Niles grad first mission apprenticePublished 9:01pm Monday, September 10, 2012
Jennifer Pedzinski has been named American Baptist International Ministries’ (IM) first mission apprentice.
The 2003 Niles High School graduate serves from Sept. 1, 2012-June 30, 2013.
She is a candidate for future long-term service as an IM missionary while enrolled in dual master of divinity and master of international development programs at Palmer Theological Seminary in Valley Forge, Pa., and nearby Eastern University.
Fifteen countries into international travel, Pedzinski felt called to international mission service at age 11 through an IM missionary to Japan who is now a pastor in Maine who visited First Baptist Church of Niles.
She encountered IM missionaries again when she and her family — Jeni has two older sisters — attended annual World Mission Conferences at Green Lake, Wis., and stayed in contact with them through her teenage years.
A graduate of Bethany College of Missions, Pedzinski served short-term in the Philippines, Guatemala, Cambodia and Thailand.
“Like a boy who sees a football player and can’t shake it and puts posters on the walls, it was the same for me,” she said Friday from Pennsylvania. “I was enthralled with everything he told me about his life. I took steep and intentional steps” to keep advancing her journey.
Pedzinski remembers “begging my parents to be missionaries.” Her dad owns John’s Glass, 211 N. 9th St. Her mom is an occupational therapist. “They said, ‘That’s your calling — not ours.’ I traveled to Africa for the first time as soon as they’d let me.” She was 16.
Pedzinski said a year in the Philippines tested her resolve.
“I took a step back,” she said. Pedzinski worked in banking as a personal financial counselor. When she next went overseas in 2010, she ended up going to Thailand for a positive teaching experience instead of Senegal. “God opens and closes doors. His hand was in that.”
When she shared with colleagues feeling torn between missionary work and her interest in budgeting and finance, “They laughed at me,” she said. “They asked why I thought I had to choose,” which steered her into international development. She is in her second year of a four-year program.
The new mission apprentice initiative is intended to engage IM proactively in preparing young adults for cross-cultural service.
Jim Bell, IM’s recruitment director, said, “One of our guiding principles is that we send qualified personnel to serve alongside our international partners. The apprenticeship experience offers the opportunity to develop those qualifications in the context of IM missiology and in relationship with IM missionary and staff mentors.”
“Jeni brings great enthusiasm for mission service and has demonstrated a delightful eagerness to learn in her work at Palmer Theological Seminary,” said Dr. Ben Hartley, associate professor of Christian mission. “That eagerness to learn will serve her well as an IM apprentice. It is wonderful to see the decades-long tradition of the seminary’s connection to IM be strengthened in this new apprenticeship program. May it reignite other ways of working together for the sake of God’s mission in the years to come.”
As mission apprentice, Pedzinski will work in relationship with IM’s Volunteers in Global Mission (VIGM) Coordinator Angela Sudermann and Global Consultant Dan Buttry with the preparation and ministry of IM’s IGNITE team, which will serve in the war-torn Republic of Georgia in June 2013. IGNITE is a short-term mission opportunity for young adults ages 19-29 sponsored by IM.
IM organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma and today works in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, serving more than 1,800 long-term and short-term missionaries. It works with partners in more than 70 countries.