1993 Kris Nanda
Federal Public Servant (Environmental Issues) • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
On Campus 1991–1993 ∙ DIPCS ’93
I’m a US-born former lawyer and diplomat who has been living with my family and working in Canada—primarily for the Canadian government—since my time at Regent. My wife and I recently celebrated our 31st anniversary, and we have two children in university. You can find me on LinkedIn.
On Regent Community
With people from so many cultures and denominations working, worshipping, and praying together, I felt like Regent was a foretaste of heaven, or a heavenly oasis. It was one of the best, if not the best, Christian community experience that I have ever had—the spontaneity of people just stopping and praying for one another’s needs. I loved the weekly Chapel services, and I still remember the great talks from fellow students and hearing how God was working in or had worked in their lives over the years. Many of these stories are still with me.
More From Kris
How I got to Regent
I was working as a US diplomat, and I was at a career crossroads when my posting in Ottawa wound up in 1991. Two Regent alumni in our church house group at the time recommended Regent for someone like me, a relatively new Christian who wanted to learn more about the Bible. As someone who was interested in environmental issues before becoming a Christian, I had also wanted to learn more about the biblical mandate for being stewards of God’s creation and to study with Loren Wilkinson on that topic. Plus, moving across the continent to Vancouver was an adventure that we had prayed about and that I have not regretted.
Learning at Regent
I was interested in environmental issues before I became a Christian, and that didn’t change when I came to faith. At Regent, I had the opportunity to do an independent study on Christian creation care with Loren Wilkinson. The lessons from that study helped ground me more deeply in the biblical mandate to steward God’s creation, and helped give me a raison d’être while engaging with environmental issues in my personal and professional life over the years. It also gave me a way to demonstrate to secular environmentalists that the Bible is in fact relevant to the issues that concern them—and that there are Christians who share their concern for conservation and protecting ecology.
Regent taught me the importance of authentic Christian community. I came to the realization that devout Christians don’t “have it all together”—that it is OK to admit one’s weaknesses and failures, and still be a Christian believer.
Regent also opened my eyes to various denominations and gave me an appreciation for the breadth and variety within the Christian community. One of the things I appreciated was getting to know and study with people from all different backgrounds. I remember studying for an Old Testament final exam with a Baptist, a Mennonite, a Salvation Army officer, and me, an Anglican—and realizing how much we had in common (and that we could laugh while we studied). I also remember the day my sister (who was not a Christian) visited me at Regent and I was able to introduce her to students from every continent except Antarctica.
Being a Regent student also gave me a solid grounding in Scripture and the various books and letters (OT and NT), which strengthened my faith and help me better read the Bible and see how things fit together. One of my favourite classes was Elmer Dyck’s Old Testament class, which really helped open up the Psalms for me, and allowed me to learn about the historical context of Israel’s kings and prophets.
I also learned to appreciate how the Bible (particularly the Psalms, the words of Jesus, and the Epistles) can reach us where we are, no matter what our situation—this has been a great comfort over the years.
Life after Regent
When I finished at Regent, I assumed it would be relatively easy to resume my professional career. I was wrong, not realizing how hard it would be to get a permanent job where my skills would be fully used. I ended up being underemployed for much of the 1990s. We originally planned to stay in Vancouver for just one year, but ended up staying for nine. I went back to study law, articled with a large law firm in Vancouver and was called to the BC Bar, but could not find a permanent job as a lawyer.
While in Vancouver, we were fortunate to have supportive and prayerful Christian friends, mostly in our local church and house group, with whom we formed bonds that still last. The two Anglican churches where my wife and I spent the majority of our time during and after Regent College provided us with church community, friendships and support. Both congregations had “prayer warriors” whose support was invaluable. Over the years, there were many time where I wondered why certain prayers were not being answered. I may have been discouraged and sad at times, but ultimately I took solace in the Psalms, and passages like Rom 8:28-39, Matt 6:25-33 and the words of Peter in John 6:68 (“Lord, to whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”). I still do not understand why certain things happen, but I have to trust that God has a plan for me (Jer 29:11; Eph 2:10).
It was not easy, but somehow we survived financially during our nine years in Vancouver. Both our children were born in Vancouver, but I was out of work when our daughter was born in 1997, and my wife and I were both working part time when our son was born in 1999. I spent our last three years in Vancouver working part-time as the Administrator at our church. I never would have imagined doing that, but it was a job that allowed me to grow and to develop skills and confidence that would come to good use in the future. It also gave me the time and freedom to serve as a Christian on a multi-faith, multicultural environmental initiative and to speak to secular environmentalists on how to engage the Christian community.
Realizing that we could not afford to stay in Vancouver indefinitely, we left Vancouver in October 2000 and drove across the country to Ontario—without a job to go to. We stayed with my in-laws for seven months while I looked for work. In 2001, I finally got a job with the federal government, working on the climate change file. It was as if the Lord had “restored the years that the locusts had eaten” (Joel 2:25).
I have been with the federal government since then. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, as I’ve had to deal with difficult work experiences at times. Thankfully, many of my jobs have related to environmental and sustainable development issues, and I have been very active in community and municipal issues on the volunteer front. My current position involves working for the federal Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development, which has been a great place for me to apply biblical principles on environmental stewardship.
Why I support Regent today
I believe that Regent College offers students from Canada and internationally a chance to learn from professors and from one another about what it means to be a Christian in a rapidly-changing world. Its focus on educating the laity gives Regent an important role. I would like to give back to make it easier for those who may face financial difficulties to attend Regent. It is also important to help Regent be able to afford to continue hiring and keeping professors who are outstanding scholars and instructors. I still cannot believe how so many excellent scholars and instructors were under one roof—the Green Roof—during my time at Regent!
Favourite Regent Memories
In particular, one moment I still remember came during orientation week, when Loren Wilkinson led a hike up one of the North Shore mountains. After we reached the top, he read Psalm 104 while we looked over Howe Sound as the sun started to go down. Unforgettable.
In general, I love the memory of working at Footnotes coffee bar and getting to know other students and staff (plus getting a discount on books!).
Funniest Regent Memories:
∙ Going to the Regent retreat at Warm Beach (which was neither) and watching the funny skits—and realizing that the theme from Gilligan’s Island was the only song everyone knew when we started singing around the campfire at night.
∙ Reading the Christian lightbulb jokes in the weekly Regent paper.
∙ The fact that the Wittenburg Door magazine was kept behind the circulation desk at the Library so it would not “walk away.”
Favourite thing about Vancouver
Being able to bike all around the city and hang out at the beach.
Favourite place to study as a Regent student
The library. (Not an original answer, but true!)
Regent in three words:
4. Authentic (sorry, I had to put in four!)
Aspect of my life that would have surprised me as a student
That I ended up settling in Canada and not returning to the United States (and have been working for Canadian government for the past 18 years).
1. I am the first person in my family who is a Christian.
2. I have visited every US state except Hawaii, and every Canadian province except for Newfoundland.
3. I qualified for Jeopardy when I was in Vancouver, but never got called to appear on the show.
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