Jazz in the Background

Student reflections on living faithfully

Remember. Remember. Remember. From the campfires of the ancients to the string of Edison-bulbs dangling in the cozy cocoon of Blake Street, the same impetus guides us to faithfully recall what God has done. Moreover, we wonder how might the Spirit move in the future? At semester’s end, we gathered this unique and wonderful cohort, to celebrate their stories and to send them off into the world. Here then, are a few of their own insights about the melodies created from this year of faithfully improvising.

Faithfulness is…

“… accepting forgiveness from myself and others, giving my shame to God, and receiving grace in return….It’s bringing together many different people into one unified community, and committing to it. It’s learning to love people who are a little different. It’s pulling out google translate and attempting to do charades dozens of times a day because a stranger only speaks Spanish. It’s being patient and kind when somone wants to argue about faith and the Bible and it’s weird but you show interest anyways. It’s allowing my communities to integrate with each other and letting go of control.  E.E 

And being honest about suffering…

“….in order to heal…If you’re trying to protect yourself from whatever you don’t want to feel, your armour will keep the bad in and the good out. If permission is what we’re looking for to bring our emotions to God, we have it. We tend to run from God because we’re scared that he’ll get angry with us if we doubt, but he’ll just love us more….at some point, you need to put your armour down and process things [trauma, etc], instead of repressing them…the more people know me, the more they can love me, and that confession is a way for people to know my real self and not the fake self [I/we present].” E.S

Faithfulness in the 21st century means ‘slaying the digital leviathan’

“I learned from Kevin Makins that the digital leviathan needs to be slain and that we are meant to be engaged in the world…my life is what I give attention to. I wanted my life to be about the people and community I was now part of rather than my phone. [After fasting from my device] I felt the peace of God that I can never feel with a phone in front of my face. How would I participate in an act of cultural defiance by setting aside time for God and community [in the future]?” A.B

I believe. Forgive me my unbelief.

“We sing that God is good and I sometimes see that he is good but I don’t know if I believe that he is good. The only thing I can do as a Christian is to hold onto God when I’m hurting. That’s all I can do…By trudging through the wilderness (literally and figuratively) and diving into my grief, joy, and my sorrow…I have begin to see glimpses of my true self. In Even the Sparrow, Jill Weber writes about how during a season of growth, she imagined Jesus coming in like Martha Stewart, to just freshen things up and maybe put up some new wallpaper, too. She soon realizes that God is in fact NOT Martha Stewart, but rather one of those extreme makeover shows, with bulldozers and sledgehammers, ready to tear the house to the foundations and then rebuild it.” H.G

On Joy and Sorrow and Godspeed

“Major loss in my life has made me more guarded to prevent future loss. Sometimes that fear is real and legitimate, and sometimes it is hard to accept that suffering will continue in my life; it is the price of loving. We suffer and sorrow because of the love, joy, peace and security we know. Grief and suffering shape our stories, but doesn’t define our faith…God goes at a slow speed, and if we walk at his speed, we can be truly known by God and others. A product of going slow is being more present; I want to be more present [and] have frequent tech fasts after I leave Act Five…I can’t continue to distract myself anymore. I just have to feel what I feel, even if it’s hard or painful.” A.B

Expectation, Inspiration and Community

“When I signed up for this program…I signed up for an experience that would make me really holy so I would stay that way for the rest if my life. I would have this foundation of radical “Godliness” that would carry into the future. I would be the kind of person to start a bible study, and the first person [people] ask to pray…[But] I had a dream…I begged God…’Lord, let my life be a prayer, holy and simple.’ I will never be this up-front and noticeable gospel warrior [or] the kind of person everyone wants as their teacher or mentor. And that is a huge relief. In getting to know myself, I have realized that I only want a little life of faithfulness. A life that is, at its core, is simply God’s.” A.B


“Of all the people who inspired me throughout Act Five, I think Jill Weber is the person who has had the greatest impact on me. And I haven’t even met her…reading her book, Even the Sparrow, …she made connections with so many different people. Reading about her experiences with the prayer truck, the 541 and the Order of the Mustard Seed made me realize when you live for God instead of yourself, He will provide you with so many different opportunities.” J.H


“I learned to live faithfully through the Evensong messages…[I learned that] ‘gentleness is curiosity instead of accusation. Gentleness is letting things go instead of reacting harshly. Gentleness has strong roots. Jesus was gentle. Gentle and wise and strong.” G.B


“Sharing my difference has made a difference…I realized I could do anything. No, that’s a lie. GOD can do anything…” V.S

What I learned from my housemates

How to be proud of my loudness and not shy away from it. What resilience looks like. What not giving up is, even when things are hard. How to leave space for others and appreciate others. What an amazing friendship looks like. That I am not alone in wishing to be the best Christian, even though I can’t. Just how much I love sarcasm and sass. The true embodiment of loving others. To just let go and be crazy. Immense self-control. And last, but definitely not least, I learned how interesting and beautiful everything can be. E.N

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost

” In a jazz performance you never quite know what you’re going to get —a beautiful saxophone or piano solo?— similarly we often don’t quite know what God is doing in our lives until after it has been done. I have to find where the beautiful things in my life come together like in jazz.” I.F-T

We would love it if you can support us in continuing to live out our ever-growing mission—both in discipling young adults and in growing our faithful presence on Blake Street and in Hamilton.  Here is how you might support us:

  1. Would you continue praying for our students as they prepare for further studies, that they will seek out community to help discern their next steps? Would you pray with us that they would find that “deep gladness” in the world of work? Would you pray for the students who will join us in September 2022?
  2. Will you consider donating to support Act Five? Did you know that Act Five tuition & program expenses only support around half of what it takes to operate our program? We rely on the support of others who believe in what we are doing, how we are doing it and what God might have in store for us in years to come.  To give, whether a one-time gift or monthly:
    • Go to www.redeemer.ca/give.
    • Select “Redeemer Mission Fund” as the place to give. Click “Donate Now”.
    • Include “Act Five” in the section for “Donation Notes”.
  3. Will you help us spread the word? Whether for possible future students, for those who might be interested in supporting our work, or for other young adults who might appreciate living among this community in future summers or academic years, we want the story to spread!

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