BY KYRA TESSMANN |
As a young adult in the church, I feel like I’m constantly asking myself what my vocation is and how my faith impacts what I do. I recently graduated from Valparaiso University with a passion for serving in the nonprofit world. I’ve held several internships at different nonprofit organizations that worked towards addressing social justice issues, but this summer I am an intern with the Moravian Board of World Mission. In the month and a half that has passed in my internship so far, there is one thing that stands out to me as a huge impact on my level of satisfaction and enjoyment in the work that I do: a faith-based perspective.
I landed my first nonprofit internship while I was studying abroad in Costa Rica; I worked with an organization called Fundación Mujer doing research and translating documents. I worked with amazing people and learned a lot about the women and refugees who were clients of the organization learning entrepreneurial skills so they could open their own businesses. The people there were full of faith, and it was not uncommon for the executive director to lead a prayer before a special event. In fact, Costa Rica is the only Latin American country that does not separate church and state. Despite all the faith surrounding me in that work environment, it didn’t feel like the work itself was coming from a faith-based perspective.
I also held an internship last summer with a remote pro-bono organization called Human Rights Connected. While with them, I learned more about the injustices of the world and what we can do to address them. I helped create blog posts, conducted research for Know Your Rights and action guides. Everything I worked on was incredibly relevant and had a direct impact on world issues that I was passionate about. However, I often felt like what we did just wasn’t enough, like we were missing something. For me, that missing piece was the church. We were trying hard to be politically correct and sometimes left out faith-based organizations as resources in the hopes of being more inclusive. To me, that felt like we were telling God, “It’s okay, we’ve got this issue. You can sit this one out.” The longer I worked there, the more I felt like we were trying to bite off more than we could chew.
That faith-based perspective brings a certain kind of focus to the table. It reminds me that the work I do has a real impact on the Kingdom of God and that God is working through me. It gives me inspiration to use my personal gifts as well as a sense of purpose higher than just doing good for the sake of doing good. Because the BWM operates from a basis of faith, specifically answering the call of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:17-39) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), I feel like everything I do is imbued with the love of God as it passes from my hands out into the world. The faith-based perspective also reminds me that I’ve got a whole church to lean on, not to mention an awesome all-powerful God! It is such a blessing to remember that my work is in God’s hands and not just my own.
Working with the BWM was also something I felt called to do since a few years ago. I find so much joy in answering that calling, and I’ve been amazed at the doors that God has opened for me on my journey so far. I spent an amazing weekend at the Moravian Women’s Conference, I’ve recorded episodes for the Moravian Church Without Walls Daily Text podcast series, and I’ve learned so much more about how the non-profit world works. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that working with a faith-based organization matters to me; it impacts how I feel about myself and the work I produce, and it gives me a higher sense of purpose in life. I’m excited to continue working with the BWM and to carry a faith-based perspective through the rest of my career.
About the Author
Kyra Tessmann is a summer intern with the Board of World Mission. She graduated in May from Valparaiso University, and she is also the president of the Regional Youth Council for the Western Region Summer Moravian Church Camp. She is looking forward to attending her final year of Chetek camp next week.