Dream Campus Ministries aims to break down religious barriers


Autumn Alvarez

Dream Campus Ministries’ outreach extends to Santa Clara University on Friday nights for worship, fellowships and devotionals.

Autumn Alvarez

Update 12/8/2022: The language of article misidentified Dream Campus Ministries as an official De Anza club under the InterClub Council, and has been updated to appropriately refer to them as a group. 

Among the hustle and bustle of De Anza College’s cafeteria is a chatter most unique to campus ears. One might hear the words “Bible” or “God” spoken, and, if they get close enough, find that they are from a student-led devotional group. 

It is in these devotionals and open-ended discussions about religion that the Christian-based group, Dream Campus Ministries, has a distinguished voice on campus.

With a five-year running streak under its belt, De Anza’s Dream Campus Ministries serves to “provide a community and place where people build a culture around themselves to live by the Bible and the first principles of Christianity,” said 23-year-old group leader and communications major, Yousif Youman. 

Dream Campus Ministries was founded on De Anza’s campus in 2017 under the guidance of former communications professor Arielle Schram who is currently establishing a church in Fresno. The baton has since been passed to three enthusiastic student leaders: Youman, Austin Kilinski, a 20-year-old business major and 22-year-old communications major Alonso Gonzalez. 

From left, Yousif Youman, 23, communications major, Austin Kilinski, 20, business major and Alonso Gonzalez, 22, communications major, lead De Anza’s Dream Campus Ministries in the cafeteria on Nov. 22. (Autumn Alvarez)

The three are not in this crusade alone, but play an essential part in San Francisco Bay Area International Christian Church’s mission to, as Kilinski said, “giv[e] people a new perspective — giving them insight on the Bible.” 

“(We are a) community of people bent on the task and responsibility to build a family culture around the Bible, and helping each other grow in their relationship with God and encouraging each other to do so,” Youman said.

Alongside Dream Campus Ministries and many growing churches are multiple movements to bring the word of their God to Silicon Valley. The group has sowed itself within De Anza’s sister campus, Foothill College, as well as reaching as far as Stanford, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.

 “(We congregate with) 100 or something students our age, excited and pumped up for God,” Youman said. “It’s incredible fellowship time, getting to know people from other campus ministries and having a powerful devotion.”

Youman said he didn’t have a relationship with God while growing up in Iraq, considering himself atheist before joining the group.

“I used to be an atheist,” Youman said. “I wanted to study the Bible to disprove it. In trying to disprove the Bible, I learned that it has so many answers to every thought, question, doubt, emotion and lifestyle.”

In joining the group, Youman has grown to help others develop an understanding of Christian values and feel accepted in their questioning of religion, especially when doing so can be frowned upon. 

“It’s about truth and creating an environment for people to feel safe to question and challenge ideas intellectually without being verbally abused,” Youman said. 

A typical Dream Campus Ministries meeting consists of a short 15 to 20 minute discussion covering varying topics of everyday life. Kilinski explains that the facilitator asks members and visitors “for their opinions and thoughts, then turns to the Bible for reflection” on how the two align.

“The group and principles teach us to be outgoing, initiate conversation and relate to others,” Kilinski said. “[This] allows others to open up and be open to receiving help.”

Despite Dream Campus Ministries short postponement of meetings until winter quarter, the group continues to congregate with university campuses and strives to remain a strong presence in De Anza through their familiar faces and open mindedness.

“The group has a family feel, a presence that spreads because people get to know who you are not only because of what we do but also because we really care about others,” Gonzalez said.

Though they presently hold leadership positions, the three were once novice students needing guidance to delve deeper into their relationship with God and Christian culture. 

“I used to be a Catholic but still did not know anything after reading scriptures, I would just read it,” Gonzalez said. “(Now with Dream Ministries), Bible studies are refreshing — like unlocking a treasure that is right in front of your face.”

With various religious backgrounds represented in the three group leaders, they recognize their differing experiences as tools to resonate with others who feel confused or unsure of their religious stance. 

Youman said the group’s underlying theme is to openly share their faith.

“You never know when someone is desperately looking for God and desperately looking for the truth,” Youman said. 

Kilinski said the members’ diversity allows Dream Campus Ministries to be an outlet for teaching peers how to read the Bible and stay curious about things that don’t always make perfect sense. 

“Not many people who have grown up in church have truly read the Bible,” Kilinski said. “The common thing, even for today, is that people hear a lot of things and believe it versus investigating it for themselves [to see] what the Bible actually has to say.”