Amy (center) with campus ministry leaders Paul Verhoef and Pearl Nieuwenhuis
Amy (center) with campus ministry leaders Paul Verhoef and Pearl Nieuwenhuis

Amy’s past experience with organized faith communities left her skeptical. As a law student at the University of Calgary with a passion for social justice and advocating for marginalized communities, she wasn’t sure where faith fit with the kind of career she wanted.

Of her church experiences, she says, “In a way, I felt unseen, like I wasn’t interesting or important enough,” recalling how her childhood church hadn’t appointed any female board members because they “believed the Bible.”

“That...made me feel like the church wasn’t interested in the gifts I had...because I was a female,” says Amy.

Finding Campus Ministry

Amy’s feelings of uncertainty toward organized Christian groups continued throughout her first and second year of law school. Still, Amy was passionate about poverty law, indigenous law, and the possibility of becoming an advocate for these groups in the legal system. She wanted to find a place to openly share her thoughts and questions about these issues and their relationship to the evolving role of faith in a rapidly changing world.

Unexpectedly, she found such an opportunity when a mutual friend connected her with Paul Verhoef, a CRC campus minister at U of C. Amy found that the inclusive, welcoming campus ministry provided the openness and thoughtful discussion that she had been missing about church.

“Paul fosters a sense of unconditional acceptance and community that I really appreciate,” says Amy.  

Paul’s kindness and willingness to listen inspired Amy to get more involved with campus ministry. Through participating in programs and sharing several deep conversations with Paul, Amy realized she and Paul “were enthusiastic and passionate about the same things.”

Leading Others

Paul invited Amy to apply for a Resonate Emerging Leader grant to further develop her leadership gifts and share her passion with others. The two now work together in a life-giving mentorship relationship.

They are also collaborating on a series of enriching projects for students at U of C. They’re particularly excited about a group that digs deeper into podcasts they listen to.

Amy notes, “[The podcasts] foster some amazing conversation and connection, and provide a safe place for many people like me who don’t always feel like we fit in religious communities.”

Amy’s mentorship with Paul has taught her things about herself that she is excited to apply to her future career in law.

“I am learning kind ways of coexisting with people who see the world very differently than I do... I’m working on that and trying to develop an instinct of listening,” says Amy.

One of her greatest hopes for the role of faith in her life is that she might be able to find a way to combine the gifts that come from being part of a faith community with doing justice in the world. That’s the power your gift to Resonate can have!

Thank you for supporting campus ministry programs like this one at the University of Calgary. Because of Paul and his ministry, Amy found a Christian context where her gifts and questions were not only acceptable but welcome. Please pray for Amy, Paul, and others as they cultivate places of belonging at college and university campuses around the globe.