There for Us and Christ...
While every member of Central UMC is a missionary, serving right where he or she lives and works, the church also supports ministers who serve overseas, healing the sick and feeding the hungry.
Valerie Mossman-Celestin is a Deaconess of The United Methodist Church commissioned in the 2012.
Valerie first received the call to this service when sitting on her living room sofa. For some a burning bush. For others a sofa. Praise God! “I was struggling with the question, ‘What is God calling me to do next?’” she remembers. The year was 2006. “Suddenly the word, ‘deaconess,’ popped into my head,” she recalls. That took her to her computer, and she googled “deaconess.” She learned that a discernment class for deaconesses was being offered by the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Through discernment Valerie became aware that she needed to be true to her own spiritual gifts and faith-style. “I didn’t feel that my place of service was inside the local church,” she states. “I consider myself a servant whose place is outside the walls, being a witness for how Jesus lived his life and how he expects me to live mine.”
About the same time, Valerie was making new connections with the Women’s Division around the informal work she was involved with in Haiti. As things evolved, Valerie and Paul Prevost co-founded HAPI. Valerie shares about the history of the project in a Facebook video. Now, five years later, Valerie says, “HAPI is at a tipping point.” The project requires a full-time investment of her time in order to go to the level of economic development she hopes to achieve.
Valerie performs her role while continuing to live in Michigan. “I spend hours on Skype and email each week,” Valerie explains. Technology is the key to allowing her to serve in Haiti while she lives in Grand Rapids. Valerie plans to visit Haiti several times a year for extended periods as she and the HAPI community establish a university-level program at the new, UMCOR-funded Merlet Center.
Rev. Paul Webster
Paul Webster is a pastor and rural agriculture specialist who grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. Now he makes things grow in Zambia at Mujila Falls Agriculture Project. He says, “I attack the root causes of poverty, disease, and hopelessness through education and training in small animal husbandry, cattle and goat milking, tree nurseries, fruit and fish culture. God has provided abundant land and water, plant and animal resources in Africa. It’s my job to provide knowledge and faith to God’s people.” You can follow the life-changing story of Mujila Falls on Facebook: Mujila Falls Agriculture Centre.