Meet the Staff for 2019-2020

Meet the Program Director

JON BERENDS comes to Act Five at Redeemer University with years of experience as a teacher and chaplain in Christian high schools, along with a range of experiences that include a Master’s in Theological Studies from Regent College in Vancouver, camp leadership, overseas missions, coaching, and mentorship.

Jon is passionate about working with young adults, and cannot imagine much that is more exciting than being able to build relationships with Act Five students through traveling, canoeing, eating, worshipping, playing board games, or whatever else happens over the course of eight months together!

Jon lives in Hamilton with his wife, Aimee, and their two beautiful little girls, Rhea and Elise. They love exploring the city and finding the best coffee shops, waterfalls, music venues, and playgrounds. They enjoy having groups in their home for shared meals and often some spontaneous live music, and can’t wait to open their doors to the 2019-2020 Act Five cohort.

You can contact Jon directly at or (905) 648-2131 x4468.

Meet the Resident Leaders

NINA AND DAVE DRENTH come to the Act Five program as experienced community builders who have been investing in Hamilton for a number of years. Married in 2017, Nina and Dave have since been living as property managers for Micah House, a home for newly arrived refugee claimants.

A Redeemer alumna, Nina has experience working for the Greater Ontario House of Prayer and 541 Eatery & Exchange and is working towards her Masters of Divinity at Wycliffe College. Dave, who is skilled and experienced in the trades, has served in numerous roles over the past years at L’arche, a community where people with disabilities live and share life together.

Together, Nina and Dave attend New Hope Community Church and enjoy hiking, reading, thrift shopping and drinking lots of coffee. They are excited to mentor and live alongside the Act Five students as they help facilitate an amazing year serving as Act Five’s first Resident Leaders.

Meet the On-Call Resident Leader & Zambia Trip Leader

ALYSSA ZILNEY is a recent graduate of Redeemer University and can often be found hanging out with folks at A Rocha Ontario, the Greater Ontario House of Prayer, and 541 Eatery & Exchange, or biking around Hamilton. She is passionate about living in community with others and enjoys walking alongside young people as they discover their gifts and strengths. She holds a degree in International Development with minors in Environmental Studies and Missions, and is very excited to be part of the Act Five program, including the Zambia trip!

Meet the “Spiritual Mom” & Zambia Trip Leader

DENA THOMAS joins the Act Five team with years of experience in health care at Hamilton Health Sciences, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Waterloo and eight months experience serving in East Africa in the Save the Mothers – Masters of Public Health Leadership program at Uganda Christian University. Dena is an active member and leader in the Hamilton ‘True City Network’ (a group of churches committed to the good of the city together) and loves discipling young adults. Dena lives in the North End of Hamilton, with her husband Steven. Dena Thomas is thrilled to support the Act Five Program through the role of Spiritual Parenting over the course of the year and leading the team to Zambia in November.

Meet the Faculty

DR. JOHN BOWEN has worked with university students for 25 years, teaching and mentoring them in evangelism, Bible teaching, and discipleship. In 1997, he became Professor of Evangelism at Wycliffe College, an evangelical Anglican seminary in the University of Toronto. He is the author of three books (including The Spirituality of Narnia) and editor of three others. His wife, Deborah (pictured on the left), was an English professor at Redeemer for many years and will also be involved in Act Five. Now in retirement, he is doing more of the things he loves, like spending time with his four grandchildren and being involved with Act Five where he will be co-teaching The Six Acts course in Fall 2019.


JOSIAH BOKMA has served as the chaplain at Redeemer University since 2016, where he leads chapels, provides pastoral care and develops student leaders. He is also a part-time professor who teaches the Drama of Scripture course. Josiah is passionate about helping young people to settle into their identity as beloved children of God, embrace a lifestyle of discipleship, and learn to trust the Holy Spirit’s leadership. He lives in east Hamilton with his wife, Sarah, and three kids, Myra, Ezra and Iris. They love to hike the trails of Hamilton, cycle its streets and serve their neighbourhood with their church. Josiah is very excited to teach The Six Acts course alongside veteran professor Dr. John Bowen!