Since I am now blogging with St. Peter’s, Alastair asked me to write a bit of an introduction about myself. It’s a bit surreal to me that I’m now blogging with St. Peter’s Fireside, since it was because of this blog and an article that Alastair wrote for Relevant Magazine that I got connected with St. Peters in the first place. At the time I was living in Switzerland and had just made the excitement laced decision to move to the Vancouver area. I was about to begin grad school at Trinity Western University, and through a hyperlink from Relevant, discovered the St. Peter’s website and blog. I was immediately drawn to the stellar graphic design and quality videography. Yet more than anything was blown away that the vision statement matched almost exactly with my own dreams and prayers for my move to Vancouver. It was what I felt God speaking to me over this city. So, in a move of boldness pretty uncharacteristic of my introverted-self, I sent an e-mail to Alastair.
The rest, as they say, is history.
As for an introduction, my name is Alida Oegema. I’m a huge Whitecaps and Canucks fan. I feel most at home when in the mountains, near the ocean, or when surrounds by lots of books. I drink copious amounts of tea and coffee, aspire to someday run a marathon in every Canadian province and territory, and feel the most happy when my camera is to my face or when writing. I spent the summer working as a soccer coach with Athletes in Action throughout BC and currently work as a research assistant and a Learning Coach (academic tutor) with international students.
I’m currently in my second year of graduate school at Trinity Western University and am studying History and Political Studies. I’m passionate about international affairs, refugees and immigration issues, peace-building, restorative justice, and Canadian politics. It’s a common question in the academic world to ask what I aspire to be and/or do with my education, and I have to honestly answer that I’m still waiting on God to make that one specifically clear. I used to think that my dream job would be as a journalist or documentary photographer. But I’m finding myself increasingly more and more drawn to the realm of law, politics, and/or academics. I dream of continued Kingdom renewal in systems of government and in the social structures within and beyond our city and nation and desire to see the church live out the gospel of love (and justice and reconciliation) across ethnic and socioeconomic lines and especially to those living on the margins and in the shadow of conflict or in the aftermath of war. But, mostly, I love and cling to the truth of Mother Teresa’s words that say, “Many confuse our work for our vocation, but our vocation is to always be the love of Jesus.”
I was born in our beautiful capital city, Ottawa, but my family moved south to the States when I was pretty young, so I spent most of my growing-up years in South Dakota where I graduated from high school in 2008. I attended university in Flagstaff, Arizona where I finished my Bachelors in 2011. Following graduation, I spent 10 months traveling to 13 nations as a student and staff with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) before moving to the Vancouver area last July. Needless to say, I rarely know how to answer the question of where I’m from, but now consider Vancouver home.
As a twenty-something Millennial who has walked through seasons of disillusionment with the church (or at least the idea or representation of church I saw in front of me), I’ve seen the Lord restoring and redeeming my heart for His bride, the purpose and value of a covenant community of faith, and the stunning beauty of a group of broken people seeking to live out the heart of God together. In the space of the past few years, I’ve come to truly believe that the single greatest vehicle for bringing about lasting social and cultural change is the church.
Because, really, the church is just a group of broken people coming together around the only possible solution to the systemic brokenness in our hearts and all around us. The church is a collection of people from all walks of life, socioeconomic classes, ethnic backgrounds, and nations. It’s a group of men and women captivated with love for Jesus and unified in the knowledge that we’re desperately in need of Jesus and extravagantly loved by our Father. The Church, at its core, is about seeking and savouring Jesus in all the places He reveals Himself to us. It’s about gospel-centred people stepping into and engaging with the issues and places and people around us and that process unfolds in our workplaces and homes and universities and offices of government and favourite coffee shops and on the streets of our city.
That’s why I’m so excited about what God is doing in and through St. Peter’s. That’s why I’m so excited about what God is doing in and through the church in Vancouver. And, that’s why I’m so excited about what God is doing in the Global Church. This city is incredibly broken and yet absolutely beautiful, this nation desperately needs the renewal of the Kingdom, and all the nations of the earth are longing for the life-giving hope of the Gospel.
But God is here. And He’s on the move – redeeming all things to Himself.
What an incredibly exciting place to be.