Helping People Feel Seen, Known, and Heard

Bethel grad Ranae Pageler ’21 has a passion for being part of the work God is doing in rural communities. She dreams of one day opening a coffee shop to serve local youth by providing opportunities for employment, community building, and personal growth

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

July 16, 2021 | 8:45 a.m.

Bethel University graduate Ranae Pageler

Ranae Pageler '21 graduated from Bethel in May with a bachelor’s degree in reconciliation studies and a minor in social welfare studies.

Small towns hold a special place in Ranae Pageler’s heart. She spent the first part of her childhood in a rural community in North Dakota, and then her family later moved to another rural community in Minnesota. Going to Bethel gave her the opportunity to experience life near the city—but upon graduation this past spring, she felt God drawing her heart back home.    

During her time at Bethel, Pageler explored a variety of majors and minors, searching for what would serve her well so that she could serve others well. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do; she just knew she was called to serve. She eventually decided to major in reconciliation studies, with a minor in social welfare studies.

Bethel University graduate Ranae Pageler

As part of the reconciliation program, Pageler studied abroad in Morocco, where she participated in a service-learning program and studied Moroccan culture. “I made some great connections,” she says. “That trip really expanded my perspective.”

Many of Pageler’s reconciliation courses were taught by Program Director Claudia May. Pageler says May was intentional about incorporating biblical texts and helping students analyze them in their biblical and cultural context. “Dr. May challenged me to look at scripture in a new way, which has really shaped the way that I read the Bible now,” Pageler says. “I see Jesus’ heart is for the oppressed, for the marginalized. His heart for those who don’t look like me, or those who may not think like me. Wherever we’re at, Jesus sees us and He desires us. We have a call to display that love that Christ has.” 

To Pageler, following that call means ensuring that people feel seen, known, and heard—three words that have resonated with her and have come to represent her passion. “From my own experience in rural communities, I know that they can sometimes be overlooked,” she says. “Those are my roots, and God has been stirring in my heart to go back and serve people and really lean into those three words: seen, known, and heard.” 

Ranae Pageler with a cast iron frying pan

Pageler loves to cook. Growing up, she remembers watching her mother make homemade meals and welcoming people into their family’s home. “Inviting people over for a meal was a way for my parents to serve people,” she says. Today, she enjoys doing the same for others. “I think food brings people together.”

After graduation, Pageler moved back to North Dakota where she is now working as an office manager at Lakewood Park Bible Camp in Devil’s Lake. She doesn’t know when or where exactly, but her dream is to start a business, like a coffee shop or something similar, in a rural community. In addition to providing a gathering space, her goal would be to serve and empower youth by providing intentional mentoring, job training, and leadership development opportunities.

Pageler’s hope for the coffee shop is to share the love of Christ by meeting people where they’re at—helping youth in rural communities feel seen, known, and heard in a work context and equipping them with skills to take wherever they end up next. “This wouldn’t just be an opportunity for me to invest in youth,” she explains. “They’d also be able to invest in the business or their community, whether that’s through the planning process or sharing ideas that they have. It would be a shared partnership between youth and myself or whatever adults are also present.” 

The concept of partnership is important to Pageler, and she considers it one of her biggest takeaways from her experience in the reconciliation program. “I need to position myself in a place that it’s not just me giving or me thinking about what I can give,” she says. “I also need to ask who are the people I can listen to, learn from, sit with, and build a relationship with. It’s something I’m still growing in, but partnership is so vital in reconciliation and in life in general. I can’t do things alone.”  

Bethel students Ranae Pageler and Kadrian Chambers

In April 2021, Pageler was recognized, along with Kadrian Chambers ’21, as a recipient of this year’s Reconciliation Studies Award.

Pageler feels she has been set up for success in this next season. Her coursework, her internship experiences through Bethel’s community partnerships, her study abroad experience in Morocco, and the relationships she’s formed throughout have all equipped her to follow her calling.

“I feel called to carry out Christ’s mission of reconciliation and to be a part of what God is doing on Earth,” Pageler says. “Whether that’s when I was at Bethel, or at my job here in North Dakota, or eventually when I hopefully open my own business serving youth—the overarching theme is that God has called me to serve people well.”

Study reconciliation at Bethel.

Biblical reconciliation calls us to be reconcilers, peacemakers, and advocates in a broken and divided world. The reconciliation studies major prepares students to follow this call.

Learn more