Katie’s Story

Katie Martinez

This is Why I Worship

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(Katie playing the drums with the CM worship team)

I grew up in a Christian family, and my dad became a pastor when I was around seven. I also grew up in a full of musicians (my mom’s side), and have had a passion for music since I was really little. I remember my mom telling me that when I was in her belly, I would annoy her by moving like crazy during worship at church. But she also told me that even then, she had a feeling I would be a musician. When I was about the age of five,  I would line up all the pots and pans in the kitchen and start banging on them with spoons. This eventually lead me to teaching myself how to play the drums. It came so naturally but I didn’t really think of it as anything special, and I kind of took it for granted.  As I got better, my dad assigned me to play drums at church, and I did this almost every Sunday since I was about 12, until my last year at home. Eventually it became exhausting, and was not something I looked forward to anymore.  Around my last year of being home with my parents (senior year), I felt like I was only playing to please my parents. I wasn’t using this gift to strengthen my relationship with God, and I felt so shameful.

Jumping ahead, coming to GVSU, I was super nervous, but yet excited because I was going be able to experience a whole new level of freedom. However, I completely lost sight of my faith, and thought that going to church every Sunday was “just enough”.  I found myself surrounded by people who kept dragging me down, and who put their faith last. I wasn’t very involved on Campus, so I stuck with the same small group all year. At the end of freshman year, I ended up having the worst roommate experience, and my best friend ended up turning her back on me. Because of this I questioned God, I thought He was throwing all these problems at me as a punishment for what I had done in the past.  I didn’t understand why He put people in my life to become close with, and then have them hurt me more than anyone has.

BUT, we all know that God is always up to something, and something we can’t even imagine, because he is just so frickin cool.  I’ll admit, I was frustrated with God at the time of losing my friend, because I didn’t have that person I could jam out with all the time, or call on when I needed some advice. However, all I can say is that this whole situation was part of God’s plan for me. As I look back on it now, my passion for music was not really there anymore when I came to GV. I had pushed it to the side due to the fact that when I was in high school, my band teacher never gave me the chance to play on the drumline/percussion. I would constantly ask her if she could give me a chance, and she never did. This hurt me a ton, to the point where I almost gave up doing what I love for God, so having that friend direct me back to this is an example of how God brings people into your life for a reason.

At the start of sophomore year, I told myself that I needed to become a lot more involved around campus, and surround myself with positive, God-loving people. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone in any way possible. I wanted to start fresh and leave all the negativity behind. So, at the start of this year I joined Delight, which is a women’s ministry on campus. I also signed myself up for everything that Campus ministry offered: life group, Passion conference, and spring break mission trip. And let me tell you God is SO GOOD. Through delight, He gave me the opportunity to explore different instruments that I never thought I would EVER be able to learn (I learned how to play piano over this past summer), and opened many more opportunities involving CM worship team. I know this may not seem significant to some people, but I had intentionally prayed to God about how I missed playing the drums and being part of a team. This was a day before I received an email about the audition, and if that doesn’t sum up God’s love and faithfulness, then I don’t know what else does. At this point, all I can say is that through all the hardships that I’ve gone through in the last year, even my high school years, and the doubt that I have received from many people, God has made me stronger than I have ever been.

“My heart will ALWAYS sing His praise”. Psalm 30:12

THIS IS WHY I WORSHIP!

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Kate’s Story

Kate Koning

This is Why I Worship

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Hi, I’m Kate Koning, this is my story.

I have my mom, Jackie, my dad, Scott, and my sister, Rachel, who is 7 and a half years older than me.

Like many people, I grew up in a Christian home. Church twice on Sundays and Wednesday nights. We prayed before every meal, and every night before bed.

