Joel & Kim were both called to the mission field individually before they ever met.  Kim felt called at an early age when taking a missions trip to Kenya and Joel during his senior year of college on a missions trip to Honduras.  Kim had always sensed a call to medical missions and Joel sensed that God wanted to use him in his life to help at-risk children.  In meeting one another, they knew that God had brought them together, not only for the purpose of starting a family, but also to pursue a joint call to international mission in those two areas. They were married in May of 2002 but didn’t leave for their first term in Ecuador until June 2010.  During this time they lived in Chicago where Joel attended seminary and graduate school and Kim finished her undergraduate degree and then went on to get her Masters in Nursing.  Not only did they accomplish all of this schooling, but also worked full-time and gave birth to their first son Simeon in March 2010.  It was a crazy, busy, stressful time for them but a period they look back on and see how God was preparing them for their time of missionary service and all of the adventure (and stress!) that comes with that. Joel & Kim served as Short-term Missionaries with I.P.E.E. (the Evangelical Covenant Church in Ecuador) from June 2010 through October 2012.  This being their first full-time missionary endeavor, rather than trying to take on starting a large project as new missionaries, they decided to utilize their first short-term experience to learn.  They spent their first two and a half years learning Spanish and Ecuadorian culture and forming relationships by serving in roles where I.P.E.E. asked them to serve. In addition to serving in these roles, they also looked into the possibility of doing a project with I.P.E.E. serving the medically underprivileged and at risk children.  They wanted to do the necessary leg work to determine if Ecuador was a good fit for them and their long-term dream.  In sharing their vision for the future with I.P.E.E., they quickly learned that, though I.P.E.E. didn’t currently have these types of ministries, they would fit in nicely with what they were doing.  I.P.E.E. leadership was very excited about the possibility of partnering in this way, but everyone decided together to take a formal look to make sure that it made sense to pursue these ministries in Ecuador.  They started with a study to see the needs of at-risk children, as well as the needs for medical care.  As Ecuador is one of South America’s poorer countries and as one may have guessed, the need for these two areas was widely apparent at the completion of this study.  I.P.E.E. leadership then asked Joel & Kim to take one more step in this discovery process by doing a Field Study where they went out and visited ministries for at risk children and for the medically underprivileged.  At the completion of this two and a half month study in which over 20 interviews were conducted and a 33 page report resulted, I.P.E.E. leadership used the information to make the decision as to where the ministries would be located and how they would look. Joel & Kim’s call to the mission field is a call to service: to be servants of God and to others.  They reflect on the Apostle Paul’s description of Christ’s model of servitude in Philippians 2:5-11: In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

They are excited to be a part of the Santiago Partnership and what they are doing in Ecuador by serving the least of these and under the guidance of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Ecuador.  They now have three children of their own: Simeon, Esther and Ephraim.