In 1988 Vic and Kathy started as college and youth pastors at Gresham Family Worship Center and Mount Hood Community College. Their first day on campus they met Caribbean and Central American international students and hosted them at their home to barbecue and watching the NBA finals. The Varises attended the Northwest SALT conference and knew God had called them to serve students. The state youth director, Stan Russell, invited them to become Oregon’s first district Chi Alpha directors and they relocated to Portland, Oregon.
At the beginning of 1990, the Varises left church staff ministry to serve as campus ministers to Portland State University. Family Worship Center and pastors Bob and Dona Barham assisted them in this transition from church staff to campus. In 1992 the Varises became the first nationally appointed missionaries. This would lead to new staff being added to University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University, and other campuses.
They began renting the 1748 House (pictured above), a 110 year old 10 bedroom Craftsman house, and in 2004 the landlords sold the house to the Varises. Portland Christian Center assisted with a major remodel of the house. This house was a ministry center providing hospitality and housing to American and international students. The home was so often the first and only American home many international students ever visited in their time in America. The Varises hosted 150 international students and scholars from 25 nations at the 1748 Home. Their hearts for reaching international students and scholars led them to align themselves with FOCUS, an international ministry at PSU. During their decades of ministry, thousands of international students came through FOCUS with many coming to Christ.
As they reflect on their 30 years of ministry, so many lives were changed forever– through International Bible studies, one-on-ones, small groups, larger life groups and campus ministry meetings, staff retreats, and assisted with urban mission trips.
On a personal level, “Chi Alpha has simply been the very best missions and ministry experience of our lives. Kathy and I are so honored to forever be part of the Chi Alpha “tribe”. We’ve met the very best and brightest, and most committed mission staff reaching our campuses and literally the world.”
The Varises resigned their missionary appointment June 30, 2021. They have moved to Hawaii and with other family members purchased a compound with a farm and large lagoon pool. They have already hosted missionaries, pastors, Christian workers, for rest and rebuilding and will continue live missions where they are represented in hospitality.