From CIA to Church Service, Senior Missionaries Happily Serve in Texas
Contributed By By Linda Talbot, Church News contributor
- With global CIA experience, the Sellers expected a global humanitarian mission.
- Houston, Texas, is where the couple was called to help after Hurricane Harvey.
- The Sellers have shared their faith through radio interviews about their service.
“There are so many miracles we have seen, we know God has had His hand in it.” —Sister Diane Sellers, senior missionary
They were world-traveling career CIA administrative employees who had lived in Ecuador, Macedonia, Argentina, China, England, Mexico, and Australia. Before their marriage, she served in the Toronto Canada Mission and he in the Costa Rica/Panama Mission.
So when Sister Diane Sellers and Elder Kory Sellers turned in their mission papers in 2017, they were fairly certain of a humanitarian assignment in some far-flung corner of the globe. The Lord, however, had other plans for them.
The Sellers were called to a member and leader support mission on the near northeast side of Houston, Texas. What they didn’t realize at the time was that their mission was a unique gathering place of people from all over the world. As it turned out, they didn’t have to go to faraway places to serve those people; those people came to them.
They also discovered that they were as close as a two-hour drive from their youngest son who was also serving a mission just over the border in Louisiana.
The Sellers arrived in their mission not long after Hurricane Harvey struck. As they visited with the Texas Houston Mission president Jordan Peterson, it was evident that the Lord planned to use their skills in unique ways to bless the locals in the community.
Led by the Spirit
“We didn’t know what we were doing, we just followed the Spirit. The first four months were spent building relationships with humanitarian organizations in the city. We got to know them and visited with all the organizations to see how they could help people who fall through the cracks. We volunteered with each and put ‘skin in the game,’” Elder Sellers said.
Elder Sellers created a meticulous spreadsheet as they tried to hone in on supporting individuals who had specific needs. They focused on finding those who were in need and had been overlooked. Many don’t seek agency assistance directly for numerous reasons, including fear and hopelessness. As the Sellers got more involved, the needs came to them. Their willingness led them down paths and into situations for which they had no expertise or training.
“The hat we really wore was advocate,” Elder Sellers said. “We sometimes had 20-30 families at a time we were trying to help.”
The Sellers filled the gap between the individuals and the system, connecting those in need with organizations that could help them. They spent their time pleading the cause of the overlooked and unrecognized.
Though their mission was totally different from what they expected, they were all-in. “We believe the Lord guided us to whatever we needed to do. He has directed us to help the poor and the needy, so we rescue. We could see how the Lord guided our path. He put people and resources in our path,” said Sister Sellers.
For example, the Sellers had an “angel couple” that would donate for specific needs. They relied on the BYU alumni societies for referrals and assistance. Ward members came through with help.
“There are so many miracles we have seen, we know God has had His hand in it,” Sister Sellers said.
Houston Metro United Way
In an unprecedented action, Mary Vazquez of the Houston Metro United Way, the chair of the Houston Area Long-term Recovery Committee, invited the Sellers to be on the steering committee along with 90 other organizations. The committee was full of very busy organizational caseworkers, but the Sellers were the only ones actually in the field talking directly to and advocating for individuals with needs.
At their last meeting, Vazquez led the group in praise for the couple’s tenaciousness. “I so appreciated you coming to Houston, Texas, to help us after Hurricane Harvey. Thank you so much. You have done a tremendous service to our community,” Vazquez said.
Bread of Life
Elder and Sister Sellers were the subjects of an extensive interview on 102.5 Restoration Radio Houston. They were presented with the Beacon of Light award by Catherine Flowers, CEO of Bread of Life, a 26-year-old disaster relief organization that responds to life adversities. The Sellers worked often with Flowers and Bread of Life, distributing food and goods from their warehouse, connecting individuals to assistance, and even spending Christmas dinner with Flowers and her family.
Bread of Life is a partner listed on JustServe.org and the value of the site was discussed during the radio interview. “Remember JustServe.org if you are looking for an opportunity to get connected to a service project or you just want to give back,” Flowers said in the interview.
On the air, the Sellers were able to share their testimonies of the work of God and Jesus Christ. “Jesus Christ is whom we serve and we emulate His service,” Sister Sellers said.
Elder Sellers added, “An ancient prophet said, ‘When [you] are in the service of your fellow beings [you] are ... in the service of your God’” (Mosiah 2:17).
Elder and Sister Sellers receive the Beacon of Light award for their service to the community during a radio program with hostess Catherine Flowers of Bread of Life. Photo by Kelly Foss.
Sister Diane Sellers helps at the City of Houston’s “See to Succeed” eyeglasses for young students initiative. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.
Sister Diane Sellers and Elder Kory Sellers participate in a Habitat For Humanity project. The Sellers were called to a member and leader support mission in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.
Elder Kory Sellers discusses individual needs with a fellow member of the Houston Area Long-term Recovery Steering Committee at the United Way. Photo by Kelly Foss.
Elder Kory Sellers addresses the local community at the Super Neighborhood #52 monthly meeting in Houston. Photo courtesy of Kory and Diane Sellers.