My dad worked two jobs for a majority of my young life–his main job was being a corrections officer with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s department. While it was cool to be able to say “Yeah, my dad’s a cop,” the job took a toll on him–he was stressed. My dad is interesting because he might not be mad, but somehow he usually still sounds mad when he talks. There were times I didn’t want to talk to him about things because even if he wasn’t yelling at me, it still sounded like he was. But he also wasn’t getting a lot of sleep. He left home in the morning before I woke up, probably around 5 or 6am, and he came home for maybe an hour after I was home from school, and then he went to his other job, returning home after I was already asleep around 11pm. His second job was at Costco, so my mom and I would visit him there a lot (I once ate their food court pizza three days in a row and I’ve eaten their pizza enough over the years to be able to confidently say that you can get one slice of pepperoni pizza and a drink for only $2.73 after tax, and a frozen yogurt dessert for only $1.43 after tax). Costco grew to be almost a second home. It also ended up being my dad’s only job when I was in Junior high.

My dad left his job at the Sheriff’s department after about 14 years there. God was calling for a change. We didn’t know what would happen with our finances, whether bills could be paid, whether we would be able to stay in our home. Ultimately, God provided. We stayed in our house, there weren’t really any drastic steps that needed to be taken. My dad is happier now. He is well rested. He’s easier to talk to. He’s one of the greatest men I have ever known.

My mom has been one of my biggest supporters my whole life. There was a time that if something went wrong, usually if I did something wrong, whether it just happened, or it happened even two years before, I didn’t feel okay until I told my mom. I woke her up at midnight a few times to confess things and talk about them. It got to the point where she told me that whatever I’ve done, she forgives me. I don’t have to tell her what I’ve done before. If I was right with God, and asked for His forgiveness then that’s all that mattered.

My sister and I didn’t really like each other growing up. I was annoying, and she was moody. Or at least, I thought that’s all it was. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I learned that there was more to her story. My dad came into our living room one day as I was sitting on the couch. There was something he had to tell me, and it seemed pretty serious because he looked almost in tears. If you can imagine my dad, a 6’2 cop for a good portion of his life, he wasn’t one for crying, unless it was from laughing too hard at one of my hilarious jokes. My dad told me, “You won’t be able to see your sister for about a week.” Part of what I learned that day is that my sister wasn’t just moody, she had Major Depressive Disorder. My sister wasn’t just anxious sometimes, she dealt with parts of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. On this day, my dad said I wouldn’t be able to see her because she was admitted to Pine Rest, because she almost committed suicide. I was 14, and she was not yet 21. But, God was faithful yet again.

My freshman year of college was a bit rocky. Both of my dream colleges had rejected me, so that was disappointing. My walk with God was not the best first semester. While I was finding out reasons why I believed what I did, I wasn’t living the way I should have. I had a lukewarm faith. I experienced my first ever breakup with my first ever boyfriend–who eventually would tell me that he stopped caring about me. He was someone I thought I’d always have as a friend, and now I usually avoid eye contact with him. This breakup hit me really hard. I had times that I went to bed crying, woke up and cried in the morning. I didn’t have an appetite the first few days after. I would cry in the middle of hanging out with some of my best friends. I cried a lot, to say the least. I eventually found Campus Ministry, with the help of a coworker and good friend, David Bowman. I found some of the greatest friends I could ask for. I joined a life group, I became very involved, and I was getting some of my priorities straight.

God helped my family during financial worries, God gave me a great support system for a family, God healed my broken heart, and God saved my sister–now, my sister has become one of my best friends, something that wouldn’t have happened unless my sister had listened to the Holy Spirit encouraging her to continue living.

This is why I worship.

This is Why I Worship

 

Sarah Dudinetz

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A few weeks ago, I was driving to the well after visiting some friends in Kalamazoo when my mom called me with the kind of news that nobody ever wants to hear. I could hear the panic in her voice, something that was already out of place for my mother, who was usually the cool, calm, and collected one of the family. She told me that my dad had fallen through the attic in our barn and onto the concrete floor 15 feet below him. She didn’t have any details at the time, as she had called me from the hospital waiting room, but it turns out he had severely fractured his pelvis in two places. In fact, it was so bad that doctors stopped referring to it as a fracture and started calling it shattered.

