Posts Tagged ‘global mission fellows’

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Connect, Engage, Grow!

By Rev. JanJay Innis

I had just graduated from Seminary. Unlike many of my peers who knew what iteration of ministry they were called to, I was uncertain. However, learning about God's preferential treatment for the poor and marginalized had transformed me and I wanted to use my faith to help repair the world.  Still uncertain about what I wanted to do with my theological degree, I became a missionary to have a nuanced understanding of how the church could better connect with society and facilitate social change on micro and meso and macro levels.

I applied for young adult mission service with Global Ministries wanting to serve in Liberia where I am originally from, but God called me to serve in the United States where I'd been living for more than half of my life. I was led to the understanding that though the US and western European countries had been at the forefront of sending missionaries to third world countries in the 21st century in attempts to Christianize them, mission had to be more about working together to restore a world broken and divided because of the failure to see all persons in the image of God and bearing gifts to bring about the changes they needed. Such ideologies had caused many social ills that led to vulnerable populations working tirelessly to survive while greed , prejudice and misused power stratified a privileged few  to the top in the name of upward mobility. The US is an eternal case study for said problems and persons of faith need to be at the full front, speaking truth to power and seeking justice with the marginalized . I'd been shaped by US politics and policies whether I was aware of it or not. So, I trained for and became a US-2 missionary to utilize my right as a citizen to shift the nation's consciousness and actions to what was right in the ways I was capable of . I became a Social Justice Advocate at Tacoma Community House in Tacoma, Washington. There, I told the success stories of Refugees and Immigrants in efforts to help transform the anti-immigrant sentiments and narratives that were circulating around the country. I helped break down policies that were pertinent to the lives of refugees and immigrants to a basic level of understanding and coordinated self advocacy visits for them at the state level. I also led voter registration campaigns encouraging newly naturalized citizens to register to vote. In addition, as social media exposed racial violence across the country, I found myself deeply committed to anti-racism work as a self interest but also as a way to open up candid dialogues in the church about America's original sin of racism.  

With faith being the primary lens through which I read the world, my theological education gave me the theory to connect  my faith to justice work and my time as a US-2 gave me the opportunity live out this theory in practice. I am currently 3 months into my first appointment as a pastor in a multicultural community where on any given day of the week, people walk into the church needing food, jobs or a shelter because they are victims of human trafficking. I am overwhelmed by the experiences thus far but I know with God's help, I have been able to connect them to resources they need and motivate the church to assist and love towards solutions to some of the problems because mission work has taught me how to do that. 

If you're a young adult between the ages of 20-30 or know such a person with a heart that is equally passionate for the abundant living of people as well as their faith,  know that the two can intersect and can be applied to all areas of interest and skill sets. Explore those intersections by applying to become Global Mission Fellow!

Rev. JanJay Innis serves as a clergyperson in the North Georgia Annual Conference and is a member of the MFSA Board of Directors. 

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