Kuyper alumna Kandi Zeller was named editor of Keys for Kids Ministries’ new devotional for teenagers called Unlocked. Zeller, 23, graduated from Kuyper in 2017 with a degree in English Professional Studies and a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Zeller grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, where the children’s devotional Keys for Kids fueled her faith and deepened her understanding of the Gospel. Her love of words and storytelling was evident from a young age; her family has a video of her telling the Christmas story when she was only four years old. Naturally, she was drawn to a degree in English. Because she grew up in a small family and attended a small church, a small, community-centered college like Kuyper appealed to her.
When Zeller visited Kuyper for the first time, she said both her and her parents felt a strong sense of peace. She was impressed by how much the faculty truly cared, and felt that as a self-described “quirky” person, she would fit right in. Kuyper’s English Professional Studies program was the perfect marriage of her love of words and her yet undiscovered love of theology. Zeller said that her time at Kuyper equipped her to go out and do ministry, and it did so in some ways that she did not expect. It challenged her deeply and helped her to think through different aspects of her faith. In the end, “Kuyper gave me a more fully-orbed picture of the Gospel and an every-square-inch mentality,” she said.
Zeller started working at Keys for Kids Ministries through an English internship. She chose Keys because it was very formative in her childhood and because her then-boyfriend, now husband Kevin Zeller (2018) came to Christ through a Keys for Kids devotional. She wanted to give back to the place that had given her and Kevin so much. She began her time at Keys as an editorial intern, then was hired as an editorial assistant upon the completion of her internship. Two years later, when Keys made the decision to launch Unlocked, they offered her the position of editor.
Keys for Kids Ministries began in the 1940s as Children’s Bible Hour, featuring several children’s radio dramas and Bible teaching programs. Their radio ministry is still going strong, and executive director Greg Yoder hosts a program for parents called Parent Minute. Designed to be daily devotionals to get kids in the Word, they launched their written devotional Keys for Kids in the 80s.
Later, Keys began partnering with local Christian camps to produce Keys for Camps, which is a copy of Keys for Kids with a wraparound cover with the camp’s logo. Camps give them to their campers so they can stay connected to the Word all year long. The program was so successful that the camps approached Keys to ask if they had anything for their teenage campers. At the time, Keys did not, so they began to research which resources were available to teens. They could not find anything like Keys for Kids for teens, so they launched Unlocked to meet the need. Zeller’s love of the gospel and passion for spreading the truth made her a natural choice for the position as editor. Her dream for Unlocked is that it becomes a tool to equip teenage readers with the truth of the gospel, much like Kuyper did for her. According to her, the question that Unlocked persistently asks is, “What effect does Jesus and what He did has on the topic we’re discussing?” Then addressing the question of topics, she added, “We will address anything because the Gospel addresses everything.”
Zeller is not the only Kuyper alumni making a difference at Keys for Kids. Her husband, Kevin Zeller (2018) is on their Theological Review team, and Taylor Eising (2017) is an editorial assistant at Unlocked.
The best part of her job, according to Zeller is getting to see people catch the vision of Unlocked. She gets excited when teenage writers submit gospel-centered devotionals for consideration, exclaiming “Go teenagers, you preach!”
Zeller has high hopes for this multi-genre teen devotional, explaining “I believe in the power of literature to bring about change. What did God use to change us? He wrote a book!”