2020 CBC Outstanding Young Alumnus Perspective: Rev. Saehee Duran
Graduation Year: CBC 2013, AGTS 2016
Major: B.A. Bible & Theology, M.A. Leadership in Christian Ministries
Current Position: Lead pastor of Life360 Intercultural Church & National Training Director at the Assemblies of God Network of Women Ministers
City and State: Springfield, Missouri
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
As a pastor of an intentionally diverse church in a monocultural city, I have been shepherding the people of various ethnic and language groups as one family in Christ. I get to preach God’s Word, disciple people from various nations and generations, and build a beautifully diverse church that reflects Heaven. However, my favorite part of pastoring is bringing Jesus into the community by engaging in civic efforts concerning diversity, equality, and equity for minorities and the marginalized.
As the national training director of the Network of Women Ministers, I have the privilege of equipping current and future female ministers with practical leadership competencies and publicly affirming their obedience to God’s call to ministry. I love processing difficult topics on podcasts, learning from various spiritual giants, and championing both men and women of God as we build His Kingdom together.
What is your favorite memory from CBC?
I came to CBC because my husband was offered a job as a men’s resident director. At that time, I had almost two years of community college (in General Education) under my belt. When I continued my education at CBC in Bible and Theology, it was my first formal theological training, as I grew up in a non-Christian home. I started my time at CBC with two little boys (five and three years old). Two years into my schooling, we welcomed a new baby, Demi.
I didn’t want to slow down my education because of a newborn, so I only took one week off and went back to classes with Demi in a car seat in the middle of a very cold February. The professors were so gracious to allow Demi to steal the show. Some professors even held her while lecturing so I could take notes and learn. There are so many other wonderful memories such as camping by the creek, inviting students into our house (which was in Flower Hall) and feeding them Korean food, and guiding students through their dating shenanigans. But my memories in classrooms shortly after having my third and last child, Demi, were by far my fondest memories from CBC.
How did CBC help you identify/develop your calling?
CBC was a place of refinement where I received my first formal theological training. While I had been a pastor’s wife for some time, I didn’t fully grasp biblical truth. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home or attend church until I was 18, so my understanding of the Bible was very shallow.
Through my time at CBC, God gave me a solid Biblical understanding of who He is and increased my passion and love for His Word. I didn’t know that I would be teaching the Bible at Evangel University one day as an adjunct professor. My time at CBC gave me a strong biblical and theological foundation and further developed my Christian character and passion for God’s Word and His work. I am here today because of my humble beginning at CBC. It is there I began to dream of becoming a pastor in a local church and teaching in Christian higher education, both of which I am doing today. God is good!
How did your experience at CBC prepare you for life after graduation?
My time at CBC confirmed my love and passion for God, His Word, and His Church. I carry the same values in all my ministries and civic work today. In 2013, God blessed me with many student honors: senior of the year, valedictorian, and commencement speaker. But God quickly humbled me when my family found ourselves between jobs without a permanent residence in the summer following my graduation. I learned a lot from CBC, but I was not prepared to face this turn of events.
However, CBC taught me to trust and rest in God’s omniscience, omnipotent, sustaining grace, and His perfect timing. CBC was the launching pad for my subsequent ministries and education, and it gave me unwavering confidence in the Lord no matter the circumstances. Upon graduating from CBC, God miraculously opened a door for me to continue my education at AGTS, where I received a master’s degree in Christian Ministries.
My experiences at CBC and AGTS helped me become a visionary and compassionate leader who sees the needs of the greater community. Both schools have taught me how to be fully present as a wife, mom, pastor, professor, student, and community leader while enjoying every season of life.
These experiences also turned me into a life-long learner as I am currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry at Southeastern University, another AG sister school in Florida. If it wasn’t for my time at CBC and being stretched mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I would not be where I am today as an influencer in various capacities.
Recently, I was named one of the 20 Most Influential Women in 2020 in my city. This is a direct result of embodying CBC’s mission of training ministers and missionaries for the 21st century. I am proud to carry on CBC’s legacy!
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:
- 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.
- Expect hardships and enjoy the journey. Life is not always rosy, and things will not always go as you planned. In fact, more than likely, your diploma won’t guarantee you a great paying dream job or a 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 a better YOU!
- Find select mentors. The world as you know it now may look and feel different once you graduate. This life of “adulting” is the 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 as a mentor to someone else along the way. True discipleship happens in a full circle.
- Work hard as an act of worship. God created us to work and modeled a quality work ethic 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!
- 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 medical doctors who are constantly learning in an effort to save lives. As people of the Spirit, we have no excuse.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates?
Besides faith in Jesus Christ, character, passion, and resiliency are what I look for. I believe certain abilities are required to produce good work, but the quality of work comes from within. Character attests to consistency (i.e. track record), passion, dedication, resiliency, and loyalty. Notice I didn’t add an educational qualification. 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! Now, that’s called a HIGH STANDARD for the sake of the students!