The vision of South Texas InterVarsity is to partner with the Holy Spirit to transform and send students to demonstrate and proclaim the gospel on new horizons from San Antonio to the Border and Alpine to Corpus Christi.
InterVarsity’s ministry to college students in South Texas dates back to students in the 1960’s who established a chapter at Trinity University. The very first staff worker would not arrive until the 1970s, when a fellow by the name of Pete Wilson would drive down from Austin to train and disciple students once a month. Eventually, Pete moved with his family to San Antonio and became the first InterVarsity staff to live in South Texas. Pete attended Wayside Chapel, a local church that has served as a home church for various InterVarsity staff throughout the years.
In the 1970’s and 80’s, Rudy Hernandez graduated from Texas State University and felt called by God to empower students to start bible studies throughout South Texas, becoming in the process InterVarsity’s first Latino staff minister. Rudy recruited Debbie Fillyaw onto staff in the Rio Grande Valley. Debbie then became InterVarsity’s first Latina staff minister. Rudy and Debbie had fruitful ministry to college students around the valley and San Antonio. Even after leaving staff, Rudy served on InterVarsity’s national board of directors, helping start InterVaristy’s LaFe ministries, and Debbie continued to mentor emerging Latina staff leaders.
In the early 80’s, Trinity University’s InterVarsity grew exponentially under the leadership of Julie Vance. The chapter atrophied in the mid 80’s when Julie left staff and a few key senior student leaders graduated. Leon Fillyaw was on staff in Lubbock, TX and began to serve Trinity students in the late 80’s, flying down once a month for training and discipleship. By this time Debbie was serving in the valley, establishing InterVarsity Chapters at UT Pan Am (now UT Rio Grande Valley) and Texas A&M Kingsville. One of Debbie’s students from the valley, Suzana Ibarra, transferred to UTSA, which is how the UTSA chapter was planted. Leon Fillyaw likes to tell the story of how once a month he would fly in from Lubbock to serve Trinity students and Debbie would drive in from the valley to serve UTSA students, and eventually they started to meet each other for a little “date action” on the side.
In 1989 Debbie moved to San Antonio and became the first staff living in San Antonio since Julie left. Debbie and Leon married in 1990, and Leon then moved to San Antonio as well. From 1989 to 1993 Debbie and Leon served on staff together both at UTSA and Trinity, while still itinerating in Lubbock and the Valley. Former Valley staff include Johnny Mettlach and Nick Dombrowski, each working to grow the chapter to over 100 students at one point.
During the mid 90’s under the new leadership of Suzan Burnett at UTSA, the fellowship began to grow. Leon became the South Texas Area Director and recruited John Parker to staff UTSA and Trinity, both of which continued to grow well into the late 90’s. John became the new Area Director when Leon and Debbie left to serve in Africa for four years. John recruited a new team of Trinity staff: Jamie Teague, Brea Walker, Jean Paik, and Drew Smith. They helped grow Trinity’s ministry to new levels. More recent former Trinity staff include Jacob Foor, Laura Abrams, and Christina Foor (who also planted at Northwest Vista).
In the early 2000’s UTSA staff included Michelle Blanton and Ana Graves. They carried the UTSA chapter and recruited many students to LaFe staff conferences, alumni to volunteer, and students to join staff such as Patrick Farris and Javier Ramos.
The South Texas Area has been in a season of new growth and training students to follow the holy spirit into any area of campus. Currently we have 5 staff, 4 committed volunteers, and over 100 students involved in our campus ministries from the Valley to Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Over the years we have grown and we have waned, but the grace of the Lord has never left college students in South Texas.
We're all about discovering God together through Scripture. Every year, InterVarsity trains thousands of college students from every background to lead engaging and transformational Bible studies. We’ve been at it for a long time, and over the years we’ve discovered a tremendous secret that makes it possible for someone with even limited training to lead powerful Bible studies. Find general info on leading InterVarsity Bible studies at howto.bible.
Ethnic Reconciliation and Justice
We pursue ethnic reconciliation by practicing mutual empowerment, grace, and truth and by promoting personal and systemic justice. Our ministry will teach you to more fully value and understand your ethnic identity just as we seek to make space at the table for people from all cultures and backgrounds (Revelation 7:9). In addition to being an area at the intersection of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds, South Texas has hosted both summer and spring break versions of the San Antonio Urban Program, which offers students whole-life discipleship around the Gospel, evangelism, prayer, social justice, communal living, shalom theology, racial reconciliation, ethnic identity, and stewardship