To break the cycle of
poverty, we must
embrace the will to

Our Story

Upstream International is a global Christian non-profit organization that brings people together to challenge poverty in creative ways. We believe that in every community there are individuals who have untapped potential to make their community a better place, but lack the necessities (training, systems & structures, financial resources, etc) to further their work. We find these leaders & work alongside them building relationships that bridge economic & cultural divides & produce empowered leaders. It is our dream to further break the cycle of dependence and build strong bridges for indigenous leaders to rise up & equip the people around them. In each of us is a unique calling that needs cultivating. We want to make a difference & know that our life counts for something outside of ourselves. We all have a curiosity about our purpose and how it relates to the world around us and beyond. For those who have the desire to be part of positive change in the world, we ask you to act and provide you an outlet to do so.

Being a part of someone’s survival, someone’s empowerment & making someone else’s dreams a reality is something that’s value is innumerable.





Who We Are.

Upstream was created out of Joe Rigelsky, founder, experiencing first-hand the magnitude of someone empowering him to be all that he was created to be. There was a leadership potential in Joe that was unmet until people gave him opportunities to explore his God-given capabilities, and chances to grow in character & skill. All around the globe there are people who possess unique abilities to combat the challenges they face. Upstream was birthed out of the desire to pay forward what Joe has been given & to empower others to overcome the difficulties faced in their communities with the callings that God has placed on their lives.


Joe & Sami Rigelsky


Joe and Sami have been married for 19 years and have 8 amazing children ages 9-19 (plus an awesome son-in-law & another soon to be); 6 biological children & two children with Down Syndrome, adopted from China in 2014. Joe enjoys hunting, fishing & snowboarding, while Sami prefers writing, photography & late night alone time. Joe is a sucker for corned beef & cabbage, Sami prefers he not cook it in the house. Her favorite food? Movie theater nachos. Joe’s weakness is butter pecan ice cream, Sami’s is a bag of skittles that have been sitting in the warm Haitian sun. Sami grew up in a Christian home while Joe found Jesus in a bar at the age of 20. Both of their lives have been radically changed by their relationship with Christ. The Rigelskys are passionate about seeing the Kingdom of God in action & are so grateful for the opportunities they have been given to see first-hand & partner with God in what He is doing around the world. 


Upstream International missionaries (Stateside & abroad) can’t do what they do
without people like you joining them in prayer and financial support.
Thank you for being a part of changing lives by partnering with Upstream missionaries.