Jess is a PhD student in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. Originally from just north of Toronto, Ontario, she moved to Blacksburg in August 2016. She “love love loves” what God has given her to research. Jess works on problems related to food, agriculture and nutrition in developing countries. She has had the opportunity to travel a lot with the work she has done, which she also loves and am extremely thankful for. Other than school, Jess loves to cook, paint, hang out with youths, and build meaningful relationships with people.
1. Why are you involved in youth ministry?
When I was in high school, there were several young adults who served at the youth group that I attended. Having been raised in a Christian home I already had a solid background in biblical training and spiritual formation. However, having these young adults pour into me, be willing to have hard conversations, and be real with me about the struggles of life helped me to really understand why I wanted to follow Jesus. This not only helped me in facing real temptations attending a secular university, but helped shape the woman of Christ I am today.
2. How were you impacted as a young person for Jesus?
As a youth, I counseled at a Christian summer camp for several summers. This was an amazing opportunity to connect with Christ in an environment outside the shelter of my parents home. It was also during this time that I counseled and developed relationships with many young people, including those who were in the foster care system. Christ really developed my heart and showed me how to care for people. I became passionate about showing as many people as possible how valued they are by Jesus and by me. As the oldest child, I had a lot of rough edges to sand off. But the Lord humbled me as He continued to grow me into a leader in His kingdom. I am thankful that He was able to start on me at such a young age, and being at camp for entire summers really helped Him accomplish amazing things in my life.
3. What has impacted you during your time serving?
I am amazed at how much love the youth at Northstar have. For one another, for their families, for the Lord. In my 5 months being involved with the youth, I have never heard them utter a single word of gossip or discouragement about or to one another. Just the opposite. They are encouraging, loving, and supportive of one another no matter their age. I have also been blown away by how much they have loved on me. Going into ministry like this, you expect to be the one pouring into the youth. However, this incredible group of young people have blessed me in ways that will stay with me my entire life.
4. What would you say to those who are interested in getting involved?
Do it! Do it now! There are always 100 reasons to not get involved. It is intimidating, it requires time commitment, there are many unknowns. But investing in the body of Christ will never return void. For you or the people that you are serving. I mean, in case you ever question it, our great Father knew how fulfilling and uplifting it is for us to serve and be served. It keeps us in perfect love, perfect peace and perfect community.
5. How would you encourage young people to get involved?
Life is hard. If it hasn’t been yet, it’s going to be, eventually. Having deep roots in your faith and in the body of Christ will tether you when things get hard. Before going off to college, or whatever life has for you next, it is so important to understand why it is you believe what you believe, why God calls us to a life of holiness, and to understand the height and depth of Christ’s love for you. Also, learning how to be vulnerable and share things going on in your life is incredibly important for current and future relationships. I guarantee you, coming out to a ministry like ReVerb will never leave you disappointed. Plus: Alex and Joe are a hoot.
Jess has been an amazing addition to the ReVerb team and she truly loves people. Take a minute to meet her one day.