Laura Jonker
Director of Community Engagement, Intersection Ministries & Director of Communications & Church Engagement, Movement West Michigan, Holland, Michigan
Laura Jonker

Keeping the Faith

Since moving to Holland, Michigan, to complete graduate studies at Western Theological Seminary, Laura has evolved her ministry to “share Christ’s love through met needs rather than what can seem like empty words.” In her work with Intersection Ministries, she coordinates monthly outreach events to provide food, clothing and fellowship to immigrant families and members of the Holland community. At Movement West Michigan, she seeks to equip local Christian leaders with resources for addressing poverty, mental health, and education challenges.

Why did you choose to attend Northwestern?
I looked at nine different Christian liberal arts colleges in the Midwest before I knew Northwestern was the right fit for me. I was impressed with the academic strength of the departments, available financial aid and the campus community. But there was one distinction that significantly influenced my decision to attend Northwestern: it was a place where I would be challenged and encouraged to ask the tough life questions, not just answer them. I recognized it as a community where we could contemplate the complexities of God’s world together.

What did you appreciate most about the biblical and theological studies department?
The biblical and theological studies department is made up of incredible professors with both strong intellectual gifts and compassionate hearts for students. My professors repeatedly spoke into my life and saw my potential even when I was full of doubts and fear. They made the department a safe and challenging place where I knew I was valued. They made it feel like home.

How did Northwestern prepare you for graduate school at Western Theological Seminary?
My studies at Northwestern were almost an equal caliber to what I learned at Western. Even though I didn’t take a biblical language class at Northwestern, I felt well prepared for the academic rigor of tackling Hebrew and Greek in seminary. Plus, several of the key concepts of pursuing shalom in God’s kingdom, valuing each human being as made in the image of God, and trusting in God’s redeeming work in the world were repeated in Western’s curriculum. Needless to say, the transition was quite smooth.

Tell us about your current ministry work.
Joining Intersection Ministries has been an invitation to a beautiful journey of shared hospitality with recent immigrants from Latin and Central America. Serving alongside people from various cultures means setting aside my assumptions and living with curiosity. However, pausing to hear someone’s story of cultural assimilation also means taking the risk of holding their pain. While I am still learning how best to share life together, I am daily humbled by my friends’ tenacity to keep believing that life is beautiful and God is good.