Cody Zuiderveen was living his childhood dream of serving as an international missionary—and then God called him back to the United States. Now, his experience in cross-cultural ministry with Resonate Global Mission in Haiti is helping him disciple students as a campus minister at his alma mater.
A Call to Mission
Cody knew he wanted to serve in international missions ever since he was in middle school and a missionary from Papua New Guinea visited his class. He pursued that call and, when he enrolled years later at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), he immediately got involved with the campus ministry as a student leader.
Cody’s experience in campus ministry confirmed God’s call on his life to mission—which eventually led him to seminary and then to Haiti, where he served as a Resonate missionary. He worked with Resonate partners in the country to support youth leadership and discipleship programs, like IMPACT clubs.
But in their second year overseas, Cody sensed God calling him back to serve with his alma mater.
A New Call
Campus Ministry at GVSU, a Resonate partner in Michigan, was searching for another campus minister to join their team. They asked Cody if he’d be interested.
“They were looking for somebody with a seminary degree, who had graduated from the school’s downtown campus, who had cross-cultural experience and could relate to a variety of students,” said Cody. “I could see the way that the Lord was opening up that door and just shaping me for that role … It was one of those moments when you hear something, and it just fits.”
It was still hard to hear, however.
“My wife and I started dating in college and always talked about going into missions,” said Cody. “That was the plan. This is not just what I do. This is who I am. This is who the Lord has been shaping me into for several years now.”
But after much prayer, he and his wife, Jessica, knew that God was calling them to trust him. They moved back to the United States and, at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, Cody started serving with Campus Ministry at GVSU.
Although their time serving overseas was shorter than Cody and Jessica imagined, the experience was not wasted. Cody can see how his time serving as an international missionary in Haiti has prepared him to minister with university students in Michigan.
“One of the really unique experiences of missions is that you get a unique glimpse of what it means to be an outsider,” said Cody.
He said that serving internationally taught him to listen well, especially to the observations and insights of people who knew Haiti’s culture, political systems, churches, and challenges. “I think any successful idea I had in Haiti was a result of listening well and synthesizing others' ideas,” he said.
He’s found that listening is just as important in campus ministry as in Haiti: “My job is to bring more students around the table to offer their ideas, to lead their peers, and to develop new initiatives. I am somewhat of a cultural outsider as an older adult and pastor, but by equipping the campus ministry student leaders and interns, we have the privilege of preaching and teaching and making disciples with the relevance of insiders.”
Cody has seen a lot of students grow this year through Campus Ministry at GVSU. One student had distanced himself from the church for a few years—but after talking with student leaders from the campus ministry a few different times, he started to get involved. He attended weekly worship gatherings and other events, went on a Spring Break mission trip, and has grown so much spiritually.
“He is joining us as a leader next year to be a part of bringing other students in—just like other leaders had done for him,” said Cody.
No matter where we are in the world, God’s mission is right outside our door. Give thanks for how God is working in the lives of young adults, and please pray for Resonate ministry leaders like Cody who are following God’s call to small neighborhoods in Haiti, university campuses in North America, and all the spaces in between.