I had no time at all to process this before The Well. As much as I would have liked to have focused on the message that night, all I could think about was my dad. I sat and thought about how I didn’t even take the time to hug him goodbye before I headed back to school after winter break, or how whenever I’d go home, he’d love to make my coffee every morning. And now there was a chance he’d never be able to do that again. That week, it still didn’t feel real. I hadn’t seen my dad since this all happened. I knew that it was real, but it just felt like some weird dream that I was telling people about, over and over. It wasn’t until Thursday night that I was able to make it over to Beaumont Hospital to see him. Nothing really could have prepared me to see my dad, who was usually energetic and lively, reduced to a pale pile of broken bones, almost too exhausted to speak, and who hallucinated almost every time he closed his eyes.

I was able to stick around for the weekend, but when Saturday morning arrived, my dad told me something unexpected that I will never get out of my memory. He was in so much pain, he told me, that he didn’t want me to see him like that. He asked me to leave, and to go back to Grand Valley early. Even though leaving him and my mom was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, I did it for him. I cried the entire two and a half hour drive back, wondering how I was supposed to go to work later that night, or how I was supposed to get homework done and go to classes knowing he was like this. Later that night, my dad had hit absolute rock bottom. Pain from his two surgeries, horrible side effects from pain medications, and a week-long lack of sleep had drained everything out of him. The side effects were so awful, that my dad was afraid that he was going to die that night. This whole time, I was constantly texting my mother, asking for updates. I told her that even if things were looking awful, I wanted to know everything that was happening. My mother, being the incredibly wise woman that she is, was smart enough to not tell me everything. I felt incredibly anxious the entire time anyways—maybe because she wasn’t responding to my texts, or maybe because he had been in such rough shape that morning. So, during the horrible few hours where my dad was looking death in the face, I did something that I hadn’t done the entire week. I prayed.

There’s two reasons that I can think of why it took me so long to actually pray. First, denial. I knew that if I acknowledged this in prayer, that meant that it was actually happening (and not just some weird dream), and that wasn’t something I was ready for. Second, I couldn’t wrap my mind around why God would want to listen to the prayers of a girl who constantly walked straight into sin and temptation, not even bothering to put up a fight. My lukewarm lifestyle didn’t reflect the love of God at all. Why would He want to listen to me?

I prayed for hours that night, but it really didn’t feel like a prayer. It felt like a spiritual screaming match between God and I (except I was the only one screaming). Even though I didn’t know how horrible my dad was at the exact moment, I started asking God not to take my dad, but to take me instead. I begged God to take away the unspeakable pain from my dad and to put it on me. I pleaded for God to look at us in our suffering and do something. I told him I would do absolutely anything if it meant keeping my dad. It was a prayer of lament straight out of Psalm 13, which, ironically, is exactly what we talked about at The Well 24 hours later (thank you Scott Stark!!).

I’m honestly not sure if I slept at all that night. But slowly through the night, with the support of my mom and an incredible set of doctors and nurses, my dad slowly began to improve. The next night, he was actually able to fall asleep for the first time all week, and before we even knew it, he was able to stand up.

That part of the story is incredible, no doubt, but what amazes me equally as much was the ‘tiny miracles’ that happened all along the way. God has been too good for me to possibly list every single one, but some examples are: how my mom was way ahead at work the Friday before, which meant that everything was set for somebody to come in and cover for her. The fact that my dad had his phone on him when he fell and was able to call an ambulance. The number of incredible conversations that never would have taken place had this not happened. My dad promising to donate blood once a week after 6 pints of donated blood kept him alive. The number of family and friends who opened up their homes, hearts, brought us meals, came to visit us at the hospital, and offered their love and support throughout this entire journey. The fact that my dad is alive, and can walk.

This is why I worship.

