Jeff Simpson, an intern with Cru’s DC Metro Bridges ministry at The University of Maryland, was not feeling motivated as he drove to UMD’s international student orientation to conduct student surveys the week before the start of the 2012 fall semester.
“Lord, despite my shortcomings today, will you work?” he prayed.
When he read Vito Chen’s survey later that day, Jeff got his answer. Next to the question about religious background, Vito had simply written: “I am interested in becoming a Christian.”
Long before Vito, a freshman at UMD studying computer science, decided to study abroad, God had been working in his life. As a young high school student, Vito was forced to study for long hours at home. One day while studying, Vito noticed a Bible lying on a shelf and he began reading in Genesis and later, the Gospels.
As he continued to read Scripture, Vito’s belief in God and interest in Jesus Christ began to grow. He found a brochure tucked in the Bible that compared reading Scripture with taking a basket to a river and trying to collect water with it. Though the basket is unable to collect any tangible water from the river, it does become clean in the process. Like the basket in the brochure, Vito said the words of Scripture washed him clean.
“Before I believed God and became a Christian, I believed the world in a very scientific way, a very mathematic way. Now, it’s a really wonderful feeling, because I have no knowledge and I know nothing, but I am clean, and I can be a good man,” he said.
Four years later, Vito walked up to Jeff’s table at UMD and again, the Bible lying on the table caught his eye. When Jeff read Vito’s survey and saw that he was interested in learning more about Christianity, he made plans to get together with Vito at the UMD student union later that week.
Jeff was able to explain the gospel with Vito through a Chinese tract and though Vito had already believed in Jesus before he came to the United States, he was able to have many of his questions about Christianity answered that day. A few days later, Vito prayed and asked Jesus to come into his life.
Vito is now being discipled by Jeff and is involved in a weekly Bible study with other international students. He is excitedly learning the power of prayer and has already started sharing his faith with others.
Vito’s story brought life to Cru’s UMD team, Jeff said.
“Vito’s story reinforced for me the sovereignty of God in the mission that we’re doing. It’s really important in thinking, is God behind us in the mission or is He ahead of us? He is ahead of us! He’s already working,” Jeff said.
Vito credits Jeff and UMD’s Bridges ministry with helping him grow in his faith and showing him what it means to be a Christian. But when asked who it was who drew him in to Christianity, he credits one name alone: