Elizabeth Birhan Kiros Dishman is an international Global Mission Fellow with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, engaged in a two-year term of service.
The Global Mission Fellows program takes young adults ages 20-30 out of their home environments and places them in new contexts for mission experience and service. The program has a strong emphasis on faith and justice. Global Mission Fellows become active parts of their new local communities. They connect the church in mission across cultural and geographical boundaries. They grow in personal and social holiness and become strong young leaders working to build just communities in a peaceful world.
Elizabeth is a member of the Dunlap (Tennessee) United Methodist Church in the Holston Annual Conference. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
“I grew up in this church,” Elizabeth said, “and attended actively until going away to college. I served as acolyte, audiovisual volunteer and vacation Bible school/children’s ministry helper, and with church members at the local food bank.”
Born in Ethiopia, Elizabeth first heard about Jesus at Hope Community Services orphanage in Mekelle, Ethiopia. “I went to live there when I was 7 years old,” she recalled, “after both my parents died from tuberculosis. The Christian Ethiopian missionary couple that founded the orphanage taught us to pray, told us Bible stories and showed us God’s loving goodness. Gabe, the orphanage director, told me years later that he remembers the day that I said I wanted to grow up and be a missionary like him and his wife Connie. I wanted to help people like they had helped me and the other children.”
Adopted at age 10, Elizabeth joined her new parents in Tennessee. “I had only been in America a few days before attending a Wednesday night church service at Dunlap United Methodist Church,” she said. “The faithful and consistent teachings of my parents, pastors, Sunday school and youth group leaders, and the volunteer service I performed at my church, in the community and on mission trips all helped my spiritual growth.”
Elizabeth’s interests range from running to crocheting. In high school varsity track and field/cross country, she medaled at the state level in track 4×4 relay and at the regional level in cross country. “I enjoy coaching and encouraging young people to be physically active and use sports to build self-esteem, set goals or [meet] personal challenges,” she said. “I also enjoy working with my hands and crocheting items for myself, friends and family. I’ve taught crocheting while serving on a mission trip.”
Elizabeth continues growing closer to God through prayer, worship and reading Scripture. “My relationship with God is not perfect,” she admitted, “but I strive daily to grow in my fellowship. I believe God desires us to know him and stay faithful in his obedience. Applying to the Global Mission Fellows program is one of my steps toward being of full service to God.”
A favorite Bible verse for Elizabeth is Luke 12:48: “For to whom much is given, much will be required.” She explained, “This verse resonates with me a lot. In my life, God has blessed me beyond measure. He took me out of poverty, did not leave me an orphan and gave me a life full of opportunities. Because of how God has lifted me, I have experienced his goodness.
“My story is of his glory, and I believe I am here to share it. There is no action I can take to repay God for his blessings in my life other than to obey and fulfill his purpose for me: to help others in need.”