Our Story

Alongside’s Story—Growing God’s Venture

Alongside’s story began with the compelling vision of Dr. Jeanne Jensma. After receiving her MRE in missions, Jeanne spent over a decade in Brazil as a missionary, primarily teaching TCKs (third culture kids). During that time, she learned from her MK (missionary kid) students, and occasionally from their parents, of hidden pain in the missions community. And a seed was planted. Thus began Jeanne’s educational trek into the field of clinical psychology, focusing on how she could one day use her training to work with missionaries and their families.

Shortly after earning graduate degrees from Wheaton College and Rosemead School of Psychology in clinical psychology, Jeanne was offered a job at Tuscarora Resource Center in Pennsylvania, a counseling ministry for pastors and missionaries founded by Reidar Senum in the 1980s. When Senum passed away in 1997 and the Board determined to dissolve the ministry a couple of years later, Jeanne reincorporated the ministry in 2000 under the name “Alongside” with the hope that God was in the venture and would provide.

In early 2002, Alongside moved to Michigan with only three staff. In 2003, Jeanne and Alongside’s Board of Directors began praying for several interrelated elements needed to provide greater stability for the growth of the ministry. For nearly 7 years they prayed, and in 2009 they began to see answers. From 2009 through 2012, the prayers that had been lifted up by this small team were answered, one after another.

One of the prayers was for God to provide an Executive Director, and in early 2010 God did exactly that. John DeKruyter joined Alongside and provided the leadership needed to take the ministry to the next level. In the first week of 2013, after having leased facilities for 11 years, Alongside moved onto its current campus. By God’s grace, John’s diligence and leadership, and a group of visionary and generous donors, Alongside now owns 125 wooded acres with trails, a flowing stream, a spacious adult ministry center, and modern, cozy lodging! In 2013 Alongside also launched its Children’s Program (more than just childcare—it is a program especially for kids!) that parallels its signature adult Renewal and Growth Program. A few years later a beautiful Kids’ Barn was constructed to house and complement the Children’s Ministry.

In every step of Alongside’s journey, the Lord has been present. He continues to strengthen and expand Alongside’s reach in the missions and pastoral communities. For the past two years every retreat program has been filled to capacity, validating the need for this kind of counseling ministry to Christian leaders. Alongside is an excellent option when sending organizations, churches, and ministry leaders who are looking to meet that need. Thanks be to our God for all He has done for us, in us, and through us!