Annual Change 2015 graphic

Spiritual Spectators: A Student’s Story: Justin van Oeveren

“I learned how to be OK with not having all the answers and not necessarily knowing with certainty, and living in grace,” says Booth UC student Justin, reflecting on his experience of leaving--and later returning to--the church.

August 1, 2013 by Kristin Fryer


Justin van Oeveren

Justin van Oeveren, second-year student, bachelor of social work

Raised in a Christian family, Justin van Oeveren, 26, was highly involved with church growing up. He attended church services and youth group weekly, was a youth leader and went on three mission trips during his teen years. But looking back, he says he can’t remember a single sermon or lesson.

“What I do remember are the relationships that I made—the people that cared about me and showed me by saying hi, coming to shake my hand and asking me how I was doing,” he says. “That’s what had the most impact on me.”

In his teen years, van Oeveren was mentored one-on-one by a youth leader who later became a close friend. They met once or twice a month for coffee, outside the walls of the church.

“He helped me through lots of questions,” he says. “When you’re a teenager, you’re going through a lot of changes and you’re wondering how to live.”

Van Oeveren was at Bible college when he first began to really question his faith.

“As a child, I was taught that there is an ultimate truth, we can know that truth objectively, and there are no questions as to what that truth is,” he says. “Going through college, I began to realize that that’s not the case. It’s very difficult to discern what truth is and where it is.”

But rather than abandon faith, “I learned how to be OK with not having all the answers and not necessarily knowing with certainty, and living in grace.”

Though he still attends church, van Oeveren has mixed feelings about church generally. About five years ago, he stopped attending altogether because the services felt too much like a performance: “The stage, the band, the PowerPoint, the 30-45 minute sermon—it didn’t connect with me at all. If I wanted to be entertained, I would go to a movie.”

After a two-year hiatus, he now attends a home church where he appreciates the opportunity to share a meal with other Christians and have discussions, rather than listen to sermons. “Those conversations are really important to me because they’re engaging,” he says. “I’m able to make what we talk about applicable to my life.”

In his view, this kind of engagement is key to helping young people stay connected to the church.

Speak Your Mind

*

In the Neighbourhood

In the Neighbourhood

Learning to see Jesus in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

God’s Green Earth

God’s Green Earth

Salvation Army warehouse in Prince George, B.C., takes recycling to the next level.

Opinion & Critical Thought

Spiritual Leadership

Spiritual Leadership

Commissioner William Francis shares ministry lessons in new book.

With a Vengeance

With a Vengeance

Should some crimes have no possibility of parole?

Territorial News

Northern British Columbia Welcomes Cadets

Northern British Columbia Welcomes Cadets

Two brigades of cadets from the College for Officer Training celebrate Easter at regional congress.

Announcement from Booth University College

President Dr. Donald E. Burke will step down in June 2016.

International News

General Cox Calls for Support in Response to Nepal Disaster

India Eastern Territory coordinates The Salvation Army’s disaster response efforts.

Salvation Army Leaders at Memorial for Victims of Germanwings Air Disaster

Army expresses condolences, offers support.

Faith & Friends

Film Review: Last Days in the Desert

Film Review: Last Days in the Desert

Just in time for Easter, a new film offers a refreshing look at the Son of God

Surviving the Den

Surviving the Den

As a Dragons’ Den graduate and successful entrepreneur, Desmond Choi fuses passion for business with his faith.