Sam and Melissa both had YMI president, Dr. Randy Smith, as a professor while attending Boyce College and Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. Dr. Smith taught them missions courses, personal evangelism and youth courses. The relationship between professor and students soon turned to missionary and mission agency president. Taking his training and experience as a youth pastor, Sam and Melissa joined YMI’s team in Eurasia (specifically Ukraine) and soon became YMI’s Eurasia team leaders. Sam and Melissa have been a part of incredible ministry growth in Ukraine, where they now have five partnering Christian schools training youth leaders throughout the country. Those five schools have over 90 students studying to become local church youth pastors/leaders! Sam also will soon be the director of the new youth ministry Master’s program beginning Fall 2021.
To support these formal programs and expansion, Sam leads a team of six national trainers/ professors discipling youth leaders across Ukraine. In 2017 the Center for Youth Ministry Ukraine (CYMU) began and attained the needed legal and financial infrastructure. Through this Ukrainian non-profit organization, YMI is partnering to send national missionaries to serve in Ukraine and throughout Eurasia. Currently three of our six Ukrainian youth ministry professors are raising their support to be full-time youth ministry trainers.
With a vision to launch youth ministry training to Central Asia together with Ukrainians, Sam with the other Ukrainian trainers has attended and taught classes and seminars in several countries. Many of the main youth leaders in Central Asia lack, but want formal training in youth ministry. When travel opens again, we look forward to solidifying plans to begin training programs there.
An Air Force kid, Sam was raised mostly in south Georgia. He is married to Melissa and they have 3 children, Jarrett (13), Evelyna (10), and Corbyn (5). Sam enjoys ultimate frisbee, working outside, and playing Minecraft with his kids. Along with raising the kids, Melissa loves using their home to reach young people through teaching English. She enjoys reading, coloring, and mentoring/encouraging young moms.