3. Besides ensuring that we can keep good staff, there are also good candidates like Melissa Perez (pictured above – click to hear her video testimony), who for various reasons do not know enough people who could give enough money for them to join staff. They may be from a non-Christian family, or from the part of town or part of the state that doesn’t have the resources to help. It’s frustrating that we can’t consider gifted candidates because they don’t know enough Christians. The good news is that with over 5000 alumni from this chapter, we can be “enough Christians.” I hope that God will urge you to help make it possible for us to hire the best candidates with less regard for their financial network.
Goals for Alumni Support
Over the next 3 years, I am asking for your help on two goals:
First, let’s work together to close the funding gap—a matter of about 300 new alumni partners.
Second, let’s work together to start up 200 new alumni regular prayer partners, people who pray for us weekly or more.
That’s a lot of people to connect with; the people in the room wouldn’t cover it. On the other hand, 300 is only about 5% of our alumni. We are part of a great legacy with many generations of alumni.
But there are so many that it is really hard for the current staff to keep in touch with them. Over the years, alumni lose touch, transition giving elsewhere, maybe some never really got asked.
Compared to other IV chapters, we have a small percent of our alumni as partners. We need your help to reach the rest. So I am hoping God is urging some of you to be advocates and networkers to mobilize other alumni to pray and give.
Establish the Work of our Hands
We have a lot to celebrate, and a lot to be grateful for. It’s a humbling and wonderful privilege to be part of 75 years of ministry here at U of I, including the decades of alumni support.
In Psalm 90, Moses meditates on God’s eternity and our temporariness. He says to God, “From everlasting to everlasting, you are God!” We humans, on the other hand, labor under the curse for a mere 70 or 80 years, and our days “quickly pass, and we fly away.” So Moses asks God to fill their short days with the joy of his presence. And he prays that God would make something permanent and worthwhile out of our work, though we are mere passers-through. He prays, “May the favor of the LORD our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Thank you again for coming, listening, and celebrating with us. Mark your calendars for 2039, for the 100th anniversary! “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it.” Amen.
by Trever Risinger