The Columns – February 2016

ServeGlobal4
In 2012, Dr. Pat Day challenged the First UMC Global Missions to form a transformative mission partnership on every continent. We have four continents covered with prayer – North America: Haiti & Costa Rica; South America: Ecuador; Asia: Russia; Africa: Uganda. Now’s it’s time to move to Europe: Romania AND Czech Republic!

ServeGlobal_Stephania
STEFANIA TARASUT (ROMANIA)
I was born in Romania in 1979. My family immigrated to the United States in 1990 after the revolution. When communism fell, the borders were opened and my mom was quick to get us out before anything changed. Communism fell in December of 1989 and we were on a plane for Portland, Oregon in May of 1990.

We weren’t churchgoers, but because my parents needed a community, we joined the Romanian church. When I was a junior in high school, I had a friend who was fifteen years old. She went to a summer retreat and fainted in the shower. She drowned in a couple of inches of water. At her funeral, I was able to encounter Christ through the peace and calm that surrounded her family. I wanted what they had and understood that it was God’s love that allowed for that. I surrendered my life to Christ soon after that.

As soon as I gave my life to Christ, I understood that God had called me to be a pastor, but Romanian women don’t become pastors so I tried and failed at many things until I finally worked up the courage to embrace my calling my junior year of college. I had resolved in my heart that I would be a children’s pastor, but God had other plans. I finished my undergrad work, followed by my Masters of Divinity at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. After serving as a children’s pastor for a few years, I became a youth pastor and today I serve as the English Ministry pastor at Eden Presbyterian Church, which is a first generation Korean church. I’ve been serving at the church for about 12 years.

In 2013, my life took a completely different turn. I started working on my Doctor of Ministry at George Fox University. This program opened my eyes to a world that I could have never imagined. Through a strange turn of events I had the opportunity to go back to Romania. Through that trip and a few more experiences I understood that God was calling me back to serve Romania. Never in my life did I think that I would ever go back to Romania, but here I am, 25 years after my family left, God has called me to go back and minister to my people. It is such a strange and fantastic opportunity.

In short, my primary goal is to work with women and children struggling through domestic violence. In more detail, I have a passion for spiritual formation and for the spiritual disciplines. I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world to different counties with different economic situations and I believe that God is calling me to serve women and children. I’m realizing more and more that especially in underdeveloped countries, women hold the key to the wellbeing of their families, especially their children. They need to be empowered, encouraged, and given a hand up to lead their homes in a way that is healthy for themselves and for those around them. (Note: Stefania has also served in Haiti with FUMC; she sponsors Andre Ana at Darivager!)

ServeGlobal_Jessica
JESSICA WEAVER (CZECH REPUBLIC)
I have been a Christian for most of my life, raised in a loving Christian home in Texarkana, Texas. (You may know my mom, Nina Parault!) I fell in love with Jesus at a very young age. I was baptized and confirmed at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana when I was in the Sixth Grade. I was very active in my youth group and choir. I followed Him faithfully until my first year of college until I became disillusioned with church. I didn’t give up on God completely, but I did walk away from the church for a couple of years.

God began calling me back to Him and to ministry so I joined a Christian music group with a missions focus called Celebrant Singers. For two and a half years, I traveled with them to 45 states and 7 countries, mostly in Latin America, ministering to people through music, personal testimonies and prayer.

After my time with the Celebrants, I moved to Arlington, Texas to finish my Theatre degree. I also took a lot of Education courses during this time thinking I might decide to teach later on. I eventually became the office manager for a local law firm. I handled all the finances and HR responsibilities. During that time, I began to feel a strong pull back towards missions. I went on a short-term mission trip to Paris and really felt a confirmation to pursue long-term missions. Shortly after that, I was laid-off from my job. It was just the push I needed to take the leap into full-time ministry. I then joined a Christian organization called Educational Services International (ESI) and taught English as a Foreign Language in Cheb, Czech Republic for almost three years.

I returned to the states for four years and worked at the Dallas Zoo as the Cash and HR Manager for the retail and food services. Then, ESI asked me to return to the Czech Republic as the Program Director for Central Europe. I oversaw 49 teachers in three countries (Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia). Unfortunately, ESI had to close its doors due to financial reasons in June of 2014. ESI made an informal agreement with TeachBeyond to help teachers who wanted to stay on in their respective countries of service. TeachBeyond hired me to help with this transition and to develop a National Schools TEFL program for them.

I feel that I am called to train, mentor, and develop teachers so they can be effective teachers and be empowered to minister outside of the classroom. This job is the perfect mixture of my past job skills and my calling. (For more information on TeachBeyond, visit teachbeyond.org.)

ASHLEY GOAD • Director of Global Missions • agoad@fumcshreveport.orgwww.firstserves.org/globalfacebook.com/fumcglobal • @GlobalFUMCInstagram – GlobalFUMCvimeo.com/firstshreveport

UPCOMING GLOBAL MISSIONS & EVENTS
Russian Mission Trip • February 13 – 23, 2016
Costa Rica Family Mission Trip • March 26 – April 2, 2016
Local & Global Missions Extravaganza • April 22, 2016
Haiti Mission Trip • May 27 – June 3, 2016 (REGISTER NOW!)
Russian Mission Trip • June 2016
Costa Rica Youth Mission Trip • July 9-16, 2016
Romania Partnership Development Trip • September 2016
Haiti Mission Trip • October 2016
Missions Launch Lunch • November 13, 2016
Ecuador Medical Mission Trip • November 19 – 26, 2016
Uganda Mission Trip • December 27, 2016 – January 6, 2017

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