On a diverse campus like UNLV, christianity is growing at the university level as a UNLV staff member helps bring the Bible into students’ lives.
Joseph Litto, UNLV Intervarsity chapter staff member, helps UNLV students learn about the Bible on campus by having prayer nights and encounter events to develop spiritual growth.
“The Bible shows how much God loves and cares for me,” Litto said. “It gives me direction in life decisions, it gives good counsel, and it helps me understand who God is, his character, and gives me life purpose.”
Litto first heard of InterVarsity through an off-campus bible study led by students.
“These students made me feel welcome,” Litto said. “This group taught me a lot of good things about Jesus.”
When COVID-19 ravaged throughout the nation, leaving many sick and some in the hospital, InterVarsity shifted their encounters and events to online through YouTube and Zoom.
“We didn’t actually stop anything,” Litto said. “We moved it where it was online. Our weekly prayer gatherings were in an outside format and we required social distancing with masks on.”
Litto felt awful when he learned that his trip to Catalina Island scheduled for March 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.
“We had 40 students ready to go to Catalina Island,” Litto said. “When they learned the trip was canceled, I thought they were gonna miss out on great learning and growing opportunities.”
InterVarsity hosted a virtual event called #ActLoveWalkChallenge to fill the void of canceled events and helped connect new and existing members within InterVarsity.
“InterVarsity has its own mission,” Litto said. “That is to grow our relationship with God and to share God to others that are interested.”
Once students were able to return back to campus a limited amount of in-person classes, this also permitted conference trips and camping outside of Nevada.
“Last fall, we were at Camp Prescott Pines for the Arizona Fall Conference,” Litto said. “We had fun games there, we did some bible teaching and worship, and we really bonded them as a group.”
InterVarsity is not the only Christian club on UNLV’s campus. The university is home to over 300 Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), where other Christian faith clubs are able to have different ideologies like from Battleborn, Hope, and YoungLife College.
“Sometimes people with their own mission can approach you in an attempt to have our time go to their mission and goals,” Litto said. “Some ministries come to campus to pass out tracts and booklets, but those can come out as judgemental and offensive.”
Litto says that he would often say no to the potential partnership with other Christian fellowship clubs or ministries.
“Our mission may be the same,” Litto said. “But the way we go about it is much different than how they do it.”
Matthew Tomita, one of the members of UNLV’s InterVarsity chapter, looked up to Battleborn before he joined InterVarsity to make some new friends.
Tomita joined the Christian fellowship club through the UNLV’s Involvement Center website, when his parents suggested he look up InterVarsity.
“I got to know some of the members of the club including Joseph,” Tomita said. “Joseph is one of the best humans I have ever met. He’s very loving, understanding of situations, and he is willing to listen.”
One of Tomita’s favorite moments with InterVarsity was his first encounter with Litto, where he gave a call to faith.
“Joseph has taught me so many things during my time with InterVarsity,” Tomita said. “I learned that identity is in Christ, not just in the world.”
Tomita was also going through times where he wanted to walk away from church. It turns out, he wanted to know Litto at those times.
“I know that the Bible exists and I read it occasionally,” Tomita said. “When I need to, I bring it to prayer nights and the encounters.”
Tomita wants to continue being with InterVarsity for as long as he can, even after he graduates from UNLV.
“I hope that I can serve as a leader and become a staff member,” Tomita said. “Thanks to Joseph, I recommitted my faith to Jesus.”
As for Litto, he wants to reach out to a diverse number of people that include the LGBTQ+ community, international students, and students of color.
“In the future, we would like to reach more corners of the campus,” Litto said. “We want to grow, and make Jesus available to everyone.”
This article is a student submission, not associated with the Scarlet & Gray Free Press.