This post is from the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) prayerline. the IFES is a federation of student ministries (including InterVarsity) that works in over 154 countries around the world. You can find out more about IFES at their website: www.ifesworld.org.
Why did you choose to study at a particular university? Was it to get the most
prestigious degree? Because you wanted to get a good job? Because it was close to
home and family?
Some UESI India (the InterVarsity-sister movement) students from Andra Pradesh chose their university for a different reason. They decided to be like Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who, far from home and in a very different culture, pursued studies in Babylonian Language and Literature and had an amazing impact on
those around them. So these Indian students left the comfort of home to bring the gospel to unreached universities in a North Indian state.
Student ministry is well established in the south and northeast of India, whereas the North has been largely unreached. So Andra Pradesh, a South Indian state, adopted Uttarakhand as its partnering state. In 2005, Mr P Venkateswara Rao, who had just become a staff member withUESI, took a group of students to Uttarakhand.
One key student in this group was Narasimha Rao. He went back to his home state of Andra Pradesh and talked excitedly to his friends about the possibilities of outreach in the North. He and four other students came up with a plan – to enrol in universities in Uttarakhand. So all of them took admission in unreached universities and colleges there… and started UESI groups.
In the next year’s mission conference in Andra Pradesh, many more students committed themselves to go to North Indian universities. So every year an average of three students went from Andra Pradesh to Uttarakhand, were admitted in different unreached universities and started new UESI groups.
India is a land of great diversity in culture, language, geography, food and climate, and Andra Pradesh is very different from Uttarakhand! Commenting on the difficulty of learning language, one student said, ‘During my initial days I communicated with sign language to my friends and shopkeepers until I learned to speak broken Hindi.’ Another student commented, ‘At first I had to face constant stomach upsets as the food was different from what I got in my home state.’ Travelling in hilly places was sometimes a big challenge for students who come from plains in Andra Pradesh.
When asked ‘What motivated you to stay here in spite of difficulties?’ one of the
students said ‘Constant encouragement from people in my home state, regular quiet times and fasting prayers gave me strength to overlook the struggles.’
With the arrival of these missionary students, ministry started to penetrate into the interiors of Uttarakhand. Also many of these students took jobs in Uttarakhand after their education and remained actively involved in the ministry. UESI gradually developed throughout the state until it was necessary for ministry effectiveness to divide the state into two regions and form regional committees. One of the UESI staff workers in Uttarakhand, Mr Anjaneyulu, notes the impact of these students from Andra Pradesh: ‘Today 80% of the regional committee members are from Uttarakhand. We have also seen people from Uttarakhand owning the ministry and even committing themselves to full-time ministry among college students.’ Commenting on the wider impact of UESI he adds, ‘These missionary students have helped in the development of local churches.’
Let us pray that the spark initiated in Uttarakhand will continue to spread like a wild fire. Let there be a new wave where students from Uttarakhand themselves take up the challenge to go as missionary students to other unreached universities and colleges!
Question: Describe a time God sent to you to person or place to be salt and light? What impact did you have? Share your experience in the comments.