Kelly Schaefer is a mission intern with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, initially serving with the Asian Rural Institute in Japan.
Mission interns serve half of their three-year terms in international assignments and half in their home countries. Kelly was commissioned in August 2012. Young adult mission service through Global Ministries expands participants’ mission vision and offers faith contexts for the use of skills.
Located in northern Japan, the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) is an international training center for grassroots rural leaders. Each year it conducts a nine-month training program on sustainable agriculture, community development, and leadership. Participants return to their home villages and communities to work with their neighbors, passing on what they have learned and promoting development from within the community. To date, ARI has trained more than 1,100 rural leaders from 51 countries of Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. ARI is a strong mission partner of the General Board of Global Ministries, which recently funded a new farm shop there. UMCOR provided substantial support following the earthquake of March 2011, which severely damaged the facilities.
Mission interns fully participate in the ARI community and its work, including vegetable farming, livestock care, office work, food services, and food processing.
Kelly Schaefer is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she is a member of the Milwood United Methodist Church, in the West Michigan Annual Conference. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees: one in communications and one in English and language arts from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan. Additionally, she holds a graduate teaching certificate from the same school. She has work experience in primary-school teaching, communications, and business management.
She says that a strong foundation in faith and social justice has sustained her over the years, but that her journey “has been all but straight and narrow. I have crossed paths with myself and even had to retrace my steps more than once, [but] I have been inspired to continue forward so many times. This program encourages its participants to work hard for social justice in the name of the Lord and that is extremely important to me.”
Kelly states that since childhood she has been deeply affected by the story of the disciples leaving behind their worldly possessions to follow Jesus. She says that mission work allows her to tangibly follow the inspiration she has gleaned from this story.
: West Michigan Annual Conference
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