Nova’s Upperclassmen Enjoy Mentoring Roles
by tom campisi, managing editor
Andrew Lin is committed to the biblical mandate of making disciples.
Lin is a member of Nova, Christian Union’s ministry at Princeton. The computer science major from Dallas, Texas, serves as a co-leader of Nova’s discipleship team, a group of upperclassmen who regularly meet with younger students to study the Bible, pray, and serve as mentors.
An attacker on the Princeton water polo team, Lin is passionate about “helping to lead others in their walk with Christ” and has also started a Bible study for teammates. He recalled the impact discipleship made on him when he was a freshman.
“As a first year student, I had an incredible senior who walked me through my faith transition into college,” Lin said. “As I’ve gotten older, the shift of coming alongside younger guys and reading scripture with them has helped my faith grow in a different way.”
Ryan Reed, a Christian Union teaching fellow at Princeton, oversees the discipleship team and has been impressed with the leadership and initiative that has been evident. Over the summer, the team reached out to all the students in Nova, asking them about meeting with another student to study the Bible and pray together. They also wrote a curriculum based on 2nd Timothy for use in discipleship meetings.
“The team has shown strong energy and conviction in fulfilling these different tasks,” Reed said.
Caroline Noonan, a sophomore who is studying Operations Research and Financial Engineering, helped write the curriculum. Seeing the team’s prayerful, hard work bear fruit has been satisfying for the native of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
“My favorite aspect of being on the discipleship team is probably witnessing some of the pairs that we have matched as they meet throughout campus,” said Noonan, a member of the Princeton women's soccer team. “For example, it’s so special to walk into a coffee shop and see a pair meeting, whether they’ve just been paired or have been meeting for years. Whatever the relationship is, I love knowing that our work is more than just pairing two names on a Google sheet, but that it reaches far beyond that, impacting the real lives of students.”
“Caroline is helping us increase a culture of discipleship in our ministry,” said Reed.
Emma Hopkins ’20, an English major (with a certificate in Urban Studies) from Stillwater, New York, appreciates being part of the discipleship team and Nova’s seeking God culture.
“Being part of the discipleship team has challenged me to be more intentional with the people God has placed in my life,” said Hopkins, a member of the women's lightweight rowing team. “I am still learning what it means to disciple and mentor faithfully. Over the last two years, God has shown me the importance of prayer within discipleship, and of relying on His wisdom, not on myself alone. I’ve also become much more comfortable asking tough questions and talking openly about my spiritual life, which is an area where I am hoping for continued growth.”
“Emma is an incredible leader for our team,” Reed said. “She is always willing to take on new challenges. She is very passionate about discipleship and seeing students study Scripture together. God has used her to strengthen our ministry.”
For Kendall Elfstrum, significant spiritual strengthening occurred last summer when he took Christian Union’s “Passages: Experience Israel” trip with students from other leading universities and Christian Union ministry fellows. Elfstrum returned from the Holy Land with a strong desire to study the Bible.
“It is an experience I will never forget. Meeting believers from other schools and seeing the sites where Jesus walked was incredible,” he said.
Elfstrum ’22, a wrestler from Monroe, New York, is currently taking a “gray shirt” year off from classes for wrestling purposes. In the 2018-2019 season for Princeton, he moved up from the 184-pound weight class to heavyweight to help fill a void due to injuries. As a high school senior, Elfstrum won the 195-pound New York state title.
Although he is not enrolled in classes this year, the Public and International Affairs major is active in Nova. In addition to serving as a key leader on the discipleship team, Elfstrum is an assistant Bible course leader and meets weekly with Reed to study the Word.
“Kendall is taking his faith very seriously,” said Reed. “He has a desire to study the Bible and is excited to disciple other students. He is stepping into leadership.”
“Christian Union has given me numerous opportunities to grow,” Elfstrum said. “I have been involved in Bible courses, which allowed me to develop strong relationships with other believers and grow in fellowship. Being on the discipleship team has given me the chance to cultivate skills that allow me to help and encourage others on their journey.”
Likewise, Noonan is appreciative of the growth opportunities provided by Christian Union and the chance to flourish in a Christian community.
“Christian Union has helped me grow as a Christian leader by providing the community I need in the midst of a campus like Princeton,” Noonan said. “Often, it can be hard to stay strong when others don’t believe like you do, but Christian Union provides a supportive family for me to fall back on. Whether it’s the girls and leader in my Bible course, the worship leaders at the Encounter Leadership Lecture Series, the people praying for me at 12:1 (the ministry’s daily prayer hour), my discipleship mentor, or just the day to day friends that I’ve met through Nova, I always have a place to go when I have questions, need help, or just want to have fun with others in ways that glorify God.”
Noonan and other members of the discipleship team are enjoying the dual responsibility of serving as mentors while they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and seek to be disciples themselves. Hopkins, a senior, said Nova has made a big difference in her life.
“I’ve been challenged and stretched in a lot of ways at Princeton,” said Hopkins. “Christian Union ministry fellows—through Bible courses, prayer, discipleship, etc.—have consistently been there to speak God’s Word to me and remind me of the necessity of Christian community.”