Serge welcomes the broken

Have you ever considered mission work, but maybe aren’t a religion major? Or maybe mission work seems like a calling for the really “holy” Christians. In her talk on Nov. 16, Crissy Chipriano debunked those misconceptions.

Chipriano is a recruiter for Serge, a multifaceted missions sending organization that sponsors approximately 250 people in 20 countries in Europe, Africa and South America. A unique aspect of Serge is its open acknowledgment of brokenness.

Serge’s motto is “Grace at the Seam.” The idea behind the motto is rooted in the serge stitch that binds two pieces of rough-edged cloth together. Grace is the stitch that binds broken people together. This humble acknowledgment is one of the things that initially drew Chipriano to Serge. “There is a cyclical nature to understanding the gospel,” she said. “When you are really grasping what grace means in your life … the natural propulsion is outward, whether that is here in the US or abroad. But, when you are out in that, you quickly come to the end of yourself and have to come back to the Gospel and be reminded of who you are in Christ.”

She emphasized the necessity of “ministering out of weakness.” She explained that it is through weakness and brokenness that God’s glory shines more brightly. “I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together. Be honest about the places you don’t have it all together, because then you can say, ‘but, God … [redeemed this].’” She noted and went on to share how this has been true in her own life. Chipriano’s ministry path led her through five countries, a cancer diagnosis and several periods of spiritual weariness and doubt. She now joyously declares that God has “used that story,” for good. She continues to work with Serge, working with people interested in missions to pursue God’s will for them.

So if Serge isn’t looking for perfect Christians, what are they looking for? Chipriano offers the following advice for those considering mission work:

Be active in missions now. Don’t get stuck thinking that life starts when you get on the mission field. Get plugged into your local church and ministry opportunities.

Involve your community in decision making. “God speaks through his people,” Chipriano said.

Know what kind of experience you are looking for. Missions organizations have different personalities. Many also offer different opportunities for involvement. How will your organization support you? Will you be part of a team? What sort of work will you do?

Finally, understand the true meaning of calling. “I have found with a lot of students is a mystical [idea] of the word calling,” observed Chipriano. “That is a missions buzz word. Not everyone is called to the mission field, but there are a lot of people waiting around for a burning bush experience. That would be nice. Sometimes that happens, most of the time it does not. I had a very black and white view of what God wanted for me. There was only one thing God wanted for me, and if I messed it up, I would mess up my life. I think God gives us a lot more freedom in decision-making. Sometimes there are lightning bolt experiences, but more often, I think God asks us to keep plodding [on].”

Chipriano closed her talk by encouraging students interested in Serge to go to their website and begin the communication process at