We caught up with Rebecca recently to see what she did with Opus and how that has affected her time in the workplace a year and a half later.
Would you mind sharing some of your journey through Wheaton to your present-day experiences?
At Wheaton, I did an M.A. in TESOL/intercultural studies and while completing that, I had the privilege of teaching English to some refugees through World Relief's ESL program. My work with them inspired me to go into advocacy work with the Mennonite central committee in their Washington, D.C., office. My internship lasted four months, and then I returned home to Uganda. In Uganda, I worked for a research organization as a research assistant and also in the Embassy of Japan in Uganda. In April, I will be going back to Japan to teach English and intercultural communication to college students.
How do you feel your understanding of vocation from your time in Opus has affected your life now, post-college?
Just like most young people today, I didn't want just a job. I wanted something that used my experience and gifts, and brought great fulfillment. So I was looking for that one job that would become a career and bring satisfaction. However, through Opus, I learned that I am called beyond myself at all stages of my life. I was called when I was a student, in times of transition, now in my work, and even when I am not working. That realization was freeing! Every setting has opportunities and challenges that affect our call. I remember listening to my fellow graduate readers and being amazed at how each of us, from worlds apart, were trying to understand vocation given our different sets of gifts and the unique places we each found ourselves in. We all have a place and a role to play in kingdom work.
Can you share any specific stories of the intersect between your faith and various vocations you have walked out since graduation?
It was easy to see how my faith influenced my work with refugees, but it was a little harder at the Embassy, in the world of diplomacy. I have learned to watch and see what God is doing in every context I am in before I decide how to be involved in His kingdom work. After a few weeks at the embassy, I offered free English conversation classes for my Japanese colleagues. We have had some amazing conversations about our faiths and fears. I wish I could say when I shared my story of faith, they became Christians. No they didn't, but I was glad to have shared and had the opportunity to hear theirs and seen them beyond their work. I now know how to pray for them and their families. In one of our conversations, one of my colleagues talked about angels and demons and how he was fascinated by them. He told me that even though he is Buddhist, he reads the Bible because it has fascinating stories of evil spirits. As I listened to him, I kept praying that he would find Christ in his search for fascination. I have no doubt that God wants him to know Him.
Do you have anything else to add about your vocational journey, or advice to give to students about theirs?
Unlike my young self who asked what I needed to do, a better question is asking the Lord who He wants you to be. The answer to that question is a starting place for figuring out what work you can do and even give the work you do a sense of purpose. Who you are helps define what you ought to do.