RUF Reads: Fifth Edition

Weldon Saunders Headshot

Weldon Saunders, RUF Intern at University of Virginia 

Weldon was born and raised in Memphis, TN before attending the University of Tennessee. In Knoxville, she studied Kinesiology and Business. Before stepping into more school after graduating in May of 2019, Weldon knew she wanted to assume a relational role within RUF since this ministry shaped her in so many ways at UT. The Lord was gracious to pave the way to UVA. Here are Weldon’s book recommendations: 

Christian Living: Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning 

This has been my favorite book I’ve read in the last two years. Abba’s Child gets at the deepest longing in our hearts: to know that we are loved by God. I think every insecurity or fear or lie in my own heart comes from me not believing that God truly and unashamedly and substantially loves me. The author, Brendan Manning, writes with a humble confidence– he’s been to the bottom of the barrel, and he’s honest and often vulnerable, and out of that flows a deep confidence in who God is.

Fiction: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

This book is like a Sabbath-type rest wrapped up in the form of a novel. Marilynne Robinson’s writing is restful and imaginative and good for the soul. She describes ordinary things like laughter and tears in ways that everyone can immediately relate to, yet we’ve never heard those things described in such a wonderful way. There is so much wisdom packed in this novel… it is just such a restful and nourishing read. 

Christian Living: Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

The title of this book makes it sound heady, but really what Michael Reeves is doing is helping us see God’s trinity-ness as a beautiful thing instead of a roadblock that we have to mentally circumnavigate. He talks about the fact that God as a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are always giving and receiving love, and out of that flows creation– and knowing him as three and one helps us see his character of love more clearly. Reeves also adds humor and winsomeness to his writing, so his book is really enjoyable to read. 

Anthony Forrest, RUF Campus Minister at Jackson State University

Anthony is a native of Mississippi. He is widely recognized by his nickname – Paw – which he has had since he was about two-years-old. After high school graduation, he attended the University of Mississippi, also his wife Felicia’s alma mater. They married in 2007 and lived in Oxford, MS, where they saw the impact of campus ministry firsthand and felt a sincere desire to be involved in campus ministry. Anthony and Felicia left Oxford, and he attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson and interned at Redeemer Church, PCA. At the end of his seminary time and internship, the call to be the next campus minister at Jackson State University came. He accepted the call in the spring of 2019, with his wife by his side and their three children: Axayla, Arilyn, and Athan. Here are Anthony’s recommendations:

Christian Living: The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors by Thabiti M. Anyabwile. 

It is written by a man I deeply admire, who (like me) cherishes the tradition of the work of African-American pastors and is heartened by it in an unspeakable way.

Non Fiction: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo. It read like time spent sitting and listening to the story being told by the characters. As I’ve heard some say, “It took me there,” and I could almost feel the scenes.

Memoir: Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass by Fredrick Douglass. 

The understanding I got of the endurance, perception, hope, and life of that man is personally more important that I would ever have believed.

Ava Ligh, Campus Staff at Columbia University 

Ava joined Campus Staff because she wants to help students from different backgrounds who feel “in the dark” with respect to God. As a sophomore at Columbia, she joined a Bible study originally to prove to a friend that she could dismiss Christianity’s claims. Instead, she ended up with more questions, and it was through a campus ministry that she surrendered to Christ and gained a passion for helping students confront the claims of the Gospel. Ava attended Columbia (CC’99) and her husband Peter attended Columbia Law School (’01). She worked as a consultant before obtaining a Masters in Education and teaching for two years.  For ten years she stayed home to care for her children Karis (16), Erenei (13), and Checed (11) before starting to explore her calling to campus ministry. As a member and elder’s wife in Emmanuel Presbyterian Church a few blocks away from Columbia’s campus, she’s been serving in a campus ministry at Columbia for six years and is eager to transition to its RUF ministry because of its sound theology and accountability structure. She enjoys making fun of her kids, Netflix comedy specials, knitting, calligraphy, and playing Settlers of Catan with the family! Here are Ava’s recommendations: 

Christian Living: The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr

EVERY Complementarian should read this book. Too often when it comes to women in ministry, the only thing discussed is what women are allowed or not allowed to do. Dr. Barr is a historian and takes us through the historical contexts for the Pauline epistles that are so often used to justify the separate and unequal treatment of women in churches, and how the interpretation of the texts are informed by secular rather than Biblical values.

Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This was a page-turner and stunningly beautifully written. The story is set in the second world war, but is really about human resilience and hope that is universal across all time periods.

Brian Tsui, RUF Campus Minister at San Jose State University 

Brian started the ministry of RUF SJSU almost 5 years ago. His wife and young son enjoy being in and around the RUF SJSU community. Brian studied at UCSB receiving a B.S. in Bio-Psychology and went on to complete his Masters of Divinity degree from Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He served as an intern and assistant pastor in Dallas for 7 years before coming back to his home state of California to serve at SJSU. Here are Brian’s recommendations:

Christian Living: John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken

This biography was easy to read, inspired me to be a better pastor, and gave me a picture of a pastor who fought for social justice and pastored Christians who accomplished real change toward making slavery illegal. 

Memoir: French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

Don’t be fooled by the title, this book is actually about helping you to see that behaviors we think are “normal” are just very American. Inherently interesting if you’re into food and helpful if you’d like your kids to be less picky eaters. Did it make me more pretentious? Yes! 

Christian Living: The Pundit’s Folly: Chronicles of an Empty Life by Sinclair Ferguson

I found this little book to be more helpful than normal commentaires on the book of Ecclesiastes. I also believe this book is an untapped evangelism resource.