Master of Theological Studies graduate heads for South Africa

Friday, October 16, 2009

Andrew and Karen SudermanAndrew Suderman has found himself sailing through life, ultimately landing in South Africa as a volunteer. He graduated with a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree from Grebel this spring and, with his wife Karen, quickly signed on with Mennonite Church Canada to explore the possibility of establishing an Anabaptist Network and Resource Centre.

Likening his life journey so far to a sailboat tacking back and forth through the water, Andrew has deliberately attempted to “tack” from experience to education. Although he did not initially focus his energy on education, Andrew now embraces its importance.

Education is not only the pursuit of what information we can retrieve when asking a particular question, but it teaches and challenges us to think about what kind of questions we should be asking in the first place.

Throughout his life, Andrew has deliberately tried to work in areas and in jobs that he has been passionate about. He has

attempted to live out and witness the hope that the church embodies within our society.

This self-given mandate has also led Andrew to work with offenders and ex-offenders in and around the Winnipeg area and to manage a homeless shelter in Kitchener.

When reflecting on his time spent studying at Grebel, Andrew say he was

pushed, challenged, and encouraged by the other students and professors as to what it means to follow Jesus in the different contexts that we found ourselves in, from a range of church ministries to secular professions. The time spent wrestling with different biblical and theological themes will continue to help in this new context.

Practically speaking, Andrew expects that his MTS degree will help in South Africa where he will have different opportunities to teach classes on theological themes from an Anabaptist perspective. He and Karen have been meeting different people, churches, and institutions who are interested in Mennonite and Anabaptist thought, especially in how it relates to peace and justice.

While Andrew admits to feeling occasionally overwhelmed by their project goals, he is far more excited by the opportunity to connect those who have been influenced by different Mennonite and Anabaptist groups with one another and to help provide resources for the different ministries, churches, and institutions. He is

grateful to have the opportunity to be in South Africa to learn how God has been at work in this beautiful land and through such wonderful people.

Andrew and Karen have already met

some amazing people who have experienced and suffered so much through apartheid, but who are hopeful in what the future holds.

When asked about what he is most looking forward to in the next 3 years of his volunteer term, Andrew is excited to work with passionate people who are witnesses in a land that has suffered so much. He writes:

In a world that is so intent in trying to solve their problems through the use of violence, it is inspiring to see, learn, and walk with those who are witnessing to the world what it means to embody the Good News in their different contexts—creating communities that embody peace, hope, and reconciliation in the way they interact with their neighbours and their enemies.

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