We thank God that this June, on the 28th, we’ll be celebrating our 7th year serving the metro-Detroit area. Through various challenges throughout the years, God has remained true to His Word, reminding us that His grace is sufficient, being made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 2:19).
Yes, it has been encouraging to see the work of God’s hand. In the midst of two of the most violent communities in the nation, God’s name has continually been made great in our mission field. We’ve been honored to participate in the work of God seeing over 150 new believers discipled and baptized during our calling in Pontiac. Congruent with our work at the church, we’ve seen God’s work with community members in our grassroots community organization called “Transform Pontiac Now!” (TPN) In our time of serving the city of Pontiac, TPN has been a tool for evangelistic outreach with a mission to reach the city’s compelling need for resources, support and hope. It’s been incredible to see growth as a result of blending TPN and Shepherd’s Fold Pontiac as 80% of our congregation growth has happened in its wake.
We’re grateful to see the fruit of obedience to our Lord, not only in our community but even among our family. Serving God alongside my family is icing on the cake, and I don’t take it for granted! Each of the members of Team Smith have served in a variety of capacities from prayer, preaching and teaching to meal prep and technical work behind the scenes. God has used every gift and we’re excited knowing the doors He is opening up for our work in the next season.
As we’ve prayed, heard and experienced God it’s become clear that He’s calling us to following and claim territory in the Caribbean. I first heard the calling two years ago after returning from a mission’s trip to the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). During my time there, I met with the State Executive Director as well as six pastors from the islands of St. John and St. Thomas for a rich time of fellowship and strategic planning. In our conversation, they revealed that they had been praying for years that God would send someone to start a new work on the island of St. Croix. Their prayers did not go unheard as this was exactly the call resting upon my heart.
After much prayer and preparation, the manifestation of that request is coming to fruition and in August of this year my family and I will be relocating to St. Croix, USVI to plant two churches. As we walk in the calling of being a missional household, we are expectant for the opportunity to learn and integrate into the culture and continue to be sensitive to God’s leading and guiding. In the past 26 months, we have visited The Caribbean 12 times and have been grateful to have built an increasing amount of relationships with welcoming island natives. Among the folks we have met, God has connected us with a partner for our church with communal roots going back over 70 years. It is open doors such as these that continue to encourage our spirits.
Over the next three years, we have established these goals to reach beginning in August 2015:
• Become residents of St. Croix, USVI
• Begin Bible studies and community connections (with a focus on families and youth)
• Establish a secondhand/gently used clothing store
• Establish Bible leadership training school
• Formalize The Shepherds Fold St. Croix and “Transform St. Croix Now!”
• Develop a missions house and welcome missionaries globally to join in on God’s work in St. Croix
Words cannot capture the honor we feel to serve God in the capacity of church planting, pastoring and missional living. We’re grateful that God has gone before us to pave a path that ensures that Team Smith is healthy enough to bring forth two Christ-centered churches and a wealth of other ventures for His glory. We say, “yes!” the calling to reach those that have been disconnected, put God’s leaders in place, set things in order, and oversee the work He’s begun in the Caribbean.
As we draw closer to the close of our season in Pontiac and the beginning of the next one in St. Croix, we recall your role as a partner in prayer and encouragement and hope to have the honor of continuing this partnership with you as we continue to do missional work for God’s glory. A few ways to get involved and support are as follows:
• Commitment to prayer for Pontiac and St. Croix, letters and calls of encouragement from you, your family and your church congregation
• Clothing donations for second hand clothes shop
• Bibles, notebooks or whatever supplies.
• Financial partnership. We will need financial support in the form of a one-time gift and/or a giving commitment for an initial 3 years.
• Show up! As we get established we’d love to have you and yours visit, contribute to and experience God’s work happening on St. Croix!
If you would like to have me or my family to come and share vision with you and your congregation about how you can support us as your missionary family, please let me know as soon as possible.
Thank you for taking the time to hear about God’s work in our lives, hearing our words of thanks for your love over the years and for considering how you can join in God’s work in the Caribbean. We love you and are so thankful for you!