Airgood's destination: missionary to Ukraine

11/21/2011

 By ALICE SMITH
For half his young life, Michael Airgood has known he wanted to be a United Methodist missionary. 
He responded to that call at age 12, and last month at age 24 was commissioned by  the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries as a missionary to Ukraine.
In the spirit of one who’s always known God’s calling on his life, his assignment in Ukraine won’t be all that new to him. He’s already served as an individual volunteer  for more than a year – 13 months in Ukraine and two months in Mongolia. He has also had international experience in Russia during his high school and college years, where he learned to speak Russian. Now he’s learning to speak Ukrainian, because both languages are spoken in Ukraine.
Also commissioned last month by GBGM was Jennifer Hansen, a member of St. Mark UMC inAtlanta who will be serving in Uganda.
Airgood will be working as a church planter and developer of youth ministries, both areas of ministry where he served as a volunteer. He helped plant the first Ukrainian-speaking church In L’viv in the western part of the country near the  Polish border, and a “daughter” church in a nearby village. 
The student ministry in the city—like a Wesley foundation in U. S. colleges – ministers to both students  from a Greek Catholic university and a state university.
The students come from a variety of backgrounds, and Airgood finds the cross-pollination of cultures and faiths exhilarating, for himself and for the students. About 50 students are considered regulars at Molod do Isusa (Youth for Jesus), but Airgood estimates the program touches another 50 during a week’s time. “I really love it,” he said.  “The students are so alive and their faith so fresh and new.”
The United Methodist Church is small with 15 churches and an overall membership of about 1,000. Yet the spirit is alive and the church is growing – hence the need for a church planter. “The church is on the cusp where it could just explode,” Airgood said.
During the last months between his commissioning and his departure for Ukraine in January, Airgood has been itinerating in the North Georgia Conference and in the Western Pennsylvania Conference, his home conference.   He first came to North Georgia as a student at Toccoa Falls College and while there made Toccoa First UMC his church home.  He is a lifelong United Methodist, having grown up in Kane First UMC in Kane, Penn. 
Among the North Georgia churches  Airgood has visited are Tocca First, Sunshine in Carnesville, Highlands UMC in Gainesville, Dallas First, Chamblee First, and Chatsworth First.
Airgood is anxious to connect with more churches in North Georgia and can be reached atmichaelairgood@gmail.com. Support for his ministry can be given to Advance No. 3021393.
 


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