Yeo, Nathan and Samantha are now in ministry in Detroit. Kathryn is serving in Kalamazoo. These four young adult missionaries continue a strong US-2 tradition in the Michigan Area.
General Board of Global Ministries
August 23, 2019 | ATLANTA — Fresh out of college, Yeo Jin Yun found a job at a for-profit agency. “Though there were daily victories and moments of joy,” the young woman recalled, she felt unfulfilled. After some soul-searching, she decided to check out the United Methodist Global Mission Fellows program.
Today, Yeo Jin is one of 13 Global Mission Fellows beginning two-year assignments in the United States. “I’m filled with an uncharacteristically high amount of confidence,” she said, “and a genuine excitement for what God has in store for me.”
The program takes young adults ages 20-30 out of their home environments and places them in new contexts for mission experience and service. Global Mission Fellows become active parts of their new local communities, connecting the church in mission across cultural and geographical boundaries.
Born in South Korea, Yeo Jin is a member of Grace-Bethel United Methodist Church, Leonia, New Jersey. She has two Bachelor of Arts degrees, the latter with a concentration in Asian studies, from Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania.
“I believe God has led me to this exact place at this exact time,” she said. “Every second I was distracted by the things of the world, every moment I paused to linger at a comfortable spot, every excruciating step needed to climb the impossible mountain of fear and doubt, God has been with me. He’s guided each footstep, refocused my spirit and calmed every qualm.”
Yeo Jin will serve as the development communications coordinator for the Methodist Federation for Social Action headquartered at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit. “I understand that not everybody will ﬁnd their vocation, their call from God, to align with their career,” she added, “but when you can have them both, why would you ever say ‘no’?”
Also commissioned as a Global Mission Fellow, on August 23 in Atlanta, was Kathryn Sappington. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Kathryn is a daughter of a United Methodist pastor. “I got involved in the Wesley Foundation (at Delta State University), and that changed my life,” she says. “I am falling in love with Jesus, slowly but surely and doing things I never thought I would do.” Kathryn said she was praying about her future, “and pleading with God to show me what to do.” The answer to that prayer — what she will be doing — is working at First United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo with justice and outreach ministries.
Joining Yeo Jin and Kathryn as Global Mission Fellows are Nathan Whitford and Samantha Whitford. Nathan most recently lived in Columbus, where he worked for the largest free produce distributor in central Ohio. He has experience working with diverse populations and is excited to begin meeting clients at NOAH Project in Detroit, where he will serve as their Bag Lunch and Volunteer Coordinator. “My journey in the non-profit sector has taught me many lessons on inclusiveness, healing, sustainability,” Nathan says.
Samantha ( Sammie) Whitford says, “I spent my time at Ohio State University shaping my drive to create change through service, promoting social justice, emphasizing the dignity and worth of a person, and engaging through the importance of diverse human relationships.” Her time on staff of Church of All the People in Columbus, Ohio, taught her, “a great deal of where trusting in God can lead.” God has led Sammie and husband, Nathan, to southeast Michigan, where she will be in ministry with Motown Mission, Motor City Wesley, and Redford Brightmoor Initiative.
The training concluded with a Service of Commissioning on Aug. 23 at Global Ministries in Atlanta. The US-2s join 50 Global Mission Fellows on the international track who were commissioned on July 28 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Annual Conference preached and presided over the act of commissioning, a public affirmation made by the church to uphold the call of Christ to “make disciples of all nations.” He encouraged the young adults to “accept the challenge, accept the opportunity that God has given you and accept the possibilities that are waiting for you.”
The future will unfold for Yeo Jin, Kathryn, Samantha, Nathan, and their peers as they live out the gospel in the communities they serve.
The 2019 Class of Global Mission Fellows, along with their home conferences, US-2 placements and Advance numbers, include:
• Anthony Eugene Elkins, Arkansas Annual Conference, serving Metropolitan Ministries, Florida – Advance #3022512;
• Ebony Faith Jackson, Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, Arkansas, Nome Community Center, Alaska – Advance #3022510;
• Roy Kibet Koech, Great Plains Conference, Kansas, Arch Street United Methodist Church, Pennsylvania – Advance #3022508;
• Benjamin James Lasley, Western North Carolina Conference, Arch Street United Methodist Church, Pennsylvania – Advance #3022520;
• Eithne Claire Leahy, Great Plains Conference, Nebraska, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Washington – Advance #3022518;
• Lauren Elizabeth Norton, North Georgia Conference, Nome Community Center, Alaska – Advance #3022515;
• Kathryn Anne Sappington, Mississippi Conference, First United Methodist Church, Michigan – Advance #3022516;
• Nathalie Valdez, Second Baptist Church, Arkansas, Metropolitan Ministries, Florida – Advance #3022519;
• Nathan Michael Whitford, Vineyard Columbus Church, Ohio, The NOAH Project, Michigan – Advance #3022511; and
• Samantha Ann Whitford, Vineyard Columbus Church, Ohio, Motown Mission/Redford Brightmoor Initiative, Michigan – Advance #3022509.
To learn more about the Global Mission Fellows program, apply to become a Global Mission Fellow or support a Fellow and their work, go to: https://www.umcmission.org/Get-Involved/Generation-Transformation/Global-Mission-Fellows/Fellows
~ Barbara Dunlap-Berg, writing for the General Board of Global Ministries, and Kay DeMoss, Senior Content Editor, Michigan Conference, contributed to this report.