Joe and Marilyn Kuepfer family

Joe Kuepfer

Executive Director

Joe and Marilyn, and their five children, reside in Detroit, Michigan, also known as the Motor City. Fueled by a passion for foreign cultures and a desire to serve those in need, Joe appreciates how Open Hands fosters Christ-centered entrepreneurship in developing countries. Joe's journey with Open Hands began in 2014 with a short assignment in Haiti. He then moved with his family to Nakuru, Kenya, where he spearheaded the growth of the East Africa program. In 2022, Joe transitioned to lead the organization upon the founder’s retirement from the role. Joe holds a bachelor's degree in international business from Wichita State University.

Michael Weaver

Director of Operations

Mike, along with his wife Amber and son Makai, resides in the small town of Lebanon, PA. Mike joined Open Hands, initially leading the Colombia and Venezuela programs. In May of 2024, he transitioned to his new role as Director of Operations, where he provides leadership and support to Open Hands program leadership. Mike serves on the Executive Leadership Team alongside Lyndon and Joe. Leveraging his business background and field experience serving with Plain Compassion in Colombia, Mike thrives in his new role. The Weaver family enjoys cozy nights with books, exploring new cuisines, and engaging in thought-provoking discussions.

Lyndon Swarey

Lyndon Swarey

Director of Finance

Lyndon, based in Suarts Draft, Virginia, serves Open Hands in a multifaceted role. He oversees the organization's finances, ensuring the big picture remains sound. Lyndon also builds and manages systems and platforms to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of Open Hands' work. He additionally provides tech support for the staff. Lyndon serves on the Executive Leadership Team alongside Mike and Joe. A dedicated member of the Open Hands team since its inception in 2009, Lyndon briefly stepped away in 2018 to pursue a degree in statistics. He rejoined the organization in 2021, bringing his enhanced skillset to further strengthen Open Hands.

Merle and Edith Burkholder, staff pastor

Merle Burkholder

Founder & Staff Pastor

Merle, the founder of Open Hands, currently provides pastoral care for the team. In 2022, following 13 years as the administrator of Open Hands, Merle transitioned to this new role. Throughout his tenure, Merle modeled servant leadership for the organization and provided incredible vision for helping those in need. Merle and his wife Edith have lived in Sioux Lookout, ON, Canada. They have been influential in serving with various mission endeavors in Canada, Haiti, Thailand, and across the 13 countries Open Hands serves. Merle and Edith will be moving to the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario in 2024.

Paul and Dorcas Smucker

Paul Smucker

Director of Partner Development

Paul delivers passionate and engaging presentations about Open Hands' mission and impact to churches and interested groups across the Midwest and Western United States. Paul also identifies and communicates with missions and churches interested in beginning an Open Hands program. To schedule a presentation or discuss partnership opportunities, contact Paul at [email protected] or 541-520-5815. Leveraging his experience in pastoral ministry, mission work, education, and business ownership, Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to Open Hands. He currently resides in Harrisburg, Oregon, with his wife Dorcas.

Verlin Torkelson

East Africa Regional Director

Verlin leads the charge for Open Hands in East Africa, overseeing savings group programs that touch the lives of thousands across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Since joining the team in 2022, his strong work ethic, honed by his farming and business background, has proven invaluable in tackling challenges. Beyond his leadership role, Verlin enjoys exploring new places, meeting new people, and spending quality time camping with his wife Bethany, and their four children.

Gloria Stoltzfus


Gloria, along with her husband Johnny and their four children, reside in Mill Hall, PA. As the Open Hands secretary, she maintains the bookkeeping and banking, bringing a wealth of experience in these areas from her work with other missions and businesses. Her meticulous bookkeeping practices ensure the organization's financial health, making her a great support to Open Hands. Outside of her secretarial responsibilities Gloria enjoys organizing, cooking and engaging in heart-to-heart conversations with friends and family.

Walcus and Deb Vital family

Walcus Vital

Haiti Country Director

Walcus, along with his wife Deb and their family, are currently based in Goshen, Indiana. Originally serving as a facilitator in Haiti, he began his current role as the country director in 2019. His strong leadership combined with a deep understanding of the savings group ministry has been instrumental to the growth of one of Open Hands' largest programs.

Delvin Zimmerman

Asia Regional Director

Delvin and his wife Darlene are based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Delvin brings extensive experience, attention to detail, and strong leadership to the Asia programs as they continue to expand. In 2017 he began as a Program Liaison in Nakuru Kenya, while simultaneously launching a program in Nepal. In 2021 he transitioned to Thailand and now oversees the Open Hands’ programs in Nepal, Thailand and another undisclosed country. Some of the things Delvin enjoys outside of work are painting and photography.

Dietrich Miller

Mexico Program Manager

Dietrich, along with his wife Veronica, resides in Choix, Mexico. He grew up in Choix where his parents served for many years with DestiNations. Dietrich works part-time with Open Hands overseeing the Mexico program and he loves to see the savings groups bless his fellow Mexicans. Dietrich and Veronica enjoy spending time together in nature and prayer walking in their community

Jason Croutch

Director of Public Relations

Jason serves as a link between Open Hands and our partners. Jason is available to give presentations about Open Hands to your church, community, or youth group. If you wish to schedule an Open Hands presentation, you may contact Jason at [email protected] or 570-863-9080.

Nick Suarez

El-Salvador/Guatemala Program Manager

Nick Suarez, along with his wife Vivian, resides in Mixcolajá, Guatemala where he serves with Mennonite Air Missions. Nick works with Open Hands part-time to oversee the Guatemala and El Salvador programs. Aside from Open Hands responsibilities he serves his community as a school administrator, pastor, and youth choir director. Nick and Vivian enjoy spending time with the youth and joining them in their activities.

Raquelle Yoder

Communications Assistant

Raquelle, who joined Open Hands in March 2024, brings a passion for learning and a strong ability to grasp new concepts quickly. Her upbringing in a missionary family in Puerto Rico instilled in her a deep commitment to service. She enjoys music, as well as learning new languages. As communications assistant, she provides support to the head office for events and marketing projects.

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