Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Brittany Browne, Mission Intern in Geneva

A lifelong activist wonders: how do we do ministry with the rich?

Brittany Browne never envisioned herself as a missionary in Europe. When she signed up to be a mission intern, she had already spent years as an advocate for the poor and an activist for racial justice. The three-year Mission Intern program sends young adults abroad for 18 months and then brings them back to their home countries for 18 more months of service. Because she speaks Spanish, Browne expected to go to Latin America. Instead, she ended up in Geneva as an intern with the World Student Christian Federation.

When I met Browne last August at her commissioning ceremony, three words came to mind: force of nature. She is confident, stylish and – with a background in journalism – extremely articulate. I can understand why Global Ministries wanted her as one of their representatives on Geneva’s global stage. Just a few days after her arrival, Browne was already monitoring UN sessions and strategizing about the WSCF’s evolving role.

The International Day of the Girl Child was one of the first campaigns in which Browne became involved. In 2012, the campaign focused on ending child marriage. Gender justice is a big priority for WSCF. Around the same time, the Taliban in Afghanistan shot a girl because she wanted to attend school. Browne said this stark contrast, along with the stories told at the UN events, was very moving.

Now, Browne’s daily work is focused on grant applications. She translates and consolidates descriptions of WSCF projects around the world in an attempt to secure funding. After that, she will shift gears again to work on a campaign to strengthen WSCF’s external and internal communications. Because interns run the organization, the institutional memory is limited. Each new intern must reinvent the wheel.

“It’s difficult to stay motivated when I don’t see the long-term sustainability,” Browne said. She plans to implement new strategies for sharing information and expertise. She also hopes to overhaul the WSCF website.

One would think all of these projects would leave little time to explore the local haunts, but Browne said she already feels as if she knows her way around Geneva. “I’m reminded of New York,” she said. “It’s truly an international city.” And being in Geneva is forcing her to explore new aspects of mission.

“We talk a lot about ministry with the poor,” she said. “We only talk about the wealthy in a negative way.” But in Geneva, she’s been forced to grapple with the question: how can we do ministry with the rich? Her faith is growing and changing as her call evolves. 

Just because the standard of living is high in Geneva does not mean Browne’s passion for racial justice is on hold. “I’m looking at racism from a global perspective,” she said. Asked what it is like to be a woman of color in Europe, she replied, “It feels like global racism, but it could just be nationalism. … It’s difficult to tell because you always have to think of the underlying factors.” Sometimes, she said, people just have bad days. She tries to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Browne’s future is bright and busy. She was engaged the month before she left for Geneva, so she is planning a wedding from across the pond. She is also thinking about going to law school after her term as a mission intern. Wherever she ends up, she will continue to advocate for the least of these. “Activism is a passion because it’s part of my purpose,” she said. “It is who I am.”

Your donation to Advance #13105Z supports Browne and other mission interns as they fulfill their God-given purpose.