 

Three Reflections from Three Graduates

Hear from Tanner, Payton and Liza – three of our newest CM alumni

Tanner Rufenacht

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Tanner (left) with college roommates Drew Robbins, Payton Mills, Tanner Rubin and Ben Martin.

I don’t know how I ended up here. That’s a good thing though because it means it was God’s plan and not mine. Five years ago, I received a pamphlet in the mail for a place called Grand Valley State University. I had never heard of it before, but out of the thousands of college letters I received, this one stuck out to me. Nothing about leaving my small town where everyone knew me, to go to school at a place where 25,000 people didn’t, should have appealed to me, but it did. Nothing about leaving a church, community, friends, and family that had loved me, supported me, and pointed me in the right direction to go to a place where I didn’t know if I would find ever find anything close to it should have made sense, but for some reason it did. Nothing about leaving a place of Christ-followers, to go to a public university where you can choose to follow whomever or whatever you want, should have drawn me here. And nothing about being 3 hours away from Mom’s home-cooking in a place that seemed to fry everything should have appealed to me, but here I am.

When I was a senior in high school I knew there was something special about Grand Valley and I knew the Lord wanted me to go here, even though I had no idea what or why that was. The Lord had spent that past four and a half years showing me what that something special was. Not a day has gone by in the past four and a half years that I have not thanked God for being here. However, many days have gone by where I have been brought to my knees because of God’s faithfulness in my life here at Grand Valley.

One of the reasons Grand Valley is such a special place is because it is where I found Campus Ministry. It was in this community and with these people that the knowledge that I had in my head from growing up in a church community and family started to spill out through my heart and my actions. I realized here that following Jesus isn’t about just being “good,” it’s about seeking and saving the lost and hurting. It’s about relying on Him when it seems there’s no one else, it’s about standing firm in your faith in the midst of temptation, and it’s about falling into the arms of God when all seems lost. I have been in all of those places during these past four and a half years. Places I haven’t been in the first 18 years of my life. The reality is I have hurt more in the past four years than I ever have, but I have also experienced a greater joy than I ever thought was possible. I really think God needed to bring me to a place where it was harder to find Him and follow, so when He did move in my life it was impossible to deny and resist Him.

That being said, I want to share three short stories of God’s provision during my time here. My time here has not been all good, all the time, but that’s ok because no good story is free of hardship and conflict.

  • During my first three years at Grand Valley I had a lot of people that knew me, but no one really knew me. I was having trouble finding community outside of the well and outside of CM. I would lead and talk to hundreds of people on Sundays but would spend countless the rest of the week hanging by myself at home or feeling like I was in places I didn’t belong. Being someone who loves people, this was really, really hard and it really, really hurt. In hindsight, I know that the Lord wanted me to get to know him better before He provided me with the community I desired. If you are in this place, I would love to talk to you because it is a hard place to be, but it can be one of the most powerful. I have found the most amazing community in the past year, but it was only when I drew closer to God that he revealed the community He had for me.
  • God also walked with me through one of the darkest periods of my life last year. Three weeks into winter semester last year I begin struggling with anxiety and stress. I was teacher assisting and had school on top of that and the weight of everything seemed to break me. I thought I was doing what God wanted me to do, so I was really confused by it all. The physical symptoms made day to day life really difficult and it felt like the world I had built for myself was crashing down. That was the problem. I had built the world around me. God has spent the last year breaking down all these parts of my life and replacing it with his plan. And remember, the community I talked about before. I met them just in time for me them to walk with me through this period. Almost like someone planned that… Wow, God is good!
  • The third story has to do with leadership. For some reason, God thought I would be a good leader and kept putting me in leadership positions. Or maybe a bad leader so that if I did anything good, people would have no choice but to believe it was the Lord working through me. This was the case in D.C. on a Spring Break mission trip my junior year. I was leading the trip and through a series of events I managed to spread our entire group in three different spots in the city. I thought I had ruined everything, but it managed to be the moment that brought the whole trip together. It ended up being one of the best weeks of my life.

