How to Become a Thrift-Shop Champion

8 Practical Tips from a Second-Hand Clothing Expert

By: Emma Roorda

Second hand shopping is resourceful, ethical, and cheap, but oftentimes frugal intentions can be overridden by the exhausting thought of searching for fashionable clothing items in a sea of re-used clothing. However, after reading over these eight insightful suggestions aimed at improving your thrifting game, you may just change your mind about constantly stepping foot (and wallet) into that basic clothing retailer that you spend way too many weekends perusing!Whether or not you decide to shop at Goodwill, Value Village, or Plato's Closet, you can rest assured that the choice to buy recycled clothing proves that you are a stand-up human being, and most importantly, an environmental hero of God’s good earth (and maybe a poor college student too)!

(1) Know Your Stores:

When looking for an appropriate second hand clothing store, keep in mind that both style and price range should be considered. If your intention is to walk away with heaps of cheap, used clothing, think about shopping at a charity thrift store. These stores generally are very low in price — but they do tend to accept a wide range of “used.” In in other words, it may be cheap, but it also may be poor quality clothing, so be careful what you buy. By shopping at these kinds of thrift stores, you’ll be able to bring home a haul of vintage treasures for very little money. And you can walk away feeling good about yourself for supporting a local charity! Missions Thrift Store and The Salvation Army are two great shops to hit up if this is what you’re looking for.

On the other end of the spectrum, certain second-hand clothing stores are pickier about what kinds of clothing they accept and therefore are able to hike up their prices. These thrift stores tend to be advertised as businesses, rather than charity organizations. When shopping at these stores, you will probably have more success in finding specific, trendy styles — just be prepared to spend a titch more money. The most widely known business-type thrift store is, you guessed it, Value Village. These second-hand giants dominate the North American thrift shop world.

Finally, we come to our high end thrift stores, with the most common example being Plato’s Closet. This growing chain of consignment clothing stores sits at the top of the cleanliness chart, mainly due to the fact that Plato’s immediately sorts through all clothes brought into the store, offering cash in exchange for only the trendiest high quality products.

(2) Comfortable is Key:

The toiling task of changing your clothes many times during a thrift shop excursion is obviously inevitable. Before stepping out the door for your thrifty shopping spree, make sure you think about wearing your comfy pants — this will make taking clothes on and off much more pleasant. A comfortable outer layer allows you to avoid wasting any valuable shopping time fiddling with annoying zippers or complicated belt buckles. One giant mistake many thrift-shopping rookies make is choosing to wear shoes with laces. Let me tell ya, those double knots will be the death of you by the end of hour three.

(3) Check for Hidden Treasures:

It is not uncommon for thrift stores to forget to empty the pockets of donated items. Before you try something on, take a quick peek in those hidden pockets. You never know where the last owner kept their spare change!

(4) Your Nose Always Knows:

Yes, it’s true, some clothing items found in second hand stores should not have ended up there in the first place. If a shirt reeks of cat litter and your grandmother’s attic, put it back. There’s a good chance it did belong to a cat-loving grandma, and it very well could have spent nine years in her mothball attic. Please, just leave the shirt where you found it.

(5) Give Yourself Enough Time:

Time is money when you are shopping second-hand. The more time that you give yourself to sort through the endless racks of jackets and the seemingly bottomless boxes of tennis shoes, the better chance you have of finding that perfect treasure at the bottom of the shoe bin. If you give yourself the time to find the best that a store can offer, opening up your wallet at the end of the shopping experience won’t seem as painful. For a medium sized thrift store such as Goodwill, I often block out at least an hour and half to peruse the shelves. A helpful time management trick is to take two trips to the change rooms. That way it won’t seem so overwhelming and embarrassing when you walk over to the store attendant and inform her that you’re 10 items past the 6 item try-on limit. Taking two try-on trips also gives your mind a little break from looking at a sometimes way too colourful sea of second-hand apparel.

(6) Find Deals Using Social Media Tools:

Believe it or not, some thrift stores use Instagram. A few even take down phone numbers and send out promo codes or sale dates! These types of stores usually advertise new items on their social media pages and give people the opportunity to put holds on clothes over the phone. When you find a thrift store that you love, remember to look it up on the world wide web!

(7) Try On the Ugly Clothes:

It's easy to bypass certain styles of clothing just because they may not be the brand or type of clothing you’re used to. Instead, go ahead and take a second look at that vintage tee! Keep in mind that some clothes may appear unattractive on the hanger, but in reality, look very flattering when you see them in the mirror on your very attractive self. So don't be afraid to try on unique styles — you may just end up jump-starting the latest school-wide fashion trend.

(8) Think One Season Ahead:

Shopping in the moment is fine. If it’s boiling hot outside, grab that beachy tank. Show it off the next day at a pool party. Remember though, the following season always sneaks up faster than we expect. We all know that the time between the big comfy sweater days of our frigid Ontario winters are not too far off from the days of early Spring when we slip on our Birkenstocks for the first time. So be prepared for Birk season! Surprisingly, most people choose not to plan a season ahead when thrift shopping, so you will probably notice that the clothes for the approaching season have not been picked through by the usual throngs of anxious customers. More clothing options equals more chances to find the items you adore!

The Donut Monster is a Kind One - A Crummy Weekend Meets a Compassionate Response

by: Joshua Voth


On the evening of Saturday, March 3rd, a mob dressed in black walks down Locke Street. They vandalize vehicles lining the street and businesses too, throwing rocks at storefront windows. A woman driving down Locke street is so fearful she has to stop driving.

This group of cowardly anarchist mobsters, walking incognito and wreaking havoc down Hamilton’s Locke Street and Aberdeen Avenue, calls themselves “The Ungovernables.”

One of the storefronts to receive a rock through its window was Donut Monster, a gourmet donut shop which opened its doors earlier this year. The business experienced setbacks regarding the launch date of its new store, but with hard work and dedication they had finally made it — only to have their business trashed just two months after opening. The owners of the small business, Reuben and Heidi Vanderkwaak, had just returned from a much-deserved vacation, and we can only assume this is not what they expected or wanted to come back to.

Many Hamiltonians are upset and angry at such an act of terror and violence. Small business owners work hard to make their livings, and the cost of damage for this destructive violence has been estimated at around $100,000, a steep price.

Although Saturday night had Locke Street full of fear and panic, Sunday was quite a different story. Many residents of Locke Street as well as those living in the Hamilton region came out to show love and support. Pedestrians walking the streets left notes of love and support on the sheets of plywood put up in the broken windows of Donut Monster.

The damage done Saturday night did not keep the public away, and customers were greeted with a very shocking move made by Donut Monster. Serving a variety of different donuts every single day to its customers, Donut Monster had taken the famous “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” aphorism to heart, creating a beautiful, delicious, and humorous new donut as a response to the angry and violent acts of the night before.

An official tweet from Donut Monster reads, When life gives you lemons, try our 'Make Lemonade' donut! This donut has a lemonade glaze and glass-like shards of lemon candy by @sweetandsimpleco AND all of the proceeds will be donated to @IndwellCA in support of affordable housing initiatives!” Without batting a single eyelash, Donut Monster had turned this evil into good.

When Reuben Vanderkwaak, owner of Donut Monster, was asked about this message of positivity and love, he responded saying, “We wanted to stay positive with our reaction, and I think that helped other people stay positive with their reaction.”

It’s responses like these that show Christ’s love and His gospel of care and compassion. Opportunities to practice this love are always just around the corner, as demonstrated by the owners and staff of Donut Monster in response to the ugly events of vandalism of which they were a target.

From its humble beginnings at The Kitchen Collective, a non-profit shared, commercial kitchen cooperative, Donut Monster quickly began to outgrow its production space and needed a larger place from which to make and sell its wonderful donuts. With plans to upscale, the Donut Monster team took to the world wide web, raising money through a crowd-funding campaign website called Kickstarter. They aimed at raising $25,000 in order to get the funding to acquire their own building. The Kickstarter page read, “We’ve grown too big for our current britches and we want to make our donuts a little easier to find — and it is now time to do just that!”

Donut Monster eventually raised an astounding $32,086 through their Kickstarter campaign, backed by more than seven hundred people. Although some setbacks were encountered as the team renovated their newly acquired space, pushing back the originally intended opening date, the day finally came when they could open their doors and flood Locke Street with the delicious scent of fresh donuts.

With a space of their own, Donut Monster is now open seven days a week and is able to provide donuts to all of their customers. Donut Monster makes it a priority to source local ingredients, use fresh fruits when in season, and have vegan-friendly products available.

Their donuts often sell out mid-afternoon as the place is always packed, full of people enjoying fresh donuts and hot coffee and espresso drinks (brewed from locally roasted Detour coffee beans).Even our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was recently able to stop by to enjoy a sweet treat.

Please consider purchasing a donut (or six!) to show this growing small business some love and support.

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“Imagine the Journey” - Creatively Reflecting Women in the Bible

It is difficult to imagine what it would have been like to live in the biblical era. Yet students Elise Arsenault, Carly Ververs, and Chloe Savich were able to place themselves in the shoes of biblical characters and artistically envision the emotion of their stories. Let the words of these student authors lead you to imagine for yourself the journey that these Bible characters would have trekked.


On my Shoulders

The Story of Eve (Genesis 3:6-24)

By: Elise Arsenault


How could I have known?

The garden was full of wonders; every day I saw something new. Adam was there before I was, walking with God and naming the creatures as they shook the dust from their awakening. When it was my turn to wake up, I met God and my husband. Adam walked with me and taught me the names of the creatures, one by one.

 But I didn’t have a name.

