Campus Stories

Standout Student: Mikayla Ortega

Mikayla Ortega, a senior at San Diego State University (SDSU), is most InterVarsity staff members’ dream student when it comes to leading in evangelism. Now in her third year of leadership with the SDSU chapter, Mikayla spent last summer in inner-city LA on the Los Angeles Urban Project (LAUP). Her experience there and on campus has propelled her into an unbelievable start as a student leader this year.

We interviewed Mikayla to hear how God has grown her in evangelism during her time as a student.

Pursuing Justice in the Inner City and on Campus

How did your experience at LAUP influence your evangelism?

I always had a heart to serve, but never added the spiritual aspect. Adding the spiritual act of serving others has impacted my leadership by giving me a three-dimensional faith.

I think some people are better able to relate to the acting out of our faith, rather than just sitting down and only looking at a Bible passage. Incorporating activism and service into the SDSU chapter has drawn a crowd we haven’t reached before. One woman was attracted by one of our outreaches, came to help, and then ended up going to Soul Food (fall conference) and came to faith.

Leading Someone to Christ for the First Time

During New Student Outreach, you had your first experience of walking someone into relationship with Jesus. What was that like?

I took John* through our Proxe Station called “What are you expecting college to be?” We got to the part with Matthew 16:24-28 and certain parts stuck out to him, so I asked if I could share the gospel.

I felt really comfortable sharing the Big Story gospel outline, because I’d been trained at LAUP to tie my own story into the presentation. I love the way InterVarsity has empowered and encouraged me to share how God is in my story.

He liked the idea that Jesus had a plan for his college career. I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit, “He needs to be asked, he needs to be asked.”

After talking a little more about his hesitations about college and faith, I asked if he wanted to accept Jesus into his life. He said yes. I think it may have been a little more powerful for me than for him! You could see the visible transformation from the Holy Spirit on his face.

New Student Outreach revealed to me how ready people at SDSU are to accept Christ. Through prayer, our staff and students all received that this is the year of the harvest. That theme carried over to Soul Food, as we saw how many people came to the conference, accepted Christ, and were curious about God.

Trying Evangelistic Preaching

You gave a call to faith at large group this fall and two people came to faith! How did that go?

Leading John to faith one-on-one gave me the courage to give the call to faith at large group.

I love preaching because I can share what I struggled with in the past in order to help others. Our stories can be the most powerful tool God has given to us to evangelize. I like to think that maybe they can hear the word of God sooner than I did and won’t have to struggle as much.

Plus, I feel the benefit of having a student preach to other students is that it’s relatable on a different level. We are usually sharing about an experience that happened recently, so another student can understand because they may be going through that exact thing too. Seeing that a fellow student can be transformed is encouraging.

When two people stood to accept Christ, I was overjoyed and a little relieved. I wanted to celebrate and let them know what an amazing thing they had agreed to and how awesome the journey would be. It was so cool to pray again to affirm their decision.

Investing in Younger Leaders

Given your leadership experience, it seems like you should have led a small group at Soul Food. Why were you happy to have been on the prayer team instead?

SDSU’s goal for Soul Food was to give freshmen who were checking out leadership the chance to lead.

As someone who’s been feeling more and more that I want to invest in other up-and-coming leaders, it was exciting to watch freshmen leaders step into their confidence.

Also, it is more challenging for me to step back to pray and not lead, but it’s what I needed. Praying and listening rather than talking is a powerful lesson God taught me and a discipline I’ve been trying to grow in. In evangelism, it’s really powerful to remember to pray and give God space to move, and recognize he is the one at work and we are not.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

How have you seen a student or yourself grow in evangelism over time like Mikayla did? Leave a comment below.