My name is Nick Vander Ploeg. I am currently 27 years of age and married to a wonderful woman named Kayla. I am employed as a youth pastor at a Christian Reformed church in London ON, Canada. I just completed the course work of the Getting Started Class at CLI. I have never had any formal ministry education and so CLI has helped me so far to increase and test my knowledge in Christian Basics. I am excited to continue to grow in this way through further study at CLI in hopes to be fully ordained as a pastor upon conclusion.

I have been a Christ follower my entire life. I grew up in a Christian home, and have felt a calling to ministry for a long time. I completed my formal education to be a school teacher in 2011 but God made it clear that He wanted me in ministry instead and so I have been running the youth program at my church since my graduation from Teacher’s College. The Associate Pastor at my church kept putting the bug in my ear to take this position of Student Ministry Director and it has been the best decision I have ever made in my life. I have loved every minute of my calling so far and so have begun this education process so that I can learn more and be more effective as a church leader to the point of being fully ordained as pastor someday soon. My wife is also in school to be a nurse and so we simply could not afford for both of us to be in school while I am working and so CLI has made this dream possible for us through free education.

In Canada, we have a culture much like the United States, but I would argue that our culture is less influenced by Christian values in everyday life. God is seemingly more important to a larger number of people in the United States than in Canada. Atheism is a growing and large belief in this country. This makes church work a little less accepted I think by a lot of people and so makes it challenging to say you work at a church to non-believers. They simply do not understand why I would choose this route rather than follow my education background as a school teacher. I believe wholeheartedly that God has put this calling on my life to be a pastor and a lot of non-believers in my life have a hard time accepting that. This is a challenge that I have accepted though and it has not stopped me from loving my calling or from wanting to pursue a higher education.

The church that I work at has completely supported me in my current position running the Student Ministry and also in my goals to become ordained as a pastor. The staff at our church is truly like a family and they are excited for me in my pursuit of this education. My wife and my extended family are excited for me as I continue in this journey and support me however they are able to. I also think that the people that really know me in our congregation support me in this adventure. We have a very large church population and so it is difficult to know everyone, but I am getting support from the people that I am blessed enough to call my family and friends in this journey.

I am extremely excited to continue in my studies at CLI and work towards being fully ordained as pastor (hopefully someday soon). This has been very good at enhancing my knowledge already and I am ready for this to continue as I go further in my studies. I forgot what the life of a student was like since I have been out of school and I have really enjoyed becoming one again here at CLI. Thank you so much for making this possible for me! Thank you CLI for the blessing you are to people from all around the world and for those of you that have read my story. Please pray for me as I continue in this education!