Hidden Figures: Phabienne Anderson, Kingdom Diversity Office Manager
It’s often the case that the hidden figures of history turn out to be pillars on which we stand. This reality was brought to the forefront in recent years through movies like “Hidden Figures” where many learned for the first time that the first successful American orbit around the moon in 1969 was indebted to the mathematics work of Mary Jackson an African American woman. With that said, the Kingdom Diversity Initiative wants to continue in this spirit by bringing attention to often forgotten minority male and female voices and contributions through a series of post entitled ‘Hidden Figures’. This series will highlight figures from church history as well as celebrate the individuals on our campus that reflect the ideals of Kingdom Diversity and our commitment to “equipping students from every corner of the kingdom to serve in every context of the kingdom”
When and how did you come to know Christ?
I began my walk with Christ when I was 4 years old. I accepted Christ during a Sunday morning church service. From a young age, my mother was instrumental in helping me grow in my faith by emphasizing the importance of reading Scripture and being an example of Christ to my peers. Growing up, I wrestled with the impact of my testimony since I was saved so early in life. But as a young adult I realized being rescued from death to life is powerful enough simply because Jesus did it. I did not need a horror story or a Damascus Road encounter to validate God’s saving grace.
How did you end up in your current position at Southeastern?
I ended up at Southeaster because of Jesus and then Twitter. Back when I was a mom of 3 children (I now have 4) I whispered a prayer about wanting a job. I had been a stay at home mom for 6 years and suddenly had the desire to work again. Shortly after that prayer my husband showed me a tweet where Dr. Strickland announced that Kingdom Diversity was looking for an Office Manager. I did not know anything about KD at the time. I submitted my resume, interviewed, and here I am. Prior to joining the KDI team, I was serving in my local church by leading discussions and training sessions on race and the Gospel. God was preparing me for this position before I knew it even existed. I’m grateful to God for orchestrating an opportunity for my passion and gifting to converge.
Describe the role your job plays to contribute to the mission and vision of Southeastern?
Kingdom Diversity seeks and equips students from every corner of the Kingdom to do ministry in every context of the Kingdom. As the Office Manager I help organize, communicate and execute the various tasks, projects, and events that help KD fulfill its vision. These tasks help cultivate cross-cultural engagements and growth all for God’s glory. SEBTS is fertile ground for the campus to realize the Revelation 7:9 vision of “every tongue, tribe and nation” in corporate worship. Anything I do daily aids students, faulty and staff on this journey of being equipped so they can “Go” fulfill the Great Commission.
As a minority on campus what are some unique challenges you face in order to accomplish your job goals?
My ethnicity and my gender make me a double minority on campus. While this does not present a challenge in accomplishing tasks, it does present unique opportunities for building community. My job at SEBTS goes beyond what I do everyday and extends into who I am as part of Christ’s body. I get to represent Christ from a different perspective being that I’m a black woman. Presenting a perspective that is not a majority can sometimes be exhausting or even lead to insecurities. I have to encourage myself in the truth of who I am and how God made me when existing in these spaces because exemplifying a diverse body means my perspective is valuable and needed. I’m grateful for where God has me and rely on him to represent him well.
What do you hope your presence here on campus can contribute to the overall Southeastern Community?
I am firm believer in representation so others can catch a vision and create space for those who come after them. My hope is that I can help women, specifically black women, see how they can be agents of change in the exact places that may appear to be the least likely to change. Being true to who God has created me to be, I can exist and thrive in a setting that is striving to be a more diverse and thus a more accurate picture of the Kingdom of God.
What does kingdom diversity mean to you?
Kingdom diversity means seeing God’s creation rightly, as he sees it, with all the beauty, creativity, and difference it has to offer. Seeing it rightly is a corporate endeavor. Kingdom diversity is a robust, multidimensional view of Scripture and the Gospel by image bearers who seek to reflect Him to a broken and valuable world.