These stories are just a snapshot of God’s faithfulness in my life here at Grand Valley and I would love to share more if you ever want to talk. I realized that one of the main reasons I worship is because God knows better than I do, and he has proved it time and time again. It feels good to rest in that truth as I leave Grand Valley. God is all-powerful and He is in charge, and anyone who knows me should know it’s much better that way.

Payton Mills

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Payton (left) with college roommates Tanner Rubin, Ben Martin, Drew Robbins and Tanner Rufenacht.

Dear Students of Campus Ministry @ GVSU, 

I hope you know that you are changing lives. With each word you say, with each action you take, with each look you give, with each moment of interaction, YOU are changing lives. You are either changing them for the better or for the worse. Please change them for the better.

My life has been changed for the better by the people of CM @ GVSU.

I don’t know what college is like for you, but I know I don’t know what I’m doing. I think there are many students who come into college in search of stability. It’s easy to find your identity in many different arenas of the college life. Thankfully, God changed my heart through the work of Campus Ministry @ GVSU.

Coming in as a freshman, I thought I was doing just fine, but I wasn’t. I was isolated, I didn’t understand the value of a Christian community, and I was trying to live out my faith on my own. Fortunately, God had something better for me. A few months into college, I randomly texted a guy who had been my honors college mentor to see if I could join a Bible study he had mentioned a few months earlier. He said, “Yes.” So I went to this thing called a ‘Lifegroup’ that was part of CM @ GVSU. Here were my thoughts after my first meeting: “Wow, what a bunch of weird Christian dudes. That one guy talked too much, and half the time, no one even said anything. I’m a way cooler Christian than that.”

But I went back… week after week after week.

And guess what, now I’m a graduate, and I live with the guys from that group (including the mentor guy I mentioned), and they are my best friends, and they have changed my life for the better.

My story is just a small sliver of what is happening in Campus Ministry. I see my story happening all over the place in this community. I know countless people whose lives have been changed for the better by you people.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you are refreshing the hearts of people.

I walked into college as a boy, and now, I will walk out as a man… a better man… because YOU are changing lives. Thank you so much.

Praise the Lord.

Payton

Liza Braatz

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Well, I can finally say it, I’m an ALUMNI! Everything I’m used to doing for the past four years like going to class, writing (seemingly pointless) papers, cramming the night before a test, joining new organizations, etc. is all over. In light of this – I think that any big change like these causes someone to look back and reflect on what he or she has learned in that particular season of life.

For me, the most important and life changing lesson I am taking away from my time in college is that pursuing a relationship with God is the single most important “assignment” you can ever undertake.. I understand how trite and overdone this can sound, so hear me out here. College offers all sorts of new experiences and opportunities. Some you don’t like, some serve as a growing experiences and some you end up absolutely loving. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “the world is your oyster” at least once during your time in college? Now I am not saying there is something wrong with that phrase, I’ve probably even used it in an Instagram caption! What I am saying is that there is something even more important and life changing than anything college can offer you.

I have been a Christian my whole life, and God has been incredibly faithful to me during my time in college, even when it wasn’t reciprocated. And by the way, If you’re hearing this and you don’t know God, I would LOVE to talk with you more about that! But if you do have a personal relationship with God, here are some facts for you;
Your friend group will probably change
Your major will probably change
Your housing will probably change
YOU will most definitely change!

Facing uncertainty and unsteady ground alone can cause even the strongest person to doubt their life’s direction and purpose. I am here to tell you that we have the opportunity to press into a relationship with a God who is NEVER changing and loves you unconditionally! No matter your grades, your major, your popularity status, your internship, or your IM sports standings, you can always know that He loved you enough to send his perfect SON to die so that you can have a personal and intimate relationship with God Almighty!

