The world needs more Christian leaders—and through Resonate’s Emerging Leaders program, you’re playing an important role in raising up, equipping, and mentoring young adults on university campuses throughout Canada and the United States.
Ellie was drowning in feelings of unworthiness. When she started classes at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Michigan, she was excited and hopeful. But it was a tough adjustment. She didn’t know anyone on campus, and she and her roommate weren’t clicking.
Have you ever doubted your faith? One day Justin* sat down with his campus minister and opened a journal with page after page of questions about God, faith, and the Bible.
“I have some doubts about faith,” said Justin.
Justin was raised in a Christian home where faith was mostly a formality. His mother attended church, but his father did not. Justin grew up learning about faith, but some things were hard to understand—and eventually, he found himself in a faith crisis. Could he have questions and still be a Christian?
“I’ve learned a lot this year about being a Christian on a university campus where most of my friends don’t believe in God,” said Tian, a student at the University of Alberta. With your support, Tian stepped up as a strong Christian leader on her campus.
A Loss for Words
Tian grew up surrounded by a community of strong, supportive believers. For that, she is thankful—but when she got to university, her faith was challenged. Most of her classmates and friends weren’t religious.
“In a campus ministry field, you realize a lot of people know that they’re Christian but really aren’t able to articulate what they believe, let alone share it,” said Calvin Chen, a Resonate Global Mission campus minister.
“You need to know your faith to be able to share it," he said.
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.
College is always a busy time for young adults. For students like Pravena and Amira, who joined Resonate Global Mission partner International Campus Ministry, college has also been a time to explore new service opportunities and grow as leaders.
Motivated to Serve
When Pravena came to Western Michigan University (WMU) in the fall of 2018, she had a desire to serve. “I have always wanted to do some sort of voluntary work and to just give back to people but never had the right platform to do so,” she said.
When Laura Osborne was a student at Western Michigan University (WMU), she found a safe place to land at campus ministry. Now, Laura is providing a safe space for WMU’s international students as a campus minister at Resonate Global Mission partner International Campus Ministry (ICM).
Luis had planned to end his life the night before his classes were scheduled to start, but then a room full of balloons caught his eye. He found himself at a meeting for Resonate partner InterVarsity Christian Fellowship led by CRC campus minister Kendall Everett on the campus of William Patterson University in New Jersey.
“I didn’t grow up in a very typical Christian home or family,” said Monica, a student involved in Campus Ministry @ Grand Valley State University, a Resonate Global Mission partner in Michigan.
Monica’s parents divorced when she was too young to remember, and her dad had never really gone to church. But when Monica was 8, her mom started taking her to church; by high school, Monica was following Jesus and actively involved in her church.
Students from the University of British Columbia-Okanagan got lessons on leadership and evangelism from horses.
“My connection with horses is fairly immediate and direct through my wife,” said Todd Statham, campus minister of Resonate Global Mission partner CRC Campus Ministry at UBCO. His wife, Annika Voeltz, owns Lightbulb Coaching. She rescued four wild horses to assist in coaching people through trauma or challenges they face in the workplace.
When Heng Li fell away from God, he walked through what he calls “the darkest valley.” But God gave him hope when he attended a movie night hosted by Nancy Smith, international student ministry leader at Geneva House, a Resonate Global Mission campus ministry partner at Queen’s University in Ontario.
Heng became a Christian in China after his aunt invited him to church. Even though the rest of his family disapproved of his faith, he was baptized a year later.
“Depression stole my life in every way imaginable,” said Leenza Thompson, a student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. “[I felt] completely empty at some points, like I was just a shell of a human ... I really felt like I was a waste of space on earth. I felt that no one could ever love me.”
Then Leenza joined a discipleship huddle through Resonate Global Mission partner Geneva House campus ministry. There she began to discover her identity as loved by God and was able to take her first steps toward healing.
Fresh out of Calvin Theological Seminary, Paul Verhoef was called to serve as the first Christian Reformed chaplain at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta. He recalls arriving at his newly renovated, freshly painted office on August 3, 2004, and looking around.
There was no furniture in the room. The office was just a 10-by-10-foot space connected to seven other empty offices along a common hallway and joined by a gathering space, said Paul. A new thing was starting, but work had to be done.
Nadeana was not a leader. At least, that’s what she believed before beginning her internship with Western Campus Ministry. Now she’s encouraging other students to be leaders too.
Western Campus Ministry is a Christian Reformed Church campus ministry in Ontario supported in part by Resonate Global Mission. When the team launched a Bible study, Mike Wagenman—campus pastor and Nadeana’s mentor—encouraged Nadeana to lead it. But she was intimidated. She had never been in a leadership position and said no.
“I have always heard, my whole life, that God loves me unconditionally and that if I follow his directions then that is good and everything will turn out OK,” said Josh, a fourth-year student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario.
But Josh doubted whether he measured up to God’s ways. Raised in church, he earnestly sought God and desired to share God’s love with others—but questions plagued Josh’s mind.
“I was wondering about my actual effect on others. Am I actually loving those around me? Am I doing as Jesus would do? How do I know?”
You connected a young, single mother to a church. You showed her she can rely on God.
Bright, motivated, and adventurous, Olu* moved from the West African country of Togo to Michigan in the United States to enroll in a Ph.D. program at Western Michigan University (WMU). She was happily engaged to be married to another student from Togo she met during her studies, but with her family living so far away, she often felt isolated living alone in a strange country.
“Individuals with disabilities are often included somewhere—and then they’re left behind,” said Peter Gordon, a campus minister at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). “I’m always trying to propel the students forward. What next?”
Hailey was a freshman at GRCC when she first stumbled upon the table Peter set up for Jabez Ministries, a Christian Reformed campus ministry supported by Resonate Global Mission that primarily serves students with disabilities.
For college and university students, graduation often comes with mixed emotions—exciting yet intimidating; rewarding yet confusing. Even if you found your calling and made lifetime friends at school, what will those things look like after you are no longer a student?
At Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, Iowa, Tyler Helfers works to help answer some of these questions from a Reformed perspective. And you have joined him through your support for Resonate Global Mission.
Last winter, as temperatures dropped in Vancouver, Christian and Muslim students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) came together for their community. They worked to assemble fifty bags of toiletries, food items, and warm hats and clothes for those in the area experiencing homelessness and went to Surrey Urban Mission, a local Christian ministry center, to hand them out.
“The idea was to express that both traditions are keen on serving the poor,” said Ethan van der Leek, a Resonate campus chaplain at KPU. Both faiths emphasize a God of love, forgiveness, and mercy.
New beginnings can be disorienting. As Eunji Choi found, sometimes God’s calling can be hard to hear or understand in the midst of doubt and disappointment.
Eunji transferred to Iowa State University (ISU) from her university in Korea in 2013 and soon began participating in Ames Korean Campus Ministry activities sponsored by Ames Korean Christian Reformed Church, just down the road from her campus. She connected to the church community, leading worship with the praise team.
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.”