A Long Journey to Chad

The Smith family leaving for Chad in September 2022
To explain one’s call, be it to ministry in the Church or abroad as a missionary, seems to the one who is called the most ordinary thing: “Well, I was just called to do this.” When I was a pre-med student, I discerned a call to do one thing well. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon or a mom. I considered my options, switched to another major and moved forward, knowing that I wanted to be a mom more than a neurosurgeon and I wanted to do it well. It was a calling. It felt the most normal thing in the world.

Matt and I discerned a calling to Chad in 2018. We sold everything, and moved to France for language study, looking forward to arriving in Chad in December 2020. While in France, we committed ourselves to the difficult task of learning a foreign language. During a much-needed day off, Matt and a friend rented motorcycles for a ride into the mountains of Albertville, France. Both were experienced riders, so they ventured off to enjoy the beautiful French Alps. During the ride, the throttle on Matt’s bike malfunctioned, causing him to lose control and crash. His spinal cord was fractured in one place and dislocated in another. The accident set us back two years, but never once did we discern another call: to stop, return to the U.S., take our “‘A’ for effort.”

During Matt’s recovery, we settled into life in Burnsville, Minnesota, where we sensed a strange, almost comical sense of call: “Why would a massive injury caused by a fluke accident in a foreign country derail us from going to Chad?” It seemed the most natural thing in the world for us to continue, even if it might have seemed easier to quit. God was still calling us to Chad; we kept moving forward. We made friends and established ourselves in the Burnsville and Fergus Falls communities, while Matt had more surgeries and worked on his Certificate of Theological Studies at Lutheran Brethren Seminary. Though we didn’t fully understand, we chalked it up as preparation for Chad: the transition, the crisis management, and the growth. In the meantime, we worshiped at many churches and met amazing people within the CLB.

Every so often, we were tempted to think maybe we weren’t still on the correct path, trusting the Lord. “Maybe we made the whole thing up? Surely, this can’t be how the Lord meant for things to be.” The Enemy was trying to divert us from the sure, but narrow, path of trusting—wanting us to believe we had misunderstood the calling and switched to our own efforts. At one point, I told Dan Venberg, our director, “I’m pretty sure it would be easier if you just told us, ‘This is all too much. I don’t think the Lord is calling you to Chad anymore,’ because then we could just quit.” As we waited and prayed, each phone call, gift, email, letter, and prayer was like a roadside marker clearly showing us we were still on the right path.

We have endured these changes and weathered storms of the unknown. We don’t credit our own courage. We aren’t more special than anyone else to find ourselves here at last, in Chad. Did we take the long way? Maybe. We have needed courage to stand up to the Enemy, declaring to him that we trust the Creator’s plan. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but he has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC).

By his power, Christ is sufficient in our weaknesses! Praise to the great One who makes up for all that we are lacking, as we learn to trust him more, daily, with the calling he has declared on our lives!

Christina Smith serves with her husband Matt as missionaries in Chad.

No Comments