In the early 1990s, I became a part of a predominantly white, Quaker college community, where people who looked like me were few and far between.
I had come from a place of dysfunction, mistrust, brokenness, neglect, and abuse, a place where death seemed viable in light of the pain.
Renée Dayan (now Suhr) was serving as a resident director and CCO campus minister at Malone University. Her duties exceeded keeping her eyes out for students’ welfare and handling the college housing system. She encouraged, cultivated, and challenged us to embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ and to live out that relationship in the college community. Renée’s amazing listening heart allowed her to connect this broken 20-something with the help I needed to begin a healing process. God used college—and Renée—to save my life.
One day in Chapel, Pastor Joey Johnson from the House of the Lord in Akron, Ohio preached to us Malone students. He looked like me—African American. I was enamored by his preaching, and I desperately wanted to visit his church.
The Lord had given Renée the heart to attend Pastor Joey’s church too. Imagine this young white campus minister worshipping at a predominantly African-American church and bringing college students with her.
I grew up in the Lord under the tutelage of Pastor Joey and his leadership team. I had numerous opportunities to serve in this ministry and did so until I got married in 2013. Malone was my birthing ground for service.
As I turn 45 this year, this thank you has been 25 years in the making. Thank you, Renée, for pouring into my life—you are the goodness of Jesus towards me. Thank you former, current, and future CCO campus ministers, because God gets all the glory for the works of your hands. Thank you, CCO, for giving the message of Jesus to college students.
—Sharon Howard, Malone University 1996 | September 2018