By: Renessa Visser, junior reporter
“I think God places people and moments along our journeys that, even in such a short span of time, can change our hearts and shape the way we choose to live our lives,” reflected fourth-year student and participator in PJaM, Rheanna Rosenthal.
This past reading week, 12 students were able to participate in Redeemer’s Reading Break Service Trip, a six-day journey structured around the practices of prayer, mission, worship, justice, learning and creativity. And no, we did not wear pyjamas every day.
“My goal for planning and running PJaM was to connect young people with the spiritual depth of the community here in Hamilton, particularly GOHOP,” explained Nina Drenth, leader of PJaM. “When I was a Redeemer student, I stumbled across the GOHOP community and it shifted everything for me, so I wanted to build a bridge between local universities and GOHOP for other students to walk across.”
Every day had a unique focus, shaped by the broader encouragement to practice hospitality—whether it was on the bus, at 541 Barton Street, or in the neighbourhoods we walked through. Highlights of the trip included visiting All Saints’ Orthodox Church, experiencing a silent retreat, practicing listening prayer, and seeing God in the relationships formed throughout the trip.
“PJaM provided me with the place and space to encounter God in the quiet,” explained Monica Fennema, second-year student. “The ordinary everyday can get very chaotic, even to the point of compromising a sensitive heart to the Holy Spirit’s gentle leading. During PJaM, we took time to pray—individually, in small groups, and in community; with liturgy, through listening and Christian meditation—and we had intentional moments of silence and solitude. While I was made more aware of how easily I am internally distracted, I found peace remembering that in the stillness, God is present.”
Every student was touched in a unique way. “My greatest takeaway from the weekend was how diverse the body of Christ is,” said Jeremy Petrusma, fourth-year student. “I had the stretching opportunity to sit and listen to those who held different theological views and life experiences. It was in those moments of listening where I saw Christ clearly and grew spiritually.”
First-year student, Isaac Bezemer, said, “I came away from PJaM with a refreshed awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance in my life. I think with that awareness comes a deeper desire to be an image-bearer of God in every interaction that I have and allow him to bring about His will through me.”
For Hannah Stoesz, a second-year McMaster student, the trip was an answer to prayer. “I have been asking God to show me in which areas I need more commitment; PJaM was an answer to this prayer,” she explained. “The last day, during our prayers and communion, I sensed an incredible amount of unity. I felt Jesus there with us in one of the most tangible ways I ever have.”
PJaM was a trip where students were poured into in order to pour out. It renewed a love within us for our neighbours and our city, teaching us to serve each other through the prayerful rhythm of a lifestyle in Christ.