Challenge and Growth through Service, an interview with Brad Rito

Brad Rito is currently pastor of Garrett Presbyterian Church in Garrett, IN and is a long distance supporter of the Motor City Mission Corps! He has first-hand experience with the effect that a year of service can have on your life and direction. Brad was part of the Young Adult Volunteer program of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in their 2015-2016 program year, the same program that helped give shape to our work in Detroit.

Brad was kind enough to share some words of wisdom on what his experience meant for him and what the possibilities are for our volunteers in the Motor City Mission Corps.

Adam: How did your experience help you understand where you fit in God’s work in the world?

Brad: While my program was different than the Motor City Mission Corps, having done a year as a YAV in New Orleans from August 2015-August 2016, I hope that my experiences and excitement for your program in Detroit can spread. My year as a YAV lives up to the YAV Program’s slogan: “A year of service for a lifetime of change.”

When I started the program, I had just graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with my Master of Divinity. While in seminary, I served as an intern at two different churches, one my first year, and a second church my middle and last years. While there, I learned what it meant to be a pastor, to run board meetings, to write a sermon and preach, etc. However, there were a couple things that were lacking, simply because the opportunities did not arise. For example; pastoral care for those that are sick/injured or who have a sick/injured family member or friend. As luck would have it, no one really got sick. I graduated from seminary without really having any experience in a couple areas of pastoral ministry.

Luckily, I had heard about the YAV program at the start of my senior year and had jumped on the bandwagon. While a YAV, my title was Chaplain Intern at a local hospital. For a year, I visited patients, families, friends, and helped to support them during their time in rehab, observation, ICU, or wherever they might have been. I also provided support for staff members, including nurses, case managers, and other staff. So, where my seminary education was lacking, God provided the opportunity to fill in that missing piece.

Adam: How do think it helped prepare you for what came next?

Brad: My experience was invaluable as a graduate of seminary and yet still very challenging.

One thing I feel it important to communicate is that this year is not going to be easy. My YAV year was an uphill battle, whether it was learning to see how my white privilege affects my life, dealing with culture shock when I first arrived, learning that it’s okay to be me and that I don’t need to be what others expect, or any other host of obstacles.

My year was hard, but the difficulty is what made it invaluable. I acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be different and that the things that challenge me may not challenge others. Others’ experiences of challenge may be be more or less intense than mine. However, this does not change the fact that my year helped me to be more confident in who I am as a person and to love that person more. In the same fashion, a year in the Motor City Mission Corps could easily do what my year in YAV did for me.

Adam: How were you changed in your year of mission service?

Brad: If Motor City Mission Corps does half of what the YAV program did for me, it will still mean greater self-awareness, self-love, self-growth, and gaining the support of a community that has more going on than meets the eye.

Photo by Paulo Vizeu via unsplash

Note: responses have been edited and reformatted for brevity and clarity.

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