I’m not saying I’ve always had it together by any means, because as we know, everyone falls short! Something I am extremely grateful for though, is that no matter how far I got from God he was never more than a prayer away from me. God will walk with you through everything, no matter how ugly or confusing or messy. God created you, which means he knows you better than anyone (even more than your mom does, which is crazy to think about!). This reminds me of a verse in James 4 that say, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s not something to take lightly. God wants you to KNOW him!

Looking back on my four years of college I can confidently promise you that passionately pursuing God was the most life changing decision I made. Don’t put Him on the back burner for the next four years. Invite God into your life and watch Him turn your plans into more than you anything you could have ever expected or dreamed!

A note from CM: If you are a current student or alumni, we would love to hear your story of how God has used Campus Ministry in your life. Please consider submitting your story here.

Key of Hope’s Story

Campus Ministry @ GVSU has partnered with Key of Hope in a variety of ways over the last seven years. We are excited to keep partnering with them and beyond excited to hose their choir concert this Monday, Nov. 20th!

Key of Hope

Durban, South Africa

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After more than ten years serving at The Power Company Kids Club since its founding, Dan and Rachel Smither felt that God was calling them to begin a unique ministry to children in the worst AIDS affected area in the entire world: Durban, South Africa. Based on the power of long term mentoring relationships and the language of music to communicate the truths of the Gospel, the dream to reach thousands of children affected by AIDS was born.

From a Dream to Reality

Key of Hope was formed in January 2007, and fundraising began in earnest. The Smithers sold their house, cars, and furniture, and made a trip to Durban to begin making arrangements for housing, school for their girls, and other essentials. One year later, in January 2008, they stepped off a plane onto the runway at Durban International Airport with 16 suitcases and clear vision of what God had assigned them to accomplish.

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“Key of Hope desires to reach thousands of poverty, HIV and AIDS stricken children with the love of God, transforming them into ambassadors of change in their families, schools and communities.”

Slowly, with each relationship built, inroads were made into these areas. The work literally began with one child in one squatter camp, and has grown steadily from there. Key of Hope now operates with a staff of seven, ministering in eight different squatter camps and two black township areas, with more than 1,200 children being visited at home each week.

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What God is Doing Through Key of Hope

Our Saturday Kidz Klub began with 17 children sitting on the curb next to a taxi rank in a Durban slum known as Eringini. Today, more than 700 children board our minibus taxis for Kidz Klub each week. Our youth Bible Study touches more than 100 young people each and every week. There are also 5 soccer teams, 6 netball teams, 3 levels of after school tutoring in our Hope Academy, 75 children and youth in our leadership training program, a drama group, a youth Bible Study attended by more than 100 young people each week, and a 40 voice children’s choir. We founded and oversee a community garden, which provides several households with enough produce to eat, plus some to sell for extra income. We have formed a network of 8 preschool centers located throughout the slums, where we provide teacher training, curriculum, and early childhood education resources to prepare children for school. Our staff has grown to 20 people, 5 of whom have relocated from the USA.
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The heart of our mission is to bring eternal life change to children through solid Gospel teaching in relevant and tangible ways. Key of Hope is fully dedicated in its efforts to provide long term mentoring relationships to these children. Relationships that they need not only to survive, but to thrive as citizens, leaders, and disciples of Christ.

 

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The Smither Family

Click here to help Key of Hope’s Feeding Program! Learn more about Key of Hope here, and like them on Facebook!

Cody’s Story

Déye mon, gen món.”

Cody Zuiderveen – CM Alumni 2013

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(Cody with his wife, Jessica, and their son, Hudson).

The Lord has always been faithful, good, and gracious to me. As I sit here thinking about my story—and how I want to tell it—I can’t help but think that, if nothing else, I want you to know that the Lord is faithful, good, and gracious.

Thanks to the Lord, I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ. As his disciple, he invited me to follow him many years ago. I knew that following Christ would mean being willing to give up people and places that I love dearly. It would mean being willing to give up anything that I love for the One that I love more than all of it—Christ himself. It would mean following him to places that I maybe wouldn’t otherwise go, whether those places were as near as the local retirement home or as far away as West Africa.

