We have news! In addition to Eric’s work as a seminary professor and leader at the still-somewhat-new Lutheran Centre at Sabah Theological Seminary, I have been asked by the ELCA to step into a new role: Interim Country Coordinator for the ELCA “YAGM” program in Malaysia.
YAGM stands for Young Adults in Global Mission, and Malaysia is one of 8 sites around the world that host Lutheran young adults in their 20s for a year of volunteer service. Sites include Argentina, Jerusalem, Madagascar, the U.K., and soon to be Rwanda, among others. It is a year of “being Church” in a new way for not only the young adults, but also the communities in which they serve. The current Malaysia country coordinator, fluent in Swahili, has been called to support the companion synod program between the St. Paul (MN) synod and Tanzania. He will use Swahili a lot more in Tanzania! Part of what I am learning is the variety of ways that the Lutheran Church approaches global mission – from national programs like YAGM, to synodical ventures like St.Paul-Tanzania, to long-term partnerships like ours at STS.
I am excited about this position – it seems like God’s hand in it when the ELCA found itself in need of – 1- an ordained ELCA pastor who -2- lives in Sabah, -3- speaks Bahasa Malaysia, -4-has a work visa (which are hard to come by), and -5-has met the young adults currently in country (I shared 2 weeks of language training with them in September). When the Church needs someone with those characteristics, and there is exactly one person in the world having them … well, it seems like God was making a way for the YAGM program to have a leader. The current coordinator will be in Sabah for another two months to coach me on all that I need to learn.
This *theoretically* still allows time for me to continue writing projects, while *happily* giving me reason to travel into the interior of Sabah as well as leading retreats throughout Southeast Asia. It also links me with communities in which I can learn more about life and faith in Malaysia. Together we can share the most Lutheran elements of the Gospel with communities who are only just now receiving Bibles and the Small Catechism translated into their language. New doors are opening through these resources, and new roads are waiting for me to travel as I support and learn with the generous young adults coming from the USA.
As a post-script – you can learn more about the YAGM program at www.ELCA.org. The ELCA is doing amazing things – you can learn a ton from surfing the ELCA page or from following it on Facebook. As a reminder – you can follow our blog or facebook page – just google Flung Forth Anew & you’ll find us! Remember to click “follow” here to be alerted when a new blog post is shared. It’s not too many e-mails – we promise!
Site visit #1 – visiting YAGM Evan at the school where he teaches English to immigrant (undocumented) children. These are the staff with whom he works & lives. In the center you’ll see Peter Harritts, outgoing coordinator, who built the YAGM program in Malaysia. I find that I will be meeting many people and learning about the amazing work that they do!
This picture was on the wall at another YAGM volunteer site. I took it to mean me – joining in this mission. But I hope you read it as YOU and know that by supporting ELCA Global Mission with your prayers, donations, and love, that you are reaching kids who need to know that there is a place for them. In today’s “glocal” world, connections abound.