The following individuals are working together as the
Board of Directors to ensure that Abogar’s ministries continue to move forward for God’s glory.
If you would like to speak to any of our Board Members about their passion for Abogar, please fill out our Contact Us form and let us know you’d like to chat!
Julie Heisey – President, Board Director
Julie grew up in Roxbury, PA. However, it was her youth experiences while living abroad in Zambia (3rd grade) and Mali (11th grade) that directed her heart to be engaged in holistic international development, focusing on the spiritual, physical, and economic needs of people. In line with this vision, she received her bachelor’s degree in economic development from Messiah College, PA, graduating in the spring of 2017. She then spent a year of service with MCC in Kigali, Rwanda, with a local non-profit, before moving to Boston, MA where she was mentored in leadership positions with Starbucks Coffee Company.
In her current position as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Lancaster, PA, she continues to be a learner, deepening her understanding of the ways that communities, organizations, and governments build holistic and sustainable livelihoods for their members.
Julie’s Interest in Abogar International Ministries:
I have known Jesse for many years through our friendship, which began at Roxbury Holiness Camp. Jesse’s passion and love for children is unmistakable, exemplified in his commitment to their well-being both spiritually and physically. Resonating with Jesse’s heart and having a desire to contribute to my friend’s passionate work, I became involved with Abogar as an independent consultant. I learned more about the ways Abogar is actively the hands and feet of God’s heart for children across Latin America, and then in 2018 I accepted a position to serve on the BoDy (Board of Directors y [and] Jesus). In this role I have become more intimately aware of the impactful work of Abogar’s ministry and God has developed a greater desire in me to contribute to its growth as a farther-reaching ministry that enables children to flourish as whole human beings.
Mike Holland – Vice President, Board Director
Mike Holland grew up to missionary parents in Zimbabwe and Zambia where he gave his life to Christ when he was 5 years old. He earned a BA in Bible with a minor in Music at Messiah College in 1984, an MA in missions at Ashland Seminary in 1993, and has earned a Doctorate of Missiology from Western Seminary in 2014. Mike was licensed with the Brethren in Christ Church in 1992, and then ordained in 1993.
Mike married Sherry Jackson on December 28, 1983. They served in church planting in Venezuela with Brethren in Christ World Missions for 17 years from 1985 to 2002. They have three adult children, Sarah married to Henok Begashaw, Tori married to Jake Reis and Alex an artist and graphic designer.
Currently Mike is the bi-vocational pastor since 2003 at Luz, Alegria y Esperanza BIC Church, a Hispanic church in York Springs, PA, and also the part-time associate pastor of Hispanic Ministries at New Life Community BIC Church, Carlisle, PA since 2012. In January, 2018 Mike also accepted the position of Facilitator for Hispanic Ministries of the Susquehanna Conference with the Brethren In Christ Church, US.
Mike’s interest in Abogar International Ministries:
I have been a friend, spiritual father, and a ministry partner with Jesse since 2002. We have a great relationship and a common passion for Jesus and the things that touch God’s heart. Having served for many years in Venezuela, it is a joy to stand with Jesse in developing the ministry of Abogar; to bring love and life through Jesus and caring Christian people to orphaned and street children, and youth at risk in Latin America. Having served in Latin America, I am aware that these children need people to advocate on their behalf.
Karen Wilson – Secretary, Board Director
Karen is from a small town outside of Philadelphia, PA. She grew up in a Christian home and asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior at a very young age. She attended Messiah College and graduated in 2007 with a degree in Psychology.
The following fall of 2007 Karen joined the Brethren In Christ STEP team where she lived and ministered in Honduras for five months and where she met her Honduran husband, Mike Bodden. While they lived in Honduras, Karen worked at a private Christian bilingual school as a High School teacher and administrative assistant. In May of 2012 she and her family were lead to move back to the U.S. where she is currently living in Houston, TX and is caring for her three beautiful daughters, while volunteering for, and serving with Abogar.
Karen’s interest in Abogar International Ministries:
I have known both Jesse Rivers and Mike Holland since 2006 where we ministered together at Luz, Alegria y Esperanza BIC Church, York Springs, PA. I consider Jesse a close brother and friend, and I am in full support of how God wants to use his gifts and passion to lead others in advocating for the impoverished Latin American youth. I am honored to serve Abogar International Ministries as the Secretary of the board of directors. I am excited to see how God partners Abogar with existing organizations in Latin America to support and bless them in the work they have already begun for these children and the Kingdom.
