Making It Count: Chapel Reflection with Ryan Waalkes

Ryan Waalkes knew at a young age that he wanted to live a life of service.

“I couldn’t articulate it right away, but I’ve always had this deep conviction that I wanted my life to count, I wanted my life to matter,” he told members of the Kuyper community gathered in the Vos Chapel for a twice-weekly service.

His specific calling eventually became clear and led him to help found Bridge Street Ministries, an organization that promotes urban Christian community development on the west side of Grand Rapids.

BSM is built around the idea that all youth, regardless of their background and circumstances, have the potential to be leaders of restoration and hope. It focuses on empowering poor, oppressed, and marginalized groups through discipleship and after school enrichment programs.

“Getting started was a step of obedience from me and a group of other young people,” Waalkes, BSM’s executive director said simply.
Waalkes acknowledged that following the conviction God placed on him all those years ago has not always been easy. Often, he said, God’s provision in difficult circumstances has come at what seems like the last minute.

He smiled as he said, “I don’t know why the Lord likes to work that way. It can be a really stressful way to live.”

None of this dissuades him, however.

“The draw of this world’s comforts never gets easier to resist,” he emphasized. “But there’s a much deeper desire in me to stand before God someday and hear Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

God has placed a unique calling in each of our hearts, Waalkes told the audience and, while ours might look different from his, it is nonetheless there.

“I can’t tell you what God has called you to, but I can tell you for certain that He’s called you to something,” he said.

If we take steps of obedient faith, Waalkes said, God will make it possible for us to follow Him.
“God will provide for the things He calls you to,” Waalkes said.

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