CHICAGO - Leaving home for college can be a scary time for young students, especially for Christians attending a secular school.
Lauren Dueck remembers first entering the University of Chicago.
"It's intimidating at first," she said. "When I came, I was very nervous about how people would see me, especially since I came from a very conservative subculture."
Dueck eventually broke the spiritual ice with fellow students. She said the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship group on campus made a big difference in her college experience.
The University of Chicago is one college where InterVarsity has experienced growth.
In the last two years, the group has doubled in size on the campus. There are 86 new InterVarsity chapters, and conversions have increased nearly 70 percent in the last five years.
"We've seen the spiritual temperature on this campus going up," said University of Illinois InterVarsity staff member Nick Price. "Students are asking a lot of questions and being willing to engage about deeper discussions like, 'Is there a God and if so, who is He?'"
Price recently prepared students for an evening of evangelism training.
InterVarsity's proactive approach is what has led to most of its growth.
"People were willing to talk about the tough issues and tackle them," Alex Bultman, a new believer, recalled. "And when I had question,s they would answer them or say, 'I don't know, but let's look into this together.'"
Dueck now leads her alma mater's InterVarsity chapter. She and area director Dan Shiau say their growth is a direct result of prayer, and students who've shifted their mindset.
"There isn't as much of a mentality of, 'Oh, let's go to campus and we'll set up shop and we'll have a group and it will be nice and comfortable and great for Christians.' There's much more of an attitude of 'We're on campus [and] here for a reason. Let's be an influence,'" Shiau explained.
"What happens is that when you have students decide they want to make sacrifices for the sake of their faith, they want to live life on a mission," Dueck added. "They want to see their friends come to know Jesus. That's a contagious attitude."
Originally aired December 21, 2010.