In this Q & A interview, meet Lara Kaiser who’s joined NCF’s Student Ministries team.
Q. You’re not a nurse. How did you get here to NCF?
A. I've been on InterVarsity staff for 10 years--seven years as a campus staff and team leader at Oakland University and nearby community colleges, and three years as an area director for Metro Detroit-Flint.
The nursing students I worked with at Oakland University were my inspiration and motivation. They’re incredible people who love and care deeply for others and embody Jesus' sacrificial and resolute love. As I prayed about my next role with InterVarsity, a verse from Mark 6 kept coming up, "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." (Mark 6:34)
The bigger story around that verse shows Jesus acting as a preceptor, inviting the disciples to care with him for the crowds while they themselves were tired. He invited them into an impossible task of caring for the physical needs of others with tiny, limited human resources. This is the work of nurses--to bring healing to others, though their time and energy are limited. Even human compassion is limited! BUT with God all things are possible.
I know many nurses and nursing students live out this type of faith and discipleship every day, and I long to see more nursing students know, love, and follow our God of great compassion. And I long to see nurses and nursing students be sustained by Jesus as the disciples were as they joined Jesus in having compassion on the crowds.
Q. Describe how you see yourself investing in students.
A. A couple years ago, my friend, Hannah, told me some stories about her family. I could tell how much she loved these people, but to me their names were just conceptual. When I met her parents at their house for dinner, all that Hannah had described about each family member took shape. As I interacted with her sister, I didn't just know why Hannah loved her; I started to love her too. Instead of just knowing that her parents were kind and wise, I got to ask them questions and hear their thoughts on topics that changed the way I thought. Through these interactions, I got to know and love and have relationships with people who were just conceptual to me months before.
Just like Hannah introduced me to the people she loves most, my ministry philosophy is to introduce folks to the one I love most: Jesus. To not just tell them about him or my relationship with him, but create space for them to have experiences and relationship with him for themselves. Jesus is the best teacher, counselor, guide, friend, and confidant, and I love helping students connect with Jesus directly through interactive prayer conversations, engaging personally with Scripture, and taking courageous risks in connecting others with the hope we find in Jesus.
Q. How did you come to trust in Jesus as your Savior?
A. I was baptized at one month old and have always known Jesus as a forgiver and that believing in him gives you a free pass into heaven when you die. Throughout high school, I got tired of feeling trapped in the same patterns of sin and depression and felt angry and discouraged. Most Christians around me seemed hypocritical, unthoughtful, or were just as lost as I was. My freshman year of college, a friend of a friend connected me to an InterVarsity Bible study on campus--that meeting gave me hope and I got to know Jesus better through Scripture.
Over the years I've come to trust Jesus to save me over and over again, from death and hell, from purposelessness and depression, from patterns of sin and shame that seem impossible to break free of. I look forward to seeing what else he reveals that he has, is, and will save me from.
Q. Share a couple of fun facts about yourself.
A. My husband, Andy, and I live in Jacksonville, FL with our cats, Missy and Gracie. I come from a large chaotic family, am the youngest of 5 on my mom's side, became an aunt when I was 2 years old and now my husband and I have 21 nieces and nephews and 6 great nieces/nephews. I LOVE being "Auntie Wawa." Proverbs 27:14 is my favorite verse: "If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse." I firmly believe mornings are meant for silence, coffee, and cat snuggles. I love rock climbing, volleyball, and crocheting. And I've won every speed shoe tying contest I've ever been in; feel free to challenge me.
Want to know about NCF’s care for students? The NCF website can fill you in. Professional nurses and nursing faculty are part of this dynamic ministry—get involved or tell students where to connect with NCF.
Contact Lara or Student Ministries Director Jen Wojtysiak.
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