The garden was full of wonders, so when the serpent spoke I wasn’t afraid. And when I answered him, I wasn’t afraid. But the fruit grew heavy in my hand as it left my teeth, and Adam’s too. Its juice ran down our arms, our necks, our chests, our ribs — and as we watched it on our bare skin, we felt something we’d never pointed to or named. We felt afraid, and it crawled onto us and into us.

I felt smothered by something and stripped of another. Our bodies had been as blameless as birds’ wings, as strong as mountains, as fluid as the sea. We were at home in them, and in each other’s. Here and now, I feel no safety in my body or in my husband’s gaze.

Fig leaves are big and smooth, but their stems poke at my skin. I start snapping them, one by one, until I hear God passing by. It isn’t His footsteps I hear — the grass is too long for that. I can hear His singing.

We don’t join in. Instead, we hold our breath and press our coverings against us, running. My feet have never turned this way — away — but that’s where we run, into denser trees as if God won’t follow.

“Where are you?” He says when His song is done. Adam tells Him we’re hiding because we’re naked.

“Who told you?” He asks, His voice breaking in two. “Did you eat what I told you not to?”

God has never been the one asking the questions. I see Adam’s chest start to swell and collapse, his breaths staggering.

 “She gave it to me!” My husband points to me as if he doesn’t know me.

 “The serpent!” I cry in a voice that doesn’t sound like mine. I cover my face with my hands. “The serpent deceived me, so I ate it.” Tears run down my arms, my neck, my chest, my ribs — washing the stains away.

The serpent answers to his name, and the three of us face God. One by one, our Maker names our wrongs and the prices for them; the serpent’s head will be crushed by my seed; my births and desires will cause me anguish; Adam will work by the sweat of his brow; and the earth itself will cry out in thorns.

The serpent leaves, crawling on its belly, and Adam puts his hands on my shoulders. His touch is still warm, and his eyes still search and know me.

“Eve,” he says. “Mother of all the living.”

Now I have a name to wear — and soon I have garments too. God fastens warm skins around Adam and me, then rests His hands on our shoulders.

“You have to leave now,” He says, and I know it’s for our good; everything He’s ever said has turned into Good. We walk ahead of Him, following a new path burnt into the grass and leading through a narrow gate. Once on the other side, we turn around to face God, but instead see a man like the sun. We can’t look him in the face; we’re overcome with a different kind of fear.

When the gates close, cherubim guard it with swords on fire. Adam wraps his arms around me, sobbing in my hair, and I do the same in his chest. Then I pull away and meet his eyes.

“God is guarding the garden,” I tell him. “Not destroying it.”

“He’s not destroying us, either,” Adam says.

We see the light still shining past the top of the gate. We hear Elohim still singing between the trees. He has readied us for a journey, and one day we’ll be back home.

How could I have known?


Words from the Well

The Story of Hagar (Genesis 16:1-16)

By: Carly Ververs


I remember the morning I knew I was pregnant — how my master had smiled with wet eyes, and I had looked upon his wife, my mistress, with contempt in her barrenness. And I remember the whip that made me flee — the sharp, cutting pain across my hands and arms, and my mistress’ dark eyes as she watched me. I remember biting my tongue so I wouldn’t cry out and the metallic taste of blood and that my mistress did not even flinch. And I remember how cold the water was from the well, how thirsty I had been, how raw my throat had felt. And I remember how deep the angel’s voice was, but I can’t remember what he looked like — when I try to think back to that moment, all I see is blinding brightness and white hands reaching out.

 “Hagar, servant of Sarai,” he said to me, “where have you come from and where are you going?”

I remember the fear — closing my eyes tight against the brightness, the knot in my stomach, the strangled breath caught between my lungs and mouth. My hands shook as I covered my stomach — it was just starting to swell then — and my voice shook as I answered him honestly: “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.”

“Return to your mistress and submit to her,” he said, and I shook my head, my lips now trembling along with my hands.

I’ve been disobedient. She’ll kill me — and my child,” I thought to myself, but the angel continued speaking: “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

As he spoke, the knot in my stomach unraveled, and my breath evened out. Ishmael – it means God hears. And sitting at that well, my eyes still closed against the angel’s brightness but skin now warmed because of it, I knew that God both hears and sees — saw the contemptuous way I had looked at my mistress, saw me as I fled in disobedience, saw me as I sat beside that well and wept. Although I had sinned against my mistress, God still heard me and saw me and came for me. To the angel, I said, “You are the God of seeing — the God who sees me. Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”

Then the brightness was gone, and when I opened my eyes, so was the angel. My skin was still warm though, from his brightness.

I thought about continuing on my way to Shur, but after this encounterbecause of this encounter — I knew I couldn’t. I went back to my mistress and submitted to her, as the angel had commanded me. In time, I bore my master a son, and now whenever I look at him, my Ishmael, my wild donkey of a son, I remember all of these things — from the whip, to the water, to the words and warmth of the angel of the Lord. God sees and God hears, and at that well, at Beer-lahai-roi, as I called it — the well of the Living One who sees me — I saw Him who looks after me.



Touching Jesus’ Cloak (Luke 8:40-56)

By: Chloe Savich

 In blood soaked sand I stand

My lip quivers, I’ve been waiting

For something to happen for twelve years

A little too short to pray for death,

And too long to hold onto hope that I handed out

Like denarii to different doctors who promised healing

Different people who gave me treatments but

I still walked away bleeding

They told me I was too much, that I could not be fixed

And now I’ve got nothing left but a shadow that falls down

On the ground as the sun shines mercilessly upon me

And my filthy rags

I hear the Son of David is coming, people whisper and shout

All around me, there is a fluster as what looks like a parade

Makes its way down the road

Is this the Messiah? Will he see me?

I stand there in place, not wanting to move, not wanting to

Be caught vying for his attention, He would never notice me.

The crowd comes and passes, begrudgingly, I follow, a magnetic pull inside of me

Because this Man does not look or sound like anyone I’ve known

He tells stories like riddles, responds with gentleness as

People seek Him out, where did He get His patience?

I stay in the back, wondering if maybe I shouldn’t talk to Him,

Shouldn’t jump right out in front of Him, and ask Him

The way that all the other people do.

I have no voice to cry out with; the ground swallows up

My shouting through tears, twelve years.

Twelve years of being married to loneliness,

Twelve years of sitting in silence,
Twelve years of wondering where my folks went

After I became their public embarrassment.

Twelve years have eaten away my inheritance

Twelve years have consumed me like acid, and

I’d rather be an ash heap now.

No, I will not jump in front of Him.

I will take hold of His cloak, like the desperate, starving woman I am.

I have nothing to offer this Jesus, I can only take from Him

What I believe can be mine, if I get close

Enough to touch Him, to touch Him is to be healed by Him

But I hope He will not notice.

I have heard people crying in the synagogue,

Even from outside, my heart feasted on the wonders and miracles

They are not too good to go unheard by my unclean ears

Swiftly, my legs move faster, my body weak, beads of sweat blossom on my head like flowers

And I can already feel it, I can already feel that my life is about to change.

The crowd around Him dismisses me, but because I am unclean

They are too afraid to touch me, to throw me away.

And in the beauty of being condemned, I make my way to the Man

Whom I believe can save me, even after all the others did not.

I grasp His cloak, gentleness and grace go before me, but inside I am ravenous, I have been waiting twelve years for this moment

Hits me like thunder and lightning coursing through my veins,

I can feel every cell in me align with truth, I don’t know how I know it, but what I hoped for is true, this is the Messiah, and with one touch twelve years have come undone.

The bleeding stops.

When I touch His cloak, I am frozen in place, so aware that the traces of who He is have gotten under my skin, into my veins.

He stops, now, looking around, seeking the one who touched His cloak to whom His powers went out.

How could I prepare for this? Only the desire to be healed had driven me closer to Him,

I did not consider the consequence of my actions.

My mind goes blank when I realize that He, the Prince of Peace, is looking at me.

The crowd has drawn back in silence, there is a circle of people around us but they’re all looking at Him, as if I still cannot be seen. But now, I don’t even care.

Just when my breath hitches in my throat, heart in stomach, hands shaking from the hot electricity of His holiness, my knees fail me

Buckling to the ground, unable to keep the sobs from escaping my dry mouth.

I cry out to Jesus, and maybe even the crowd, heaving as I tell the story of how this Man in the streets stopped my bleeding with one touch

When doctors couldn’t even figure out how, I kneeled there, too ashamed to look at His face, knowing I was a dog among men, waiting for Him to say that I was banished, never to be seen again.

And then, from His lips like a kiss, “Daughter”

Slowly, I look up to see His gaze upon me.

And then, light.

And then, life.

And then, I feel something new inside, something I have waited years for.

It is not the hemorrhage that has brought me to the Messiah’s feet,

Not the ceased bleeding that now causes me to weep,

But the new name with which He addresses me,

For the first time in twelve years I am seen.

And to be seen by Him is to be loved by love itself.

Colour Your WORD - A Peek into the Synesthetic Brain

by: Emma Roorda

Most worship music enthusiasts will recall the title Synesthesia from an instrumental 2015 Bethel album, but I would venture to guess that not many know the beautiful weight that the word “synesthesia” actually carries. Neither did third-year student Johanna Wolfert — that is until she curiously researched its definition and realized that her unique mind has rare synesthetic colour graphing capabilities.

Synesthesia literally means a mixing of the senses. Some might mistakenly call it a sixth sense, but in actuality, it's an added dimension to the abilities of a certain human sense. Colour Synesthesia involves the brain having the power to associate music, letters, numbers, or words with certain shades of colour. Estimates show that around 1 in every 2000 humans share the  synesthetic condition.

