Jonathan Daniel McCurley is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, commissioned in October 2009 and assigned to the Asian Rural Institute in northern Japan. He serves as community life coordinator.
The Asian Rural Institute is an ecumenical ministry that seeks to build an environmentally healthy, just, and peaceful community in which all persons can live to their fullest potential. The institute is rooted in the love of Jesus Christ. It trains rural leaders for lives of sharing and work in grassroots communities, primarily in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific region. It emphasizes sustainable agriculture, sound ecological practices, leadership development, and community development. Since 1973, ARI has trained over 1,300 women and men from more than 50 countries throughout Asia and Africa.
The institute and Global Ministries are strong mission partners, and the relationship has intensified in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that adversely affected the region.
Jonathan is a candidate for elder’s orders in the Florida Annual Conference. He grew up in the Orlando area in the Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church. “Although attending church from a very young age, it was not until high school that I accepted a relationship with God and the identity as a Christian,” he says. “Upon entering high school, I took a world-religions course that exposed me to various ideas about God, the good, and humanity. That experience pushed me to really seek what I myself believed about these things. On Palm Sunday of that year, I had an experience with the Holy Spirit. This led me to enter into a relationship with God through Christ, and this was the beginning of my walk as a Christian, being baptized soon after.”
Jonathan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and international studies from Emory University, Atlanta in 2003, and a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois in the spring of 2008. He worked in a Cokesbury bookstore while in seminary, served as a youth pastor, and taught english for a time after graduation. He plays piano and sings, and is fluent in English, Japanese, and French.
Jonathan was first introduced to the mission experience while taking part in a Volunteers-in-Mission trip to Mexico during college. “At the end of the trip, there was a time for prayer for those who wanted to commit their lives to serving God by serving others wherever God might call them,” he explains. “The greatest confirmation of my call to mission has been as I have learned about my spiritual gifts. My love of language has led me to study and live internationally and has inspired me to continue to learn so that I can communicate the Good News with more people.”