The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Called 'to do more'

ELCA program offers global mission experience for young adults

As a student at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., Luke Paquin wasn't a "political person."

By his own admission, Paquin didn't know about the events or unrest in the Middle East. But he was open to learning when he was selected for the ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM) program and assigned to the Jerusalem/West Bank region. He's glad he took the leap.

"I thank God every day that I'm here," said Paquin, who will complete a year of service July 15. "I'm blessed to be a witness. My faith has been challenged and shaped through this year. ... I'm still struggling with big questions and searching for answers."

He's also still wrestling with how he'll share what he's learned this year, he said.

Luke Paquin enjoys a moment with Ibrahim,
Luke Paquin enjoys a moment with Ibrahim, one of the kindergartners he helps teach at Dar al-Kalima Evangelical Lutheran School in Bethlehem. He serves through Young Adults in Global Mission, an ELCA program for those under the age of 30.

Heidi Torgerson-Martinez hears similar things from the young adults she serves in her role as YAGM program director.

Through YAGM, adults younger than 30 spend a year in global service. The program began in 1999 as a way to provide the ELCA's young adults with a "transformative international mission experience" that would further develop them as servant-leaders in the church, Torgerson-Martinez said.

In that first year, 10 YAGM participants served through the ELCA's ecumenical partner, Time for God, in the United Kingdom. Today 44 volunteers serve in nine countries and 50 YAGMs will enter service in August. Since its inception, 419 volunteers have served.

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