“I realized I had Synesthesia when I was reading a book about a character who had it,” Wolfert quotes. “The character kept saying that 3 was yellow, and I thought, ‘3 is NOT yellow, 3 is definitely green!’” This caused Wolfert to dive into further research on the subject, and she soon discovered that she is among the population of brilliant people who possess a synesthetic mind.

Wolfert’s type of Synesthesia, colour-graphing, means that every letter of the alphabet, every numeric digit, some days of the week, and a few months of the year have an involuntary psychological association with a specific colour. She has no trouble explaining that “the letter __ is white, the number 2 is red, 3 is green, and 4 is blue.”

Wolfert went on to explain some everyday implications of her condition: “Sometimes, I’ll be struck by a number and think, wow, that's a really ugly number! I hate the colour five. Or sometimes, I’ll meet someone and say, ‘You have a very red name!’”

Every numeric and alphabetic colour is intrinsically stored in Johanna’s amazing mind. Her self-created synesthetic colour scheme comes so naturally to her that, prior to discovering what it meant to have Synesthesia, she simply assumed that every human being also matched their letters and numbers with colours. Upon realizing the rarity of her psychological tendencies, she created an alphabet showing the hues which she automatically associates with each letter.

Johanna doesn't equate her Synesthesia to her success in academia, yet she admits that her association of colours sometimes causes her to better remember facts and information.

In terms of minor drawbacks to having Synesthesia, Wolfert admits that she often finds it annoying to play card games. In her head, most of the cards in the deck are displayed as the wrong colour. Wolfert comments, “Dutch Blitz is the worst!”

Wolfert’s intricate mind reads with an intense sunset of interlocking colours. Although her painted world is invisible to those around her, each colour carries meaning, codes, and symbols that shape the way she views life around her. Johanna’s Synesthesia holds vibrant intellectual and emotional beauty. It is a sea of shades that is too strangely colourful for the majority of mortal humanity to even comprehend. Maybe Bethel Music was onto something.

Did you know the following celebrities also have/had various forms of Synesthesia? Lorde (musician, vocalist), Billy Joel (musician, vocalist), Marilyn Monroe (actress), Kanye West (musician, vocalist), Pharrell (musician, vocalist, dancer) Mary J Blige (musician, vocalist), Dev Hynes (musician, vocalist), Jimi Hendrix (musician, vocalist), Stevie Wonder (musician), Vincent Van Gogh (post-impressionist painter), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (classical composer), Eddie Van Halen (musician), Tori Amos (musician), Geoffrey Rush (actor), Arthur Rimbaud (poet), and Franz Liszt (compose, pianist).


My Jordanian Journey - A Semester Spent in the Middle East

by: Jessica Banninga

Greetings Redeemerites! I’ve had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Jordan for the semester on the Middle East Studies Program through Best Semester. Being immersed in a different culture, language, and religion has been a fantastic experience. We have been taking courses on conflict and change in Israel/Palestine, Islamic thought and practice, and people and cultures, as well as learning Arabic (shoutout to Khaled!). We’ve visited the old Roman citadel and amphitheatre in Amman, as well as the old Roman city in Jerash. We visited Madaba and saw many ancient mosaics, explored Mt. Nebo ( the place from which Moses saw the Holy Land), and dipped our toes in the Jordan River at the baptism site of Jesus. This past Saturday we visited Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world (featured in Indiana Jones)!

On February 14, we left for our two week trip to Israel/Palestine. We listened to no less than thirty speakers and visited historical sites such as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Garden Tomb, The Mount of Olives, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Old City of Jerusalem, The Wailing Wall, The Dome of the Rock, The Church of the Nativity, and The Mount of Beatitudes in Galilee. We were also able to stay with both Jewish and Palestinian families. The trip was an amazing opportunity to see so many biblical sites, as well as hear a wide variety of perspectives on the area’s ongoing conflict.

I came away from this experience with a heavy heart for the people of the land, and a deep sadness at seeing the conflict being played out daily in the lives of everyone we met. I want to urge everyone back home to learn more about the history of the Israel/Palestine situation and to try and understand the multiple narratives of the issue while not picking sides. Both communities have suffered terrible mistreatment and, as a result, have deep pain and trauma. It is our job as Christians to promote peace and justice, working towards healing and reconciliation in this troubled land.


Another aspect of this semester that has deeply impacted me is our experience of Arab culture. Arab hospitality is like no other. As soon as you visit someone, they will serve you tea and treat and greet you like family. Just the other day, our group was invited to our travel agent’s family home, where we were treated to Mansef, a traditional Jordanian dish which consists of rice, lamb, yogurt sauce, and nuts. The twist is, you can only eat it with your hands, sitting on the floor. Needless to say, things got a little messy! After dinner, we were invited out to the patio for a campfire, tea, coffee, and traditional Arab music, consisting of a pipe-like instrument that looked somewhat like a clarinet. At the end of the night, they declared that we were adopted into their tribe! In the Middle East, tribes and family are everything. Being a part of a tribe offers protection and connections, as well as honour and value.

Diving deep into the religion of Islam has been fascinating. There were so many misunderstandings and misconceptions that I had before coming here that have been completely shattered. We have listened to so many great speakers that have given me a deeper understanding of Islam, as well as raising more questions! Reading the Quran with biblical references has been so interesting to see similarities between our two faiths. I would encourage you all to seek out opportunities to meet and talk with Muslims — I bet you will come away with a new understanding of who they are and what they believe.

In less than a week, we will once again be travelling, this time to Morocco and Egypt, Inshallah (God willing)! On this trip, we will learn about and compare Arab culture in North Africa to that of the Levant — traditionally the geographical area of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. I’m looking forward to seeing the pyramids in Egypt and practicing some French in Morocco! In closing, all I can say is that if you’re thinking about studying abroad, DO IT. It is a life changing experience you should refuse to deny!


Do you have a love story — about books?

by: Tricia Kok, Assistant Librarian

Librarians have stories to tell about how they developed their love for books. We also regularly hear love stories from library users. Whether their love began in a library, school, or at home — and whether they began reading for escape, comfort, delight, or from pure boredom — the stories are fun to hear.
In literature, one of my favourite quotes comes from Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”
During our lives, we all encounter authors and books that we not only enjoy, but that have formative influences on our lives by what they have said, suggested, or helped us imagine. For example, Philip Yancey writes in the Washington Post, “Books help define who I am. They have ushered me on a journey of faith, have introduced me to the wonders of science and the natural world, have informed me about issues such as justice and race. More importantly, they have been a source of delight and adventure and beauty, opening windows to a reality I would not otherwise know."
During my high school years, this defining book was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. My family made a life-changing move from Japan to New Jersey during this time. As an introvert and third-culture kid trying to figure out western high school culture, I frequently felt like I had landed on another planet. During this time, Mere Christianity was required reading for my catechism class, and one paragraph in particular stood out for me: “The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back...letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” C.S. Lewis’ words helped me during a difficult time, and have stayed with me all my life.
In an age when the dangerously strong pull of the internet may keep us from picking up a book, we want to remind everyone about the importance of reading. The Peter Turkstra Library has created a display, and we are eager to hear your stories. What books (besides the Bible) have been formative in your life? Whether it's Green Eggs and Ham, A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, or Augustine’s Confessions, we would love to hear from you. Please take a few minutes, stop by the library, and fill out a slip of paper with your favourite book titles. Adding a few sentences about how the book impacted your life would be even better!


Revamping the HA Position: Are Second Year Students Going to Go Rogue?

Kristen Borgdorff | Reporter

Imagine having to be responsible to encourage and facilitate a community within your residence as well as having to hold your friends accountable for their actions. This is the curent reality of being a Housing Advisor (HA).

The current HA position is a challenge of balancing friendships, leadership, and community living, while trying to maintain classes and extra-curricular activities. Many HAs struggle to find a balance, and for this reason, we can expect to see change next year.

Student Life has recently announced that they are modifying the HA position with the hopes to better accommodate second-year housing. Hennie Schoon, Dean of Students, was adamant on ensuring that the current second-year housing advisors are doing a great job, and that this change is not on a comment on their job performance.

Student Life wants the upcoming changes to create an environment that continues to support community living and learning with the integration of faith. For the new HA position, Student Life has decided to have third- or fourth-year students serve in this capacity, being mentors and facilitators of devotional and community life for second-year residences. 

This means that there will not be any Student Life staff members living with second-year students; rather, the vision is that two HAs will be living with two Residence Life Facilitators (RLFs) in each of the corner dorms (located at the end of the townhouse rows). HAs will be available for second-year students to seek out, and they will also be integrated in their lives, largely through activities such as facilitating weekly devotions.

Second year can be a time when students are working through a lot of big questions. What do they want their major to be? Who do they want to be friends with? How do they feel about God, and what does their relationship with Him look like? Over the years, Student Life has noticed that many second-year students seek out their Residence Advisor (RA) from first year for advice, and for this reason Student Life is hoping that the new HA position will continue that mentorship relationship and encourage the deepening of that discipleship. Where possible, previous RAs who are taking on the HA role will be assigned to dorms with which relationships have already been established.

This change in Residence Life recognizes that second-year students do not need to have an RA living with them to assist them in transitioning from high school to university; rather, this role allows the HA to be in a close proximity to offer support, while simultaneously recognizing the independence of second-year students. The motivation behind this new role is to offer greater and more fitting support to second years.

While Student Life is optimistic about the planned modifications to the current system, there seem to be several major concerns with this new position that have been brought up and that the Student Life staff are aware of.

The first is that, without having someone who lives in the dorm that is responsible for holding the other dorm members accountable, there is an impending question regarding how policies will continue to be enforced.

Schoon stated, “The goal of this idea is to encourage continued internalization of motivations, rather than relying as heavily on external enforcement.

