Anderson University alumni Daniel and Sue Jenkins (BA '96) will move to San Jose, Costa Rica, with their three children to begin a new life in January 2010. They will serve as international missionaries working with microeconomic development (MED).
The couple met as sophomores at Anderson University when they had nearly every class together. “I realized God might be trying to tell me something about this girl,” said Daniel. Both communication arts majors also had background and interest in missions. “Our interest in Tri-S was one of the things that brought us together,” Daniel explained. While at AU, the Jenkins served through Tri-S in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Ecuador and Venezuela. [Photo on left: The Jenkins family from left to right, Daniel, Sue, Caleb, 4, Issac, 2 and Emma, 7, posed for a family photograph. Follow the Jenkins family blog.]
The Jenkins married days after graduating and began their life together. Both had jobs in public relations, and Daniel furthered his education with an MBA. “Life was busy and good,” Daniel said. “We had a lot going on.”
Then God’s call came. One morning in Sunday school, a guest speaker challenged the group with the question, “What are you doing to serve?” Although the Jenkins served at church, they opened their hearts and minds to wonder if there was a different way they should be serving.
When Daniel was 15-years-old, he went to Peru on a short-term mission trip. “I grew up in a nice suburban setting; I had never seen poverty before. Until you are there, you touch it, smell it, step over it in the street,” Daniel remembered. “It had a dramatic impact on my appreciation of the world and all we have been entrusted with.”
Sue grew up in a family with a tradition of missions. Her father served in Mexico and her family helped with a Hispanic church in Toledo, Ohio. Missions were an important part of her family.
“God can use anyone to serve. It may be overseas in the mission field, it may be in the back yard, but we found that God is able to use our specific strengths, gifts and talents to serve in the mission field,” Daniel said of his and Sue’s communication and business backgrounds. “We’ve met other people with similar backgrounds who’ve been called to serve in this capacity. They are from all different walks of life, opening themselves up to God’s calling.”
Daniel read about MED and became passionate about it. He wanted to use his background and his gifts to serve, helping people help themselves. He wanted to build up the church body from within by helping the families within the church better provide for themselves and for their children.
The Jenkins met another couple from the Midwest at the Urbana conference in 2007. The other couple was staffing a booth for Reach Global. They also had a business background and were already serving in Latin America. The Jenkins felt God’s direction to serve with Reach Global. “We could have served with an organization already doing MED, but we wanted to work with Reach Global to build a program,” Daniel said. “We are taking a step of faith going into the mission field.”
Three years later, the family finished the application process. “During the process, God broke us to further rely on Him and mold us. We learned that it may feel like hard times now, but on the mission field we have to rely on God and the people He puts in our path,” Daniel said.
The Jenkins’ focus and approach in the mission field will be to work with church leaders at the national and local level asking them what problems they are facing in their church community. They plan to build up character, leadership and problem solving abilities and then connect leaders with financial supporters. However, the ultimate goal is that people are growing in their own faith and in their ability to assess their own issues.
“Far too often we Americans have gone into missions with a mindset of giving things to people. We are too focused on the emotional rush of giving, rather than to disciple them in their spiritual development and to build up their leadership capacity,” said Daniel. “Instead of having an American hand them food, money or books, they can solve their problems in an interdependent way rather than a dependent way.”
The Jenkins will be doing training in stewardship and entrepreneurship. They plan to establish a partnership with a microfinance organization. The organization could then provide the people they’ve worked with access to additional services, insurance, savings -- things Americans take for granted. These are difficult to come by in Costa Rica. “We want the people there to have the empowerment of providing, the dignity and joy of knowing, ‘This is my church. I have given sacrificially to build up this church to have an impact on our community,’” Daniel said. [Photo on left: The Jenkins’ children Emma, 7, Issac, 2 and Caleb, 4, will move with their parents to San Jose, Costa Rica, as missionaries. Click to follow Emma’s blog.]
The Jenkins are committed to at least three years. Their focus in the first year is language school and networking, second year a pilot program, third expanding the program, and beyond that they will look to see how they can expand it into other countries. “This is not a Costa Rica program. This is a program that can have implications and bring development to the church in many parts of the world,” Daniel said.
— Elizabeth Vincent is a junior from Greenfield, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in political science. Vincent is an associate with Fifth Street Communications writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.