Day 1: Kick-off!

July 9th, 2018

Well, today is the day. It is the FIRST day of Dig 2018. We have been planning, prepping, and praying for these three-weeks all year long. We anticipate the arrival of each and student to Calvin Seminary. As we enter into this program, join us as we pray for these students as they travel from near and far.

Pray that they might be willing to ask the hard questions, that they might build strong life-long relationships, and that their faith would be challenged and empowered each and every day.

You can join us on this journey by reading the Daily Update and following us on social @calvinseminarydig.

Update: Well, Day 1 has come and gone. Students have had the opportunity to meet their fellow students and roommates, hear about the goals of the program from both Derek Ellens and Aaron Einfeld, and time to prepare their hearts and minds for the three weeks to come. We are overjoyed with the group of students that have been accepted to Dig this year, and we anticipate what God will do in the weeks to come.

The evening started off with fresh pizza. After our delicious meal, we were joined by the one and only Alex Trebek (Derek Ellens, Dig Co-ordinator) for some high-octane ‘Social Media Jeopardy’ before getting some much needed rest.

Day 2: Settling In & Getting Started

July 10th, 2018

Day 2 kicked off with a buzz! Students arrived at breakfast with giddy anticipation for what the first full day would hold. From the first morning Chapel, which was lead by the Dig coaches, to the delicious lunch hosted by Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church, to an incredible teaching session on the Spiritual Disciplines lead by Seminary Dean Jeff Sajdak.

Day 2 was loaded with opportunities for students to grow in relationship with one another, a chance to get the lay of the land at Calvin, and space to begin to think critically about their faith and their vocational calling.

If that wasn’t enough, we even capped the day off with a bustling Block Party celebration at Fuller Avenue Christian Reformed Church here in Grand Rapids (and yes, there was a petting zoo there)!

It was another incredible day, and things are just getting started.

Day 3: Digging Deep

July 11th, 2018


Day 3 has come to an end.

It was a day filled with two whimsically deep sessions on relationships by Calvin College pastor Mary Hulst, and Reformed hermeneutics lead by Calvin Seminary Professor and Dig alumnae, Sarah Schrieber.

Next, students had the opportunity to go to Neland CRC for a generous lunch that they hosted, and heard from a few of the ministry staff there. Finally, the day was capped off with time to cool off in the Calvin College pool!

It was another day filled with learning and growth, both spiritually and relationally. We appreciate all of the prayer and support for both the coaches and students alike as we continue on this journey together.

Day 4: Interfaith and Our Faith

July 12th, 2018

Day 4 was one for the books.

Students started their day off with a beautiful morning chapel service lead by two of the small groups. From there they were brought into a session on Interfaith Dialogue lead by Professor Cory Willson of Calvin Seminary. This session was filled with good discussion around how Christians should treat and love their brothers and sisters from other religions!

After this session, students had the incredible opportunity to attend the Afternoon Prayer at Masjid At-Tawheed here in Grand Rapids. Dr. Akerm lead an enlightening session on Islam, and students were permitted at ask any question that they had about the Muslim faith. Not to mention we had some delicious authentic Mediterranean food to go alongside our session at the Masjid!

Students continue to dig deep as they engage scripture, continue to grow in their relationships, and engage difficult questions about faith and calling. We ask for your continued prayers for both students and coaches as they grow with one another!

Day 5: Finding Your Story

Day 5 kicked-off with Dr. Gary Burge, the New Testament Professor from Calvin Seminary. Dr. Burge gave a detailed re-telling of God’s calling and guiding in his incredible life, and he made it clear to each of the students that this time in their life is not a pre-cursor to some bigger picture in a far off future. Instead, that God’s calling is on their life here and now. Every student at Dig is already a part of furthering the Kingdom of God, they do not need a degree to do that!

The second session was lead by two representatives from Crossroads Prison Ministry, Dara and Malorie. Dara spoke about the injustice of the prison system, and the power of the Gospel to penetrate behind bars. Students had the opportunity to ask questions about incarceration and were encouraged to think about ways that they might serve the prisoner!

All in all, it was another day chalked full with in-depth teaching, worship, and intentional relationship building. We cannot wait to see what Week 2 has in store!

Day 6 & 7: Weekend Relaxation

On days 6 and 7 students had a break from the programming and the opportunity to head to Lake Michigan and downtown Grand Rapids. On Saturday, they spent the day at the beach, enjoying the beautiful sand and cool Michigan water.

On Sunday, students went off to two local churches, returned for lunch and the second half of the World Cup final, and then had a competition of their own as they embarked on a photo scavenger hunt competition in downtown Grand Rapids. It was another full and eventful day!

As the weekend winds down, students are preparing for their excursion trips which are coming up on Tuesday! Half of the students will head to Chicago and the other half to Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario for 8 days. We ask for you prayers for safe travels, and safety during their time in the respective cities! Stay tuned for more updates on each site.

One Journey Ends, Another Journey Begins

July 25th, 2018

Well, we’re sure that you’ve all been holding your breath waiting to hear about how the excursions went. In Hamilton/Toronto and Chicago students were exposed to various ways that the Spirit of God is at work in every neighbourhood of these bustling cities. They learned this by an visiting intentional Christian coffee shops that seek to blur socio-economic lines in Hamilton, to serving and getting to know patrons in a soup-kitchen that seeks to serve and humanize individuals on the outskirts of society in Chicago, to learning from health care professionals that seek to meet the felt needs of those in Toronto. These are just a few examples of the amazing experiences that students had in the past week.

The trip was one based on experiential learning rather than focusing solely on hands-on service. At Dig, we believe that this approach has a long-term impact on students as they navigate how their faith empowers them to serve and love the Lord in all aspects of life.

We thank you all for your prayers for safety, and we ask that you would continue to hold the students up in prayer as we enter into the last two days of debrief before we send the students home with all the things they’ve learned. Stay tuned for a couple of students’ reflections on their individual experience on the excursion sites!

1st Day Back: Debrief & Discussion

July 26th, 2018


As the students settled back into the dorms last night, they also prepared themselves for two more full days of debrief and discussion about everything they saw and experienced on their excursions. Today, students had the opportunity to share some of their reflections at morning Chapel, they spent time in small groups discussing some of the challenging and impacting experiences they had, and students had time to write encouragement notes to one another as they participated in the practice of Spiritual Encouragement.

The evening was capped off with a night of worship as leaders Derek and Zack held a special chapel devoted to the practice of personal and corporate confession. It was a worshipful evening filled with the Holy Spirit’s leading.

We are so sad that tomorrow is the last day of Dig 2018, but we are so encouraged by the spiritual, emotional, and relational growth we’ve seen in each and every student here!

The Last Day of Dig 2018

July 27th, 2018



Well, the inevitable happened. Dig 2018 has come to an end, and we cannot believe how fast the time went! From the first day that students walked into the front doors of Calvin Seminary, to the last evening spent having a meal at President Medenblik’s home – it has been an amazing three weeks.

This morning we had our final student-led chapel, followed by two sessions focused on debriefing the entire program and by discussing where God is leading each of us next. Students were encouraged to find a mentor, and continue to think through everything that God has taught them during these past few weeks.

The goal of Dig is not to offer a mountain-top spiritual experience, but to challenge the way students think and interact with the world around them. Our hope and prayer is that these students will come away from Dig with a clearer vision for their vocation, a more solid foundation for their faith, and a more confident knowledge that their identity rests in Christ alone.

Thank you all for your prayers and for following the blog. Now go and nominate someone you know for Dig 2019!