“That’s part of the progression of residence life too. You can see this in first year — there is more accountability, there’s more direct relationship. In the second year — it is intended to increase independence, self-accountability, and peer-accountability. And then in third and fourth year, if you are on campus, there is no Residence Life staff with you anymore; there’s one or two in the building. The hope is that students, as they mature, will increase their ability to self-govern their decisions.”

All that said, Student Life is hoping to operate from a standpoint of trust. Their hope is that students will recognize the community that they have agreed to be a part of, and that abiding by policy is part of that recognition.

A second concern regards the new setup for dorm devotions. Student Life recognizes that this is an important part of community life at Redeemer. The HA will be responsible for investing into the spiritual lives of the second-year students. There will still be facilitated devotions together in the residence, and the expectation is that the dorm members would get together with the HA. The HA would do more facilitating at the beginning of the year, and then as the year progressed, the goal is that the second years would be taking initiative to lead devotions themselves.

A third concern that Student Life has recognized is a potential for a high risk of burnout among HAs. For this reason, Student Life is being intentional in ensuring that they will be attentive and aware to the needs of the people that take on this new role.

HAs will not be carrying everyone’s personal struggles on their own shoulders. Rather, when someone comes to an HA with their challenges, the HA is likely to work through things with them to a point, then encouraging the second year to seek out further support from the Residence Director (RD).

One of the hopes of this new position is that it will bridge the gap between RDs and second-year students. The RDs are a wonderful group of people that are fully equipped to assist students in many areas of life; in the past they have worked more directly with the Residence Life staff. The hope is that they will now work with students more directly as well.

The final concern that Student Life is battling is how to ensure that second years still have an opportunity for leadership within Student Life. The current HA position was a position that was a stepping stone into working with the Residence Life staff. Many students would start as a HA in second year, then become a RA, and then some would go on to be a RLF. Now that the HA position is only open to third- and fourth-year students, the second years are at a lack of opportunity for leadership roles in this area of our community. Student Life is discussing the possibility of allowing second-year students to RA, as well as looking at other ways to get second years involved.

A final clarification that is important to note is that the HA role is not being changed because of financial reasons. HAs will be making significantly more money next year than they are making this year; this is because they will be responsible for more students. The RA role will still be paid more than the HA role.

Ever since Schoon has been working at Redeemer, she has been eager to see a change in the HA position. She quickly recognized the difficulties and the challenges that come with peer-leadership. The process of changing this position has been in the works for quite some time now, and much thought has been put into it. Student Life staff are excited to encourage independence while continuing to offer support to second-year students with the new HA role that will be implemented next fall.

Students are always welcome to contact anyone from Student Life if they have any questions or just want to talk.

Students Host Fundraiser for Restavek Freedom Haiti

Emma Roorda | Reporter

The recent fundraising event held by Redeemer’s Global Workplace Justice Club was more than just your average bake sale. While there was a plethora of delectable baked goods to be bought, sugary treats were not the only thing drawing eager students to the Commons on the evening of January 27.


The fundraiser was a social night, including community board games, live music presented by local Redeemer students, rich coffee to warm you up if you were feeling cold, and some citrusy virgin punch if you were feeling a bit hot.


Why all of these jamming activities in one place, you ask? The entire event was a way to advocate and raise money for an organization called Restavek Freedom. This grassroots organization is located in the country of Haiti and works toward abolishing child slavery in the region.


In the Haitian national language of Creole, the word “restavek” refers to a child who has been forced to live as a enslaved domestic servant to a foreign family. Its seemingly comforting English translation “to stay with” actually has very ugly connotations attached. The Restavek Freedom website describes the word as a child who is “staying with another person or extended family member [and] is treated as property and exploited for labor.” The organization aims to release the Haitian children who have been brutally victimized and labeled as “restavek,” bringing them renewed hope and a brighter future.


Colene Jansen, the Global Workplace Justice Club President, explains that part of the goal of Restavek Freedom is to “help Haitian families realize that having domestic slaves is very a detrimental practise.” It is about changing the status quo and transforming the victimizing cultural stigmas that go along with child slavery in the country.


The evening was a happy success, raising over $300. These donations will be sent directly to the Restavek organization in Haiti. Every dollar counts, so on behalf of Redeemer’s Global Justice Workplace Club, I would like to thank all the students who came out, played a round of pictionary, and enjoyed a baked good or two while humming along to Hannah Brinkman’s creative cover of “Put Your Records On.” Fourth-year student William Beaupre sums up the evening, affirming that the night was full of “good games, good food, and good friends — and all for a good cause.”  

A Gift of Compassion

Emma Roorda, Reporter

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Romans 12:6).

For the past month and a half, I have been living in Jinja, Uganda, working with a medical organization called One4Another International. I had the opportunity to intern with O4A for about six months back in 2015, and I am so grateful that God has led me back to Jinja a second time. One4Another International is a pediatric organization which assists children who are in need of life-changing surgeries. While working in Uganda, my role consists of completing much of the media work involved with the organization, creating medical forms, designing posters, meeting with O4A partners, and most importantly building relationships with the children and their caretakers.

The following story is just one of many ways in which God has been beautifully shaping and equipping me for His Kingdom during the time I have spent serving here in Southern Uganda.

It only took a second — one second for a small spark to cause a kerosene lamp to catch flame. It only took a second for the cotton dress of five-year-old Gift to burst into flame. And it only took a second to cause third degree burns all across little Gift’s neck, chest, arms, and back.

Five months later, after an extensive surgery to remobilize her right arm and countless hours of treatment to help her aching scars, Gift now shows signs of restored life.

Gift and her family members regularly travel a significant distance via both taxi-van and motorcycle taxi to the St. James Orthopaedic Clinic to receive treatment. The first day that I met little Gift, she arrived with her mother, who had her infant son tied tightly to her back. Gift held an obvious dread in her eyes, knowing that she was about to have her wounds dressed once again — a process that often involves the painful application of antibiotics to the wounds. Gift’s petite body remained stiff from both fear and the bandages that seemed to swallow her upper body.

As a nurse began removing the old gauze, the child wailed in discomfort, clearly traumatized by her past experiences and the current stinging pain of the burns. Her mother, who had now begun to move closer to the bed where Gift lay, left her son (who I had now been informed was called Elia) sitting helplessly on the bed beside. As the mother approached Gift, I slowly moved closer to the baby, partially so that I could make space for Gift to feel comforted by her mom and partially because the one-year old was moving dangerously close to the end of the tall medical bed.

As I walked over to Elia, I suddenly noticed that his lips were quivering and his body was shaking. The baby was staring with a deer in headlights expression at his sister’s vigorously bleeding wounds. Tears welled up in his innocent, dark eyes. Despite the unpleasantly soggy cloth wrapped loosely around his groin, I picked him up and turned his little round head the opposite direction of his older sister.

My coworker also noticed the baby’s sadness and slowly leaned over to me. He whispered, “The brother sees Gift crying and feels sorry for her. It’s like they have a connection.”

I responded, “Yes, that’s true; he doesn't even understand what’s happening, yet he sees that his sister in pain, so he’s crying for her.’'

It was only as the little guy sorrowfully set his head upon my shoulder that it dawned on me: this baby — this one-and-a-half-year-old infant —had just taught me an important life lesson.

Sometimes, I really cannot understand why God has led me to Uganda. More broadly, I often feel lost and unsure about the plans He has for my life or even why certain life complications seem to stand in the way of living out my calling as a child of Christ. Yet I bear a strong sense of compassion for the injustices in the world. Agony and abuse that has come from the brokenness that is so present in this sinful world has always been a heavy weight on my heart. I don't know why there is so much pain in the world or why I feel so called to act upon these injustices, but what I do know is that I want to weep and lament alongside those in pain, much as this young child compassionately cried for his sister. Not only do I feel a strong desire to lament, I believe that I should lament. We all should.

I looked down again at baby Elia’s loving face as he remained in that somber, tearful state — lips quivering, eyebrows furrowed. His sadness only subsided when his older sister was finished with her bandage changes.

After the procedure was finished, Gift’s mother smiled and thanked us. I sent both Gift and Elia home with lots of hugs and ‘sweeties.’

As I look back on this situation, I’ve realized that I owe Gift’s family a much greater “thank you” than the one they gave to me. Gift’s bravery and her brother’s tender soul touched my heart. This experience has reminded me that even though God’s calling for me may seem difficult or confusing at times, this complicated life journey that I am trekking is a gift from God. I may not always totally understand all of the details, but it is important that I continue to mourn alongside those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.

The Lion in the Marble

By Natalie Lantz

New year, new me? I see that everywhere I go, gym memberships go up, and everybody is talking about the new diet they are on. What actually changes when that clock strikes twelve and everybody toasts to the new year? Does the slate get wiped clean, finally giving you the chance to work off those twenty pounds you gained in February of last year after ditching your gym membership?

As one of my first year core courses, I am required to take CTS-110, Being and Knowing in a Digital Age. This course may not pertain directly to my English degree, but rather to my life, my relationship with Christ. It reminds me why I am at Redeemer, why I chose this school over all the others.

We started out the class by looking at some work by Henri Nouwen. The piece we looked at starts out by talking about a sculptor who was carving a piece of marble while a young child stood nearby. As the sculptor carved more from the piece of marble, a lion was revealed. The young child asked with excitement in his voice how the sculptor knew that there was a lion in the marble. I can imagine the sculptor leaning down, setting down his tools, and looking straight into the little boy’s eyes. He answers with this: “The secret is that it was the lion in my heart that recognized the lion in the marble.”

