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AGTS alumni perspective: Saehee Duran

Name: Saehee Duran

Graduation Year: 2016

Major: Christian Ministries

Current Position: Co-lead pastor of Life360 Intercultural Campus & Discipleship Ministries Coordinator at AG national office

City and State: Springfield, MO

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

Currently, I serve at the national office in the Discipleship Ministries Department to help resource the AG district offices and local churches for their effective ministries to the Church and their immediate community. As an ordained pastor, I understand their felt-needs. So, I serve them to meet those tangible needs in the areas of Christian Education, Small Groups, Marriage/Family, and Volunteer Training under the umbrella of Discipleship.

As a pastor of a young intercultural church plant (only two years old officially), I have been shepherding the people of various ethnic and language groups as one family in Christ. I get to preach the Word, teach various age groups, lead worship in different languages, and a lot of other behind-the-scenes work. However, my favorite part is getting to know my people by listening to their stories and help them live out their calling and mission outside the church.

What is your favorite memory from AGTS?

I have several favorite memories from AGTS, but my favorite of all is going to a prayer room on the second floor during a dry season to unpack my heart before the Lord. It echoes beautifully in there, so at times I would sing while sitting on the floor looking up at a beautiful mural. Other times, I would kneel by the bench to pray and cry, and pray and cry some more until I felt peace in my heart. It was a place of refuge, comfort, and encouragement. There were times when I wanted to quit school due to various life circumstances, but God carried me through and always met me in the prayer room. Even after graduation, I would visit the campus from time to time just to pray. Now I don’t have to be sneaky about it since I am back on campus as a Ph.D. student. Oh, Lord help me!

 How did AGTS help you identify/develop your calling?

After I graduated from CBC as a Valedictorian in 2013, I thought had a good handle on ministry and my sense of calling. But, I was wrong. AGTS gently guided me as I faced my “unattractive” real self for the first time and overcame my weaknesses in pursuit of a lowly, yet humbling, position of servant-leadership. God called me to the ministry about 15 years ago when I didn’t know an iota about the Bible or Christian faith. Then, in 2016, just before the graduation, I was ordained as a pastor. Who knew a girl from a godless, broken home in South Korea would one day serve as a pastor to many nations in Springfield, MO (one of the least diverse cities in North America)? God remembers the call even when we forget, and He fulfills His promises where there seems to be no way.

 How did your experience at AGTS prepare you for life after graduation?

AGTS did not prepare me for life after graduation. Instead, it prepared me for life AND ministry DURING the whole program. Every class was purposeful, meaningful, and practical for personal growth or current ministry, so I know every penny was worth it! Time after time, I applied what I learned in my immediate context of church planting, reshaping the culture that is both inclusive and celebratory of all people groups.

My experience at AGTS also helped me become a visionary and compassionate leader who is needed for a greater community. I got to expand my horizon from being a local church pastor to a pastor to the community by serving as a volunteer police chaplain. It also inspired me to invest in the future generation and be the voice for them, which is why I am starting my new ministry as an adjunct professor at Evangel University in 2018. Thanks to AGTS, I am now a life-long learner who welcomes challenges while relying on the Spirit for wisdom, discernment, and guidance.

 What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

To those that are preparing for the workforce, I would say these five things:

  1. Work on your character now, it doesn’t come with your college diploma. In the real world, people pay more attention to how you walk and talk, not your résumé or latest education.
  2. Expect hardships and enjoy the journey. Life is not always rosy, and things will not go as you planned always. In fact, more than likely, your diploma won’t guarantee you a great paying dream job or the stress-free life. So, embrace struggles as part of life, smell the roses on the road, and always rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom to overcome hardships AND to learn from them for better YOU!
  3. Find select mentors. The world as you know it now may look and feel different once you graduate. This life of “adulting” is a real deal, you can’t do it alone. So, don’t think you can handle it all. You don’t have to! Find mentors that will continue to help discover and develop your mission and calling. And, be available to be a mentor to someone else along the way. True discipleship happens in a full circle.
  4. Work hard as an act of worship. God created us to work and modeled a quality work through Creation. As His image-bearers, we have the honor to mirror His work ethic. Everything we do is spiritual, and we should honor Him through it. So, next time you want to settle for a passing grade for any assignment or test, think about it in terms of an act of worship and give Him what He truly deserves: THE BEST!
  5. Never stop learning. I know… some of you are anticipating a graduation day just so you won’t have to touch another book in your life! However, let me tell you something. The moment you stop learning is the moment you start decaying as a leader. You may say, “I am not called to be a leader.” But, did you know everyone is a leader in his or her own circle of influence and your job is to steward that relationship? Think about the medical doctors that are constantly learning in an effort to save lives. As the people of the Spirit, we have no excuse.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from AGTS?

Besides faith in Jesus Christ, character, passion, and resiliency are what I will be looking for. I believe certain abilities are required to produce a good work, but the quality of work comes from within. Character attests to consistency (i.e. track record), passion to the dedication, and resiliency to loyalty. Notice I didn’t add the educational qualification. It is partly because AGTS already hires quality people who help equip future movers and shakers of the next generation. But, it is also because a diploma cannot replace one’s character, passion, and resiliency. I would rather hire a person with these qualities than a person with the highest degree and nothing else. Of course, I’ve seen many employees with both at AGTS! Now, that’s called a HIGH STANDARD for the sake of the students!