BY MOLLY WILLIAMS |
For many young people, the transition to college can lead to a sense of separation from one’s home church community and even a wavering of faith. As a current undergraduate student, I did not know how I could prioritize Christian spirituality while also getting an education and starting my career. Recognizing the drastic changes that come with this chaotic stage of life, the Board of World Mission took a proactive approach in providing me with mission opportunities by fostering a global perspective, embracing a unique faith journey, and empowering me to serve with compassion and purpose.
My journey with the Board of World Mission began in the spring of 2022 when a family friend set me up with a chance to speak with staff members about a possible summer internship. What stood out to me was the differences between this conversation and a typical job interview. Gone were the robotic questions and nervous tension; instead, the Board of World Mission staff welcomed me with genuine warmth and a sincere interest in my aspirations. Their openness to sharing about their impactful work and eagerness to explore how I could contribute left a lasting impression. They did not just inquire about my skills; they delved into my passions and dreams, asking how they could support and align them with their mission. At the end, Executive Director Justin Rabbach ended by saying something to the effect of, “I see no reason to turn down a motivated and hardworking individual. Would you like to work with us next summer?” It was an easy yes. I spent the following year emailing back and forth with staff members to develop a work schedule for the summer of 2023 that would combine my interests in Spanish, photography, and travel and also support the ongoing work of the Board of World Mission.
Being a global organization, the Board of World Mission fostered my interest in international relations through international trips and meetings. In May, I had the chance to interact with members of the Unity Mission and Development Board when they were meeting in Wisconsin. I got to learn about some of their faith and career journeys. I also got to introduce some of the international visitors to “s’mores” and watch their facial reactions as they pretended to enjoy this American delicacy. I also got to ask important cultural questions like, “What do you really think of Harry leaving the Royal Family?” All jokes aside, it was incredible to be able to get to know so many people from all over the world all at one time. It is not everyday that I get to practice my Spanish, while learning a little bit of Swahili and Czech at the same time. But with the Board of World Mission it happens more often than you would think. As I write this reflection I am preparing to travel to the Czech Republic with several other young adults, where I will have the opportunity to learn about the roots of the Moravian Church alongside Czech brothers and sisters. I am looking forward to yet another opportunity to experience church history and worship through a cross-cultural lens.
On my travels, I had the pleasure of being invited into the homes of other Moravians to stay for varying amounts of time. With that came meaningful conversations and of course many laughs. Over meals or tourist outings, each family graciously shared their stories of how they came to embrace the Moravian faith. They shared the challenges they encountered along the way, and the pivotal moments that strengthened their relationship with God. These experiences fostered a deep sense of connection and understanding, as I learned from their stories and drew inspiration from their unwavering devotion to God’s love and teachings. From hearing these stories it became easier to see how I was not unique in my spiritual doubts or questions, but everyone is in the same boat (even pastors!). These interactions further exemplified the Moravian motto, as we celebrated our shared unity in faith essentials while appreciating the beautiful diversity of individual faith journeys.
During my time as an intern with the Estamos Unidos ministry in North Carolina, I was embraced with open arms into a community that transcended language and cultural differences. This ministry works to welcome the Hispanic community in Winston-Salem, providing them with opportunities to learn about God and grow in faith. As an intern, I had the privilege of participating in various service and educational initiatives that the ministry offered. One notable experience was the SparkDwell mission camp, held right in Winston-Salem, where I was entrusted with the role of being a trip leader – a completely new and exciting responsibility for me. Witnessing the youth attendees, many of whom were city natives, explore unfamiliar parts of their own surroundings, and seeing them grow throughout the week as they learned about the struggles within their community, was truly inspiring. Simultaneously, I learned a profound lesson about mission work. It goes beyond simply serving others; it’s about recognizing the challenges right in your own backyard and understanding how to be present, grow, and build genuine connections alongside your neighbors, rather than turning a blind eye to their struggles.
As I sit down to reflect on my experience as an intern, the phrase, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love,” resonate deeply within me. Throughout my internship, I had the privilege of witnessing how this is not merely a phrase but a guiding light for the church’s global outreach efforts. By embracing a global perspective, celebrating diverse faith journeys, and serving with compassion and purpose, the Board of World Mission unites people in spreading God’s love and making a meaningful impact on our congregations and communities.
About the author
Molly Williams is the summer 2023 intern for the Board of World Mission. She is currently a senior in college at the University of Minnesota Duluth studying Spanish, Political Science, and International Studies. Contact Molly by sending her an e-mail at [email protected].