Nouwen writes, “Spiritual formation is the careful attentiveness to the work of God, our master sculptor, as we submit to the gradual chipping away of all that is not of God, until the inner lion is revealed.” Truth bomb.

This reminds me of a video done by The Skit Guys called “The Chisel.” I don’t know if you have seen this video, but to me it represents what Nouwen is saying. Basically, God is chipping away at the bad parts in the main character, who keeps complaining that it hurts. God responds by saying that it hurts Him too, but it must be done in order for the man to reflect His Father. God is chipping away at the marble surrounding our hearts so that the lion may be revealed.

I know that before I really began to dig deep with God, I thought that a life with God meant everything was going to be pain free. It’s been the opposite in the most beautiful way possible as He has called me, stretched me, showed Himself to me, and loved me through every single trial.

Every time I go through a trial, He is walking beside me, gently reminding me that He is chipping away at the bad to reveal more of Himself. Because of that, I welcome the trials. If it means knowing more of His heart, I welcome the pain. He does this “so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). He is using a refining fire on us, for we are the gold.

Beauty out of the broken. Out of the dirt. Out of the pain. Because that’s who God is. He is Grace. He is Love. He is Power. He is Life. He is Joy.

May we leave the comfortable and walk out in faith. When He calls, may we listen. May this year be one of change, seeking the Father out, looking past ourselves and into His eyes. I don’t know what He is calling you to, but in the words of Nouwen, “God is doing something right now.” So let Him.

Redeemer’s Most Expensive Promo-Video To Date: Did We Get it Right?

Kristen Borgdorff, Reporter

“I understand where they were trying to go, but I think they missed the point. It doesn’t really advertise Redeemer as a whole. It’s missing the community” — a fourth year student.

“We can’t make every single ad about our community because we’re more than just that — and this ad does an awesome job of portraying that. We need to encompass every aspect of Redeemer’s education, and sometimes we need to focus on the beauty of our education rather than just our community” — a second year student.

“I think it’s disappointing that Redeemer is advertising something that misrepresents their programs” — a third year student.

These are just a few opinions on the promotional video for Redeemer’s Health Sciences department that was recently released by Redeemer’s marketing team. The video, titled “Redeemer Health Sciences,” can be found on Redeemer’s YouTube page.

After watching the video, I was left with some questions, one of the biggest being what other students would think of the video. With this question in mind, I set out to listen to what students had to say.

Some students had minimal opinions, while others had strong opinions. Some people even had opinions on other people’s opinions. Some questioned why Redeemer would hire professional actresses, while others questioned how we could afford to hire professionals. I took all of these questions and contacted Josh Sieders, Redeemer’s Marketing Director, to see what he had to say.

While it’s easy to jump to conclusions and form quick judgements, two big questions that students should address before drawing opinions on this video are these: What is the intent of this video? and Who is it made for?

These were the two overarching questions I brought to Sieders. I found that once I had a better understanding of these questions, I was able to have a positive view of the video and how it is achieving its intended purpose.

Sieders answered my first question by saying, “The overarching goal is to raise Redeemer’s profile, to make us look exciting, credible, and to show that we are a valuable place to have an education.” He continued on to explain a key aspect of Redeemer’s vision in its self-promotion: “We are always trying to showcase the best about Redeemer at a high-quality professional level so that people associate that high-quality with Redeemer.”

Sieders also mentioned that the primary target audience is 15 to 17 year olds, with the assumption being that they are a group of people that have minimal familiarity with and knowledge of Redeemer.

An initial reaction among a number of our students when they watched the promotional video was to question who the main actress is. With Redeemer being a small community, we are quick to notice when someone outside of our community is used in our marketing.

First, why did we hire a professional actress when we could have used someone from our own drama department? Sieders addressed this concern, expressing how the marketing department is always sensitive to Redeemer’s small community. Sieders explained how a casting call was sent out to the public, as well as to Redeemer students. The company that created the video, Media that Matters, held the responsibility and right to make the decisions on who was hired, whether the actresses came from within Redeemer’s student body or outside of it.

The promotional video depicts the life story of a Redeemer Health Sciences student, meaning that several different actresses were required to play the same person at various ages. Sieders explains, “This actress auditioned, and she matched well with a really strong 15 year old and a really strong 11 year old, and we didn’t have that alignment in any other area.”

Another reaction that some students had was the question of money: how can we afford this? Sieders explained how Redeemer has a certain amount of money set aside to be used for the intention of marketing the institution and how his job is to decide how and where that money is spent.

He posed the following question: if we didn’t market this, how else would people hear about Redeemer? Sieders notes, “In many cases, certain church communities know about Redeemer, and they have sent their kids to Redeemer. They just know about the school with minimal marketing.” However, this is not always the case. Sieders went on to explain that “over recent years, the market has shifted and the competition has grown, so we need to tell our story well so that students are aware of Redeemer being a good and viable option.”

Many people were curious as to why Redeemer chose to focus on the Health Sciences department rather than focus on all of our programs or another aspect of Redeemer. Sieders informed me that this was a decision made by the institution. “We wondered and we did research on whether promoting a handful of programs or one a little more heavily than others would have a double effect. It would help that program, obviously, but it would also float all other programs as a result.

“Theoretically, the way that would work is that if you choose a program that a lot of students in Ontario are interested in…suddenly Redeemer will be on their radar, more so than if we had chosen a program that was a lot less popular.” Health Sciences fit the bill of a popular program among prospective university students across the province.

“We also know that students frequently change their minds in what they are interested in, whether before they get to university, during the application, or after they’ve arrived. The thinking is that a lot of students don’t really know what they want…so you show them that Redeemer is a good option for that.”

At the beginning of this article, I cited a student saying that they felt as though the promotional video is a misrepresentation of our programs. Sieders clarified that the marketing department put in their best efforts to avoid this misrepresentation. They tried to prevent this by showing a graduation scene, and then showing the main actress at a training session in the hospital. While some of the scenes depicted in the video may not be direct “Redeemer experiences,” they are possible illustrations of what could be done after completing a Health Sciences degree. Every doctor has to get their undergrad somewhere, and this video allows students to see that starting their post-secondary education at Redeemer is a viable option when planning to go on to become a doctor.

Finally, Sieders explained the reason as to why this video focuses mainly on academics rather than the community that Redeemer has to offer: “In years past, a lot of emphasis for our marketing has been on community. That is certainly a huge selling feature, but in the process of marketing that, we’ve sort of dropped in many people’s minds in our credibility as an academic institution in terms of quality of degree.”

While at first I may have shared some of the skeptical thoughts that many students seem to hold, after speaking with Sieders, I found that my view on the promotional video was much more positive, and I am pleased to say that I am proud to be a student at Redeemer University. It is my hope that this article may offer insight into the reasoning behind the decisions made regarding this video and that you too can feel this sense of pride.

The promotional video will be viewed at eight select theatres in the following areas: Ancaster, Hamilton, Burlington, Cambridge, Guelph, Toronto, Kitchener, London, and Welland. The airing time runs from January 26 to February 6 and October 19 to November 1. During this time, it is expected that there will be 4000-5000 views per theatre.

Finally, Sieders was eager to encourage students to reach out to him or the Marketing Department if they have any other questions regarding this promotional video, or any other marketing related question, as they are always happy to answer.

Ottawa Ain't Exotic

By: Michael Friesen

Today you may have picked up the Crown wondering questions such as What Redeemer student in a foreign land can I read about today? or What strange adventures is a fellow student having overseas? Well wonder no more mysterious Crown reader, and buckle your seat-belts while I take you on a wild ride to show you the exotic world of… Ottawa! Okay, yeah, not so foreign or exotic, but as a person who grew up overseas I can explain to you why a semester in Ottawa can be one of the most exciting and influential experiences of not only your university career, but potentially the rest of your life.

            For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Michael Friesen, and I’m a fourth year International Development major. This semester I am attending the Laurentian Leadership Centre located in downtown Ottawa. If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you read one of the posters about it once, thought to yourself “Oh, that’s cool,” and then walked away and forgot all about it. The LLC is an internship program run through Trinity Western University that allows students a unique opportunity to live in the capital, take on an internship that teaches real world working skills, and take three classes during the semester to ensure that everyone has enough credits to count for a full semester (the internship counts as two full classes). This semester there are 15 students attending, 13 from Trinity Western, and two of us from Redeemer (myself and Ben Macadam, that ginger beaut). While that may sound a bit crowded, the three- storey J.R. Booth mansion that the LLC calls home (and Canada calls a national historic site) is more than accommodating for us all.

            So that’s all sunshine and roses, but what does this internship actually look like? Well, since I’m an InDev student, I’ve been interning at the Ottawa office of World Vision Canada. It’s an office of about 15 people (as opposed to the Mississauga office of about 350) who mainly focus on government relations. I’ve spent the majority of the semester working on the topic of child labour alongside my supervisor with help from others in the office.

            For any PoliSci geeks out there, what I have been doing will be really interesting. For those who don’t care for politics, try to pick up a few big words from this short explanation of what we’re doing so you can casually say them in front of your friends to sound smart. Under the federal government’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, there is a Subcommittee on International Human Rights that is conducting an official committee study on child labour and modern slavery. World Vision is working to lobby with MPs on the subcommittee to push through a recommendation that would lead to legislation very similar to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act of 2015.                     Specifically within that act, World Vision is seeking to help enact legislation that would force large organizations operating in Canada with supply chains overseas to produce annual public reports of their impact on child labour, an impact which they may or may not currently be aware of. Through meetings with MPs and its expertise on the subject, World Vision has been asked to witness in front of this committee. In simpler terms, we want to make big companies do a report on their supply chains to fess up if they’re using child labour.

