by Jordan West
CLEVELAND, Ga., – 2016 TMU graduates Jesse (BA ’16) and MacKenzie (BA ’16) Mitchum spent their first few days of the new year on a one way flight to Chang Mai, Thailand.
There, they plan to train, teach and disciple the people God places in their paths. The two met at Truett McConnell and are walking in obedience as they continue to answer the call God has placed on their lives to be international missionaries.
A passion to reach the nations
“When I was younger,” Jesse explained, in an interview before they left to Thailand, “I heard missionaries share testimonies at my church, which always intrigued me. However, it was not until I started attending Truett McConnell that the Lord placed within me a passion to reach the nations for Christ.”
MacKenzie added, “I always thought I’d be an architect when I grew up, but in my junior year of high school, God changed my mind, direction and life—He called me to a life of missions overseas.”
It was through their missions classes at TMU the two actually met. Jesse said, “I ended up meeting MacKenzie through the Intro to the Great Commission course where I began to learn more about biblical missions. She had already declared herself as a World Missions major. I was a Christian Studies major at the time, but I knew God was steering me in a different direction than pastoral ministry.”
“By the time I entered into my sophomore year,” he continued, “I had been on my first mission trip to Malaysia, and changed my major to World Missions. From then on, I knew God had called me to foreign missions.”
The call to Thailand
MacKenzie knew she wanted to work in Asia, sharing: “I was encouraged to sign up to go on a short-term mission trip right away. I signed up to go to Thailand because I felt called to work in Asia.”
“Sadly, the trip was cancelled, and I ended up going to Malaysia instead. I was sad at first because I didn’t know anything about Malaysia, but it was the perfect first trip for both [Jesse] and me.”
But God’s plans are always for His glory, and MacKenzie stated, “Little did we know that we would end up in Thailand just a few short years later—in God’s perfect timing.”
She added, “God gave me a strong desire to take an ESL course—I never could quite explain why. We both took an ESL course as step one, and realized we should continue to pursue ESL in our missions career.”
Teachers and mentors assisted the Mitchums in planning their move to Thailand. MacKenzie expressed, “Dr. Pruitt (TMU Associate Professor of Missions and Evangelism) and a few other key people, helped us develop a plan to start a training institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand to teach English to businessmen.”
Jesse and MacKenzie were able to visit the city that served as their capstone trip the summer before their senior year. MacKenzie said, “Shortly thereafter, we went to Chiang Mai for our capstone trip, a 5-week mission trip, which further solidified our calling to that place and those people.”
Preparing for the move
“Apart from researching and studying Thailand on our own, we have been praying diligently, asking God to lead us through this entire process of moving overseas.”
She added, “Between visas, insurance, housing, buying plane tickets, and more, there is a lot to get done but we are trying to focus more on spiritual preparation than anything else.”
The couple spent months fundraising before the big move in hopes to help provide a couple of years without worrying about finances on top of all the changes they may face.
MacKenzie explained, “This money will be allocated for things like visas, housing, utilities, language courses, and food.”
Logistics of leaving the country
“When we first arrive,” Mitchum shared, “we will try to find a house or apartment as soon as we can. We start language classes in February and will continue those for about 1 year. Without learning the language, we limit the effectiveness of our ministry, so learning Thai will be our top priority for a while.”
MacKenzie explained, “Either in Fall 2017 or Spring 2018, we will begin our Master’s work at Payap University—an international school in Chiang Mai. Jesse will work on getting his MBA, while I will be working on a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) degree.”
“After we’ve finished our Master’s work, we will use our degrees to open the institute to teach English to businessmen.”
Jesse pointed out, “People often ask, ‘Why businessmen?’ Up until now, Thais have typically placed very little emphasis on learning English because they never really felt like they needed to learn anything other than Thai.”
He went on, “However, for various political reasons, many Thai businessmen are discovering their need to learn English. We want to fill that need for them and use English as a way to introduce the Gospel into their lives.”
Seeking Christ for counsel
“Our heart in ministry is discipleship,” MacKenzie explained. “We love to see people grow in their faith and knowledge of Christ.”
She said, “It is a special thing to watch people fall in love with God every day of their lives. So when we read this verse in Colossians most recently, we both agreed that it was the best verse to describe our ministry.”
The couple chose Colossians 1:28 to represent their goals in sharing Christ. The verse reads, “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” Colossians 1:28 (HCSB)
Jesse and MacKenzie expressed thankfulness for the prayers and incredible support they have received throughout this time.
“We’re excited to see what God has in store for us, because so far, it’s been the best journey ever,” MacKenzie concluded.
Jordan West (BA ’16) is a TMU alum and freelance writer for the university.Return to News Archive