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Kevin Secundino on Knowing You’re Not Alone

Participating in Calvin University’s Ministry Leadership Cohort and doing a summer ministry internship at his church taught one pre-med student a lot about God’s promises. You can apply some of what he learned to your own congregation.

Kevin Secundino, a Calvin University biology pre-med student in the class of 2023, was part of Calvin’s first Ministry Leadership Cohort (MLC). This two-year program helps students of all majors focus on building community, loving the church, practicing leadership, and living out these values beyond graduation. In this edited conversation, Secundino talks about important lessons he learned while doing a summer ministry internship.

In what community and church did you grow up? 

I was born in the U.S., but I lived in Mexico till age eight. When we moved back to Grandville, Michigan, we attended Roosevelt Park Christian Reformed Church (CRC) till it closed in 2015. Then we joined some of our Roosevelt Park friends at Lee Street CRC in Wyoming, Michigan.

Lee Street CRC has changed through the years. They used to host Alas de Aguilar [a Reformed Church of America Spanish-speaking church plant] in their building. Our family went there. When that pastor left, the Spanish-speaking leadership would do leadership and worship planning and find guest pastors. Then it became the Spanish-speaking part of Lee Street.

How did you choose your academic major?

When one of my family members was in the hospital, I saw how kind the staff was. I heard doctors praying with patients and family members. This really inspired me to go on in my studies to become a doctor. My high school friends sat with me at the hospital and were okay with silence. I’ve learned to embrace simply being with people in pain rather than forcing them to talk about it. I’ve felt this in MLC too, how friends and staff make sure we are doing well but let us speak when ready.

Pre-med programs are intensive. Why did you also join MLC and then decide to get a ministry leadership minor?

I was invited to apply to MLC during my senior year of high school. I went to a preview weekend, interviewed, and got accepted into Calvin’s first MLC cohort. I met people during that weekend who share my passion for the church and who have become close friends. I love the way MLC students come from different backgrounds, church experiences, denominations, and church beliefs. I served on my dorm’s Barnabas team. Early in the pandemic, we had to figure out how to do Bible studies and dorm worship even though COVID-19 protocols restricted how many people could meet together. 

After my two years of MLC, I became a peer leader. That meant I started leading a weekly small group for a younger MLC cohort. One thing we learned was how to discuss complex issues so that people feel heard, not judged or offended.

I had already taken required MLC courses that count toward a ministry leadership minor, and I believe it will help me deal with patients, colleagues, and families when I’m a doctor. The minor requires a summer ministry internship, so in the summer 2022, I interned at my church. 

Had you already been active at Lee Street CRC?

Our current co-pastors are white but fluent in Spanish. Each Sunday there’s an English service followed by a Spanish service. Sometimes we have combined bilingual services. I’ve been involved in leadership at Lee Street for a while. In the Spanish service, I often run the PowerPoints. I often lead parts of worship, like the prayer before the service, the welcome, the call to worship, or the Bible reading. I like to sing a lot, so in bilingual services, I often introduce and explain pronunciation for Spanish-only songs.

How did your summer ministry internship differ from simply being an involved church member? 

Art camp.jpg

I got to attend staff meetings and help with worship planning. I also helped with a summer art camp in mid-June. We wanted to introduce kids to all kinds of art and integrate kids from our Spanish and English congregations plus kids from around the neighborhood. I took a big lead in organizing a Sunday potluck as a follow-up to art camp—but I had help from many people. Kids from many neighborhood families attended the art camp. Most were not connected or only somewhat connected to a church.

For me, it was a little stressful. While doing my internship, I was also working part-time as a patient care assistant in a hospital. I’d send out emails but did not know whether anyone was reading them. On the Saturday before the potluck, one of my pastors and an art camp committee member were willing to go door-to-door with me to visit families. We split up different parts of the neighborhood. Kids remembered me from art camp. We planned a bilingual service at 10 a.m. before the 12:30 p.m. Sunday potluck. We welcomed people to attend but said it was fine if they only came to the potluck. We asked them to bring whatever food they wanted.

What other kinds of details were you in charge of? How did people help you?

I wondered how to get church and neighborhood families to interact. So I chose questions to put on a card at each table. You didn’t have to use them but they were there if you needed them. We had to organize games. We didn’t know how many people would come, what food they’d bring, or how many tables and chairs we’d need to set up in the parking lot. 

Lee Street families offered to pay for meat to grill and set up tables and chairs. All their help encouraged me. I was super thankful to God. I saw 1 Corinthians 12:26 in action: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

So how did the actual potluck go? How did you feel that day?

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I got busy making signs so people knew where to go. When I looked at the big crowd, I worried we wouldn’t have enough for everyone to eat, especially if they came late. It was awesome that we prayed before we served at the potluck. I felt like we witnessed a miracle. I saw big smiles from my Lee Street family. And somehow there was enough food, even for people to get seconds.

I got to re-meet kids and families. Everyone had fun playing games. And they liked seeing their artwork on display. Kids said things like, “Hey, look! That’s mine! Take a photo of me with my picture.” That potluck reminded me of God’s reassurance and promise that we should not fear because the Lord always provides. Working on projects like this keeps increasing my love for the church. Lee Street has become the church I love, where I feel at home, and look forward to going every Sunday.

What have you learned that other Christians might apply in their congregations?

What many people take away from MLC is the importance of community, especially within Christian communities. I would encourage adults to go out of the box to find ways of helping others find ways to get involved.

Sometimes people, including myself, feel like it’s hard to ask for help because we don’t know how others will respond. I’ve found it helps to look for gifts in others and say “You have a beautiful voice” or “You are good on drums.” And then I ask whether they would be willing to help on a music team. I’ve done this same thing with newer MLC students, like, “I could see you doing well as a Barnabas team member or peer leader.” Sometimes it takes time to encourage people to see in themselves the gifts that others see. Not everyone is confident. I know some people need a lot of time to build trust. If you know someone is really shy, then it’s important to remember patience. Keep connecting. Keep asking, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Know when to listen or respond. 

Have you learned anything in MLC or in your summer internship that you’ll be able to apply to your work now as a patient care assistant?

Knowing fellow church members’ support for the potluck encouraged me. That was one of my biggest lessons from my summer ministry internship. I was able to see that one person is not alone. I am not alone because I am part of the body of Christ—both at Lee Street and Calvin University.

These experiences help me remind my patients that they are not alone, even when they are in pain. Patients and others have different experiences, thoughts, and opinions. That’s fine. It’s important to listen and respect, whether or not you agree. I want to be sure my patients are listened to.


Check out Calvin University’s Ministry Leadership Cohort (MLC). Consider whether you might like to apply or recommend an incoming student to apply. Check out other opportunities in Calvin’s congregational ministry and studies (CMS) department