Developing student personas for digital strategies

Because of COVID-19, Christians all over the world have been forced to find new ways to minister, from a distance. One of the areas that I’ve been able to focus on because of the ways things turned out last year has been the ministry’s digital strategies and more specifically the Student Life website. I’ve been meeting with Karl (Tandem New Zealand) to lay the foundation for the online platform.

Our vision is to be able to journey together with people digitally all over the Pacific while still being able to connect them with workers on the ground that can help facilitate small steps on their spiritual growth journey.

To do this we’ve done a lot of research and gathered information through student surveys, staff interviews and sitting down with a smaller group of students to verify our assumptions.

Above are a few screenshots from our online brainstorming session with the staff team here in Fiji. The team used the whiteboard app Miro for this activity. Surprisingly, it was a very productive and engaging process with the staff team. In the past it’s been a challenge to work on things together remotely (thumbs-up to Miro).

Anyways, much of our discussion focused on the staff putting themselves in student’s shoes. There was also talk about their impressions on the types of students that were currently a part of the ministry and the types of students we wanted to attract. It was good because it also gave us an opportunity to talk about some of the gaps in our current system and to better understand student and ministry needs.

What we then created was a persona. A persona is a profile based on data that represents a group of users that have similar goals, pains, needs and behaviours. Personas help us know, love, and serve our users. Personas also help us focus our efforts on meeting our goals and the needs of our users.

Our persona is taken from a grid that allows us to identify groups of people by their placement on the Scale of Belief (x-axis), and the Level of Benefit they get from us (y-axis). When we talk digitally, we don’t speak to individuals, but rather people as a larger group through this framework.

The audience grid

We then took this persona, built around data collected from the surveys and on assumptions that the staff had made and sat down with a select group of students to provide feedback and to verify whether or not they could relate with the persona.

Persona focus group

Our prayer is that God would help us so that those we encounter are moving “upwards” and to the “right” on their spiritual journey so that they may eventually be able to guide others.

Our Persona

The first persona that we’ve developed falls into group K, so we’ve named her Kalesi.

Kalesi represents the most common student coming into Uni that eventually becomes a part of the ministry. Kalesi is a Pacific islander that has grown up in a Christian household yet is not currently experiencing any significant spiritual growth. Her main goal is to do well in school so that she would be able to give back to her family and somehow find a cause that she can contribute to.

Our aim as a campus ministry is to be able to connect with Kalesi(s) and be able to journey with her during her time on campus so that she can fulfil her dream of making a difference.

Currently, Karl and I are working on mapping out a way to best connect with and “win” the trust of Kalesi. So that we can have part of the website up and running by orientation week this first semester. (More on this soon.)

The next phase will look at creating a persona for the most unreached student on campus and figuring out pathways to reach them.

Appreciate your prayers as we continue to work on this.

Namaka Orientation

Imagine walking through campus on a hot (read: humid+sweaty+sticky) day and coming across a table that was serving ice cold juice… for free! Wouldn’t you stop to cool off and find out what these guys were about?

Free juice!

That was our exact strategy out at orientation day on Namaka campus last Wednesday and we had an overwhelming response. The Student Life table was definitely the busiest table at the school foyer.

While students got a drink, we took the opportunity to talk to them a bit about the ministry and asked them to fill out a quick one-minute survey card that looked like this:

A couple of the resources that we gave out on that day

Tom, one of the student leaders that showed up to help did an awesome job talking to groups of students (at times twenty plus in a group) about who we are and how they can get involved. It’s always encouraging to see students step up.

Tom talking to a group of new students about the cards

Prayer Request

  • Please pray for the students that filled out cards. Over the next couple of weeks we will be making phone calls to see if we can connect with them. Pray that God would just prepare their hearts.
  • Pray for the team as they begin these connections with students that God would provide opportunities for them to get into deeper conversations and share their personal testimony of life change.
  • Our first Connexion (weekly meeting) begins February 14th. Perfect “date” wouldn’t you say?

Praise Report

  • Our constitution has been approved by the Student Association and Student Life Namaka is now a registered body.
  • Kelera, our latest team member has found an apartment and will be moving over from Suva this weekend.
  • Visit our facebook page, it now has over 1,000 likes –

The Highs and Lows of 2018

Setting up ministry in a new location is a challenge. It’s no secret. Building a movement is something that takes time to function at full capacity. It’s something that we understand might take even longer given the fact that at the moment we might only have two full-time campus staff to begin the new year. This is something we knew full well taking on this assignment. 

