Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Global Mission Fellows: Sent out to Serve

By Michelle Scott-Okabayashi*

Fifty-seven Global Mission Fellows are gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, for training to spend the next two years serving in social justice ministries all over the world. For these young adults ages 20–30, Johannesburg is just one stop in their journey to learn more about God, themselves and the world in which they live.

Final group photo of the 2018-2020 GMFs. PHOTO: JENNIFER SILVER

Over the next two years, these young adults will experience tremendous growth and, perhaps, challenges. The application process is one of discernment and can lead Fellows to unexpected places.

“My family was taken aback [at] the place of my assignment,” says Juwille Marie Dimalanta who is from the Philippines and will serve with the Council of Churches in Zimbabwe. “Before my assignment, me and my household prayed to God that I would be assigned to a [nearby] Asian country so that they can visit.” Even with her assignment to a place not of her choosing, Juwille is moving forward in faith. “You are never going to be in a place you are not needed,” she says. “You always have a purpose, why you are sent to a certain place. So, keep your faith.”

This 2018–20 cohort is assembled together for the first, and possibly only, time in Johannesburg. They will spend three weeks learning together and then be sent to serve “from everywhere, to everywhere.”

We will follow four young adults as they continue through the next two years to learn how this program impacts them and the communities they serve.

Stephanie Setiawan joins the Global Mission Fellow cohort from East Java, Indonesia. She will serve the Street Children Project in Brazil. “God’s goodness in my life drives me to serve him more. … At one point, I felt God wants me to go to another place and another community to serve him there,” she says of her choice to leave her home country and serve in Brazil. She will participate in project services, leading and assisting in social and educational activities for children.

Stephanie Setiawan and Pamela de Souza participate in a training session led by general secretary Thomas Kemper. PHOTO: JENNIFER SILVER

Juwille will serve in neighboring Zimbabwe as the capacity building officer for the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. In her role, she’ll strive to strengthen the relationships between member churches and ZCC, implement gender justice and women’s empowerment programs, and use her engineering degree to monitor and evaluate ZCC projects. “All in all, I am so excited and a bit scared of how big the scope of my future responsibility will be, and still I am standing firm on my faith, for my Lord will always guard and guide me,” explains Juwille.

Bill N. Gaye is originally from Liberia and will serve as a youth and children worker with the Blanchardstown Methodist Church in Ireland. He looks forward to being wholly involved in his service there. “I hope to impact the spiritual life of the young people at my assigned area,” Bill writes. “The new environment will improve my own social and spiritual growth with a new style, but above all, we will learn from each other.”

Joshua Kuramoto will also serve in Europe. Born in Japan and a citizen of the United States, Joshua will help refugees and migrants effectively to integrate themselves in Germany. During his time in Germany, Joshua hopes to embody mutuality in mission. “While I offer my gifts, blessings and service, I also will receive the community’s blessings to learn and grow personally in my walk with God.”

Yoshi (Joshua) Kuramoto playing a game with fellow GMF candidates during training. PHOTO: JENNIFER SILVER

Before she left for Johannesburg, Stephanie shared her excitement to visit the continent of Africa for the first time. “I can’t wait to see and experience it myself,” she said. “I will meet people from all around the world. … From them, I can see a new side of the world I didn’t know before.” And her words are true. She will see new sides to this world, to God and to herself as she and all the Fellows embark on this journey.


Are you interested in learning more or applying to become a Global Mission Fellow? The application period for the next cohort begins August 2018. Check out our website to learn more about becoming a Global Mission Fellow.

*Scott-Okabayashi is a writer for Global Ministries.