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Serving North Korea Diasporas

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In 1998, Derek Seipp was preparing to travel to China to become a missionary. However, before he could do that, he needed a college degree. Although Derek had some college credits, he never obtained a degree and was now working full-time. One of his missions pastors mentioned Geneva College’s Degree Completion Program which would allow Derek to transfer the credits he already had and get a college degree in one year.

standard-webpage-in-text-image.pngDerek decided to attend Geneva’s fully online degree program and graduated in 1999 with a Human Resource Management degree. Reflecting on the degree, he says, “I was not sure I would get a lot out of a nontraditional college experience but when I was working through the course material with a full-time job, it was directly applicable to the work that I was doing, and it made the information all the more interesting to me. It gave me a deeper level of learning that really let me connect with my job. The things I learned I still carry with me to this day, and they have helped me become who I am.”

When Derek’s wife Holly decided she wanted to finish her own college degree, it was an easy decision to follow in her husband’s footsteps and obtain her degree through Geneva’s Adult Degree Program, now called Online Degree Program. Holly recently graduated from Geneva in 2021 with a degree in Child Family Services.

Although the program was challenging for Holly because she is a social person and it was completely online, she felt the program allowed her to grow as a person and affirmed what she already knew allowing her to put her heart and soul into her coursework. She believes, “Coming into this program and already being an adult gave me an advantage. I already had knowledge and skills I could apply in my coursework, giving me the ability to get the most out of it as possible.”

For the past 13 years, Holly has worked in victim aftercare with women who have come out of sex trafficking. She says, “My degree was affirming what I am doing because I work with women and children. I am more confident now that I have more knowledge. I feel I am a stronger and wiser person because of my degree. Already being deep into my career, I was not just learning theory because I already lived it.”

Since graduating, Holly has made it her mission to meet as many of her classmates and professors in person as she can. Holly has enjoyed meeting many of her professors in person, saying “I like the smaller community Geneva has given me. You can talk to your professors. They want to be asked questions. They were all very warm and welcoming and I appreciated the different perspectives they have taught me.”

2023-prayer-card.jpgDerek and Holly now operate a small missions organization called Korea Reconciliation Initiation and Network (KRIN) where Derek is the Executive Director. KRIN asks the central question, “What is it going to take to reach the North Korean people in our lifetime?” Keeping this in mind, they work with other organizations to help them get involved with North Koreans around the world. These millions of North Korean diasporas have connections inside of North Korea so reaching them gives organizations the ability to indirectly minister to North Korea.

Derek and Holly recently returned from a conference in South Korea where about 130 people from 17 different countries discussed the best ways of seeking to reach the North Korean people and finish the task that KRIN has started.

Since this organization consists of only a couple of part-time employees and one full-time employee—Derek, he has used his human resource management degree to manage many volunteers to fulfill the mission of this organization. He states, “When you have an entire organization where practically everyone is a volunteer, it all comes down to being able to work with people, motivate people, and help them get integrated and find their place within God’s mission.”

Derek and Holly both value the education they received from Geneva’s Online Degree Program and have seen how it has affected their careers. Derek noted that many Geneva alumni work in the mission field in Pittsburgh and around the world. With a common educational background, it makes it easier to connect with people and further their mission work together.

Holly’s degree gave her the credibility she needed. Especially in Asian countries, having a degree means something to society and can contribute to a person’s overall success. Her degree has given her new opportunities that will allow her ministry to grow. Her advice to anyone who has not finished their degree is, “If there is something in the back of your mind saying finish your degree, you should do it for yourself. You will put your education to good use.”


-Lexi Meese '21, MBA '22

Jan 24, 2024

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