RUF Reads: Second Edition

Jonah Hooper, Campus Minister at Winston-Salem State University

Jonah grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina in a family actively engaged in the church. It was in the church that his love for music grew as a musician that led to a scholarship to attend Shaw University where Jonah majored in Music and English. Though Jonah had grown up in church, it was not until studying at Shaw that he received the good news of the gospel. Jonah’s deep desire to tell others about Jesus and what it means to be known by God through him, shaped his call to ministry. Jonah comes to RUF at WSSU from Salem Presbyterian Church and is completing a M.A. Theological Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. Jonah loves his band, The Prophets, basketball and tattoos. Jonah is Shadeeya’s husband and dad to Neriah and Jonah. Here are Jonah’s recommendations:

Christian Living: Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman 

“Jesus and the Disinherited” is a theological treatment that gives meaning to the civil rights movement in the 1950s by answering the question, ‘What does the religion of Jesus offer to those with their backs against the wall?’ 

Christian Living: Black and Reformed: Seeing God’s Sovereignty in the African-American Christian Experience by Anthony Carter  

“How can God be sovereign over a nation that practiced slavery, especially when many of the slave owners and traders claimed the name of Christ?” Carter presents as the primary issue of rejecting Reformed Theology in the black community, and he uses the five-points of Calvinism to show both the biblical truth and its connection with the African-American experience. 

History: Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Dr. King recounts the struggle for civil rights from a Birmingham jail cell in April 1963 connecting his gospel witness with the reality that, “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.”

Casey Cockrum, Director of the Female Campus Staff program

Casey is a native Mississippian, who now calls Tennessee home. She came to know the Lord through RUF at Mississippi State and upon graduation, moved to Memphis to work as an RUF Intern and Campus Staff. After completing her Masters in Counseling at the University of Memphis, Casey worked at Independent Presbyterian Church. In 2011, she returned to RUF and started working as the Counselor for Interns and Campus Staff. Over the past 5 years she has sought to develop and grow the Campus Staff program. Casey has been married to Colton since 2005 and they have 2 kids, Coleman (2009) and Callie (2011). You can find the Cockrums enjoying all things Willie Nelson and playing outside. Here are Casey’s recommendations:

Memoir: Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur 

Wild Game is a brilliant memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we, at times, need not be the parents our parents were to us. 

Fiction: Sophomores by Sean Desmond 

A witty, melancholic and affecting story about a family in the 80’s navigating life in Dallas, TX. The family struggles with the curse of knowing their own failings. Sophomores is a novel about growing up and getting through life. 

Christian-living: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton 

An excellent and accessible guide for those who seek, as Elijah, to know and be known by God in solitude and silence. Our Campus Staff program has used this book and Ruth’s tools to develop our ability to retreat to still and silent places with our Savior. I was able to attend one of her Silent Retreats and it was invaluable. 

Instagram is @caseycockrum 

Britton Wood, RUF Area Coordinator for Campus Ministers in Western Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama.

Britton is from Birmingham, Alabama, He attended Vanderbilt University and met his wife Elizabeth while serving RUF at the University of Tennessee. After attending Covenant Seminary they served RUF at the University of South Carolina for 4 years before moving to Stanford where they served for 7 years. They have 2 sets of identical twin girls: Mary Walton and Shelby; and Britton and Katherine. Here are Britton’s recommendations:

Christian Living: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman

Trueman examines how “expressive individualism” became the predominant, (dare i say even, assumed) way of just being human.  It’s maybe the best thing I’ve read in terms of helping me understand why we are the way we are and how we got here. 

Fiction: Dune by Frank Herbert

I’m halfway through re-reading this book. If there is a “Lord of the Rings” of the sci-fi genre, Herbert’s magnum opus may be it. If I may borrow from Publisher Weekly’s review of the famously abysmal “Battlefield Earth”….their words are more apt for Dune “This has everything: suspense, pathos, politics, war, humor, diplomacy and intergalactic finance.”

Memoir: Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks. Who knew a memoir from a neurologist about his child could re-enchant God’s world for you!? Oliver Sacks recounts his upbringing in a home surrounded by science. Reading it brings you back to your own childhood when you were so easily fascinated by simple things in the physical world. Remember when you thought metal was the hardest thing in the world, but then you learned lead was soft… and when there was nothing more mysterious than liquid metal, mercury! Read Sacks own account of how the rocks, metals, minerals, reactions, and more captured his imagination as a child and you might rediscover a little bit of that child-like wonder at the world again.

Jasmine Espinosa, RUF intern at the University of South Alabama. 

Jasmine was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University in August 2020 with a Bachelors in General Business Studies and a minor is Hospitality Management with two certificates, one in Club Management and the other in Meetings and Events. During her time at FAU, Jasmine was heavily involved in RUF, and it quickly became her home and place of fellowship and community for her three years there. She grew immensely in her faith through the counseling and teaching of her Campus Minister and interns at FAU. She hopes that God will use her ministry at USA to help students grow in their faith and be an easily accessible friend in Christ to them. Here are Jasmine’s recommendations:

Christian-living: The Secrets of a Happy Heart by Debi Pryde

Personally, I love learning about joy and happiness and this book has been extremely helpful to me. It points me back to truth and is a great resource for every Christian woman. 

Fiction: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If you ever were, or maybe still are, a nerdy fangirl who prefers fiction over the scary reality then you should read this! It is a perfect coming of age novel and cute love story!

Non-Fiction: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I read this book in high school, but it is definitely one that has stuck with me over the years. It is a very moving and inspiring book about a woman who had her childhood ripped from her. 

Instagram: @jasminenikkia

Morgan Kendrick, Campus Staff at UC Berkeley. 

Morgan is from Wrightwood, California – a small ski town north of Los Angeles. In 2014 she moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley. As a student, she joined RUF and came to know Jesus. In 2018 she graduated with a degree in Political Science, and started working as an RUF intern at her alma mater. In the summer of 2020 she started working as RUF Campus Staff for Berkeley’s ministry. Morgan loves coffee, live music, and driving around to explore Oakland. Here are Morgans’s recommendations:

Christian-living: God Does His Best Work With Empty by Nancy Guthrie

I bought this book as an audiobook and have been listening to it while I walk! During a time where a lot of our days can feel empty (I don’t know about you but everything being online can make days feel like they aren’t passing at all) this book has been a real encouragement. 

Non-Fiction: Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib 

Abdurraqib is probably my favorite writer. The way he writes about music is how I feel about music, it’s visceral, thoughtful, and engaging. 

Fiction: White Teeth by Zadie Smith 

Zadie Smith is a genius (and really funny.) This story is like “Love Actually” but with war, politics, crime, and much more drama. This is one of the few books I’ve reread multiple times, and is a great escape if you need one. 

Instagram: @mr.kendrick