Yvonne Agduyeng (M.Div. Class of 2016) was recently chosen by the General Board of Global Mission of the United Methodist Church as one of its 45 2016 Global Mission Fellows. She speaks with e-Calling from her new appointment in Frankfurt, Germany.
Yvonne, congratulations on your new appointment! Please tell us more about the GBGM's Global Fellows program and your appointment in particular.
"The Global Mission Fellows program of the General Board of Global Mission is for young adults, age 20-30, from all over the world to participate in mission all over the world. We serve to engage with local communities, connect the church in mission, and to grow in personal and social holiness. I have been placed to work with the International & Migrant Ministries in Frankfurt, Germany for the next two years."
How was it that you were considered for this appointment? When did you find out that you had been named a Global Fellow and what was your reaction?
"I had to fill out an application that was very in depth. The application comprised of a handful of questions concerning why I wanted to become a missionary and how I saw the connection between my faith, justice, and mission work: Along with essay questions, I had to name my gifts, issues and topics I was passionate about, and of course, the usual school and employment experience. After I submitted my application, it went to the Young Adult Mission office, which is responsible for group and individual interviews, approval of candidate, and eventually matching a candidate with a placement site that is deemed the best fit. I found out I had been accepted as a candidate in my last semester and learned about my placement site the day I graduated from Wesley."
What will be the focus of your ministry in Germany? Who will you be serving and where?
"My official job title is Community Development Fellow at International & Migrant Ministries. The central focus of my work is outreach to and development of international and migrant United Methodist ministries, which covers asylum seekers, migrants, students, undocumented workers, residents with foreign backgrounds, and military personnel and their families. I will be living and serving in Frankfurt am Main in the neighborhood of Höchst along with another charge in the village of Lorsbach."
How do you think this missionary appointment will impact your ministry? Where will be the greatest learnings and challenges for you, in your opinion?
"My prayer and hope for the next two years is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in Germany. I was a bit hesitant and questioned why I would be placed in Germany but the more I thought about it, I began to realize what a gift and privilege it is to be able to witness and experience such a pivotal time in Europe. I am looking forward to learning about the intersections of migration, justice, and theology: I am excited about the people I will meet and the stories I will hear. I am also eager to share all that I will experience with my church and communities back home. But I do have to prepare myself with the reality that this is going to be hard work - really hard work! Meeting people is easy but actually being able to connect and fellowship with others who speak a different language and culture is going to be something that I will have to work on every day for the next two years."
Following this two-year appointment, what is next for you?
"I am looking at the next two years as a time of discernment on whether I will become a "full-time" missionary or to continue with the ordination process as an Elder serving in the local church. Perhaps the next two years will make way for a totally different kind of ministry or a mix of both. The uncertainty is definitely unsettling but with the affirmation from family, friends, mentors, and with the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit - all this certainly makes the uncertainty quite a journey that I am excited for."
You are a 2016 M.Div Wesley graduate. How do you feel your time at Wesley prepared you to take on this new ministry?
"One of the main reasons I went to Wesley was due to their emphasis on practical theology. Even though I was not aware of it, the importance of doing theology helped prepare me to become a missionary. Theology is not just about my personal faith but how faith can lead to the struggle for justice: I learned how faith can be both a source of liberation and a source of oppression and constantly discern what my role is- where am I and where is God calling me to go? Wesley also prepared me to better articulate why I became a missionary: I sometimes see the non-profit world as an alternative but I am reminded as to why I am called to missionary work - to work for nothing less than the restoration of God's creation."
It's the beginning of a new academic year at Wesley. What advice do you have for new and returning students to make the most of their Wesley experience?
"It was my first day of seminary and I was having a pleasant conversation with a 3rd year student who asked me what I majored in in undergrad. "Biology," I said. To which he responded with, "That's a waste. You are never going to use that in seminary." Fast forward to my second year in seminary in Systematic Theology when, during an exam, I compared the free electron model (something I had not thought of in years!) to articulate the fellowship of the Trinity as a "holy dance." The moral of this story is to be open and aware to using your experience in seminary - all of it: I think there is a danger in negating parts of your experience because it was not strictly "theological." The best part of seminary is balancing the tension of what seems to be polar opposites but is actually quite cohesive."
All missionaries, wherever they are, need our support. How can we support you in your work?
"Three key ways: through prayer for my ministry, by staying in contact with me as well as via financial gifts. I have an advance number (#3022237) that churches and individuals can use to donate and 100% of the money goes to support missionaries all over the world. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ."