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! 

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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.

 

Sylvia’s Story

Broken Doesn’t Mean Out of Use

Sylvia Knight

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I used to believe that in order for God to use me I first had to be good enough for God. Honestly, I still think that a lot of the time. 

This past summer, I lived and studied in Nicaragua for 3 months. In July I got really, really sick and for about a week my greatest excursion was leaving my bed to go to the kitchen and try to eat. Eating was another battle of it’s own. I was weak and altogether broken. Once I started to feel better, I scheduled a tour guide to take me on a hike up an extinct volcano to a big cross on the mountain top, because I was getting better and once I was good enough and strong enough, I was going to celebrate by hiking up a volcano! I got better. I felt good again and it was awesome. Just to be safe and confident that I would in fact be strong enough, I scheduled the hike for the following week. Just a few days before my celebratory adventure, I got an awful migraine headache that lasted a couple of days. Simply put, I was sick and weak (AGAIN). I knew I should reschedule the hike for when I would be strong enough for it, but I was leaving the city at the end of the week. It became a choice between trying to do it in my fatigued, sick state or not at all. 

Being a logical person who understands that our human bodies have their limits, I chose to do what any woman with a sound mind would do. I hiked up the volcano. Really though, I didn’t do very much and God did a lot. Just the day before I was unable to even walk down the street without feeling exhausted, but God literally lead me to the cross. 

There wasn’t a trophy or ice cream at the top, no one applauded me (except for Joseph, my tour guide, was happy for me). Honestly though, there was no WOW moment, no moment that I said, “This was 110% worth the pain.” Because of that, I then believe that as a broken person, I can’t be used by God, the weak simply don’t get applauded. But, isn’t that sometimes life? I think as humans we often look for praise and approval for every little thing and we forget who is really DOING the work. 

Looking back, I learned that if God can make use of a very sick Sylvia and bring her to the top of a mountain, I cannot imagine what else He can do with me. I am still so broken, so tired, so weak and I will never be strong enough or good enough. Thankfully, I have a God who is always more than enough. He can and will always make use of me in whatever condition I’m in.

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Sarah’s Story

Sarah Coutts

Easter Baptism Story!

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Looking back at the last few years of college, God has completely redirected my life by bringing joy and hope that used to seem so impossible. I grew up lacking a relationship with Jesus, which resulted in a faulty foundation. In high school my parents decided to divorce and I was unable to handle that amount of change that accompanied. God met me at my lowest point and provided me with every opportunity to come and follow Him. He led me to Grand Valley and I left behind my past filled with depression, anger, and a broken family. I came to college and found myself in a new community, one who fosters my faith and God shines so brightly through. During my struggles before college, I was lost and hopeless. Once Jesus shined His light through my closest friends, I knew a relationship with Him is what I had been searching for all along. God has placed countless faithful servants in my life that have supported me, encouraged me to take numerous leaps of faith, and displayed what a servant’s heart truly looks like. I am forever thankful for the friendships that God had waiting for me at Grand Valley. Their boldness, vulnerability, and invitation to come and follow alongside them has impacted my faith tremendously. Jesus has been evident by leading me to go on mission trips, to sign up for leadership, and to serve kids as a teacher. He has transformed my heart, grown my passion to serve, and has shown me what it looks like to live and love with passion. God has continuously shown me that he is my hope, my guide, my redeemer, and my joy. He provides comfort in the deepest of valleys and brings light to every situation. He calls us by name to shine his light on the lives of those around us and play a role in his perfect plan. Jesus has laid a new foundation for my life that is built on his unwavering love. All of this has been God’s way of encouraging me to take the next step in my faith to be baptized and commit my life to following Jesus.

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Megan’s Story

Megan Kilts

Easter Baptism Story!

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I grew up in a Christian home, attending church with my mom, and was saved when I was 5 years old. My parents got divorced when I was 6, which was a very difficult time for my mom and me. I have struggled for a long time with anger towards my father and it is something that God is still working on in my life. As I got older, I became very involved in my youth group. I felt completely accepted by the older students there, some of whom are still close friends of mine. Unfortunately, my youth group went through many messy transitions between youth pastors, as did our church in regards to senior pastors. During these times, many students would stop attending, although some stuck it out. Luckily, my last youth pastors poured into me and encouraged me to volunteer with the middle school youth group. The summer before I came to college, however, was challenging because these new ministers ended up leaving as well. I was devastated, but God used this time as a period of growth for me, helping me trust in him. I ended up leading the youth group for the summer along with a family friend until I came to college, something I never would have imagined myself doing a year prior.

