Heidi Koppen joined the team in 2020 from the USA. We caught up with her recently to hear about her own journey of faith, and how God has been using her to build His Kingdom with students in Ireland.
“I grew up in the middle of a big family on a small acreage farm in the country cornfields of Iowa United States.
“My parents became believers out of hippy lifestyle in their twenties so they raised our big family centered around the Bible and understanding of how Jesus went to the cross in our place so that we can be forgiven and cleansed from our sins through faith in Him. It was all clearly explained to me by my older sister one day when I was quite little. I knew my sin separated me from God (I especially understood that when I would tell lies!) My sister explained what Jesus did and that I could receive being saved like a gift and then I could really be with God – I basically said yes to God and all he had for me! It took me until my teenage years to realize that Jesus work on the cross was so full and complete that it really has nothing to do with any efforts I could add to it.
“When I was 13 I came to a clear understanding of this and was just so thankful for all He had done for me and knew I didn’t want to do anything in life unless He was right in in the heart of it! Walking with Him has had this foundation since and He is so good to me!
“I was able to go to bible college for four years studying a double major in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry and also had the opportunity to join a few overseas mission trips and trainings. During these years I had so much time learning from and working with great servants of the Lord, teachers, mentors, missionaries. I found the more I learned the more I realised how much I don’t know and how much more there is to learn!
“God also taught me how important it is to be just as active in service as study. From these amazing people from college, I learned how important it is to train, challenge and care for younger Christians. My goal now is that everyone I pass things on to will outdo me someday!
“Since then, I’ve been able to be in full time ministry doing community gospel work alongside a small church in south Dublin (Shankill Bible Church) and really emphasis in Youth ministry and get involved with youth camps and conferences and trainings around Dublin and across the island. I’m very burdened for all the churches across the Republic of Ireland to grow especially in youth ministry and have been praying for revival for over ten years now.
“I have seen CUI as such a greenhouse for young believers. It’s such a great opportunity for them to take initiative and ownership of ministry by leading and working with peers to build up and encourage Christians on their campus and to courageously share their faith with classmates and friends who don’t know Christ (yet).”
Over the last few months Heidi has been working with students in Galway and Waterford. For Heidi, a typical day as a CUI staff worker heavily revolves around taking the initiative and giving a word of encouragement. Through late nights, phone calls, silly gimmicks, providing prayerful support and giving advice on how to handle stressful schedules or resolve conflict, Heidi is making a difference in the lives of students in Waterford and Galway. What’s more, her example of faith in Jesus is spurring students on to be intentional in sharing the gospel with other students on campus.
She adds, “In Waterford there was a student who heard about the CU Zoom meetings partway through the year and started coming. He messaged the committee to say that he was so happy about coming along, and that he just loved being able to sit around and discuss a part of Scripture with other people his age! The committee were so blessed to hear this because they just wanted to create an environment that was comfortable and chill but also able to go deep looking at the Bible together.
“One of the things that impressed me most with the Galway group was a special event that the committee decided to put on for everyone just for a night of good fun. They put together a mystery murder story with lots of twists and turns and interesting characters, acting it all out on Zoom. It was so inventive, and amazingly brought to life as they rotated through the breakout rooms of all the student ‘detectives’ as the night progressed. It just reflected to me so much how these students approach time together, going above and beyond with care and intentionality, totally willing to do whatever is needed for the CU.
As we continue journeying through another strange year of student ministry in our covid–19 consumed world, we asked Heidi what she is longing to see God do in and through CUs in time to come.
“I am so excited to help equip students with the tools of how to rightly divide the word of truth, understand how to properly study scripture, and how to then share it with others. I also love being able to model what it is like to invest and mentor with the hopes of multiplying/ that they would do the same with someone. I always say, yes I’m willing to really commit to realigning the Bible and praying with you regularly, but there are strings attached (that’s usually really shocking to hear) and then I laughingly say that the strings are that they need to do this for someone else or maybe even a few during their life.
“I want to keep these connections with these students as I know they are the future leaders of churches across Ireland. They will be using all their experiences and equipping in their churches and I’m excited to see them be used by the Lord for years to come!”