I had the opportunity of sitting down with Christian Albertsen, our new Community Engagement Coordinator, to ask him some questions about himself and his vision for his role at Oliver Gospel. Throughout the interview, I was struck by his commitment to follow Christ’s example in loving the poor and his eagerness to mobilize the community to change lives. I hope you enjoy hearing from Christian Albertsen below just as much as I did!
INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN ALBERTSEN
Interviewer: Christian, I’m excited to be with you today! I think our community is eager to learn more about you and your role at Oliver Gospel. To start us off, could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Christian Albertsen: Well, I am the product of a military family. My dad was in the Airforce stationed in Japan, where he met my mom. I'm half-Japanese and half-American. I lived in Japan for 8 years, then in New Mexico for 4 years, and ended up in South Carolina for the past 13 years (I'm 25 years old now). I went to Columbia International University and graduated with a B.S. in Youth Ministry, then went on to Southeastern Univ. for an M.A. in Ministerial Leadership. I'm recently married to my lovely wife Rachel as of August 2020. We love being outdoors and going hiking in the mountains with our dog named "Bear."
Interviewer: Ha ha that's a great name: “Bear. What kind of dog?
Christian: German Shepherd.
Interviewer: Ah, I love German Shepherds! I think they get such a bad rap.
Christian: He's a super friendly dog, like he gets used to people really quick. He'll bark maybe the first time he sees you, and then he sniffs you…and is totally fine after that. Like literally lying down in front of you wanting a belly rub. Ha ha!
Interviewer: I need to meet him sometime. Sounds like you've got quite an amazing family.
Christian: Yes I do. [I’m] very thankful.
Interviewer: You didn't mention this in your introduction, but I also understand that you've helped plant 2 churches. That's very impressive being only 25 years old! So, after all of that, why Oliver Gospel? What brought you here?
Christian: It's my best attempt to respond to Jesus' example and call to empower and mobilize community. I want to be part of mobilizing the community and the Church to help those that are less fortunate. That's a really big draw for me.
Interviewer: That's great, Christian. I can see how that would be a draw for you in light of your education and experience with the church. So, you see your faith being an integral part of your job?
Christian: Absolutely. Jesus is drawn to the poor; we see this throughout the Gospels in the Bible. I want to follow His example and help others do the same.
Interviewer: Tell me about specifically about your role at Oliver Gospel; what does it mean to be the Community Engagement Coordinator?
Christian: Wow. [That’s a] great question. I think it's just that. Community Engagement to me means mobilizing the different aspects of community to get involved. Scripture talks about the importance of the Body of Christ as a whole--each part--having a vital role to play in loving our neighbor. First, educating community members in what they can do and their role in what it means to "engage and transform lives together through the Power of Christ's love." To help them realize that they can contribute and make a real difference. And then secondly, mobilizing them with an action plan that matches their values, skills, and time. In that way, I serve as a guide: I’m helping people, who want to help people, help people.
Interviewer: Oh my -- I love that. I think that sums it up very well. I'm struck by how important this work is! I think it's of such value for the community to know who you are, and to know that their church, business, or family/friend group can contact you to see how they can make real impact.
Christian: I think there's a lot of people out there who do want to help, but just don't know how.
Interviewer: And that's where you come in.
Christian: That's the hope!