I have seen God work in amazing ways in my life over the past few years and I’ve grown immensely. Coming to a secular college has really helped me make my faith even more my own and I have had to lean on God a lot more. I have had to seek out my own church and Christian community and I have seen God answer my prayers in so many ways, from helping me find CM and good friends, to providing for me with finances and a ride to Life Stream Church on Sunday mornings. I have been blessed with an amazing Life Group, an RA who connected me to CM, the opportunity to go on a Spring Break trip to Dallas, and a roommate with many similar interests as me. Just seeing the Lord’s provision for me in coming to GVSU has really strengthened my faith.

I have felt God calling me to be baptized for a while now, and I believe that it is the perfect way to acknowledge my faith to both my community of believers and my friends who aren’t Christians. I want to take that next step by acknowledging that I am striving to follow and trust in God’s plan for my life and be obedient to his call. Even if I sometimes cannot see what it is that God is doing, I know that his plan is greater than anything I could ever imagine up for myself. I am choosing to lay down my worries at his feet because his ways are higher than my ways and his plans are higher than my plans. I love the lyrics from the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle: “When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, I will trust in you” and this is the anthem I will keep singing.

Michaeleen’s Story

Michaeleen Rood

Alumni – 2010

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How were you involved with Campus Ministry or how did God use CM to impact your life while you were in college?

I had the privilege of being a part of the worship team and also leading Spring Break Trips with Campus Ministry. Before GVSU I didn’t understand what following Jesus even meant or even to have peers that were seeking a relationship with him. Campus Ministry gave me opportunities to join a small group and finally start to build deep relationships; with women especially. My freshman year I decided to go on a Spring Break trip to Tallahassee FL, and that trip forever changed my life. We worked with Habitat for Humanity and the guys on the trip were incredible examples to me of men who loved Jesus and respected women as their sisters in Christ. I also returned back to Tallahassee 3 more times as a trip leader and met some of my best friends there (including my husband…cliche, I know..but boy do I love that guy!).

I honestly showed up at GV with the intentions of not having a faith anymore, but God showed up in BIG ways for me through CM and through so many friends. I learned how to seek after God, how to help others find Him, and what my passions were (even if I didn’t realize it then). I met my two best friends through CM: My husband Josh, and my best friend Katie!

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Where are you and what are you doing now?

I can’t even begin to explain how God used CM to lead me to where I am. When I was a student, Young Life was a part of CM and I was also very involved with YL in college. It’s crazy to think that 11 years ago I was attending Young Life for the very first time at GVSU. And now my job is leading Young Life at GVSU! Through CM, I learned how to figure what gifts God had given me and how I could use them to advance God’s kingdom. Josh and I are both heavily involved with Evergreen Ministries (our church!). We are both still a part of the worship/productions team there, and I spent the last 4 years as a high school youth leader. We are also currently huddle leaders for Life Group Leaders at CM and we love it. They’re good people!

Going to GVSU as a freshman, I barely even knew if it was the right place for me. But God used Campus Ministry and Young Life to shape me, teach me and stretch me. I will forever be grateful for this ministry!

Katie’s Story

Katie Howard

Alumni – 2012

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When I came to Grand Valley I was more interested in parties and boys. To be honest, God wasn’t even on my radar. But all of that changed when I began to work in the Student Services Office at GV. My fellow co-workers were all apart of Campus Ministry and after a few months of listening to them talk about CM and inviting me to check it out, I finally gave in and went to a Sunday night service. I don’t really remember much about those first few services, but I do remember feeling welcomed. Where I thought I would be met with judgement and shame, I was met with love and grace.

I began to take my faith more seriously that year and I gave my life to Christ. I wanted to know Jesus and follow Him no matter the cost. So I jumped right in and got involved in small groups, Young Life, and Spring Break trips. God used the students and staff at CM to completely change my life that year. As my time at CM continued, I became a leader and got more involved with Young Life, PM Planning team, and Spring Break trips. CM gave me the opportunity to lead small groups, serve locally and globally on Spring Break Trips, and even travel to Israel to study God’s Word and hike the land. God used my time at Campus Ministry to give me a love for God, His Word, and His people and He used the staff and students at CM to challenge and encourage me along the way.