            In working in this area I’ve done so much this semester that I never thought I would have. I worked with a graphic designer to create a short briefing document; I had a hand in working on a written submission for a parliamentary committee; I’ve sat in on meetings with MPs; I helped brief the CEO before his testimony. This is all real world stuff, and what I have the chance to do is an opportunity that almost no other student will have.

            What does my average day look like? Well, typically my alarm goes off at 7:45, I roll out of bed at 8:29, and then start class at 8:30. Class will go to 11:30 with a break in the middle — not unlike most Redeemer night classes. I’ll try and grab breakfast or coffee during the break, sometimes from a nearby coffee shop (there are so many great ones in Ottawa — I wouldn’t know, but it’s what the coffee snobs tell me). I grab lunch and get ready for my internship, planning to get there by 1 o’clock. Fortunately, my office is on the way to Parliament so I can walk with a few others who work on the Hill (World Vision’s building is about 2 streets down, we’re kind of on the Slope). At work I’ll either check in or meet with my supervisor and then work on whatever I have to do, usually something from a list of 6-7 projects I have on the go. I leave work at 5 o’clock, make it home around 5:10, and eat dinner with my “food group,” a group of four of us that cook for each other and eat together. Evenings are free to hang out in the house, do homework, go for a bike ride, go to a reception — generally do any of the things that can only really be done when you live downtown. Ottawa sometimes gets a bad rap, but there are so many amazing things to do — sometimes you just need to look a bit harder.

            If you read this whole thing and have one takeaway I hope it is this: the LLC isn’t a co-op program where you become a free labourer in a frozen city. The house you live in is literally a mansion, and the work you do not only teaches you so much more than a classroom ever will but it will also GET YOU A JOB!!! The things I’m learning in my internship are highly sought after life skills and references on a resume, and that’s something that should never be taken for granted. Who knows, the connections you make here may not land you a job right away, but maybe 20-30 years down the road they will.

            Lastly, this isn’t just a political program. Sure, you’re in Ottawa and plugged into Canadian politics — but not everyone has to work in parliament. I’m working with an NGO, and we also have people working in a lawyer’s office, a think tank, and a (whatever Maria does, I don’t remember).

            If you feel like this program might be right for you — APPLY! DO IT NOW!!! If you aren’t sure how you feel about it, reach out and talk to someone about it. Ask Dr. Joustra about it, he loves the program! Hey, if you want, feel free to email me about it ( I’d be more than happy to chat. Seriously, this is both the most valuable and all around fun semester of university you could ask for, and I can’t recommend it enough. Sure it’s not foreign and exotic, but hey, a semester here will make you glad you didn’t go anywhere else.


By: Jonathan Fischer

“When modern people read the Bible, we think it’s primitive, violent, and backwards. Its first readers found it progressive, dangerous, and revolutionary. What happened?”


            This is the question Kevin Makins seeks to answer. About 2 years ago, the founding pastor of Eucharist Church in downtown Hamilton went on a bike trip through Ontario to stop at bars at night and speak about the Bible. His sermon/show, Holy Shift, is powerful, entertaining, and intellectually stimulating. Luckily, it has been recorded and is finally available online — for free! You can find it at To gain some insight on the creation of this show and the thoughts behind it, the Crown took some time this month to interview Kevin on his work.


When did you have this idea to bike all around Ontario, stop at bars every night, and speak about the Bible for over 60 minutes?


I think a lot of people reserve talking about the Bible for a certain time and place — usually Sunday morning around 11am. But that also tends to limit the conversation. People smile and act polite and ignore lots of really strange things in the Bible, including the parts that make us uncomfortable. But if you go to a bar, sit down in a chill environment, and drink a pint; it’s amazing how quickly people will start to open up with their real thoughts and questions.


Were you ever worried no one would show up?


Oh, absolutely terrified. And worried that if people did show up, they would be disappointed or confused by the content, because the show has some weird stuff in it. But fear is a crucial part of the creative process. Stephen Pressfield says, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” So the fact that I was terrified was really a good sign.


What was your motivation behind Holy Shift? What compelled you to write it?

As a pastor in a secular city I talk to people all the time who feel like Jesus is compelling but the Bible is… well, you can insert your word: primitive, sexist, homophobic, violent. To them, one of the largest barriers to Jesus is actually the Bible itself! That got me thinking more about it. However, when other Christians started coming up to me with the same concerns, I knew this mattered.


I knew I could give people books that would help answer their questions, but ordering and reading books is a high barrier to entry. I thought: What if we made a funny, engaging 60 minute video that gave some answers? Would that be an accessible option?


Tell us more about this show.

Holy Shift lives somewhere between a a sermon, a TED talk, and a comedy special. It was filmed live in front of over 150 people and walks through the parts of the Bible we find most confusing (the Bible is full of penis laws) and disturbing (women are treated as spoils of war). The show then explores what the Bible is doing to its original audience and what that means for society, human progress, and for you as an individual. It’s designed to make you think, make you laugh, and make you cry; and I’m not sure in what order.


Do you think a lot of 21st Century evangelicalism is getting the Bible wrong?

Absolutely. But this show isn’t trying to argue that this is “the only” or “the best” way to read the Bible. I’m adding to the conversation and trying to open up new and possibly more faithful ways to understand the text. All of what I am saying has been said by smarter scholars and theologians — I’m just making it accessible, free, and with more inappropriate jokes.

So the Bible is still relevant today?


More than ever before! We live in this fast moving culture, where the only things worth engaging have been around for, what, six months? A few weeks? Everything is hyper fast, immediately satisfying, and highly disposable. In that sort of busy world we desperately need an anchor to a story that is older, wiser, and bigger than us. We should also learn how to read it well!


Who did you make Holy Shift for?

Holy Shift is for anyone who has ever read the Bible and asked “Why is this here?” or “Why would God do that?” It’s for anyone who has friends or family that ask hard questions about the Bible. Finally, it’s for anyone who is interested in having good conversation — the show isn’t meant to be watched alone! So grab some friends, whip up a bowl of popcorn, watch the show together, and talk about it afterwards.

Walk for Freedom

Slavery Still Exists

An Account of the Event- Sadie Stevens

It’s 2017 and slavery is still a very real issue in our world. Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, most commonly found in situations of sexual labor or forced labor. But a person can become victim of human trafficking in a variety of contexts; anything that includes their loss of freedom through trade.

People say that we as human beings have a right to be free from any form of slavery, abuse, violence, and fear. People say that those rights are our fundamental freedom as humans and we should be respected equally no matter how rich or how poor.  People also stated that children need to be protected because they are vulnerable; children are not supposed to work in a horrible environment or, even worse, become sex slaves for adults.

More than 27 million people and more than 12 million children are trapped in slavery at the moment you are reading this. Walk for Freedom gives us a chance to raise awareness and to be a voice to the voiceless. With each walk, we are one step closer to ending human trafficking in our lifetime.

Human trafficking happens in nearly every country in the world. We are now living in a world where human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise. These poor individuals are forced into abusive situations every single day without pay and under threat of violence — and they’re unable to walk away. There’s no access for them to run once they are trapped in these deceitful circumstances. Individuals are forced to do things that they never imagined before.

The average age of a young woman first being trafficked is between 12 and 15 years old. Can you imagine a 12-year-old girl having to face the harsh reality that she must serve people that she doesn’t even know, being forced to do things against her will every day? Girls this age should experience each day joyfully, having fun with their friends, receiving a good education, and experiencing the life of a normal teenager. But sadly, the victims of human trafficking don’t have this — they are lucky enough if they don’t get killed. Human trafficking caused bruises to its victims that never will fade away.

Many slaves have been tricked by traffickers who lure vulnerable people to false promises of good jobs or education. These traffickers usually fascinate the victims with high hopes that they will have a much better life — a new life that’s brighter than their life back home. This needs to be stopped.

On October 14th, I participated in the A21 Walk For Freedom in Toronto with a group of students and faculty from Redeemer. This walk was one of the most profound statements I’ve ever made in my life. We walked in complete silence with the bandana of a victim covering our mouths, dressed similarly and walking in sync, straight faced and ready for battle.

A Faculty Member’s Response to the Event: Dr. Epp

Ivan. This was the name on the bandana which covered my mouth. I stood in the midst of a throng of students, faculty, concerned citizens, and leaders of A21, gathered to let the world know about human trafficking. We heard the words of a woman who herself had been trafficked, and we were exposed to the scars which she still carries. She introduced us to the sudden violence of traffickers, who prey upon the unsuspecting.

            In spite of celebrating 150 years as a nation, Canadians are implicit in the trade of human beings. People are kidnapped and taken to hotels in our cities and then made to serve clientele in the Canadian industry of ‘adult’ entertainment. As we walked in silence, I found evidence of several of these establishments: the strip club, the upstairs massage lounge, the ‘adultorama’ store.

            I was reminded of the things I take for granted: freedom to move, to speak, to have some control over my life. Not everyone in the world is so fortunate. A21 reports the following on its website: “Millions of slaves. A $150 billion industry. 1% ever rescued.”

            As a Sociology prof, I have spoken about human trafficking on many occasions, but on the day of the walk I was actually representing an individual, a victim of human trafficking who had been rescued. A21 is living testimony to the hope that we have for the world through our Lord, who taught us to love and care for each other, perhaps especially for those people who suffer from the violence of our world. We can work to change this world.

If we believe.

If we act.


P.S. I am so impressed by the Students of Applied Social Sciences, the student organization that organized our trip to Toronto. Go SOAPS!


A Student’s Response to the Event- Kendra Slagter

Throughout my Redeemer experience, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly passionate about the issue of human trafficking. It blows my mind knowing that slavery continues to exist in the form of human trafficking and that it is happening in my own city.

