Being a recent college grad, I am on the journey trying to find where my passions meet the world’s needs. I began my journey to the United Kingdom back in February 2015 when I started the application process for the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. YAGM is a program through the Evangelical Church of America (ELCA). This year, the ELCA will be sending around 85 volunteers to serve in Argentina & Uruguay, Australia, Cambodia, Central Europe (Hungary), Jerusalem/West Bank, Madagascar, Mexico, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Each of these young adults will work in a church, school, health and development project, or social service ministry.
Growing up in a Lutheran church, going to a Lutheran college, and working at Lutheran camps, I have been surrounded by countless examples of ways Christians serve our neighbors. The ELCA mission statement explicitly calls us to love and serve our neighbors. I believe that service is a part of each of our vocations, God calls us to walk alongside our neighbors. I believe in a God who loves unconditionally. A God who loves no matter a person’s race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic stats, and sins. Each one of us has been given gifts from God to share with the community. Our talents are all unique. God has provided each of us with gifts that can positively impact our neighbors. I look towards Jesus as a model of how to treat others and how to live a life of grace and love. Jesus challenges us to walk alongside our neighbors and to follow the greatest command, to love one another (hence the name of this blog). To me, service does not mean just giving someone/a group of people money and then hoping their problems will be solved on their own. Service is being in relationship with our brothers and sisters and sharing our stories together. So, what does it look like to walk alongside our neighbors? Well, there isn’t just one answer to that question, which is a reason why it’s beautiful. I hope to find a deeper understanding during my time in the United Kingdom and I will use this blog as a platform to share my experiences.
After being accepted into the program and invited to serve in the United Kingdom, I had to discern this calling. It was a tough decision to make. The process involved deep conversations between loved ones, shedding tears of joy and sadness, and thoughtful reflection on my faith journey. In the end, I was happy to respond with a yes!
In August, all 85 YAGMs gathered in Chicago for orientation. We spent time in fellowship with one another through worship, information sessions, conversations, and exploring Chicago. At the end of orientation, we parted ways and headed to our countries. I will be spending a year in Manchester, England serving at St. Chrysostom’s Church. I look forward to sharing stories with you through out my year abroad. Thank you to all of you who have supported me so far. Your support and prayers have been greatly appreciated!
Come walk with us, the journey is long!