Refugia: a podcast about renewal

hosted by Debra Rienstra

Available on your favorite podcast platform

Refugia are places of shelter where life endures in times of crisis. From out of these small sanctuaries, life re-emerges, and the world is renewed.

We’re exploring what it means for people of faith to be people of refugia. How can we create safe places of flourishing— “micro-countercultures” where we gain strength and spiritual capacity to face the challenges ahead?

Host Debra Rienstra interviews a different guest each week, exploring the evocative idea of refugia from a variety of perspectives, from biology to worship to politics.

This is a podcast, ultimately, about watching for places where God is working at renewal—of the earth, of the church, culture, and society. It’s about seeking how we might participate willingly and courageously in that divine work.

For grammar geeks: “Refugia” is plural. “Refugium” is singular. I try to keep this straight, but both I and my guests mess it up sometimes. Meanwhile, the phrase “people of refugia” seems to reconstrue the word as a singular quality or state of being. I like this term enough, obviously, to put up with the confusing linguistic issues involved!


Debra Rienstra

The art of being human in a God-beloved world.

Like a lot of us, I’m trying to stay faithful and sane as the world continues to change all around us. As a writer and college professor, I combine perspectives from the past—especially the literary tradition—with reflection on contemporary thought. Most of all, I draw on the rich resources of a generous, intelligent, ecumenical, genuine Christianity to explore all aspects of culture.

If you like to learn new things while celebrating the beautiful, lamenting the tragic, and having fun wherever possible—then we’re on the same journey. With the help of good books and good people who are doing hopeful work, we can seek how best to offer our small lives for the greater blessing of the world God loves.


To share your thoughts on Refugia, choose an episode and scroll down to the comments section.

Refugia Podcast

Refugia in Review

Refugia are places where we are content to be small for a while. To wait, to be quiet, to practice simple virtues like hospitality and empathy. To build capacity on a small scale to prepare us for regrowth.
November 23, 2019


Many thanks to the team of people who made this project possible.

  • Thanks to David Wunder along with the Calvin Centers and Institutes at Calvin University that provided funding to support an experimental pilot project during the summer of 2019.
  • Thanks to Calvin students Kayla Cooper and Garrett Strpko for doing so much of the recording and post-production, and to Jordan Van Eerden for batting cleanup. Thanks to Lauren Cole for much transcription editing and for developing the look of the podcast. Professors are not necessarily the most tech-savvy and we tend to be reclusive, but we can learn. Thanks for your patience with us.
  • Thanks to Michaela Osborne and Stephanie Boer for vital logistical support.
  • Thanks to all my guests, who were so generous with their time and wisdom. I’m proud to put your work on display whenever I can.
  • Thanks to Kathleen Dean Moore, whose book Great Tide Rising inspired the idea for the podcast and who continues to inspire me with her prophetic voice, artistic skill, and personal integrity.
  • Finally, huge thanks to John Hwang, whose passion and commitment fires us up and continues to make it all possible.