The A21 Walk for Freedom was an active way to stand against human trafficking and to be a part of a global movement that refuses to remain immobilized and hopeless in the face of this growing issue. On October 14th, we walked single file through the cold, rainy streets of Toronto. We were dressed in black and wore yellow bandanas labeled with the name of a human trafficking survivor around our mouths.

We were totally silent, all 150 of us. Though we were silent, we were noticeable, and we made our presence known. However, the silence not only made pedestrians around us uncomfortable, but it made me uncomfortable. For one hour, we were to be completely silent, which forced me to reflect on the severity of human trafficking and the personal experiences of survivors. The silence was overwhelming because all I could do was wrestle with my emotions and thoughts.

Halfway through the walk I found myself praying. I was praying for the victims who had not yet been rescued, for the survivors who were being rehabilitated into society, and for us who were walking and those who were watching. I prayed that this issue would impact each and every one of us in a more personal way, and for each individual to lean into the discomfort they were feeling.

I believe God calls us into places of discomfort in order for us to question our abilities and where He is calling us. God is calling us to fight for those who are oppressed and marginalized, and the A21 Walk for Freedom was a very easy (yet uncomfortable) way to do so.  Although we cannot solve human trafficking overnight, everyone can do something, and it starts with showing up.


Conclusion- Sadie Stevens

Anyone can be a victim of trafficking. But of course, there are things we can do to prevent that from happening. Spread the word and help raise awareness in our society about human trafficking. We are lucky we live in a better place. The moment you decide to care is the moment this world becomes a better place to live in. Thank you to everyone who participated in this walk; it’s not too late for you to raise awareness and help shine their light. Join the walk and with each step we will help change the world and declare freedom for all.

Lamenting Las Vegas: An Alternate Approach to Tragedy

By: Kristen Borgdorff

Lament: [luh-ment] - noun, “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow”

- verb, "to mourn"


"About five feet from me, you could see a guy with a bullet wound right in his neck, motionless, from there on . . . people just started dropping like flies," Taylor Benge reported to Fox 4 News as a witness of the shooting in Las Vegas on October 1st.

That evening, 58 people were killed and 546 injured when a lone gunman opened fire on Jason Aldean concertgoers at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

After hearing the news of this devastating shooting, I found myself feeling frustrated and helpless. What can I, a student at Redeemer University, do to make a difference in an event like the Las Vegas Shooting? Would my prayers actually change anything? What more can I do? Where was God in this event?

Sitting down with Dr. Naaman Wood, a professor in Redeemer's Media and Communications department, proved to be a helpful start in seeking answers to these bigger questions.

One of the first things Dr. Wood said after I expressed my feelings was this: “It’s okay to feel helpless and powerless . . . generally speaking, [we’ve] been trained to think about the world as filled with problems that we can solve. There are these things that are bigger than us . . . when you stare into it you just don’t know what to do because it’s so overwhelming.

The good news, as Christians, is what the crucifixion is for us: it’s the gaping abyss at the center of history where God says, ‘I’m going to enter into this.’ Every other abyss that we look into, God is already present and in the center of it.”

Many people respond to an event like the Las Vegas shooting by saying that we should all pray. “The bad thing [about this response]," explains Dr. Wood, "is it turns prayer into a band-aid. Just put this band-aid on it and everything will be fine. No. There are dead bodies in the street. A band-aid is not going to fix that. Prayer as a band-aid is a part of the imagination that says that all problems are fixable, that all you need is a little bit of prayer and everything will be fine.”

Next came the idea of prayer as a positive response, specifically when we pray from a position of lament. “I think one of the things that I’ve been persuaded of is that Christians, white Christians by far, have lost our ability to lament.

"Lamentation is not foreign to the Christian experience," says Dr. Wood, "but most of us haven’t been taught or trained to pray laments. For a lot of people, a lament feels like heresy. God, why have you abandoned me? Well, I [feel like I] can’t pray that because God can’t abandon me. But what if you feel like God has actually abandoned you? What do you do then? God already knows that you are going to experience that, and He’s given a slew of prayers to voice that.”

Psalm 22 is an example of this, where the psalmist writes, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Ps 22:1).

“Part of that helplessness you feel," Dr. Wood proposes, "is because no one’s given you the equipment to deal with that helplessness, and the laments are part of the equipment that God gives us to deal with that sense of helplessness. One of the first things to do is prayer, but not prayer as a band-aid — maybe one of the first things you need to do is just lament.

“If we’ve been trained to think that we can solve every problem that we encounter, the idea of lamenting for a period of time without coming to a solution seems wrong. It’s okay to lament for a while on that. It’s probably a really good thing to do, to just sit with the powerlessness for a while.

“And the reason we can sit with the powerlessness for a while is because we believe in a God who’s eventually going to put everything to right. We may not see that putting to rights on this side of the veil — it may be after —but that’s why we have hope. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus.”

Part of the problem may be the commonly held expectation of finding a solution in the here and now. Elaborating on this idea, Wood entailed how the history of Western progress — the fact that humans have achieved so much in such a short amount of time — often tells us that we, as humans, are capable to solve our own problems. However, this is not a reality we should accept. “Sin and brokenness are just that powerful; they cannot be overcome by us," we're reminded. "God needs to overcome them.”

Two of the things we should keep in mind as we live in this tension and press into the many problems of our world are these: “Number one, you might not be able to fix it. Number two, your solution might actually make things worse.”

At one point in the interview, a comment was made that initially raised red flags in my head. When asked where we can find God in this situation, Dr. Wood replied, “Jesus is a number among the dead . . . Jesus identifies with the weak and the poor.”

After hearing this, I voiced my unease. As Christians, we proclaim Jesus’ resurrection and that He is alive. Doesn’t numbering Him among the dead therefore contradict this core belief?

Dr. Wood agreed that, yes, this often does make us uncomfortable. “I do think that God is a God of the living, not of the dead," he clarifies. "Again, the thing that plagues us is that we want the resurrection without the crucifixion. So death and life you could say are contradictory. But part of what I think imaginatively holds things together is what we are constantly called to do. So we have to hold together crucifixion and resurrection. Because if you just hold the resurrection, then you’ve kind of lost the entire point of being a Christian — both of those things must be held together.”

When a tragic event such as the Las Vegas Shooting occurs, it can leave many of us feeling helpless and frustrated. We live in a society where we are taught that we can fix any problem that we encounter, when realistically, we need to recognize a world of sin that will only be wholly “solved” when Jesus returns. One thing we can do until then is turn our helplessness to prayers of lament, and discover in our powerlessness the constant need for God.

Love, Henri — The Letters on the Spiritual Life

By: Emma Roorda

Henri Nouwen, in the words of Professor Ken Herfst, is a man who showed the importance of the human “need to love and be loved … in a way that gives genuine hope.” It is because of Nouwen's deep love and passion for God, others, and society that the The Henry Nouwen Society has made it their aim to extend Nouwen’s legacy, helping to broadly share and promote his deeply spiritual writings.

Last Tuesday, October 17, Redeemer’s Religion and Theology Department brilliantly teamed up with the Henry Nouwen Society to present a very moving and dramatic performance based on the archive collection of Nouwen’s personally written letters, accessed by historian Gabrielle Earnshaw.

 Earnshaw, a highly acclaimed archivist, has dedicated the last 16 years of her life to “finding the gold nuggets” of Nouwen’s ideas in order to share them with others. Through dialogue and reflection on her published conglomerative book of Nouwen’s 205 letters, Earnshaw gives light to Henri Nouwen’s main ideologies and theological insights.

 Last week, Redeemer students were able to witness these reflections, paired with a stunningly emotional drama presented by actor Joe Abby-Colborne, who brought the fascinating sentimentality and wisdom of the late Henri Nouwen to new levels. In addition to the insightful presentation, talented pianist and vocalist Krystyna Higgins accompanied the dialogue with her personal musical expression of Nouwen’s letters. The overall result was spectacular.

 Prior to diving headfirst into dramatic readings of the letters, written throughout Nouwen’s 64 years, Earnshaw provided the full auditorium with a concise overview of his life. This was a helpful addition to the drama-focused schedule for the evening, especially for the many young university students in attendance — an age group who would not have been alive at the time Nouwen's writings were originally produced.

Earnshaw briefly explained that Nouwen was a Catholic priest, born and raised in the Netherlands, who, after obtaining a doctoral degree in Holland, officially began his professional career by teaching at various Ivy League schools including Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard University.

Later, he selflessly abandoned his life as a prestigious professor to work alongside a group of physically and mentally handicapped individuals through a program called L’Arche, located in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Throughout his life, Nouwen used both his professional training and unique life experiences to witness to people though emotionally heartfelt writings and intelligent rhetoric.

 Out of the 205 letters that Earnshaw accessed in her research, five specific letters were chosen to be highlighted in the presentation. These letters were those which she thought accurately outlined Nouwen’s main beliefs, lifestyle, and ideologies. Aforementioned, these letters were theatrically presented by Joe Abby-Colborne. The following five excerpts from these spoken letters only begin to give positive testament to Nouwen’s character and compelling life story that, as Earnshaw described, give his readers “new life, inner peace and freedom.”

Letter 1: The Letter to Richard — “The many hours for prayer and meditation, the chance to read, study and write without interruptions […] it all has been very revealing to me and made me aware that being a priest is what I really want to be in an authentic way and that in the deepening and strengthening of that vocation I find real power and joy.”

Letter 2: The Letter to Jim — “The first and most important task we have is to keep our eyes on God and Him alone. We will never overcome the demons by analyzing them, but only by forgetting them in our all-consuming love for God […] demons like to be analyzed, because that keeps our attention directed to them. God wants to be loved. I am more and more convinced that the first commandment indeed needs to be first: to love God with our heart, all our soul, and our entire mind.”

