RUF Reads: Fourth Edition

Cyril Chavis, RUF Campus Minister in Washington, D.C.  

Rev. Chavis is from Virginia Beach, VA. He is an alum of the University of Virginia, earning a B.A. in Religious Studies in 2013, and is an alum of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, earning an MDIV with a Biblical Exegesis emphasis in 2017. Doing campus ministry on HBCUs since 2014, Cyril has served as an RUF Intern, RUF Campus Minister at Jackson State University, and now RUF Campus Minister in Washington, D.C. While pastoring, Cyril founded Hidase Publishing in order to address the African experience – diaspora and continent – from the rich resources of the Christian faith. When he is not pastoring or writing, he is probably laughing way too hard with friends; goofing off with his wife, Jenell, and his three kids; or dreaming about how things could be. 

Christian-Living – The Great Athanasius: An Introduction to His Life and Work by John R. Tyson.

Over the past several months, I have been inspired by Athanasius’ courage, boldness, suffering, and conviction in his service to Jesus. 

Fiction – Dracula by Bram Stoker.

For whatever reason, I love Gothic Horror novels. It is an exciting book and really does leave you with chills. 

Fiction – The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni.

This is a fun read because it seeks to teach leadership principles through a fictional narrative. This book is always in the back of my mind as I do anything in ministry nowadays.

Caroline Agan, RUF Intern at Stanford University 

Caroline graduated from Appalachian State University in 2019 with a degree in communications and a minor in philosophy. She’s called a couple places home, including upstate South Carolina, St. Louis, and metro Atlanta, where her family lives now. She loves art, photography, and philosophy of art and photography. She watches enough hockey to worry her friends and family and enjoys hiking once she’s actually on the trail. More than anything, Caroline’s excited to love and learn from the students at Stanford. Here are Caroline’s book recommendations: 

Memoir: What is a Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

This book is the story of Denhollander’s exposure of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, as she went public with her story of abuse and became a champion for the girls and women who are survivors of assault. Beyond being a story of bravery, truth-telling, trauma, and recovery, it is also a book about the problem of pain and the God who breathes dignity into every person, no matter how little worth society has assigned to them. 

Christian-Living: How to Fight Racism by Jemar Tisby

Jemar Tisby wrote this book as a response to the question he gets most often: “So now that we see racism exists, what do we do about it?” The answer is as simple as it is broad: grow in awareness, grow in relationships, and grow in commitment. This book is extremely practical if you’re looking to apply our Biblical calling to pursue justice on Earth: it is current, concise, and compassionate. 

Christian-Living: Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zach Eswine

This is the only book about depression that I feel fully comfortable giving to someone who is in the midst of depression. It’s not a book full of solutions, it’s just putting words to the deep sadnesses of the human heart using the sermons of Charles Spurgeon and giving hope where there is little to be found. In its own words, it is ‘a letter from one who wishes you well,’ both for the one who is suffering and those who want to learn better how to love them.

Solomon Kim, RUF Campus Minister at MIT

Solomon is a husband to Jane and father to Caleb and Katie. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and has also lived in the Pacific Northwest, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Korea – but not in that order. The Kims moved to Boston in 2014 to begin a new chapter of RUF at MIT. Previously, Solomon worked in various ministry settings including a college ministry in Florida and a church plant in California. He is a Cornell alum, having studied Operations Research there, and completed his theological degree at Reformed Theological Seminary. Solomon loves traveling, going to baseball games, exploring Boston restaurants, and making coffee.

Theology: Calvin’s Ladder by Julie Canlis

Canlis draws from the writings of Calvin, Irenaeus, and others to explore the relationship between God and humans through the themes of participation, mediation, and ascension. She makes the case for this relationship to be properly understood as participation in the triune life and in the life of the church, while guarding against monism, escapism, or natural human capacity.

Urban Planning: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

The author possesses no college degree or formal training in urban studies, and yet she writes with remarkable prose and the qualities of a primary source. Subject matter aside, the book is worth reading purely as a literary classic. As for the subject at hand, Jacobs shares her theories (much of which have been soundly confirmed) of why some neighborhoods decay and others thrive, how density and diversity contributes to the vitality of a city, why new isn’t always better in terms of architecture and development, what makes streets safe and inviting, and why utopian city plans such as Howard’s Garden City and Le Corbusier’s Radiant City will do more harm than good if ever a reality.

Memoirs/American Studies: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong  

While some parts are nsfw, this is a compelling, powerful, and at times, distressing and even fatalistic look at the oft invisible and nebulous Asian-American experience and identity. Not satisfied with the conventional categories such as “in-betweenness” or the more dubious ones such as “model minority,” the author writes in part memoir and part history to reflect on her journey of overcoming the many stereotypes and struggles minorities face. I especially appreciated and learned from the history lesson in the first essay, her reflections on the ’92 LA riots in the second essay, her apparent sense of contempt and constraint of the English language in the fourth essay, and how she interweaves her story with the history of colonialism in the seventh essay and throughout the other essays.

Ben Milam, RUF Intern at Ole Miss

Ben graduated with a degree in Finance from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2019 and is excited to work for RUF in his home state. Ben grew up in Madison, Mississippi as the second oldest of six children. His interests include sports, backpacking/camping, music, coffee, and spending time with his friends and family. Here are Ben’s recommendations:

Christian-Living: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

This is one of my favorite books of all-time. Manning paints a practical picture of the mystery of grace and how it can change the life of an ordinary sinner like you and me.

Christian-Living: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

An incredibly well-written and informational glimpse into the life of an American Muslim. Exposure to other religious cultures helps us understand our own, and Qureshi gives his audience this in telling how the Gospel reached him across cultural barriers. 

Memoir: The World’s Largest Man: A Memoir – Harrison Scott Key

The funniest book I’ve ever read. A collection of stories of about growing up in the Deep South that gives both light-hearted observation and heart-warming reflection.