Laura Stoner – Treasurer, Board Director
Laura Stoner grew up on a dairy farm in East Berlin, PA. She grew up in a Christian home with three younger siblings and accepted Jesus Christ at a young age. In 2008, she graduated from high school, having been homeschooled the whole way through. She then completed her first two years of college at Harrisburg Area Community College before she transferred to Messiah College. She graduated from Messiah College with a degree in business administration in 2012. Since graduation, she has been working at Apple Valley Creamery, where she is currently the inventory and invoicing coordinator.
She attends Pathway Community Church, where she is involved in the children’s ministry and the young adult ministry. She never had a desire to serve overseas in any capacity (short or long term) until an experience in 2011 changed her thinking on this. The Kuyasa Kids Choir from Horizon International in South Africa came to her church for a concert around Easter. Her family hosted 10 people from the choir for the weekend, and through that experience and hearing them share in music and testimony at church, her heart was opened to the possibility of serving overseas, should God call her. Although it was not overseas, she went on her first missions trip in July 2012. She went with a group from her church to New York City to do outreach for a week, which was a great learning and growing experience.
Laura’s Interest in Abogar International Ministries:
I met Jesse Rivers at Roxbury Camp in August 2012, and he has been like a brother to me ever since. As I had an interest in children and missions, I was immediately attracted to Jesse’s passion for Jesus and reaching the children in Latin America. In May 2013, I was on the team for Abogar’s first Xposure Xperience trip, and we went to Guatemala. I enjoyed loving on kids during that trip, as my eyes were opened to the poverty that so many children are living in. I then had a desire to become even more involved with Abogar. So when I was invited to serve as the finance manager, I gladly accepted. That quickly grew into the opportunity for me to join the board and serve as the treasurer, which I stepped into in faith that God would work through me for His glory.
Lun Jiang – Board Director
Lun Jiang grew up in Beijing, China and received B.S. in Electronic Engineering in Tsinghua University. After graduation he worked for two years as a programmer in the game industry. At age 24 he moved to United States to pursue PhD in computer science. The challenges in graduate school eventually compelled him to reexamine his atheist belief, and gave him a renewed life in Christ. Eventually he graduated with the PhD, specialized in solar energy. It has been his passion since then to love on his fellow students on campus with the open dialogue about Christianity.
Lun’s interest in Abogar International Ministries:
After hearing from Jesse’s talks describing his experience in childhood, I have been deeply touched by his vision of bringing children who are orphaned, not just into a place that can feed them, but also truly gives them a life experience of having a family in Christ. As an immigrant I can relate to the emotional pain of being lonely and outside of the protection of my family, the fear and insecurity that comes with it, and the lack of a consistent support structure that helps to establish an identity in the society. My hope for Abogar is to see it being used by God, to directly or indirectly serve these children in a way that can help them regain their identity, family and love within the community.
Jesse Rivers – Founder, Ex-Officio Board Director
Jesse Rivers grew up in central Maine. Living through a challenging childhood, he was finally rescued by the U.S. government at the age of 13 and placed in foster care. Fortunately, God pursued Jesse from a very young age, and at the age of 7 years old, Jesse received Jesus Christ as his Savior. While in foster care, at the age of 15, after a very traumatic accident, Jesse came to the place of surrender and service to Jesus Christ, as his Lord, also.
Throughout most of his lifetime, Jesse has been very aware of the calling of God on his life to serve those most in need of love and care. He earned his B.A. in Christian Ministries with a concentration in Missions from Messiah College in 2002, and an M.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2010. Jesse has served in a diverse array of ministry positions including youth pastor, camp pastor, evangelist, motivational speaker, and short-term and long-term missionary.
Jesse lives in Guatemala for a majority of the year (2014 – present), serving God by networking and advocating for children who are orphaned and living in the street and youth at risk in Latin America full-time. He lives with his wife, Irene, who supports him in the ministry and cares for their baby ‘J’. Jesse continues to make regular trips to the US for networking and advocacy work, and into Latin America, to help further the ministry and effectiveness of Abogar.
Jesse’s interest in Abogar International Ministries:
Abogar International Ministries started from a vision and calling that I have received from God; to help vulnerable and orphaned children to have opportunity-filled futures. It is my passion, pleasure, and purpose to advocate for, network on behalf of, and minister to these children, throughout Latin America. It is an immense burden, privilege, and pleasure to be a voice for the voiceless and to love on and empower these children to choose wisely how to improve and impact their futures for God’s glory!