And so I went. Especially during my four years with Campus Ministry where I worshiped on the praise team and “worked” as an office intern, I had awesome opportunities to go and help others do the same. In each of those places we went, Christ proved himself to be good in his care and provision for me and for those around me. In light of that goodness, I continue to go, which has led me to where I am today—serving as a missionary in Haiti, dwelling on the thought that the Lord has been and continues to be faithful, gracious, and good to me.

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(CM office interns Cody, Emily Bandfield [Emily Hoffman] and Rachel Goddard – taken during the annual downtown scavenger hunt, where Cody and Rachel were hiding as an elderly couple).

I think that is the theme of my story because I am in terrible need of a reminder myself. During my years at Grand Valley, the call of Christ was clear and exciting. The Posts, Pam Bush, Scott Stark, Chris Pieters and others affirmed my calling and encouraged me forward to the work set before me. Praise the Lord that they did! Campus Ministry was a tremendous mountain-top experience, but the work the Lord has called me to is vast and difficult. I work as a church and leadership developer, which means that I meet with and encourage pastors, train deacons, support Christian education, develop youth ministry, and serve as the academic dean of the Reformed Seminary of Haiti, where I teach systematic theology. I am being asked to contribute in ways I don’t know how, to do what I feel incapable of doing, and to fix brokenness even as I, too, feel broken. As you can imagine, I am inadequate.

Déye mon, gen món.” This is possibly the most popular Haitian proverb and it simply means, “behind mountains, there are mountains.” That is to say, if it is not one thing, it is another. One challenge, one obstacle, one struggle is followed by the next. Déye mon, gen món. If you know anything about Haiti, you know that this is a very fitting proverb for this island. As far as I can tell, if there was ever a mountainous, challenging place—a place that needed to hold on to the faithfulness, goodness, and graciousness of God—it is Haiti. It is in this place that I sit, facing the mountains before me, certain that there are more mountains yet to come. I am sure many of you are facing your own mountains. As you do, remember that when we lift up our eyes to the hills before us, we know where our help comes from. Our help comes from the Lord (Ps. 121), who if faithful, good, and gracious.

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(CM worship/productions team Christmas Party 2010).

Click here to follow Cody’s personal blog and keep up on God’s work through his ministry in Haiti! 

Meredith’s Story

Seeing God’s Purpose Through the Pain

Meredith Filter

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“The Lord is my strength and song; He has given me the victory.” Exodus 15:2

I started my freshman year like many other people: I thought my roommate was going to be my best friend, making friends would be easy, and everything would fall into place; but God has a way of throwing expectations aside and replacing them with His plan. My first night at Grand Valley, my three roommates and I were driving around, trying to get to know each other. They talked about partying and asked what I liked to drink. I responded by saying that I don’t drink and I don’t party. My roommate replied, “That makes me uncomfortable that you don’t party.” It was that moment that I knew my big plans for the rest of my college career were not going to be what I imagined. The first few weeks of being at college were some of the toughest of my life. There were many nights filled with loneliness, tears, and questioning. Looking back however, God replaced the people I thought were going to be in my life with people I needed in my life.

I went to the first Well of the year and heard Ben Post preach about God’s plan for our lives. It seemed as if he was reading my mind and the entire service, I wept. I felt God’s presence and comfort. While the rest of the semester was incredibly challenging, God used those challenges to build my relationship with Him. I struggled almost every day between my expectations andGod’s plan. My life group leaders, thankfully, poured into me every week. One week, one of my leaders said, “God sometimes has to empty us before He can fill us up again”. That statement completely summarized my story. I had to release all of my dependence on earthly things so I could truly be filled with the Holy Spirit. God changed my perception of myself. I once was a small, scared girl trying to find her way through college. I know who I am now—I am a strong, victorious woman of Christ.