However, from the get go our rhetoric has always been that we are here to help assist and equip students reach their campus for Christ. We want the students to take ownership of the movement. We want students to lead. We also want to build strong partnerships. It doesn’t matter whether you’re with Cru or YWAM, WEC, OM, or a small church, what matters is that God’s name is glorified.

And although, there hasn’t been much fruit to show for this past year in ministry. We believe that a seed has been planted in many people’s hearts and that the few that have shown interest, really understand the vision of building Christ-centred movements in the Pacific and beyond.

Here are a few things that happened this year:

Connecting with students

We were blessed to find on arriving to Namaka, a group of students that were keen on being part of the movement. Most of these students had either been involved in a Bible study that Nathan had been running on his visits to the West or encountered a project team.

We hosted a BBQ with key students and used it as an opportunity to connect with them and cast a bit of vision.

Easter Outreach

The team organised an Easter Outreach where we were able to have a speaker share the gospel with around 280 students. Of the 98 comment cards that we got back, 55 indicated a strong desire to grow in their walk with God. 48 of the 55 – female students. This was definitely going to be a challenge with Judith soon to go on maternity leave and Nathan and I the only full-time staff on campus.

Hanging out after Bible study

Leaders Training at Home

In April we had five student leaders attend a training at home. Nathan talked about quiet time and I spoke on the spirit filled life.

Spirit-filled living. This is a week before Judith gave birth to Micah 

Other stats for those that like numbers:

Life concept 1 – Confidence  52 students 
Life concept 2 – Forgiveness  38 students 
Life concept 3 – Empowered  32 students 
Life concept 4 – Equipped  13 students 
Life concept 5 – Maturity  8 students 

*Life concepts is very similar to Follow-up.  You can download the resources here.

As the semester progressed, campus ministry often felt overwhelming and lonely with Nathan and I being the only staff in a new campus. Our student numbers at connexion started to dwindle and we lost contact with some key students. However, what we’ve been left with is a refined group of committed students. 

Small group study

Micah arrives

Lautoka Hospital for some reason has a new policy that does not allow fathers to accompany their partners to the delivery room so this is one of the first times I’m seeing Micah

Prayer Group with other Missionaries

God’s blessed us with great friends who serve with other ministries and organisations. We’ve found support and encouragement in our local church and amongst other missionaries in the area. 

Our weekly prayer group with other missionaries we had earlier this year
Church friends visiting Judith and baby Micah


In June I had to travel to New Zealand to be part of the ELI training. It was tough leaving, Micah was only four weeks old. Fortunately, Judith’s parents had come over from Vanuatu to be with them while I was away.

With the grandparents

Voyagers Conference 2018

Read about that here.

Deuba Wedding

Nathan and Rebekah got married on the beach in Deuba. It was a beautiful wedding. I’m very proud of Nathan, he’s become someone I can really count on and Bekah adds a lot of much needed humour and spontaneity to the team.  

Nathan and Bekah got married July 28th

Second semester

The second semester was a challenge, with Nathan and Bekah focusing on support raising, I became the only staff on campus. A couple of times I had to run Bible studies with a group of 6-8 female students; as the semester progressed we picked up momentum but this was interrupted yet again with trips to Australia and Vanuatu. 

After a Bible study meeting with students

Vanuatu Trip

September was a busy month for us. I had to leave Judith and Micah again for ELI, this time in Brisbane. A week after returning from Australia, we travelled as a family to Vanuatu. Jim (Judith’s brother) was getting married to Charlotte (a close friend).

It was also a good time for us to connect with family, friends and ministry partners and our church there.  

Micah’s first time travelling overseas
Jim and Charlotte’s wedding October 6th

Church involvement

We’re really thankful for being a part of a vibrant church community that has helped us settle well in our new location. One thing that really blew us away was when Judith had just given birth to Micah, families from church brought food over for an entire week.

Since then, I’ve been given opportunities to preach, putting into practice what we’ve learnt during IBS and also assisting with the church finance.

Tavakubu Community Church is a Brethren Church that is located about five minutes drive from home, comprising of about 12 families and many young people. 

Preaching for the first time at our church in Lautoka
(Note: we had a visiting team from NZ attend that Sunday)