What do you do? And other interesting questions.

I took a break from my duties as Area Program Director for West Africa to visit New Jersey and to preside at the wedding of a young woman I confirmed about seven years ago. It was fun doing the work that parish pastors get to do, again. As an APD I don’t get much opportunity to preach or preside at weddings, baptisms, or sit with families as they grieve the loss of love ones. I don’t get to be present at a bedside or to say a word of comfort at memorial services on a regular basis anymore. I miss doing these things and I am happy when I am invited to function in these ways that are so familiar to me.

In April, I was able to preach at a former intern’s ordination and also at the baptism of a young couple who I grew (and vow to remain) very close to in the last few years. I have been invited to preach at two friends’ congregations, one in July and one in August. I am thrilled! I will have the opportunity to preach the gospel, advocate for Global Mission, World Hunger and explain what I do.935787_394025194045785_2044744517_n

Last week at the wedding, I spent a lot of time answering the question: “who are you?” and “what do you do? First, I had to explain to many of the people gathered, that I wasn’t some random person that was hired as part of a package at this particular venue, but that I was the former pastor of the young woman who was getting married. And while no longer the pastor of that congregation, I was now working in the churchwide offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). 936147_10152783065150263_679971166_n

“What do you do?” I was asked again and again. I answered by telling people that I accompany Lutheran Churches in West Africa and I oversee programs and projects that the ELCA supports. “That’s a lot of responsibility isn’t it?” Some asked; “you must have a big heart?” others exclaimed.

To tell you the truth, some days I am not sure about all of this responsibility and I haven’t figured out yet exactly what I do. I know that my job consists of traveling to Central and West Africa; I know that on most days I open lots of e-mails and respond to questions about programs and funds and personnel.I get to sit in interviews, meetings and great conversations. I get to talk and laugh with colleagues from all around the world.

I am not so sure that my heart is so big except that I have a heart for doing what God has called me to do. My job includes praying for those in the Central African Republic who are experiencing conflict and tragedy. It includes being concerned with whether or not global personnel are doing work that gives them life. It includes making mistakes and doing the wrong thing a lot of the time. This new vocation includes struggling to read e-mails written in French and wondering will the language ever make sense.


No, I am not in the parish anymore and yet, I am doing the work of mission and ministry albeit in a new way. So if you ask me “What do you do? I might answer you by shrugging my shoulders and saying. . . “things I never thought I would do. Thanks be to God.”

I am westafricabound.

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