Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter
December 3, 2023 // Diocese

College Experience Leads Elkhart Native to Missionary Work

Lisa Kochanowski
Assistant Editor/Reporter

When Elkhart native Nathan Lindholm began college at Ball State University, he wanted nothing to do with his Catholic faith. Despite attending Catholic grade school during his primary-school years and receiving the sacraments, he didn’t have a deep connection to his faith.

However, life circumstances changed his perspective, and Lindholm is now a FOCUS Missionary at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“What brought me to serve as a missionary with FOCUS was primarily my experience at Ball State University,” Lindholm told Today’s Catholic. “It wasn’t until I had a hard first year and realized my need for God that I started to pursue something more.”

Elkhart native Nathan Lindholm is now a FOCUS missionary at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

His journey began with some familial guidance.

“My father invited me into his Exodus 90 group the summer before my sophomore year. Exodus 90 is an intense 90-day Catholic men’s exercise based on prayer, aestheticism, and fraternity that aims to bring men into a greater freedom to love God and others. Despite this being the last thing on earth I would have ever done previously, inspired by the Holy Spirit, I said yes,” Lindholm said. “In that, I started to see that instead of being restrictive, the Christian life made me freer than I’d ever been.

“In the fall at Ball State, I met a FOCUS missionary who invited me to a Bible study – and soon after, discipleship. This missionary became a dear friend, and I made other great friends there at the Newman Center. I began getting more involved, going to church for more than Sunday Mass. I began going to the chapel to pray daily, going to daily Mass and adoration. Throughout the next three years at Ball State, largely in part due to the FOCUS missionaries, my life was changed, and I fell in love with Jesus and my Catholic faith.”

As his college career came to a close, Lindholm decided to apply to be a FOCUS missionary.

Photos provided by Nathan Lindholm
Nathan Lindholm, back row, poses with the FOCUS missionary team on their first day at Hope College.

“It became clear to me that God wanted me to go and tell others of the great treasure I’d found,” he said. “I was seeing all my peers around me who didn’t know Christ and who were suffering. I became convicted of living a life of mission, bringing to them the reality and great joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I accepted an offer from FOCUS to be a missionary and started my first year serving at Hope College in Holland, Michigan,” said Lindholm.

FOCUS, which stands for Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools, aims to fulfill the great commission of Jesus found in Matthew 19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Missionaries are sent to college campuses because they believe that is where the fight for the hearts and minds of young people is happening.

“My role is to serve the students at Hope College, to walk with them in their journey of faith, calling them higher to lives of prayer and virtue, and equipping them to do the same for others. Day to day, my team and I spend an hour in prayer, go to daily Mass, lead Bible studies and small-group discipleship, spend intentional time with students, attend and put on student events, and lead mission trips,” Lindholm said. “I’ve committed to be a FOCUS missionary for a minimum of two years. This is a full-time job, but the pay looks different than other jobs. All of the funds necessary to be on mission full-time are completely provided by generous family and friends who partner with me in this mission. People like my mission partners are the ones who make all that FOCUS missionaries do possible.”

Lindholm said his experience on mission trips has been transformational.

“Something amazing that I’ve seen God do on mission has been how much He has moved the hearts of students to sign up for Seek24, FOCUS’ national conference in January. My team and I are the first FOCUS team ever at Hope, so not many students here knew what FOCUS was when we first arrived. Despite this, God has given fruit to our efforts, and currently there are 39 students signed up for Seek24. That’s huge for a small school like Hope, and our campus is one of the leaders in Seek sign-ups in the region,” Lindholm said.

One of his goals as a missionary is to make a lasting change in the lives of the students he encounters. He wants them to be convicted to the Gospel and equipped to go out and live the mission in whatever way God calls them. He highly recommends joining the FOCUS journey to others.

“FOCUS is an amazing apostolate, and God is doing great work through it. FOCUS really prioritizes the personal wholeness and holiness of its staff. If you want to make an impact in the world for Christ, FOCUS is a great way to do that,” Lindholm said.

When his journey is complete, Lindholm plans to take his undergraduate degree from Ball State and create a life filled with fulfillment and joy.

“I studied computer science, so after my time with FOCUS, I plan on pursuing a career in software engineering. In between my first and second year on mission, I will be getting married to my beautiful fiancé, Sara, and starting a family. I’m so excited to see what the Lord has in store for us,” Lindholm said.

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