The Rocky Mountain Synod is blessed to be sending four Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) abroad this August to engage in an intentional year of service around the world. I reached out to them in hopes that I could share their stories and the amazing ministry that they’re about to start with the rest of the Synod.
Ryan Campbell is one of the YAGMs leaving in August; he will spend the next year in Rwanda. Here is his story:
I grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. I was baptized in a Lutheran church there, but I grew up at First Presbyterian Church. In high school, I went on my second mission trip to Zambia. There I felt called to serve others, and I explored that calling at St. Olaf College. I kinda did the liberal arts thing there, and took a bunch of everything. I settled on Political Science. While there, I felt called to return to Africa, and so went to study in Tanzania for a semester, through the Lutheran Colleges Consortium of Tanzania. I had a blast, learned Swahili, traveled, climbed Kilimanjaro, got malaria, made friends, and learned a lot from my university classes.
It was also very challenging for me. I couldn't tell what God was calling me to do. I felt lost and abandoned. The summer after I got back, I interned at the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota. I was really struck by the synods I visited. There were churches investing in solar panels, turning their lawns into gardens, or offices into food pantries. They took the message to be stewards of the Earth, and feed the hungry on such a direct and active level, I couldn't help but be impressed. I saw rainbow flags that waved and declared, 'Love is love.' I was impressed.
Once I graduated college, I moved back to Colorado to be closer to my family. I started an internship as a grant writer for a non profit in Fort Collins. It didn't work out, but was still a valuable learning experience for me. I started working at Catholic Charities, and was recruited to be a case manager in the veterans program. This past year was my 3 year anniversary in this position and I really enjoy it. It's great to have such a direct connection to the people I serve and live out a life of service.
I still am not sure what I'm called to do, but I finally need to chase down a dream of working abroad in Africa, and sink or swim, find an answer. One of my mentors suggested I apply for YAGM, but I missed the deadline, so I waited a year and applied. I was finally excited to represent my church in my service, and I was really encouraged by the strong emphasis on personal development, companion service, and individual support the program has.
I'm a bit anxious to go, mainly because of the fundraising and the prep work I have to do, but otherwise I can't wait! I'm looking forward to discernment mostly, but learning a new language, and being exposed to a country so focused on development and the future will also be an amazing experience. I think it is quite a neat time to be in Rwanda right now.
My life here is pretty adventurous too! I windsurf, camp, hike, backpack, fish, travel, climb, ice climb, compete in Judo, run, go to the gym, blues dance, compete in the Scottish highland games, and more! It's gonna be a big change in the upcoming year.
It will be a big change, but Ryan will be ready for it! We, the Rocky Mountain Synod, are all blessed to have servant leaders like Ryan working to spread God’s love and grace in the world. Going abroad for a year isn’t an easy task, and as Ryan said, he has a lot of prep work to do. The greatest gift you can give Ryan as he prepares to leave for Rwanda is the gift of prayer. However, he also needs to fundraise $5,000 of the over $15,000 it costs for him to be in Rwanda for the year. If you’d like to support Ryan financially, you can do so at the link below.