Response Magazine

Marissa Ukosakul-Witt

Marissa Ukosakul-WittClient Services at Trutina Financial

Seattle

Global Development Studies major 2011

Marissa Ukosakul-Witt imagined her future might be in international ministry. She came to Seattle Pacific University as a missionary kid, an international student, a dual Thai and U.S. citizen who grew up in Thailand.

“I never thought I’d stay in the States,” she says.

Then she encountered John Perkins. His practical theology of community development gave her the language to talk about a holistic form of Christian ministry that addresses “social, material, and spiritual poverty.” At SPU, she dove deep into his ideas, both through her global and urban ministry minor and through her service in the John Perkins Center’s Urban Involvement program.

Meanwhile, she got involved at Rainier Avenue Church, a Free Methodist congregation in South Seattle, which soon started to “feel like family.” As she continued to discern a calling to ministry, she volunteered to serve on the board of Urban Impact, a Christian community development organization in the Rainier Valley neighborhood that’s committed to putting Perkins’ theology into practice. She’s served as an Urban Impact staff member. She recently took a client services position at Trutina Financial, and continues to volunteer and support Urban Impact through RAC’s community development ministry.

She keeps an international view: She travels to Thailand and globally to see family and friends, and she performs in the International Praise Band, a RAC-based group of musicians that recently performed at Jazz Alley. But the call to local ministry remains strong.

“I get to see exciting work that God is doing, work that’s really impacting people for Christ,” she says.

— Hannah Notess

Marissa Ukosakul-WittPhoto by David Cho

How does your time at SPU connect to the work you’re doing today?

I learned about the history and philosophy of Christian community development during my global and urban ministry or global development classes. My work at the John Perkins Center put philosophy to action as I connected to other ministries like Urban Impact via Urban Involvement tutoring, then serving on the board of Urban Impact and as staff. It helped fuel my passion for ministry to look not only globally but also to understand the importance of serving locally.

Who made a difference in your SPU education?

Dr. Lorelle Jabs was my University Seminar leader, and later I became her TA and helped teach a couple classes. She encouraged me to explore who I was and where I come from more.

What advice do you have for students about life after graduation?

Do all you can to steward well and save well that you can give generously and see the world. Be brave. Don’t let the work that you do be the only thing that defines who you are.

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