Szobody and Bourque Engaged...and Called to Chad
We’ll share a little of the beginning of that whirlwind story in writing here. But what we’d really love and hope for is to cross paths with many of you and meet in person during the coming years.
We first met at Lutheran Brethren Seminary, where we were both students in the 2021-2022 school year, along with Ellie’s brother Joe. The three of us became friends in the seminary classrooms, hallways, and in the student lounge. But soon, Matthias graduated from the Master of Divinity program in the spring of 2022 and moved back to France, while Ellie stayed in Fergus Falls, MN for a second year of studies in preparation for ministry in Chad. We weren’t in touch that fall, and we each gave ourselves to the people and the work that had been set before us.
Toward the end of December, our names suddenly appeared in each other’s chat conversations again. Matthias was preparing to go on a trip to Chad, a trip we both hoped would help clarify whether the Lord was opening the door for him to serve there, too. How exciting to begin talking again just before this crucial time! After Matthias spent two weeks traveling across Chad in Land Cruisers, canoes, and on motorcycles, and after much prayer, we came to the peaceful realization that our callings really were compatible. And as we continued to talk in the following weeks, with an ocean and seven hours of time difference between us, we grew more certain that we could become companions in the rest of life, too.
Finally, over Easter break in early April, Ellie made a trip to sunny Provence, in southern France, and toward the end of that week, Matthias proposed! It was surreal. As we sat in the cool evening air on a quiet countryside hill, we marveled at the gift we’ve been given in each other—at the way our Father has provided for us in ways we could never have imagined.
Below, we’ve each written a brief reflection, a journal entry, if you will, on this journey and the missionary calling that is ahead. We count it such a privilege to share the beginning of our story with you, our Church, as we prepare to be sent by you to the unreached. We are humbled by the grace we have received, and we’re compelled to share through LBIM the hope we have in the gospel.
May 5, 2023
A full moon shines with almost surreal brightness in the night sky as I write this. This reminds me that a month ago was Holy Week. Indeed, every Holy Week is a full moon week, since every Easter is the first Sunday following a full moon.
There’s a wonderful poetry to this, if you ask me. It was discovered that Jesus rose from the tomb at sunrise on the first day of the Week—the same day when our Creator said, “Let there be light!” Now, we celebrate the good news of re-creation, of new light and new life, every year, after the first, bright full moon of spring. The good news is indeed a great light!
The last full moon was also when I asked Ellie Bourque to marry me. It happened in the limestone hills where I like to take my walks, just outside the small city where I live and study in southern France. It was just before the sun set and the full moon of Holy Week rose in the sky. The air smelled like rosemary and pine.
Our human stories and relationships are so fragile; Ellie’s and my story is no different. There are many ways in which it might not have happened. It followed on the heels of seasons of pain, including moving on from a previous relationship, in my case. This kind of fragility reminds me that we are no more than creatures, like fading flowers.
And yet, creation also has this dependable quality to it, the returning spring and the regular full moon, and this reminds us of the faithfulness of the One who sustains it all. He who creates is also willing to re-create; the One who makes is also the One who redeems.
Lord willing, Ellie and I will get married on August 5, and then Ellie will join me in France to begin language learning in preparation for the mission field. We’re excited to begin our short lives together by accepting a call to serve with LBIM, so that the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and the coming new creation might be known among unreached people groups in Chad.
When the Church sends us out, we won’t be entering a world where God is absent. He created the Chadian basin as well. His image lives there in our human brothers and sisters who are culturally so different, yet exactly the same in our shared creaturely nature. Our Church’s mission is to take the gospel to unreached people groups, to announce to our fellow fragile creatures the good news of re-creation in Christ. All the works of his hands must know!
June 3, 2023
Another full moon hangs in the sky tonight, gently illuminating the rustling leaves of the tall oak trees in the yard of my childhood home in New England. It has been nearly two months now since Matthias Szobody asked me to marry him. And in just over two months more, we will make our vows and begin a new life together, Lord willing. I can hardly describe our joy.
But as we look back at our story, we cannot help but tremble. We tremble as we see how single decisions and events can alter the courses of entire lives. We tremble as we struggle to reconcile what’s beautiful and what’s broken in our own stories and the world in which they take place. We tremble as we recognize all the undeserved good we have been so graciously given, as we wonder how to hold such precious gifts in hands that are so clumsy. We tremble because even in the spring of life, even when we feel invincible, we are not. Our lives and our stories are utterly fragile.
And yet, even as we tremble, we rejoice. Because long before we ever chose to entrust our fleeting lives to God, he chose to entrust his own invincible life to us. Long before we ever gave him our fragile stories, he gave, and gives, and will continue to give us his unshakable gospel, which not even the rage of nations can stand against. He redeems and re-creates us, he masterfully re-writes and weaves together our stories for his good purpose. And so, we rejoice even as we tremble, because we know that “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7). This is our testimony, and our mission.
We are so humbled and so excited to begin our lives together and to join in the work of LBIM in Chad. And we trust that the all-surpassing power of God will continue to redeem and transform many lives there, and in all the world. He who made all things in the beginning is making all things new.
Matthias Szobody and Ellie Bourque are engaged to be married on August 5, 2023. They will then travel to France for a year of French language learning for Ellie, before arriving in Chad in 2024.
Praise God for what He is doing in your lives.
May He continue to bless the fruit of your labors.
God is good!
With love and faith in Him,
P.S We will continue to keep you in our prayers.
Praise the Lord almighty who give grâce and will to his servant to serve him faithfully. God bless you pasto. Im from EFLT, pasto and missionnaire trought tyranus streaming of living water, serving in farchana and adré, planted 2 churchs with 10 New belivers from moslim background refuges sudan , masalites tribes . My number 62870671, 12em promotion ETG