Letter 3: The Letter to Mark — “When I think about my life and my work, I think about it more as a way of being present to people with all I have. I have always felt that the center of our faith is not that God came to take our pains away, but that He came to share them and I have always tried to manifest this divine solidarity by trying to be as present to people in their struggle as possible. It is most important to be with people where joy and pain are experienced and to have them become aware of God’s unlimited love in the midst of our limited abilities to help each other […] To witness for Christ means to me to witness for Him with what I have seen with my own eyes, heard with my own ears and touched with my own hands.”

 Letter 4: The Letter to Marcus — “Once I stood looking at the Grand Canyon, and when I saw the billions of years carved in stone in front of me, I felt as if the heaviness of heart left me. Somehow, I felt very small and insignificant at the same time my introspection in my own pain turned to adoration.”

Letter 5: The Letter to Mr. Chisholm — “The book [Return of the Prodigal Son] could have never been written if I had not been part of a community of handicapped people. Although life in that community is not always easy, it continues to be a great source of energy and vision.”

Following the fervent enactment of these five letters, along with the heartfelt corresponding musical numbers, Karen Pascal, director of the Henry Nouwen Society, shared a few final thoughts regarding her appreciation for the fact that Redeemer had chosen to partner with their association.

Not only was this evening an opportunity to share the message of Henri’s collective writings with a wide audience, it was particularly a way through which young university scholars could relate to Nouwen’s works — a chance for the “next generation of seekers” to benefit from his wisdom. One such student, Sydney Sequillion, stated afterward that the performance was “very powerful.” She continued on to say, “I was able to relate to Henri Nouwen in a way that I can't even relate to with my own friends.”

 Johanna Benjamins, Student Body President, found the presentation refreshing: “Nouwen brings a personal and emotional view of faith, which we need more of.”

Throughout the performance, there was an obvious intrigue from Christian students and elders alike, both learning to appreciate the wisdom of this famous educated Christian thinker. The evening's loving, intergenerational atmosphere was one in which Henri Nouwen himself would surely have been pleased to partake. For more information about the Henry Nouwen Society or insight from any of the Henri Nouwen collections, please visit

The Saving Power of Vulnerability

By: Noah Van Brenk

I think it’s fair to say that watching the news this past summer felt akin to being forced to ride a very fast roller coaster in complete darkness against my will.  Twists and turns seemed to materialize out of thin air, and at times the news coming from the United States seemed almost too bizarre to be remotely true. And yet, despite the plethora of media attention devoted to unpredictable matters south of the border, there is a singular image which has remained in my mind from the summer’s events, and it might not be what you expect. In my attempts to keep up with world events, I stumbled across a VICE News video reporting on the campaign to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS control. The last shot of the video, the shot which continues to lap at my thoughts, was of a man crouched against the wall of a cemetery, almost hidden from view by large mounds of dirt. He was weeping. He had just buried both his uncle and his father who were both killed when a mortar strike landed in their backyard, and was preparing to cross treacherous territory to return to and care for his family. This scene suddenly and horrifyingly seemed to embody for me the stark report of Genesis 6:11 that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” The Hebrew word translated here as “corrupt” literally means “destroyed” – in other words, the earth and all its inhabitants are so wicked that we render ourselves self-destroyed. Viewed through this lens, it was as if that man was weeping not only for his slain relatives, but also for all of humankind. What image of human self-destruction is more apt than a graveyard where people exterminated by other people are buried in droves? His tears seemed to whisper, what have we done? What do we continue to do?

Moved, and more than a little disturbed, I began to reflect on the gravity of our wickedness as humans and how our inherent self-destructions manifest themselves. I thought of Yehiel De-Nur, an Auschwitz survivor called to testify at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who broke down when he saw Eichmann in court. When asked why he fell apart, Yehiel replied, “When I walked in and saw him I suddenly realized he was no demon or superman, he was an ordinary human being exactly like me. And I suddenly became terrified about myself, I saw that I am capable of the very same things.” How often are we afraid of ourselves, of what we’re capable of? How often, when we feel threatened, do we turn on those around us, violating others with our words and actions in order to protect ourselves? Worse yet, how can we ever expect to break our cycles of self-destruction?

And yet, in the midst of all of these difficult reflections, I am reminded that the person of Christ presents the solution to our despair, albeit a counter-intuitive one: vulnerability. His willingness to make Himself helpless for our sakes is what ultimately saves us from our fallen conditions. What’s more, the cross demonstrates that the Lord’s vulnerability is both limitless and completely effective in its purpose – He was willing to subject himself to torture, humiliation, death, and even separation from Himself in order that we might be reconciled to Him and freed from our self-destruction and self-contradictions. What could be more vulnerable than such a sacrifice? What could be a better triumph?

It seems to me that if we are to have any chance of living life to the full as Jesus promises, we must follow His example by working to be vulnerable with each other and with God. I will admit, I find this as sobering and daunting as anyone, and perhaps even more so — to be vulnerable is to risk being wounded, and possibly even destroyed. Crucially, however, this destruction is by no means inevitable; Genesis 6 makes it clear that the non-vulnerability of self-seeking violence guarantees destruction, while the risk of destruction in vulnerability can very well lead to restoration and healing.

Thus I am becoming increasingly convinced of the utter essentiality of vulnerability for living, a conviction that is ever so slowly overcoming my fear. We live in an age where angry rhetoric has reached intense heights, and violence of all kinds erupts across racial, intellectual, and social lines. It is brutally difficult to be vulnerable. Yet I am comforted by the thought that Christ was raised wounded, meaning that He continues to suffer and be vulnerable on behalf of the world. Just as He fulfills our human side of the covenant agreement for us, so too is He vulnerable on our behalf when we can’t be. The psalmist recounts how the Lord collects each of our tears in a bottle and records them in his book (Ps 56:8) — plainly our vulnerability is precious to him.

So as you continue on in your studies or work this semester, I encourage you to make attempts to be vulnerable with God, with yourself, and with others, even if it seems impossible or incredibly perilous. I have no clear idea what this kind of vulnerability looks like for each of us. We certainly do not need to submit to crucifixion — Christ has already done that — but I have some sense that it involves sharing the depths of our hurts with each other instead of lashing out in anger and self-protection. Christ promises that if we lay down our lives for Him, if we make ourselves vulnerable, we will find our lives more liberating and filled with joy than we could ever imagine. It’s because He has been so limitlessly vulnerable for us that we can begin to be vulnerable with ourselves and each other, and in doing so experience and enjoy abundant life. Let’s attempt to be vulnerable — what do we have to lose?


Eight years ago, a man by the name of Jake Parker challenged himself to draw using ink as his sole medium for the month of October. This challenge has now become a worldwide fad, changing the face of artisans distributing their work in the media world today. Three highly skilled art students here at RUC (Bethany Boville, Jocelyn Boville, and Emma Vanderploeg) have followed in the footsteps of Jake Parker and hopped on board the INKtober initiative this month.


“You can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. Whatever you decide, just be consistent with it. INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better. That's it! Now go make something beautiful” (Jake Parker).

  Bethany Boville  (@beth.b.artist)  I call this “The Huntsman”    —    I've been following a series of fantasy character inspiration prompts this October. For this piece, I was thinking a lot about what a huntsman looks like in different magical works, but also the Canadian hunter. So in the end I have this sort of mythological Canadian huntsman who carries magic wands and wears an oxygen tank. The prompts are always hard because I want to create a new way of interpreting classical characters. Working in black in white was also a challenge because it really changes how you make a composition.

Bethany Boville (@beth.b.artist)

I call this “The Huntsman” I've been following a series of fantasy character inspiration prompts this October. For this piece, I was thinking a lot about what a huntsman looks like in different magical works, but also the Canadian hunter. So in the end I have this sort of mythological Canadian huntsman who carries magic wands and wears an oxygen tank. The prompts are always hard because I want to create a new way of interpreting classical characters. Working in black in white was also a challenge because it really changes how you make a composition.

  Emma Vanderploeg  (@emmascreative)  I like to call this drawing “The Happy Hipster” because really, what hipster isn't happy with a fancy cup of coffee? I found the biggest struggle with this drawing was where to place the coffee and the hands. That's really why I'm doing the INKtober challenge, so I can work on improving my drawing composition skills. It’s not to try to draw every day, I already do enough of that on my notes during class!

Emma Vanderploeg (@emmascreative)

I like to call this drawing “The Happy Hipster” because really, what hipster isn't happy with a fancy cup of coffee? I found the biggest struggle with this drawing was where to place the coffee and the hands. That's really why I'm doing the INKtober challenge, so I can work on improving my drawing composition skills. It’s not to try to draw every day, I already do enough of that on my notes during class!

  Jocelyn Boville  (@penofjocelynboville)  This year I followed a set of prompt words from #mosseryinktober and the word for the day was “write.”  I wanted to illustrate how writing can bring life, growth, and flourishing. One of the hardest parts about drawing with pen is that the artwork can feel very flat, so I am trying to push myself this year to add depth to my work. I've also been thinking a lot more about the meaning of the daily prompt words and striving to create interesting and thought provoking artwork.

Jocelyn Boville (@penofjocelynboville)

This year I followed a set of prompt words from #mosseryinktober and the word for the day was “write.”  I wanted to illustrate how writing can bring life, growth, and flourishing. One of the hardest parts about drawing with pen is that the artwork can feel very flat, so I am trying to push myself this year to add depth to my work. I've also been thinking a lot more about the meaning of the daily prompt words and striving to create interesting and thought provoking artwork.