Young Couple Seeks Purposeful Adventure
| by Carol Best firstname.lastname@example.org
AJ (’11) and Chelsea (Coffey ’13) Fry are headed for an adventure with a purpose bigger than they ever imagined. The young couple met at MNU and never dreamed they would become volunteer missionaries, but the call is clear and they couldn’t be more excited. They leave the U.S. this month, bound for Costa Rica, to attend three months of language school. Then it’s off to the Dominican Republic for their assignment in cross-cultural ministry as Work & Witness coordinators in Santo Domingo, where they will help build a Missionary Formation Center.
The journey that brought AJ and Chelsea to this point started several years ago when Chelsea made a college visit to MNU. The high school senior and competitive swimmer was committed to Harding University where she planned to be a pre-med major. MNU was a long shot. It was far from home, in a colder climate (she hates snow), there was no swim team, she “didn’t know a soul,” and she would be giving up her full-ride scholarship for a smaller one. But once on campus she knew she needed to be at MNU.
AJ and Chelsea Fry shared their story with students in the Intro to Ministry class at MNU September 27, 2016.
Chelsea says she was a cultural Catholic from a big family. Her mother didn’t understand why Chelsea would choose to move to Kansas for college. And while it wasn’t consciously a spiritual decision, it became one, when in her freshman year she committed her life to Christ and was saved.
“At the time, I thought faith was either a waste of time or it should impact your whole life,” she says. “Friends at MNU taught me the whole life option was the right one for me.”
AJ’s path to MNU was more typical of Nazarene youth growing up in the church. His family attended Hutchinson First Church of the Nazarene where AJ was involved in Bible quizzing and youth group. MNU was the obvious choice for him and his friends. But first. AJ chose to attend Hutchinson County Community College to earn an Associate of Science degree in building trades. Transferring to MNU as a junior, AJ majored in interdisciplinary studies. Looking back, he recognizes he had a call to ministry earlier, but didn’t realize it or maybe, he says, he denied it.
At MNU Chelsea threw herself into campus life, running for freshman class council. AJ and she became friends while working for MNU’s admissions office as student ambassadors. He waited a year to ask her on a date and after dating two years they married. Meanwhile Chelsea changed majors to organizational leadership and AJ graduated. She continued to be very involved in student life and served as Associated Student Government president for two years. She also volunteered with the youth group at College Church of the Nazarene. During this time, Chelsea felt a call to ministry and says the Lord confirmed to her time and again that she was called and that she should stay in her business major.
Once married, the couple planned on living and working in Olathe and ministering to others at their apartment complex. AJ was a carpenter and Chelsea was an executive team leader at Target in human resources.
“We burned steaks one night and ended up meeting all our neighbors,” Chelsea laughs. “It’s what you call ‘strategic’ evangelism.” But the event allowed them to start relationships that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. They both had well-paying jobs and were enjoying life together when an opportunity arose to move to Florida to be volunteer youth pastors.
While it seemed odd to others that they would give up job security for volunteer ministry positions, the couple felt strongly that it was right.
“When God calls, it’s important to answer that call,” AJ says. “We went three months without jobs and God provided everything.”
The Lord blessed their willingness and the youth group grew, over the next two years, into a missional group of teens who came to understand that they are the hands and feet of Christ. Implementing twice monthly service projects, the Tavares Church of the Nazarene teens, learned to serve their neighborhood.
Though it was hard for them to leave “their teens,” AJ and Chelsea had a pivotal meeting with long-time mentors, Scott and Emily Armstrong, missionaries in the Dominican Republic. One day Emily asked the couple, “Where do you see yourself serving as missionaries?” Much to her surprise, Chelsea blurted out, “As Work & Witness coordinators in Guatemala.” Though she’d never been on a Work & Witness trip, or to Guatemala, the she voiced the idea. Amazingly, Emily replied, “There’s a non-traditional position open for a Work & Witness coordinator in the Dominican Republic.”
The couple could see how God had woven their past education and experience in ministry, building, human resources, volunteering and business, into this potential position.
Now, they have the needed experience, skills and stability and the couple knows God was preparing them all along.
AJ and Chelsea tell young people looking for career and life advice to cultivate a mentor.
“It’s really critical,” Chelsea says. “This could be a life-long relationship that can really help you.”
“Just allow God to work through you and use your creativity,” AJ adds. “There’s no certain step-by-step program that you have to do.”
AJ and Chelsea have been raising their own support for their new position and have nearly 84 percent of the funds needed for the assignment. Their specific prayer requests include additional financial partners to provide monthly support, teams to help rebuild and create the Center for Missionary Formation and success in learning Spanish at language school.