Engineering Ministries International (EMI) is a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers and design professionals who donate their skills to help children and families around the world step out of poverty and into a world of hope. It was at the 2016 EMI Conference that God gave me my Ugly Cry and the confidence to live out my mission. My Civil Engineering Design Internship this Spring is the first chapter of many as an Evangelical Civil Engineer. Sometimes I question what is a part of God’s plan for my life. Thankfully, this decision was pretty obvious. Here are..
5 Reasons EMI Is For Me
1. God’s People, God’s Work
Once I found EMI online, it took me over three years to contact them. Partly because I didn’t know if they were ‘really’ Christians. We live in a world where even the KKK claims to be a Christian Organization. So when I decided to meet the EMI network in the flesh at their annual conference a few months ago, I asked God to reveal if they were really about His work on Earth. Any doubt I had about this group of people diminished by the first night of the conference. One particular session was about how they determine what a ‘good mission’ is. They gave examples of how seemingly beneficial projects could be detrimental to certain communities. While it’s not possible to foresee and counteract every problem, EMI cares enough not to cause problems they are aware of.
2. Passion For Travel
No doubt about it, I got the travel bug from my mom. Not only did we move around a lot growing up, she’s been a traveling nurse for the last 15 years. Seeing her travel the country for work with two kids, reassured me it was more than possible (#NoManNoKids). Traveling has become a true passion of mine. I want to build and live in a tiny house on wheels so even my house can travel with me! So knowing that EMI is called to care for people abroad, I’m elated to pair my purpose with passion.
3. Professional Engineers
As a recent graduate, I understand the importance of gaining experience in my field so I can build my career. Many times I thought this was going to be the reason I settled for a ‘regular’ job. BUT GOD!! The staff engineers at EMI are mostly civil engineers and they have their professional engineering licenses. Even though I’ll be working on international design projects, my mentors will have domestic design skills.
4. Passion For Diversity
On the second day of the conference EMI’s CEO, John Dallman, discussed the organization’s core values: Discipleship, Design, and Diversity. When he got to diversity, he started by saying, “When I join EMI in 2012 as CEO, the staff was 99% white men and I knew that had to change.” John shared how they’ve primarily increased diversity by having international professionals join the staff office in their native land. However, there are no ethnic minority design professionals on US Staff and very few women. At the end of John’s talk, I managed to string together some words and asked what was EMI’s response to the lack of diversity in America (I was the only minority in the room). A few staff members shared what they’ve been doing and why they think it hasn’t been really working. Even though they weren’t successful, it was obvious they cared. They cared enough to reach out to me a month before the conference and offered me a free conference day and accommodations. Right after the talk, an engineer in his wife offered to help support me if I chose to do this. I ugly cried right in their face.
5. Cross-Cultures In The Office & Church
Not many engineers look like me, and I’ve been a strong advocate for increased diversity in my field. Working with EMI gives me the opportunity to diversify the engineering field while rooted in love. I believe true inclusion in the workplace comes from understanding the differences of others and learning how to love those differences. This creates an environment for people to succeed personally in the workplace and helps break the cycles of poverty in their lives.
During the conference, God showed me how cultural differences often keep the church segregated as well. Have you ever heard the saying ‘The world is the most segregated at 10 am on Sunday morning’? It simply means that churches are divided by ethnicities, culture, and language. We had worship after dinner each night of the conference. After Ugly Crying all day I was ready to give God my all: stand, sing, lift my hands, dance, run around the ballroom, etc. However, when I realized no one else worshiped like me, I was frozen. Paralyzed in fear, I didn’t give God my authentic worship because I didn’t want to stick out any more than I already did. I was only one of 3 African-Americans in a room of 120 people. God reminded me that this uncomfortable feeling was nothing new and was necessary if I wanted to be the liaison to diversifying the engineering field and the church. Challenge accepted.
You may think that EMI sounds perfect for me. You may think I’m ready to find my place on staff and prepare to retire with them. Not exactly. Even though I knew while at the conference that EMI was for me, I took two week to apply for my internship (even after the deadline had passed) because God wanted to make sure I knew EMI was NOT ALL of me. Check out part two of this blog: Why EMI is NOT all of me.
“Father God, thank you for equipping me to serve and develop with EMI. You prepared their hearts, skills and vision to uniquely align with mine to fulfill a great need on earth. Thank you for using them to give me my Ugly Cry. I prayed for my purpose and You revealed it to me. I asked You to confirm if EMI was for me and You did.1 You are giving me boldness and strength to use the skills I learn while with EMI to be the bridge between the barriers that divide people and contribute to poverty. I’m forever in awe of your omniscience. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Thanks for reading Part one of this two part blog series! I’m leaving for my project trip destination: Zambia, Africa on Monday (2/6)!! I’ll be gone for 2 weeks and I hope to blog while I’m there. Leave your email address in the comments below if you’ll like my blog updates.
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With God’s Love,
Jamara Beard ❤
1. [Psalm 138:3]↩