When college freshman Serene Chua left her home in Malaysia in the fall of 2011 to begin classes at Colby-Sawyer College (CSC), a small school in rural New Hampshire, life was full of God’s possibility.
“I don’t think she had ever seen snow before,” Navigator and Collegiate Area Director at Boston University Craig Parker says. “When she arrived, she immediately joined The Navigators ministry at CSC led by our dear friends Benny and Cindy Benson. Serene quickly became known for her love for God and for her gifts as a songwriter and worship leader. Sophomore year she was elected student president of the Christian fellowship. Many students on campus were inspired by her godly example.”
During that year, Benny went to be with the Lord at age 58. Craig says Benny’s death profoundly affected Serene and deepened her resolve to tell as many people as she could about the hope that had filled him. Before graduating in 2015, she applied to The Navigators EDGE Corps program (a two-year collegiate internship program) to serve as a short-term missionary on a college campus in the Northeast United States. Craig invited her to join his ministry in Boston.
“The Navigators had never hired an international EDGE Corps staff member,” Craig says. “Serene’s multiple visa applications would require four inches of paperwork and no shortage of legal fees, but by God’s grace Serene’s visas were approved. She completed two years with the EDGE Corps and then two more years as Navigators staff-in-training. And on May 5, 2019, surrounded by Navigator coworkers, friends, students, her pastor, and her fiancé, Serene was commissioned as a Navigator Representative in our home.”
Serene’s heart beats for Life-to-Life discipleship®, and she’s seen God move powerfully through it.
“Four years ago, I met a student named Cora outside one of the dorms,” Serene says. “She took a survey and I asked her if she would be interested in meeting with me for coffee. Coffee turned into a long conversation about life and Jesus. Cora started to get involved with the freshman Bible study and we continued to meet that semester. At our fall retreat, she made the most important decision of her life to surrender her life to the Lord.”
Toward the end of the semester, Cora transferred to a school in Nebraska to be closer to home.
“We said goodbye—or so we thought,” Serene says. “We both cried. I was sad to see her leave, but also excited for her new beginnings. As we kept in touch over the years, she continued to pursue the Lord and was active in The Navigators ministry on her campus. As she considered the future post-graduation, she felt the Lord put it on her heart to come on staff with The Navigators and was praying about joining our team in Boston.”
Today, Serene and Cora work together to make Jesus known at Boston University, where Serene serves as associate campus director.
“Cora and I went from being strangers to being in a discipling relationship, and now we minister side by side,” Serene says. “I get to work with her and continue to disciple her in a different context as we seek to reach out to students with the love of Jesus. I am so thankful.”
Rosie, another new staff, helps Cora lead outreach to incoming freshmen.
“As a team we have prayed for more laborers, and we are thankful that even in this uncertain season, these women are trusting God to use their lives to advance His Kingdom,” Serene says. “I look forward to shepherding these women and investing in the next generation.”
The spiritual generations are already building.
“Recently, Cora led a BU freshman to the Lord,” Craig says. “Serene is now a spiritual grandmother!”
Ministry has been unpredictable in a global pandemic, but Serene continues to trust the One who called her.
“It’s been an interesting time, for sure,” Serene says. “God is still working, and His mission does not change. The methods and approach might look different, but it was never about those things anyway. I just feel thankful for the privilege of walking with those I disciple. I want them to know that Jesus meets them where they’re at, that He is most trustworthy, and that they can fully surrender to Him. That’s what I long to see, and I know God will continue to work through me in each new season.”
Please pray for students across the country, and that Navigator staff on our campuses would continue to find unique opportunities for Life-to-Life discipleship.