Twenty years after Dan and Melanie Eaton first applied with Nazarene Global Mission, they received their first international assignment: to serve the Eurasia Region in finance and member care.
The Eatons, from Nashville, Tennessee, moved in June to Büsingen, Germany, to work at the regional office. Dan is taking over the role of regional finance director. Melanie is the regional secretary, and is also filling the newly created role of regional member care coordinator.
Dan and Melanie Eaton first applied with Nazarene Global Mission in the late 1990s to serve in cross-cultural mission. For various reasons, no match was made and so they focused their careers and ministry in Tennessee.
A former social worker who served in an inpatient unit for adolescent males, most recently Melanie was an academic advisor for graduate students and adult students at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.
Dan has a Master’s in Business Administration that focused on economic development in urban ministry. Much of his career he has been involved in the nonprofit sector, including affordable housing development, refugee resettlement and serving the homeless.
In Tennessee they started and raised a family and felt fulfilled in the work God gave them.
Then, in February, Global Mission called.
“When I picked up my phone and it said, ‘Kansas City,’ for whatever reason I said, ‘Surely that’s not the church wanting me to go to work,’” Dan recalled. “Why didn’t I just think it was a telemarketer or prank call? The Lord had kind of prepared me for that.”
“We weren’t looking for a missionary assignment. But when we got the call… it was something we felt like we had to take seriously,” Melanie added.
The couple sought God’s leading, and talked to their children to see if they were comfortable with their parents moving internationally. Emily Grace is a 26-year-old first grade teacher; John graduated from Northwest Nazarene University this year with a degree in biology. And Mary is a junior at Trevecca Nazarene University, studying journalism.
“We got the green light from them,” Melanie said. “Basically they said, ‘When can we come see you?’ The Lord told us our family’s going to be taken care of.”
As the first member care coordinator for the Eurasia Region, Melanie is working with Marty Hoskins, leader of Mobilization at the Global Ministry Center, and Cindy Schmelzenbach, the member care coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Region, to develop the role.
“My social work background really affords me a perspective that is healthy, holistic, looking at individual and family development through a strengths-based model,” she said. “Often times you see problems may arise in transitions, and that’s true for families across the board. In the life of a missionary family or even a single missionary, there are some special challenges added on to those life transitions.”
She also looks at how to link people with resources and services they need, and providing education and information.
“I’m the daughter of a CPA, so those details help me with the regional secretary piece,” she added.
Dan’s finance work over the years has been in different capacities, from the treasurer for a small utility company, to becoming the controller. In the nonprofit housing development, he served as a community and bank liaison. He helped a homeless shelter enhance and build their financial capacity to run their facility.
“I understand my role and that is to get folks what they need so they can do the work,” he said. “I’m passionate about that. I enjoy working for other people.”