Meet the Smith family, LBIM’s newest missionaries to Chad! Matt and Christina have five children (Mcclellan, Verity, Noam, Bastion, and Evangeline). They currently live in Lawrence, Kansas. Their connection to the Church of the Lutheran Brethren goes back to Christina’s childhood when her family attended Desert Rose LBC in Tempe, Arizona. While there, she played with Paul and Teresa Szobody’s children. Paul was serving Desert Rose and Christina was confirmed by Pastor Paul.
Fast forward a few years. Christina grows up and marries Matt, an electrical engineer. They settle into life, work and family. Increasingly, they feel God calling them into cross-cultural mission service. Through a friend connection in Haiti, they pursue a mission opportunity in that country. But due to varied circumstances they feel that God is directing them elsewhere. Matt and Christina attend a “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” course, and through this, start to feel a conviction and calling to engage in mission among unreached peoples.
Meanwhile, Christina has re-connected with Teresa Szobody, seeking her counsel on the logistics of moving a large family to the mission field. During this conversation, Teresa encourages Christina and Matt to consider LBIM. Connections and conversations continue with Matthew Rogness (LBIM Director) and Dan Venberg (LBIM Mobilizer and Recruiter). Dan encourages Matt to join him on a trip to Chad to get a better vision of what the mission is all about. Matt participates in the trip and not only gets a good glimpse of the mission work of LBIM in Chad among unreached Muslim people groups, but also has the opportunity to use his electrical and building skills to assist missionary David Narvesen in the installation of a home solar system. Upon returning from the trip, Matt and Christina feel affirmed in their calling to pursue mission work among unreached people groups. But they also feel compelled to pursue a missionary vocation with LBIM.
The calling and sending of the Smith family is moving forward with some unique and special circumstances. Normally, our missionary candidates to Chad entering into Muslim ministry would be required to complete, at the minimum, a CTS (Certificate of Theological Studies) in Missions at our seminary before leaving for the field. In the case of the Smiths, we will be postponing that training until their first home assignment. We will send the Smiths to the field for their first term in a unique capacity, that of a supporting and leveraging role for the training ministry of Paul and Teresa Szobody.
This ministry is specifically focused on training Chadian Lutheran Brethren missionaries for partnership with our LBIM missionary teams in the field among unreached Muslim peoples. This training center, located in a rural setting, houses the Szobody couple as well as Chadian missionary candidate families, and as such, depends on basic infrastructure including housing, a solar electrical system, and a well and plumbing. In order to facilitate and leverage the effectiveness of Paul and Teresa’s teaching ministry, Matt and Christina will be coming alongside them at the training site in order to assist in the management and maintenance of the infrastructure of the site. Besides this, they will start the process of language learning and cultural integration. During their first term, they will also be available to serve other LBIM missionaries with their solar and building project needs, and will be prayerfully exploring the ministry context they will transition into after this initial phase.
Please pray for the Smith family in these next months and years of transition as they take these steps of faith in service to the Lord.
Dan Venberg serves the Church of the Lutheran Brethren as Mission Mobilizer and Recruiter for Lutheran Brethren International Mission.