Salvaggio, Mia Jean

Country: Uruguay
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Serving At: Methodist Church in Uruguay
Home Country: United States

Mia J. Salvaggio 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.  

She is a member of First United Methodist Church, Hendersonville, North Carolina, related to the North Carolina Annual Conference.

There, she served as youth leader for three years. At Vintage Church, Chapel Hill, she leads a small-group church club. In both congregations, she has played violin in the worship band for Sunday services.

Mia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in mathematics and exercise sports science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has fond memories of growing up. “My family and I went to church every Sunday,” Mia said. “We blessed our meals and said our nighttime prayers. My siblings and I were confirmed as members of our United Methodist church, became involved in our youth group and went on many mission trips. I didn’t know an alternative to this way of living. It was simply my normal, and I accepted it as such. My parents encouraged it, I believed it to be true, and that was mostly the extent of it.”

When Mia headed to college, she sought a Christian community where she could nurture her faith and be around people who shared her beliefs.

“I quickly found friends who were involved in a campus ministry called Young Life and began joining them when they went to the meetings,” Mia recalled. “A few months into college, many of them signed up for Young Life leader training, so I did, too. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I completed the training, was placed as a leader at a local high school and led there for the rest of my four years in college.”

That experience, Mia admitted, was one of the hardest things she ever did.

“It was time consuming, emotionally and mentally draining, and overwhelming at times but more rewarding and life changing for myself and for those kids than I ever could have imagined,” she said.

Through leader training, and through leading itself, Mia began to understand why she believed as she did. “I realized that faith in God was more than just going to church and being a good person,” Mia said. “I could have a personal relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t just a given, but an active choice that I could make each day. Jesus was someone I could spend time with, and I wanted that. I latched onto him and gave everything I had in the hopes that the kids would get a glimpse of Jesus through me. I wanted to share him with everyone.

“I learned an incredible amount about myself, the world and God through planning Bible studies and talks for the kids, through the questions they asked me, and through the questions I asked myself when I lost sight of why I was spending so much of my time doing this. I learned that I not only need Jesus but that I also wanted a life filled with him.”

Since graduating from college, Mia has considered many different routes. “Doing ministry or mission work is something my mind keeps circling back to,” she said, “and I can’t rid myself of the feeling that it is what I’m meant to do with my next couple years.”

Mia hopes to use the leadership experience she gained through Young Life leadership: conversing with different types of people, fearlessly sharing about the Bible and being comfortable leading and talking to groups of people. She also hopes to use the mental endurance she has learned through races and training sessions to cope with any difficulties she may have in a new environment. She appreciates opportunities to help others in their health and faith journeys, with an emphasis on forming relationships with people in order to help them.

“I believe that mission work is where God wants me,” she asserted. “I crave the adventure and the opportunity to spend my time working to make a difference, see more of God’s world, meet more of his people, and share about him through my actions and my words.”