The Rev. Brian Vinson is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving as the coordinator of church planting in the Lusake District of Zambia, a part of the South Congo/Zambia Episcopal Area.
The church in Zambia is growing rapidly, with the resulting need for new churches and for vital lay and pastoral leadership. Brian takes part in leadership development and coordination of volunteer church construction teams. He also seeks to raise awareness across the church of the United Methodist potential in Zambia and to raise funds to expand its ministries. He works closely with his wife, Tara, also a missionary in the hosting and deployment of mission volunteers.
Brian, born in Indiana, is an ordained elder of the West Ohio Annual Conference. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in German language and literature from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. He has served appointments in New Knoxville, Millersport, and Wellston, all in Ohio. He was known in Wellston as “Rev. Run” for his devotion to early morning runs and his participation in marathons.
“I was in church pretty much as frequently as the church doors were open,” he says of his childhood. He also took part in summer camps and dates his call to mission from a summer camp experience.
His initial call to mission came early. “When I was little, our children’s church offerings went to ‘Little David in Africa’—the child of missionaries we supported.”
A more focused mission awareness came during a summer camp experience when Brian met Rod Cameron, the camp director and former missionary in Africa. “He had the heart of a missionary, all about sharing Jesus in culturally relevant ways.”
Brian remembers letting his social fraternity get ahead of the church during his first two years in college—until he was challenged by a fraternity brother to make his faith more visible. He and friends began to attend church regularly and he joined accountability and prayer groups. Through the latter, affiliated with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, he took part in a mission trip to Russia. Back on campus, he discerned a call to ministry and after college graduation enrolled in Asbury Seminary. He was ordained an elder in June 2007.
As he was preparing to make a pre-commissioning trip to Zambia, Brian discovered that Rod Cameron had service in that country as well as Zimbabwe. “I was excited that I would get to go to the land where one of my heroes of the faith had been.”
Brian Vinson and Tara have four children: Jonathan, born in 2004; Andrew, born in 2006; Lily, born in 2011; and Matthew, born in 2013.
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