Ora Et Labora: Shelley Eckenwiler

Though Thursday, January 12 was overcast and gloomy, the atmosphere inside the Vos Chapel that day was anything but as the Kuyper community hosted Shelley Eckenwiler for Ora et Labora, a weekly gathering in which speakers share their stories of work and faith. 

Eckenwiler is a 2016 Kuyper graduate and the current Director of Children’s Ministry at Crossroads Church in Rockford. Though she attended church often as a child, she said that growing up she often felt like her faith stopped at the doors of the building.

Following a mental health crisis at the age of 9, Eckenwiler began serving in the children’s ministry at her church and found it incredibly life-giving. “Children’s ministry was the only place where I felt normal,” she said. 

Eckenwiler felt loved and at home in the children’s ministry, eventually discovering she enjoyed and was good at the work. “I didn’t recognize it at the time but, looking back, that was God telling me it was what He wanted me to do,” she recalled.

After graduating from Kuyper with a degree in Youth Ministry, Eckenwiler embarked on a journey of bivocational ministry in Tampa, Florida. She served in various areas at a newly planted church, while working a variety of other jobs. Eventually, God led her back to West Michigan and Crossroads Church, where she interned while at Kuyper.

Reflecting on God’s guidance throughout her life, Eckenwiler said: “I want to be the person these kids can turn to when they have no one else. Jesus saved me literally and spiritually, and I want to share my relationship with Him with the kids I work with.”

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